Theresa May, British Prime Minister
One could open with;‘Theresa, you can not be serious’ on hearing of the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. I imagine the reaction of Angela Eagle one of the contenders for leadership of the British Labour Party will be a telling U Tube hit from today, Thursday. Also the ‘We are not amused’ reaction from Germany. While class clowns, who are usually bright and bored, brighten school days, I am not so sure that the critical environment that Boris now enters is an appropriate one for someone who is almost impossible to take seriously. It is a leap of faith to see Boris representing 80 million people in pivotal discussions with Putin of Russia, the Chinese, Middle Eastern Fundamentalists, Israelis, Germans, or in a picture with President Trump! He is also going to be a considerable distraction as you can see from the heading of this paragraph of my humble offering. I imagine British newspaper editors are now assigning key reporters whose task will solely be a ‘Boris Watch’. One tabloid front page has him on a zip wire. How does one equate that with his present position? (Remember Albert Reynolds in his cowboy outfit!)
Theresa May, from emerging reports, always wanted to the P.M. but probably felt that it would be somewhat later in her career. However the tsunami of political turmoil in the U.K. has led to her being placed in the lead role. Apart from a war scenario the challenges could not be more daunting. She has been mildly anti EU exit and yesterday declared that she was going to accept that course and make a success of it.
In appointing Johnson, Davies and Fox she is applying a weld to the divided Conservative Party and also putting those who most advocated for ‘Out’ into the front line to now sort out what they wished for. Still she chose to dispose of Michael Gove which was a bit disappointing for him I don’t doubt.
In interpreting what is being said of her Theresa May is a very capable lady and comparisons with the first woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, are being readily drawn. Similar but different.
Born in 1956, her father was a vicar and she an only daughter who became involved very early-aged 12-in Tory political activity. A bright student at Oxford where she met her husband Philip May who will be more an influence than Mrs. Thatcher’s husband Denis, I suspect. She has been an able and tough Home Secretary and in an address to a police association she said ‘If you don’t change of your own accord we will make the changes for you’. Her introductory speeches, yesterday Wednesday, suggested that her Government would govern with a broad brush and that the country would not just be a country for the ‘privileged few’, the bankers, and the elite. She directed her initial policy declarations towards the many people in Britain who feel abandoned by traditional Conservative governments. She referred to ‘tackling the burning injustice in society’ and referenced ‘economic reform and social mobility’. At one time she had campaigned under the slogan ‘Theresa May for Equal Pay’ (for women). Much of this has been the platform of the Labour Party which is currently swirling like a fishing cork in a river whirlpool. Now some of their policy planks are being borrowed. I doubt if the Northern Ireland question will be able to get as much of her attention as with previous administrations.
Some people are trying to dress up the Boris Johnson appointment as ‘positive but risky’ but I feel that it is a surprisingly big mistake.
In my critique, last week, of Tony Blair and his legacy being that, he led Britain into a Middle Eastern War (with the U.S.) and that the consequences of that ill-judged war is being felt today and will be ongoing into the future.
A great achievement he was pivotal in bringing about and we have to commend Tony Blair for, was his contribution to the Good Friday Agreement and the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. I shouldn’t have forgotten that.(I fully realise there were many more who contributed to that also from Northern and Southern Ireland, the U.K. and the U.S.).
I watched some coverage of the last events unfolding for David Cameron as British Prime Minister. He had been Prime Minister for 6 years and leader of the Conservative Party for 11. Once, before that, when asked why he would like to be Prime Minister? He replied ‘Because I would be good at it’. He seemed to me to have been pretty good at it and it was unfortunate that he had pressed the self-destruct button by calling a Referendum on whether or not to stay with the EU. Again in reference to Northern Ireland he gave a fulsome apology in the British Parliament for the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972. The last of his Prime Ministers questions was a warm and humorous occasion sprinkled with wit, ‘I was the future once’, where he got much generous praise. His final farewell in Downing St. with his family was, as most farewell’s are, somewhat poignant. Quo vadis for him now, a young man of obvious talent and experience? So many people, young and not so young, find themselves in that predicament.
Milton said in his great poem ‘On His Blindness’ despite his conclusion which I contest:
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account,
Brief Enda Kenny Watch
I saw on the news, the press conference of the Taoiseach and Angela Merkel and it showed what a difficult task Ireland will have in the post U.K absence from the E.U. Promoting the issue of Ireland being a ‘special case’ will be a big challenge. Everyone has its ‘special case’ scenarios and little Ireland, now on the outer edge of the EU, will have a real problem to make itself heard with its main ally, the U.K., not being there.
Last night, Wednesday, I watched the Dail in progress on ‘Oireachtas Report’. It is said that this is a programme for ‘insomniacs’. There is a second category but I cannot remember it. Anyway it was pretty depressing viewing but I stayed with it for education purposes. Mick Wallace brought up the issue that the very important nerve-centre Garda station, Harcourt Street, was part of a property portfolio which had been sold to a ‘vulture fund’ and so the state agency were only renters of that property now. I remember something, from quite a while ago, about the state having to pay a nominal rent for the GPO as the state did not own it.
If watching the Dail was for insomniacs it seemed as if many of those present for Taoiseach’s questions had no insomnia problems as an atrophy hung over proceedings. It surprises me the amount of I Phone activity that T.D.s’ indulge in while in the Dail. Perhaps they are researching answers to opposition questions or whatever, as Regina Doherty was last night, and passing the ‘answer’ on to the Taoiseach
Ireland’s 26 % Growth "Leprechaun Economics” Farce
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman described the phenomenon (of the Central Statistics Office report of a 26% Growth in the Irish Economy) as "Leprechaun economics".
Irish and other ‘experts’ lined up to explain why these figures do not reflect the real position by a long shot being nearly four times that recorded in China for the same period and reflecting a 102 per cent spike in net exports!!!!
How then do these figures get traction thus making a joke of Irish economic measurements and of the country generally?
Over 700 Tourists get Mugged
Over 800 tourists got ‘mugged’ in this country last year, the majority in Dublin. I hope that the ratio of such incidents in this country is not overwhelming by comparison to other countries but such numbers cast a dark stain on our reputation. Walking in parts of Dublin is a bit threatening at times but being an ‘obvious’ tourist can certainly attract the wrong attention. The figures, which were released by the Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS), show that many of the victims tended to be women aged between 17-25.
Of the 726 crimes reported, just over half (52%) related to pick-pocketing. The majority of the incidents happened between 2-6pm in Dublin city centre.
The figures are only representative of those who were referred to the ITAS, so the overall number of tourists mugged is likely to be much higher.
Thankfully it is not an issue in most parts of the country. Vigilance is key and the basic rules of care apply.
Boyle Arts Festival
Boyle Arts Festival which has been such a success for decades now begins next week. There is a wide and a varied programme and early booking is recommended for a number of events. Hopefully its success levels will continue as there is something for everyone. Possibilities for me would include Carole Coleman and Paul Williams, two Leitrim people; the play ‘Lovely Leitrim’ (again); Frankie Simon and friends; Tulsk in Dodd’s; Kieran Goss and Mary Black amongst others.
Thoughts on Roscommon v Galway
I am not going into the detail of this game but just mention a few observations of mine and others.
First I will commend the great efforts of the players from both teams in the very, very, poor conditions.
The other positive element is that Roscommon are still there in the Connacht Championships and despite the poor quality of last Sunday’s game a replay provides the possibility of redemption on that score.
On the other side of the coin:
1. The slide of counties to these defensive games, in a win at all costs, is hugely disappointing. This is not the traditional football of either Roscommon or Galway. Conditions contributed to the poor quality of the game as I’ve said. That Canon Liam Devine, and ardent supporter of the game and of Roscommon, could suggest he was in yawning mode at times during the game speaks for itself.
2. The defensive set-up on Sunday saw Enda Smith as a lone forward against three defenders for quite a bit of time. What about four attackers in the opposition half?
3. Starting the build-up with the short kick-out means that the opposition have the time to retreat and establish their defensive structure. Roscommon found it almost impossible to penetrate that structure on Sunday. The exciting pace of advance that we have seen in many games this year was absent for the most part.
4. The lateral and backward passing seems totally exaggerated. The mantra is, of course, hold onto possession.
5. The reluctance of players to ‘shoot’ to the degree that obtains, one can only guess as coming from coach instruction as the instinct that has been there through under-age appears to have been smothered. This was really evidenced by the lack of a shot in the last 20/30 seconds when one last effort could have stolen the result. I know the repost would probably be ‘We had come back with two very good late points and did well to get out with a draw so we couldn’t risk losing possession with its risks at the death’.
6. It was Mickey Harte I believe who said ‘we’re not in the business of entertainment’. Well it should at least be a consideration since over 20, 000 people paid pretty good money and went to a lot of effort to be present.
And so to Castlebar on Sunday and hopefully the conditions and the quality of the game will be much better.
P.S. There was considerable comment also on the issue of access to and from Pearse Stadium on Sunday last. A few people apparently were lucky but the city just came to a standstill as tales of taking and hour to advance a mile or so emerged.
The prize for result of the week-end goes to Longford who defeated favourites Monaghan. Waterford got a dispiriting roasting from Tipp. and Wexford had a great win over Cork. It is hard to believe that this was their first Championship win over Cork since the 1956 All-Ireland Final. Clare had a god win over Laois and they now meet Sligo in Sligo this Saturday. Mayo had a real scare from Fermanagh and an embarrassing incident involving Aidan O’Shea opened the door for them. They might have won anyway but Aidan’s action was a big help.
Portugal Euro Champions
The long Euros are over. It was a competition where the football was very average but the stories were top class. The main feature was the progress of Iceland and especially their win over England. The progress of Wales too caught the imagination though it all ended a bit limply for them. For Northern Ireland and Ireland too it was a games to remember especially for the thousands of supporters who were able to go to France. It looked as if France would follow the trend of a top country eventually getting over the finishing line, with memorable exceptions in Greece and Denmark. It also looked as if the fates were also backing this with the early injury to Ronaldo of Portugal in the final. Like many people I was not very partisan as to who would win but as the game progressed I leant towards Portugal and so it went. They won their first big international tournament. For a small country it was a major validation and joy. I enjoyed it especially the first couple of weeks.