Thursday, June 16, 2016

Update 17th June

The British Referendum on Staying in the EU.

Though it is outside our control this is probably the most significant economic and political event for this country since Ireland joined the EU in 1973 with the U.K. and Denmark.  It is also of huge significance for the U.K itself and for Europe. Its wider implications range across the broad spectrum of European society in all its hues, political, social and economic. Since the Irish Republic is the only EU country which will continue to have a land border with the U.K. this increases the significance of our exposure to a British exit from the EU. While we have had a troubled history with Britain it is fair to say that present relations are very good and we are intertwined in trade, travel, tourism, culture and language. If the U.K. was to leave it has the potential to marginalise Ireland in an EU dominated by Germany and France. Indeed the UK plays a hugely important role as a moderating influence in the EU and is probably Ireland’s best ally there. So while we do not live in England and do not really ‘feel’ their reasons for being anti Europe perhaps the present healthy close relationship between our two countries might be a factor/consideration in how  the Irish vote there on June the 23rd.        

One of the conundrums of such a break is that these implications are very difficult to quantify and elicit differing interpretations from varied interests. It seems as if the main concern being advanced for the pro-exit lobby is the UK’s restricted powers in controlling immigration into their country. Britain has been receiving immigrants for a very long time but particularly since the end of WW2. While the Irish have been immigrating to Britain for, one might say, centuries, promoted immigration really began post the war with the influx of migrants from the West Indies. This was followed by Commonwealth migrants from India and Pakistan. Today Britain is a multi-racial society. In a sense it seems as if it is too late for that country to retain dominance for the traditional white Anglo Saxon race if that is the submerged motive for this migration stance. It appears though that a large section of people in England feel that ‘enough is enough’ and they fear that the current migration shifts, which cannot be quantified, would overwhelm the ethnic balance and potentially destabilise it. They want to have the power to enforce their own border and migration controls. That is not in that sense unreasonable.

The anti EU lobby also see the continued evolving web of EU bureaucracy as smothering local and national autonomy. The English island has always seen its autonomy as a safe haven against all-comers and they have defended that right stoutly. The problem with the EU is that though it started out as an economic coalition its powers and aspirations have rolled on much, much, further than that. This has happened in a very short historical time frame.

On the other hand the EU has had huge benefits for many of its members and there are still countries  wishing to join. The EU has led to over seventy years of peace in the region with the possibility of a further war between traditional historical foes being inconceivable. It has led to Europe being a very prosperous and developed region. It has advanced free travel and access and today, even as we speak, there are hundreds of thousands of Europeans traversing freely across France. While EU bureaucracy may be seen as a complex web it has the attributes of a legally controlling and balancing mechanism in so many areas of law, social justice, free trade, promotion of standards and has challenged localised prejudices and illogical traditions.
The answer of course is in a reform of the EU but next week’s vote does not include that option.  

I have said here before that the UK leaving the EU would be a seismic event and where it would lead to cannot be envisaged. In a local context it would probably lead to the re-establishment of a toxic border with Northern Ireland which would be a potential nightmare. The UK would not allow Ireland to be a back door into the UK for the waves of migrants who might wish to go there.
So for many reasons I hope that the UK stays with the EU.

Perhaps, after a close vote to remain in the EU, when the major powers of influence especially Germany and France see how close it was to losing a valued member that they will try and redress some of the many grievances that presently exist.      


I happened to walk through the ‘Pleasure Grounds’ early in the week. As most people will know there is a very nice children’s playground there and I have occasionally recommended it to people. However I was very disappointed to see the litter bins overflowing and considerable litter scattered there.
I mentioned here recently about litter overflowing from a skip on the way to Assylinn and I am told of outlying forest roads which are similarly despoiled. This seems to be an eternal problem in this country.
In fairness these are very frustrating exceptions as littering in the countryside is not widespread that I am aware of but seeing glaring instances of it is more than disappointing.
P.S. I see a new battle front emerging with fears that bin charges will escalate and be unregulated. People do not seem to be getting clear information on the process. It could seriously impact on the issue I referred to in my opening lines in this paragraph.  

Trump blames Obama

US news media suggest that Donald Trump has spread the blame for the Orlando massacre to include President Obama. It seems as if Obama is high amongst the touchstones for all US issues for Trump with  Hillary Clinton, Mexicans, women, immigrants and so on. While Trump has to have lost a lot of female support how is that he has ANY female support with his prejudicial utterances in their direction. In terms of Obama and the Orlando tragedy one sees in the demeanour of the US President, after each of these recurring mass shootings, the pain and  frustration he feels with his inability to make an impact in terms of gun control.
The proposed visit of Mister Trump to Ireland poses some issues for the Irish political hierarchy. I hope that the previous airport reception for him is not repeated.
Interestingly I heard his son on Irish radio a number of weeks ago talking about Doonbeg golf complex and he came across very well and very personable and reasonable. He may not listen to his dad much or have much influence on him. What else is new?
I seem to link Donald Trump and Boris Johnson in England as a double act, a questionable ‘vista’. While Johnson is perhaps bright in a; ‘I didn’t get to where I am today’ kind of thing and he may be the life and soul of a party I can hardly envisage him in a ‘dedicated driver’ role!      

Remembering the Students who died in the Tragedy of June 16 2015 in the US.

In the early hours of June 16th 2015 a large group of Irish parents began to get the news that many parents fear when they have family members abroad. There had been an accident and your son/daughter was involved. The breadth of the tragedy could hardly have been envisaged. Six Irish students died and eight were seriously injured when an apartment balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California. I’d just like to remember them today.    
Those who died were Eoghan Culligan, Lorcan Miller, Nick Schuster, Eimear Walsh, Olivia Burke and Olivia's Irish-American cousin Ashley Donohoe. Most of them were from the Dublin area.

