What …Another Year!
So… the race is on and the General Election will take place on Saturday, February 8th. The first Saturday election they say since 1918. An issue for us in Boyle is getting enthused by an election which, in the constituency boundary carve-up, has transposed us into the constituency of Sligo/Leitrim/ North Roscommon/ South Donegal. There is a bit of ‘sweepings of the floor’ about all that.
We now have to get to know most of the potential candidates. So here is my very rough thumbnail sketch-guide to it as of today Thursday January 16.
They are at the moment Marian Harkin former M.E.P. who topped the poll in the 2002 general election and three sitting T.D.s’ Marc Mc Sharry F.F., Eamon Scanlon F.F. and Martin Kenny S.F. With those is Frank Feighan F.G. who was impressively elected in 2007 and 2011 in Roscommon /South Leitrim. A Tony McLoughlin F.G. has stood down from contesting this time. For a time his daughter was seen as a strong candidate but also stood down. It is probable that F.G. will add another candidate while the Greens may do so as well. Other possibles are Ellis, Bree and some independents. There are some 6000 + votes in the Roscommon section of the constituency with some 4000 voting last time and the quota will come in around 12,000 with four seats.
In Roscommon East Galway the sitting T.D.s’ are Dennis Naughton Ind. …..but formerly F.G. / Ml. Fitzmaurice Ind. / Eugene Murphy F.F.
Both Maura Hopkins and Ivan Connaughton had close runs in recent times. The standing down of Maura Hopkins for family reasons this time is a big hit for F.G. and their chances of getting a candidate elected now are minimal. Added to this is a strong second F.F. candidate in Orla Leyden. Orla, is the daughter of Terry, but is her own lady in politics and is an impressive presence as a County Councillor. While Sinn Fein with Claire Kerrane and a possible Green candidate will get decent votes the Sinn Fein transition from Gerry Adams to Mary Lou McDonald has flat-lined at best. The Greens will get seats nationally and deservedly so but in Roscommon… not this time. I was listening to Ml. Fitzmaurice on the ‘Tonight’ T.V. programme last night with Ivan Yates and he seemed almost bored and boring in answering the same questions!
Nationally seeing F.G. have been there since 2011 it would be some coup to continue as the primary party. A certain arrogance can be seen from time to time with their party hierarchy. Paschal is seen as an able Minister but is inclined to be looking down his nose a lot of the time. The one thing that really hits parties who are in situ for a prolonged period is ARROGANCE and ENTITLEMENT. The Bard again ‘Pride comes before a fall’. While the country is said to be prospering that prosperity is very uneven. Rural Ireland is in a constant state of erosion while Dublin continues to be the magnet despite significant logistical issues there.
While Fine Gael will of course point to the country’s prosperity, its Brexit policies and dealings, and the Northern parties back on track with a devolved Government there are a number of Premier issues that will hurt them hard and often.
The two major issues are well flagged in Heath and Housing. The experience of many who visit hospitals is regularly one of shock. I have been in some accident and emergency and in simplistic terms I refer to them as like Beirut. It is impossible to get any understanding of how so much money can be spent but yet for the core elements within the health system to remain so log-jammed. It seems as if the crisis is just impossible to influence.
The housing ‘crisis’ is just an ongoing saga too with huge amounts of blame to go around. The issues include the impossibility of young couples to get on the property ladder in the cities where they work; the homeless who struggle even to get any kind of housing; the insane rent young workers in the cities are required to pay in rent; the transposing of families into temporary accommodation in hotels etc. Fine Gael made a mistake not to remove Eoghan Muphy as if that would help!
Last night on the ‘Tonight’ the farmers protest in Dublin which was criticised by some contributors. It is an odd thing that the mainstream representative organisations are side-lined by those organising these disruptive blockades. They could be counter-productive cheesing off the communities in the capital. Though one commentator made the interesting point that; “Dublin is our capital city it belongs to all of us. It is where power exists and where the message must be delivered to.” etc.
Salute to Mary Clifford
Congratulations and best wishes to Mary on being awarded the Roscommon Herald GAA ‘Hall of Fame’ award on Friday night next in The Abbey Hotel in Roscommon. It is in recognition of Mary’s work and commitment to Boyle and Roscommon GAA allied to her continued support for her native county of Donegal.
