Thursday, August 11, 2016

Update 12th August

1. Boyle GAA Auction takes place on Saturday at 1 in the Sports Complex.
2. Boyle GAA Senior team play Roscommon Gaels in their fourth Championship game on Sunday next at Elphin at 4.
3. I have been asked if I had a copy of the 2015 Old Moore’s Almanac. I do not but perhaps a reader out there may have one to give away.

Preface to Pensions Discussion
I have mentioned before about the importance of people having the appropriate ‘stamps’ on for pension purposes. I was alerted to this by the fact that a farmer friend had not been advised or else forgetting the advice in terms of paying ‘self-employed’ stamps which would have entitled him to a ‘contributory’ as opposed to ‘non-contributory’ pension. The difference being, apart from rates, that a ‘contributory pension’ is not ‘means tested’ whereas a non-contributory is means tested. In writing these notes as a preface to some main paragraphs below I say I am a novice in these matters so they are to be treated with a ‘health warning’.

In reading last Sunday’s Independent lead front page story, half way through, I came across a systems unfairness which resonated with me. It deals with pension entitlements for people who worked in say the late sixties and seventies, left work to raise families and returned to the work place subsequently and I produce it here;              

“Fianna Fail set to force €5-a-week pension rise”

Thousands of stay-at-home mothers get rock-bottom payments

TDs from all parties have been inundated in recent years with complaints from constituents, mostly older women, who are losing out on hundreds of euro every year due to an anomaly in the pension rules. In some instances, people who worked full-time and paid PRSI for most of their lives are getting smaller weekly pensions than those who worked fewer years.

It has even been suggested that some PRSI workers are receiving less than those who have never worked and who receive the €219-a-week non-contributory pension.
The weekly contributory pension ranges from €93.20 to €233.30, depending on PRSI contributions and years in the workforce. The problem arises for people who worked briefly when they were younger, before leaving the workforce to raise a family or become a full-time 'carer' for a loved one but who then returned to employment in later life.

**If the period of time that they left the workforce was before 1995, their PRSI contributions are averaged out over the number of years since they first gained employment, which could date back as far as the 1970s.

The contributory state pension is calculated by averaging the worker's PRSI contributions over the number of years that they were in the workforce.
This means that a person who entered the workforce for the first time later in life will potentially be entitled to a bigger weekly pension than someone who worked more years than they did.

*Fianna Fail's policy document gives the example of a woman who spent most of her life working in the home and entered the workforce aged 56 in 2005. She would be entitled to the full contributory state pension of €233.30.

*By contrast, a woman who re-entered the workforce aged 46 in 1995, after briefly working in the 1970s before becoming a stay-at-home mother, would get less, despite having worked more years.
The policy document on the issue states: "Individuals, mainly women who have raised families, are being penalised for having paid a small handful of PRSI payments during what effectively amounts to a previous working life."

If this applies to you, you could let your TDs’ know about it as it is unfair and needs to be reviewed.

The Death of Bishop Daly of Derry
One of the very good guys of the Northern Ireland Troubles, Bishop Edward Daly, died last Monday and thousands of people flocked to Derry city centre and to his funeral mass to pay their respects to the former bishop. Father Daly, as he was then, will be forever remembered photographed with a white handkerchief as members of the public carried a wounded colleague out into the open during the Bloody Sunday shooting of 13 civilians by British army paratroopers in Derry on January 30th 1972. They had all been part of a Civil Rights march in the city.  Later as Bishop Daly he confronted the I.R.A. as he imposed restrictions on what was allowed during funerals of I.R.A. members also shot during that war. He was, along with giants like John Hume and many more, involved in efforts to bring the ‘troubles’ to an end. I met him briefly at the official opening of the Derry City’s Tower Museum of local history and the Troubles when I happened to be visiting the city.  

Ronnie Delaney 
I mentioned Ronnie Delaney last week and then I was told that he was in Carrick-on-Shannon very recently at a GAA function honouring Packie McGarty and Cathal Flynn two Leitrim football legends from the fifties and the sixties. He was also on RTE Radio on the Friday morning of Olympic opening day with Keelin Shanley talking of his athletic career and his trip to the Melbourne Olympics of ‘56 which I referenced. It was a gem of an interview which I enjoyed he being in my mind. Sometimes you meet someone you haven’t met in many years and then you seem to bump into them a number of times in a short period. He talked of the Irish team of 11 including one manager travelling to Australia via the U.S. and Ronnie linking up with the team in New York and then to the West Coast, Honolulu and other hops to Sydney and on to Melbourne a real marathon of a journey then. ‘I basically looked after myself though Maeve Coyle, a previous Olympian, helped us. There were a number of fine boxers who did well Freddie Gilroy, Johnny Caldwell, ‘Socks’ Byrne and Fred Tiedt. He described his mile race in detail and of coming from way back ‘The race began with the bell (for the last lap) only that the bell ringer forgot to ring it. I was a racer, the youngest there at 21. I had my tactics well off, follow John Landy and then, with 400 yards remaining, make a decisive move and it worked. I had practised crossing the finish line and my prayer of thanksgiving went down very well with clergy everywhere.’ Ronnie Delaney, now 81, related his story with humour and clarity. It was a throwback to an era of purity in sport and respect for the original Olympic ideals. 

Reflections on Boxer Michael O’Reilly’s Error
Michael O’Reilly made a mistake, a big mistake. He let himself, his family, team and coaches and country down, maybe even in that order. There is a climate now that suggests he will be cast off like some leper of old. I do not know anything  about Michael. Perhaps like a lot of boxers he would not be a MENSA candidate but as the saying goes ‘he who never made a mistake never made anything’. Most of these are private mistakes. Michael’s problem is that it is a very public mistake and impinges upon others. Many sportsmen have made mistakes Beckham kicking out, Zidane, Roy Keane exiting Saipan which I imagine he regrets, down to Sean Cavanagh getting sent off last Saturday evening and possibly costing Tyrone the match against Mayo. Sport is speckled with mistakes. Life is littered with them also. People still drink and drive, people gamble too much, people succumb to all the weaknesses of human nature. 
O’Reilly’s ‘public’ mistake discomforts those who engage with his sport and feel cheated as many of us who coast in our armchairs watching our Irish representatives and from time to time get the feel good factor from their efforts. In life we often shun people who make mistakes trying to ensure that we are not seen as condoning what they did. 
I imagine that Michael O’Reilly will return with a heavy, even a broken heart. I hope that the organisation who has him in a distant land do their duty of care by him until he gets home. I imagine there are photographers  arranging to get the ‘first’ snap as he comes out of arrivals at London, Paris or wherever.
He will need more support than he has ever needed heretofore in his young life. While I doubt if that will come from the ‘sports supporters’ or commentators it will have to come from his primary font of support, his family.  

Irish Boxing Team Further Woes

Paddy Barnes Weight Issues
I watched as Paddy Barnes was defeated by a very good and confidant boxer from Spain, who actually got beaten in his next round. After the fight speaking to Evanne Ni Chuilinn on RTÉ, Barnes was brutally honest about the fight and how he felt drained after even round one. It emerged that had he got the decision he felt he would hardly have been able to take on the next round. It apparently was the result of Paddy struggling to make the weight of light-fly weight of 7 stone 10 pounds which is the lightest boxing weight. Apparently there have been issues for him with this weight for a couple of years. It finally caught up with the double bronze medal winner in Rio. I am puzzled though since he was struggling to make this light-fly weight that he had not moved up at least one weight division. 
The defeat of two other Irish boxers Joe Ward and David Oliver Joyce means that the bright expectations for the team have now contracted to Michael Conlan, Stephan Donnelly (winner today Thursday) and Katie Taylor. Joyce was up against a formidable opponent but Ward might have done better. One could see the frustration of the RTE analysts, Bernard Dunne –especially- and Michael Carruth to Ward’s performance. The absence of former coach Billy Walshe has re-emerged as a factor in the woes of the boxing team from whom so much was expected. 
A question I did not ask in the paragraph on Michael O’Reilly above, but I ask it here, why, since it appears that the ‘positive for drugs’ results had to be known before the team flew out to Rio, were the IOC not informed and the boxer disallowed from travelling if and until things were clarified?  Indeed the management of the whole episode by those the organisations responsible seems to be a mess.  
The fiasco continues with the story of an Irish connection to black market tickets. No wonder that Paul Kimmage in Sunday’s Independent spoke of his disillusion with the whole carnival that is the modern Olympics. 

The coming week-ends two big hurling games
Saturday sees the replay of Kilkenny and Waterford in Thurles. Waterford should have sealed the result last Sunday and most people will be saying that they missed their chance. However Waterford have many fine hurlers and though it is a great stretch back to 1959 Waterford defeated Kilkenny in the final in a replay. Also Kilkenny looks a good bit short of the invincible team of a few years ago. 
The Galway v Tipperary Semi-final on Sunday could go any which way.  

(I had intended to write some lines on another legend of Irish sport, handballer Ducksie Walshe of Kilkenny, who died suddenly last week so hopefully I’ll get to doing that for next week).    




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