I read some current reports that this year Irish students in that Berkeley area are finding it difficult to find accommodation because of being Irish (!) with what happened last year, as if they were to blame for it all. It is a sad reflection on those with that mind-set.

Funeral Tribute to Muhammad Ali

There were numerous fine tributes at a memorial tribute to Muhammad Ali immediately after his funeral. Tributes were paid by family members, a community worker volunteer inspired by the Muhammad by former President Bill Clinton but the finest tribute was by his friend of over forty years ‘little brother’ (to Ali as ‘big brother’) Billy Crystal. He set the tone by opening with ‘I was clean shaven when this service started’ followed by a series of fun stories from how they first met and their friendship and towards the end stating “He was the most perfect of Athletes that ever was and those are his own words”.            

Sports Review

The Euro Soccer Championships

It is a consuming summer for those of us who are hypnotised by sport. Last week end saw the Irish rugby team beat South Africa in their home ground for the first time. This was also done under the duress of having a player sent off and another player binned for a period. Then the U 20 team beat New Zealand in the U 20 World Rugby Cup in England.
On Sunday last Tipperary footballers beat Cork for a first time in around seventy years. I’ll ‘treat of’ Roscommon  v Sligo later.
The main event of course has been the Euros which started on Friday night June 10th in Paris. It is just moving through the gears a bit at the moment but come next week, when the third and final group games are played, the real drama will emerge. There are six groups and the six group winners and second teams plus the best placed third teams qualify for the next stage of 16 teams. The four best placed teams are decided by, in order; most points; superior goal difference; most goals scored; fair play in the tournament; UEFA rankings. The key question is what is the threshold number of points that will be required for qualification.
France opened the tournament with a timid enough win over Romania but got there in the end as they did on Wednesday against Albania. Wales had a good win on Saturday over Slovakia while England failed to hold out and ended with a draw against Russia. Much of the drama of this pairs meeting was on the streets of Marseilles. Northern Ireland put up a good display against top team Poland. Ireland might have been unlucky in just drawing with Sweden on Monday. The veteran Italian side rolled back the years to overcome the fancied Belgium with 2 fine goals. In this game if the GAA’s infernal ‘black card’ was in vogue at least four Italian players would have got the line. The hope for Ireland is that Belgium will be down at heel for their meeting on Saturday in Bordeaux and if Italy defeat Sweden on Friday they will have qualified and may not use a top team in the final game against Ireland. Clutching at straws.
The results of the tournament so far has been victory of Northern Ireland over the Ukraine and the draw by Iceland with Portugal. Wales were unlucky not to get a draw with England while Germany and Poland had hints of ‘a draw will suit us both’. People with good memories may remember such a German v Austria draw decades ago.  
The big games to come start Friday in Ireland’s group with Italy v Sweden and of course on Saturday, Ireland v Belgium. While those on four points are in a pretty good position it is too early to be certain of any team being through just yet.  As Donald Rumsfeld used to say ‘There are the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns’.  

Bernard Shannon Coaching Success

Three schools under the remit of local GAA coach Bernard Shannon have won school titles recently. They include Grange, Woodbrook girls team and Ballyfarnon. So well done to these schools and to Bernard for his ongoing dedicated input for a long time in schools in this region as well as his work with Boyle ladies team currently and Boyle teams down the years. It is well to note that Grange is a Boyle parish school and perhaps some of us in Boyle GAA tend to be remiss in keeping this in mind. Could do better. It was great to see the happy Grange team and mentors pictured on realboyle home page a few days ago.    

Roscommon v Sligo

This was the classic game of two halves. Joe Brolly referred to the first half being ‘a mess’ and he may have even continued with this at the end which was somewhat o.t.t. With the half time score being, Sligo 2.8 Roscommon 0.6 so it was certainly hugely depressing for the Roscommon team and its supporters.

Despite a very good game by David Keenan the contradiction is that Roscommon still struggle at midfield in the traditional sense. The deficit generally of a real fielding midfield player necessitates the strategy of a short kick out and Roscommon struggled with this element on Sunday. The old classic symptom of ‘giving the ball away’ still persists. A number of kick outs went straight uncontested to Sligo players. In the second half Roscommon players succeeded in ‘breaking’ the high ball Sligo kick out, only to have it hoovered up by Sligo players coming from the half back line.

Thanks to Senan Kilbride’s goal immediately after half time and a strong wind to their backs the second half comeback was possible. So it turned out. It was great to see the return, to effect, of Donal and Enda Smith. Both were very impressive and Enda’s goal was a peach. Roscommon’s trump card is speed but they need to create the space where that pace can be maximised.

Still they have achieved an early year target of getting to a Connacht final and there is a feeling that a Roscommon on song could do well but the Roscommon we saw in the first half v Sligo ……

Boyle GAA

U 14 League Win

Congratulations to Boyle U 14 team for their comprehensive win over Padraig Pearse’s in the Division One League Final at Creggs last weekend. It is a real platform for the team as they look forward to going south next weekend for Feile participation in the Cork region.

Seniors Second Championship Outing after Six Week’s Early Summer Break

On Friday evening next Boyle play St. Brigid’s in the second round of the Senior Championship at Kiltoom. Boyle defeated Castlerea in Boyle in the first round on the 8th of June. This is very unsatisfactory and leaves so many good club footballers without competitive games for long tranches of time. Since it is evident that the GPA seem to have no interest or remit in the fate of ‘ordinary’ club players maybe they should start an organisation of their own. It is surprising to me that they tolerate what is in effect a class discrimination which gets ‘sympathy’ but little active redress from the powers that be, whoever they be.    


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