Thursday, January 12, 2017

Update 13th January

You Cannot Avoid a Trump Watch

I had kinda thought about staying away from President–Elect Donald Trump for a while but it is just not possible and I guess it is going to be so for some time if not for all the time he is in office. On Friday the 20th he will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Don’t ask me to forgo watching how that pans out. We had a foretaste of how he intends to deal with ‘the press’ on Wednesday at his first Press Conference since being elected.
Apparently there is some file that was allegedly put together by a British agent which suggested that the Russians had compromising material of Mister Trump following a trip to Russia some time ago, all of which Trump says is just nonsense. This was published by some outlet and CNN went with it in some format so Mister Trump boycotted questions from the CNN reporter at the News Conference. It was a testy affair. As one news reporter said to her studio presenter there were so many ‘news’ points from the conference that it was all confusing. Oh yes on who leaked the story it was according to Trump ‘probably, most likely the (U.S) intelligence community’. Certainly not a very good footing to start on for a President and a vital branch of the U.S. administration.  
Donald showed, with a van load of files, that he was passing on the running of his many businesses to his two sons to run while he was President. If, when he returned to the business they had not done well they would be ‘fired’, an echo from his T.V. Apprentice Show. While there seems to be some disbelief that the siblings will not even mention the businesses to their dad-the-President during family time. 
Then there were the Russians who are now regarded as having ‘hacked’ into the Democratic Presidential Campaign plans and maybe influenced the result of the election. With regard to Putin, they may get on which would be an asset and then again they may not get on!
As one commentator suggested it was like a strong wind blew into an office and all the papers were now up in the air. Trump supporters see this as bucking the system and the cosy relationships which existed between various elements which dominated the political system heretofore. This new President is certainly a shock to the system and while it may be theatre of kind it is hugely serious and concerning on a universal scale.
Certainly if the opening salvoes are anything to go by the roller coaster is warming up. Let’s see what Friday the 20th brings. Fasten your seat belts.

RTE’s Aine Lalor re. Trump; ‘Do you think he knows how much he doesn’t know’.  He wouldn’t be on his own in that.
That is a kind of variation of the famous Donald Rumsfeld spake in February 2002.  Donald Rumsfeld, then US Secretary of State for Defence, stated at a Defence Department briefing that: 'There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know’.

Obama Bowing Out
The contrast between the above and the outgoing President Barack Obama was in stark relief when the outgoing President gave his farewell address to a crowd in Chicago on Tuesday night. The eloquence and elegance of the man shone through. There were achievements and disappointments. His capacity to achieve was stemmed by an opposing Congress. Perhaps those who favour the incoming President regard Obama as part of the political establishment but he certainly had a dignity and a dignified finale without recrimination. He spoke of the democratic process and encouraged his audience to continue to engage with it.  He was generous in his thanks to his wife Michelle and family and also to his Vice-President Joe Biden with whom he had an obviously great relationship. It will be interesting to see where Michelle Obama goes from here but it is obvious that she is woman of substance and her future career will be the subject of much speculation. She will also be looked on, by some, as a possible Presidential candidate in the future whether that possibility fades with time is to be seen. It would be doubly ironic that the first lady President of the U.S. was also a black President. But that is too advanced speculation.      

Mick O’Connell -at 80- A Prince of a Gaelic Footballer
You probably have to be a ‘senior person’ now to remember one of the greatest and purest Gaelic footballers ever, Mick O’Connell of Kerry. Mick was born and reared  on Valentia island. He won 4 All-Irelands, a dozen or so Munster titles numerous Leagues and so on with Kerry. Nothing very strange there perhaps. But Mick was different. He was regarded as slightly eccentric. This may have stemmed from his giving away his medals and once going home directly from Croke Park and leaving the Sam McGuire Cup in the dressing room. I met him a couple of times. Once he was working in Galway and asked someone to get a few footballers to join him in Pearse Stadium for a training session. The someone, a student landlord, contacted a couple of Kerry students and footballers Ger O’Keefe and Paudie O Mahoney and they contacted Martin Carney and Tony ‘Horse’ Regan. I was a friend of those lads and staying with Tony in Salthill. So the five of us joined Mick O in Pearse Stadium for his practise. It was a bit intimidating but we were honoured really to be there. On the Back Page of last Sunday’s Indo there is an account by Joe Brolly of an attempted interview by Ger Gilroy and Joe Molloy of Newstalk’s ‘Off the Ball’ which I thought some of you might not have accessed.

It was, said Joe “A bit like Ant and Dec cross-examining Seamus Heaney. "Wow," said Gilroy to begin. Then . . .

