Well, the referendum has come and gone and there is no dispute about the result. It was a massive shout out for the 'Yes' voters – quite amazing!
I remember, many weeks ago when the campaign started, I said in a small remark that I hoped the campaign would be conducted along respectful lines. By and large it was carried out like that and I am glad of it. An odd time there were some frayed tempers, but they were very isolated incidents.
I am now three years writing this column and I feel I should be open with the readers and tell you all that I voted 'No'. Not for any religious, medical or sociological reasons, but for the main central point that I did not agree with the removal of the protection for the unborn child, who would have a future and all the potential of a human being in later life to look forward to.
Having said that, I am glad it is all over and it is full steam ahead now for the legislation and all the attendant arrangements which must be put in place to carry out the will of the people.
Following the result, I watched a lot of TV over last weekend, from RTE in Roscommon on Saturday and from TV3 on Sunday. Time now to get back to all of the other issues which are crowding in on us every day.
The May weather is just magnificent, would you not agree? We had all the earlier rain and now the bright sunshine is making the countryside so thick and verdant and absolutely beautiful.
How good it is to be alive and to enjoy it. I hear the voices of doom saying “this is our summer now and once this May session is over we will get no more fine weather”. I would prefer to look at it and say “isn’t it great to get it in this month of May, so enjoy it while we have it”.
It is too bad that the young children have to go to school during the bright sunshine and that the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert will begin next week. Hopefully good weather for all of us, but for those sweltering in examination halls it will not seem like that. Good luck to all of the young people who are facing into these state examinations.
I have two grandchildren, one in Dublin and one in Athlone, both sitting the Junior Cert, so of course I have a strong vested interest in the various papers. I want to extend good wishes to all the young students, all over the country, who are facing through a very important time now in their lives.
We can say what we like about exams but, thankfully, in this country the exams are fair and carried out to a very high standard. Of course, there is pressure on young people while they are going through them; pressure to study for them, pressure to not panic during the actual examination while answering of the questions, and a longing in every young student’s mind and heart that they should do their best. They will be glad, of course, when they are all over.
What do we make of the on/off friendship between the President of the US and the leader of North Korea. I had thought we were set fair for June 12, but each day brings a different story. Is it on or is it off? Are they going to meet or are they not? Will there be a settlement and will the world be a safer place after they have met? All probing questions to which we have not yet got a definite answer.
Neither have we got any definite answer from Theresa May and the UK Government as to what their thoughts will be for the June EU summit when they are due to give their interpretation of the backstop arrangement for Northern Ireland. As I said before, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, is hemmed in on all sides, mostly by Brexiteers who want to persist in their foolish quest for horizons which they can never gain again.
I saw, on BBC TV last weekend, Jacob Rees-Mog MP, and I was frankly amazed at how little he knew of conditions of Irish history and, more than that, how little he cared about a binding agreement which had been made in his name and for which he now wished to deny all responsibility. Each scheme which the British side puts forward is more hare-brained than the scheme before it.
Brussels just keeps saying no and, of course, they will have another try. All the time, the only matter which is holding the Brexiteers in any check at all is the fear that if Theresa May is defeated in more votes in the House of Commons a general election could be called. The fear then is that the result of that will be that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn will come into office. That is the only matter which is, in any way, curbing their tongues.
On Saturday evening, when all the tumult of the voting was over, I sat down to look at TG4 and to watch Leinster versus Scarlets in the Guinness Pro 14 final. It was also the last match for Leinster for their captain Isa Nacewa, and when I saw him lifting the trophy I thought of all that must be going through his head. He was a wonderful captain for Leinster and a wonderful player.
Leinster has been led very well by Leo Cullen, who knows each player inside-out. It was a disappointment that Robbie Henshaw, due to injury, was not able to play but, hopefully, he will be available, ready and able for the upcoming major games.
Turning to GAA, there were marvellous returns in Leinster where, completely against all form, Carlow beat Kildare 2-14 to 1-10, and now find themselves in the Leinster semi-final. Longford had a good and very unexpected win against Meath, 0-16 to 0-14. Not so for Westmeath who were truly trounced by Laois. Roscommon had a fine win over Leitrim in the Connacht semi-final played in Carrick-on-Shannon last weekend. Roscommon have had a good winning streak and I hope it continues.
The draws are out and it is full steam ahead for each of those pairings beginning June 9/10.
That is my lot for this week.
Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill,