Friday, September 18, 2015

Update 18th September

President Higgins and Social Housing
President Michael D. Higgins is pushing the boat out a little in his recent comments regarding the provision and sale of social housing by local authorities. The comments reflect the current housing provision crisis, especially in Dublin. As many people know a decade or more ago estate builders were obliged, for a short time, to include a number of houses for social provision. This was altered with the estate builders paying the various councils a ‘premium’ in lieu of this provision. Years ago County Councils built ‘council’ houses not only in the towns but in the countryside and I distinctly remember a number of those from my youth. Perhaps there is no crisis in the provision of houses in towns like Boyle, I don’t really know. However the fact is that there are growing numbers of people in very unacceptable emergency accommodation such as hotels in Dublin. There was a huge outcry when Jonathan Corry died in a doorway a short measure from Leinster House late last year. However after an initial effort the crisis continues to grow. I imagine it will be one of the issues in the upcoming election. President Higgins suggested that an apology from a representative organisation of county managers apologise for the lack of provision and their important role in it all. There does not seem to have been much, if any, light thrown on the role of the management in county councils in the imbalanced developments of the building boom which has left a legacy of ghost estates and all that. I doubt if the President will hear that apology from a group who have wielded a considerable and historic influence in services provision at a local level. In fairness while this was a questionable period for the group there have been many distinguished county managers and officials down the years.
The above issue will come more into focus when Ireland’s quota of migrants from the Middle- East begin to arrive in this country. That will pose a considerable challenge for the state agencies. I see that a multi-departmental task force’ is preparing for this event. (This is just one of those task forces that seem to pop up to address unforeseen happenings and emergencies. What they have being doing before that obviously goes on ice….maybe it wasn’t that important).
One of those ‘task forces’ is studying another crisis of accommodation for students in the various third level centres. I have heard tough tales from this arena from the parents of students who struggle to get accommodation in Dublin, Galway and so on. I feel the institutions themselves should be more proactive in this area recognising that they do have some ‘on campus’ provision.    
Small migrant groups have come here before such as the Vietnamese Boat People and after the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 a number of Hungarians sought refuge in this country. I have not heard anything of this event for decades. Indeed at the height of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland some people from there moved south for safety.

GAA Disciplinary Maze
The GAA Disciplinary Maze has been shown in a very poor light in recent weeks as highlighted by the high profile Diarmuid Connolly affair. This was dealt with in depth by John Greene in ‘Hold the Back Page’ of last Sunday’s Independent and was referred to by Eugene McGee in his column on Monday. Of course Dublin GAA has enormous resources and influence. There were three Croke Park committees involved in the Connolly saga. Pretty impressively, for Ireland, the chain of committees was all able to meet and clear the player to play within a week. This was all remarkably efficient. I seem to remember John Mullane, the Waterford hurler, being sent off against Cork in 2004 which meant he was unavailable to play against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Semi-Final which Waterford lost. John had accepted his punishment with good grace and it is remembered that he did. Dublin manager Jim Gavin said; ‘We just engaged with the process….’ I suppose that is ok if there is a very obvious injustice done which was hardly the case with Connolly. I am not so sure if Jim Gavin engaged with processes after the Dublin v Armagh challenge game which saw a Dublin player hospitalised.   Leo Keegan apparently suggested later that he-Keegan- manipulated the incident so that Connolly might be sent off. Why he felt the need to be so forthright is questionable, perhaps to win brownie points with the Dubs perhaps.
The reality is that Gaelic football is almost impossible to referee and in close games the referee can often be pointed to as a significant reason why a team loses a game, especially a close game.  While that may be debated for a while, time, the records and history will rarely engage with the referee’s part in the result. Dominck Connolly had a different take on the men in the middle espousing once; “The trouble with some referees is that they don’t seem to care who wins”.
Still the Mullane example stands like a beacon. The realities are that without referees there cannot be games. It takes a lot of courage or a streak of masochism to be one. Many an evening, in a time when the appearance of a referee was irregular, I stood at the Abbey Park gates looking out for the referee and to be relieved at the sight of Michael Higgins approaching.         
Boyle Heartache
Like all the Boyle GAA community I really felt for the Boyle senior team after the team’s aching defeat on Sunday against Padraig Parse’s. I will not indulge in the ‘what ifs?’ with my post-match infallible notions regarding the game. The reality is that the team has been outstanding for a large part of this summer (and there is the league yet to be concluded). They have come on in leaps and bounds since the spring. Many players have progressed considerably and more, over the season and there is none of them who has not had a wow moment in some game or other. They have announced Boyle as a formidable team and a force to be respected in senior football this season. It is some time since that regard has been there for a Boyle senior team. The challenge now is going forward from this much higher platform than say last spring. So I congratulate them and I thank them and their management led by Michael Jordan. I feel confident that those sentiments are shared by the Boyle GAA community.

Sunday’s All-Ireland Kerry v Dublin
This is the pairing that most pundits predicted would be contesting the All-Ireland Final. The expectations are that it will be a close encounter. There have been few really good championship games in both codes this summer. There are many fine footballers on stage on Sunday so if the defensive systems are not over indulged in, then there could be feast of football. Just as well too as ticket prices, even for poor seats, are prohibitive.
I feel that the aristocrats of Gaelic football, Kerry, will prevail. But what do I know? Still in a two horse race I have a chance. I see a keen football brain in a local paper predicted a Tulsk v Oran Intermediate final but both lost their semi-finals. The final now is Michael Glavey’s v Fuerty. It would be something if Fuerty win and return to senior football after eighty years or so. I’d be pretty pleased with that.

Rugby World Cup
It is good to see that TV 3 is really going for broke with its Rugby World Cup coverage as they are showing ALL the games. It will take a while for the competition to get to the real business end or knock out stages but for the rugby nerd it is a feast.

Walker Cup Victory
There was a fine victory for Britain and Ireland in the amateur golf tournament The Walker Cup versus the United States. Ireland contributed half the winning team which was an incredible achievement. This shows the strength of the game in the country. Oddly the tournament has not received the publicity one would have thought in the circumstances.

Boyle, Boyle, Boyle. 
I see from realboyle’s home page there is another Boyle. This is a village in northern Alberta, Canada within Athabasca County.
I remember meeting visitors to the town a few summers ago and they were actually came from another Boyle. Apparently there is a Boyle in the Hollywood Hills!

The Passing Friends
I was out of the country on a short trip returning late last week. As I flicked through the Roscommon Herald, on my return, I was quickly arrested on page three with the news of the passing of a friend of mine from Cloverhill between Roscommon town and Oran. Few if any readers here would have known Christy Hannon. He was highly respected in a number of roles; as a teacher in Roscommon CBS, a contributor to his GAA club Oran and his parish community. He was a dedicated follower of Roscommon GAA and had a wealth of knowledge about it. I was with him only a few weeks ago and though I knew he was dealing with illness issues the notice of his death came as a shock to me.
I mention also the death of Terry Greenan in New York. Here was another GAA man. I met him in the summer of 1995 when he organised a trip of his New York club Rockland boys team to Boyle and other locations in Ireland.  This he repeated in August 2000 with a U 16 team thus demonstrating his commitment to Rockland and the youth membership of the club. I found him to be an engaging and energetic individual. I extend my sympathy to his brother Johnny and also to the immediate and extended Greenan family here and abroad.

Sympathy is extended to former Minor Committee official Claire Conway and family, Lisserlough on the sad passing of the late Gerry Conway. Members of the family are players with a number of Boyle youth teams. I knew Gerry a little, years ago, when he visited the Ceili House Bar in the seventies/eighties with his regular friends. I remember him as a quiet unassuming gentleman.

May Christy, Terry and Gerry rest in peace.  

*My mention of Brian Keenan elicited the following interesting response from Christy Wynne which I thought I would share with you:

Christy Wynne / Brian Keenan
 "Reading your oblique view on Real Boyle I noticed your reference to Brian Keenan the writer. Not long ago I had the very pleasant experience of having a drink with the same gentleman. I happened to be on holidays in Dun Laoghaire and one evening I dropped in for a drink to The Graduate Bar on Rochestown Avenue. He was standing on his own in the lounge bar having a drink and as I ordered a Jameson for myself I bid him the time of night and made a casual remark that he reminded me of somebody. He hinted a smile and in his soft Belfast accent simply asked ‘Who’. Would you be Brian Keenan by any chance I said.
That ended the introductions and so began a two hour friendly conversation that became a mixed grill of topics on anything and everything. The story of his four and a half years captivity in The Lebanon was barely touched upon as I thought it too awful a topic for any man to reminisce and talk about. Having read his book ‘An Evil Cradling’ I thought almost unimaginable that any human being could survive such terrible isolation and the feeling of hopelessness that ran through it. The one solitary remark it drew from him was, “The Belfast man is a tough breed and has that iron will that goes with it”.
I mentioned I had had one other near close encounter with him, not in a lounge bar somewhere but in The Church of Ireland in Boyle some years previously at the Arts Festival when he spoke about his life as a teacher in The Lebanon and his captivity there; on that occasion he read extracts from his book, An Evil Cradling. Unbelievably he returned some years later to the same country that had inflicted so much physical and mental cruelty on him. He still loved the country and its people and wished to go back to show he didn’t hold a grudge against them. To meet up with Brian Keenan in such a relaxed atmosphere was a unique experience for me, one I’ll always treasure."

Vincent Browne’s TV Programmes
While I feel that calling the Wednesday night programme a Debate is a misnomer it was nonetheless a good platform for ventilating the issues that obtain in the Roscommon East Galway constituency. It also educated the viewing public in the region and it could contribute to making voters engage more confidently with prospective candidates when the election comes around. It must be said that the contributions by the majority of people were well articulated. I imagine that the programme, along with those from the other constituencies, will provide a dossier for those who need to be informed of those issues.
It is obvious that the anger regarding the A&E in Roscommon is still very real and that the battlefield now has moved just a few hundred yards to the Sacred Heart Hospital.
Boyle had little input with just Eddie Conroy of ‘People before Profit’ contributing.  The usual post -match analysis took place on Thursday with the feeling that the ‘winners’ were Dennis Naughton with a very strong performance and competence in a number of issues and Michael Fitzmaurice in a more general way. Fianna Fail seems to be in a confused state and not having a candidate selected and using this programme as a launch pad was a missed opportunity. 
On the Monday night show the presence of two Mayo politicians and a Galway Senator puzzled viewers. The stand-out speakers were the Editors of the local newspapers.
Tommy Greally and his hotel was an overall winner.

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