Ger: One of the things you're legendary about is that you didn't celebrate your wins. . .
Micko: What was there to celebrate? Football was only a pastime. More important things to be doing in life. (silence)

Ger: You like rowing?
Mick: I rowed as a pastime.

Ger: It kept you nice and fit?
Mick: For rowing you mean?

Ger: For football.
Mick: Football and rowing have no association.

Ger: (nervous laughter)
Mick: You seem to know all about the sport. What age are you? 23 is it?

Ger: (nervous laughter) I wish.
Mick: What age are you?

Ger: I'm 39. (silence)

Joe Molloy (intervenes as an act of mercy): There must've been a good coach who helped you out?
Mick: Who? I never used the word coach. Where did you get that? (silence)

Joe: Can I ask you a few questions about your career?
Mick: I never classed it as a career. It was a pastime.
Joe (struggling now): Are you surprised you're classed as one of the true greats?

Mick: That's only comment.

Joe (trapped now): Can I put this to you. You are beloved by Kerry people and beyond?
Mick: Beloved?
Joe: Yeah.
Mick: I don't know what that means.

O'Connell went on to disagree with Joe's phrase "Gaelic football" countering that it was no longer football but simply "Gaelic".

"A lot of older people don't even go to the games anymore or watch them. The game isn't governed properly. There are no visionary people administrating it."

He finished by saying: "The ends to me weren't important. The means were what mattered. To be able to fetch a ball in the air. To kick with both feet. On and off the ground. If we won, well and good. If not, the same."
Then, he was gone. Back in studio there was silence.
A true legend.

Hospital Waiting Lists

The record for the number of hospital patients waiting on trolleys reached a new high -612- a week or so ago. Some managements within the Health Services have put it down to the unexpected numbers who are entering hospitals with the flu of the moment. I know from what I hear that the recent flu has really bitten but to regard such a phenomena as unexpected is a bit much. It seems as if it is a problem that the Heath Service are totally unable to solve. Anyone who has experience of going into A&E's in hospitals are witness to the almost war zone conditions that exist in them. It has to be acknowledged that ‘front line’ staff in those hospitals do their very best in appalling conditions, as I witnessed myself in Galway University Hospital some time ago.
While the new Minster for Health Simon Harris started off with great energy and determination it seems as if the reality of it all has blunted his optimism that he could and would make a real difference. It is a good while ago when the Health portfolio was said to be the ‘Angola’ ministry in that it was beyond redemption. 
If one counted the number of facilities in Ireland with the word ‘hospital’ appended the list would number is 163 with 66 in Dublin. This includes all categories. It is an octopus of a service.

Just like the hospital issue this is another crisis that seems as if it cannot be resolved. Each winter we see the evidence of homelessness on our television screens and then the bluster with the politicians repeating the mantras of the previous year as they promise to solve the issue but then the following year it is the same old tune.
I seem to remember an initiative by Minister –then- Alan Kelly where they started to put in place a number of maybe twenty or so quick-build houses. I probably have missed the allocation of these when finished but they never appeared on my radar.
The occupation of Apollo House once again highlighted the plight of the homeless but it became a twisted debate of conflicting interests.

A tame I.T. Sligo no match for Roscommon
It was nice to see a Roscommon senior team play a competitive in Boyle’s Abbey Park last Sunday before a decent crowd for an F.B.D. league fixture.  It was a pity that it was not more competitive as I.T. Sligo were a weak side and Roscommon scored almost at will. It was good to see Donie Smith nominated as ‘Man of the Match’ by Seamus Duke in the Roscommon People. Credit is due to the many members of Boyle GAA club who prepared the grounds on Saturday and ensured the smooth running of the event on Sunday. It shows the spirit, commitment and pride they have in showing the club at its best on such an occasion.         

King’s Hospital School Alleged Incident?
A story that hit the headlines in late November/early December concerned an alleged incident at a top Dublin school ‘King’s Hospital’. The story seems to have run into the sand as it were as I have not heard a dickey bird about it since the initial furore. 

My favourite sentence of the week-end’s reading
The Mayo writer of a novel called ‘Solar Bones’, Mike McCormack when asked about former prominent Mayo and Irish politician and EU Commissioner Pádraig ‘P’ Flynn responded
“He’s a talented man usurped by his inner amadán’.
P. had given the following answer to a question from a reporter in The Late Late Show audience about his pay and expenses in 1999.
 “I get, give or take, it works out at about, with expenses, €140,000 a year and I pay 30.3% tax on that, so it’s about a net 100,000 and out of that 100,000 I run a home in Dublin, Castlebar and Brussels. I wanna tell you something, try it sometime…”

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