Sigerson Last Sunday
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” is the opening line in Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic novel. Well last Sunday I returned to the Sigerson Gaelic football tournament in Galway after a long time. Four of us, former UCG GAA people, met in up in Salthill with the meeting being supplemented by attending a Sigerson Cup game between UCG and UCC. I’ve never adapted to the modern appendage of NUIG which stands for the National University of Ireland Galway. After meeting up we headed for UCG’s grounds at Dangan. It was a cold miserable day and the Fitzgibbon hurling game was in progress between the same two colleges. UCC in the familiar distinctive red jerseys with black band and skull and crossbones motif were winners in a game that UCG could have got a draw from. It was a difficult day for skilful hurling which happened in patches. The 30 man panel of UCG had only two from out of Galway.
There was a long break before the football game which was a do- or- die affair. UCG started brightly with a Robert Finnerty a lively player causing problems for Cork. However, when Cork settled they got two quick goals which of course were crucial to the result. Galway fought back and by half time the margin had narrowed to a couple of points. The introduction of Corofinn star Kieran Molloy promised good things for Galway but Kerry player Sean O’ Shea was a star turn. Galway had the chance to draw level and send the game into extra time but their free-taker missed from close in with the last kick of the game. It was the trauma that lands on a missed penalty taker in a shoot-out. There was no Roscommon player participating with just two substitutes Aaron Brady and Padraic Halpin.
Through the decades Roscommon players have played an integral part of many Sigerson teams. From our own area, there is a number such as, in the 30s’, Dr. Hugh Gibbons who was a star player with a UCG team that ruled the roost then as he won on 5 occasions. UCG won 8 in 10 Sigersons in the thirties. Bill McQuillan captained a College team to victory circa 1950. Paddy Nangle was also part of the winning UCG teams of the early 60s’. John Kelly starred for UCD in the late sixties. Timmy O’ Dowd was a UCG player in the early 70s’ with Tom Ryan in the 90s’. Sean Daly and later Niall O’Donohoe featured with Sligo I.T. in their early days. Around four years ago the Smith brothers and Tadhg Lowe starred with DCU with a great win in Cork against Cork which a number of Boyle GAA supporters were happy to witness. Evan McGrath was on the U.C.G. panel in 2019 when they lost a great game against UCC. UCC and UCG seem to have a real history which has tiltedin favour of Cork with 23 Sigersons wins, to UCG a creditable 22 wins bolstered by the golden era of the 30s’ with their 8 wins.
‘It’s the little things that trip you up’
1. While it is not a little thing but the story on the radio as I write here is of a homeless man being seriously injured while some tents were being cleared from the banks of a Dublin’s Grand Canal. It emerged that underneath one of the tents that was being removed by a machine was a person. In the process, he was seriously injured and removed to hospital with life-changing injuries. It of course highlights again the plight of the homeless particularly in the cities and how the authorities find it impossible to redress those extreme issues. Numbers are being quoted as I speak and all that but there can be no confidence that the situation will get hugely better. An ‘incident’ that brought it into stark light was the death of a man in a doorway close to Leinster House around four years ago. There was an outcry then and things improved but they have regressed.
The argument from the Government is that; “There is no reason for anyone to sleep out on the streets as there is emergency accommodation available for everyone”. The issue- question there is…Why will people choose to sleep on the streets rather than access this supposed total accommodation? They are saying that it is safer to sleep in their tents than in the hostels!
From a political/election point of view this ‘incident’ is a very unwelcome grenade.
2. While this has gone off the radar the stupidity of the printer for Leinster House and the remedial work needed to facilitate its location was mind-boggling.
3. The spiralling cost of the National Children’s Hospital which is being built in a very contentious restricted site will be a story for a number of years yet.
4. The decision that was short-circuited to commemorate the R.I.C. at Dublin Castle championed by the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. What a start to at least 3 years of very sensitive commemoration. Regularly on the high stool, a person will suggest; “I could have told them that…it wouldn’t fly.” Regarding the assimilation of ‘Black and Tans’ into the R.I.C. in 1920 it really developed after a considerable number of RIC members left the organisation for a variety of reasons. A small number would have supported the emerging Irish Republic after the 1918 General Election. Others were frightened for their own safety and that of their families. A number would have emigrated to England and the U.S. The substantial reduction in numbers was filled by ‘recruits’ from England who were well remunerated. These were the ‘Black and Tan’ elements most with WW1 experience. So commemorating the RIC with its ‘Black and Tan’ connection at that particular period was an “I could have told them that …’ incident.
5. School Secretaries were in the news last week as they picketed Leinster House too with issues of pay rate, no summer pay and no pension. Their status when compared to internal Department of Education secretaries is stark. I know from my previous life that the work of school secretaries is immeasurable. They are the ‘first responders’ to so many issues in the school environment. They are the glue in the school framework. Without them, the running of schools would become a tangled web. So give them respect and their due.
(I’ll move on to a more positive zone).
56th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition
There was a great picture of the winners of the primary award at the above on Saturday’s Independent. They were Cormac Harris and Alan O’Sullivan from Cork. Their project looked at; “Stereotyping in young children and how to combat it.” The reaction of the boys was hugely positive almost expressing the feeling that they found it hard to believe. They now go forward to a European equivalent of the exhibition. This initiative has to be a big driver of secondary student initiatives and many winners have gone on to great success in their lives. I may be wrong but were the Collison brothers of Strype winners here a decade or so ago? Good luck to the winners and I imagine there are many fine ideas in the projects that did not get the primary accolade. One which I saw referred to a drone delivery of defibrillators! The Roscommon Herald features the Roscommon entrants. I visited the Young Scientist expo once in the mid-nineties when my neighbour had a project there. It is such a great initiative.
James Dodd the Hurler
Michael Caine had a two-part biography decades ago maybe. The first book was titled ‘Not a Lot of People Know That’…the second being ‘Not a Lot of People Know this Either’. At the launch of hurling in Boyle, I came in contact with Roscommon hurling official Kieran Farrell from Tremane. We talked a bit about the hurling teams of the late sixties and told me that they were going to ‘honour’ two Roscommon teams that had won ‘Special All-Irelands’ fifty years ago in 1969. One was a minor team and the other was U16. He mentioned about a young Boyle man called James Dodd and asked if I knew him, which of course I did. ‘Well he was part of the Roscommon U 16 hurling team, especially in the early games and we’d like to invite him to the re-union Kieran replied. So I contacted James and got his take on it and he was pleased to be remembered. He was involved in the early games being ferried there by Mister Hurling of then, Offaly man Bob Carr. He missed out, somewhat, subsequently after accompanying his uncle, Father Kieran Dodd, on a holiday abroad. Holidays had also contributed to his hurling initiation as they were to relations in Tipperary.
So in mid-December, James returned to the re-union in Roscommon’s hurling heartland of Athleague fearing he would know ‘no one’. But no, as a familiar face of someone from his current native town of Nenagh emerged with ‘What are you doing here?’ he being a member of the minor team while James had been on the U 16 team.
So the night turned out to be a nice acknowledgement of a sporting highlight from 50 years ago.
As a postscript it is well to acknowledge that James played Gaelic football with distinction for St. Mary’s College; Boyle teams in a series of county finals and Roscommon minors in the seventies and coached the game in Boyle and in his adopted town of Nenagh.
I travel to Galway regularly. By tradition, my road was via Frenchpark, Castlerea, Williamstown and Dunmore and Tuam. That is a challenging route, especially in darkness. I knew a lady once who in her early driving initiation, on that road actually, told me that when she passed a cyclist she used to check her rear- view mirror to ensure that the cyclist was still intact! Why I say that is that there are times when meeting large vehicles on that the margin of error is negligible. So now I have changed to Frenchpark, past Ballagaderreen, Swinford, Knock, Claremorris via Ballindine and Milltown and linking into Tuam. Apart from a number of miles between Milltown and Ballindine it is a much better road.
So I have ‘made the change’ which is something akin to ‘shop around’. It may be costing me some five or so minutes but the steering wheel grip has relaxed a little!
Watch what you say, politician!
This is a given but Heather Humphries a former minister (I presume now) referred to the Fianna Fáil front bench as a Junior ‘B’ team. I took immediate offence to that reference as I have a fond attachment to the ‘Jnr. ‘B’ teams for many years and especially after the Boyle team’s exploits this year. Indeed Kilteevan St. Joseph’s celebrated their win over Boyle in 2018 as if it meant the world to them.
Heather was using the analogy that the Fianna Fáil front bench has not got the wherewithal to govern. It is hard to be a star when you are consigned to the subs bench for nine years…something FF would not be used to.
*Michéal Martin deserves an awful lot of credit for supporting the F.G. Government for so long with ‘confidence and supply’. I imagine that there were many in F.F. who had reservations about that and especially its duration.
Anyway, Heather when this note is brought to your attention ‘Give Respect Get Respect’.
While I am no techno person I have seen this week that Microsoft are ‘not supporting Windows 7’ henceforth and the general advice to people is to upgrade or investigate their security status generally. As I say I’m not qualified in the elements of all this but a thing I don’t want is infection issues with the laptop.
There were a few things I thought I might mention this turn such as some reflection on the happenings of Christmas, meeting people home for Christmas who I wish well on their return to x, y, z; the Golden Globes some T.V. programmes good and bad and so on… but we will adjourn.
Slán for now