Controversial politics both home and abroad

Isn’t this May/June weather just glorious? Heavy, verdant growth everywhere, birds working overtime thrilling and singing to all and sundry as they wheel around the sky, young children out playing with their bicycles, balls and all the outdoor pursuits they can.

Such a great spell of long warm weather to be enjoyed and treasured and it’s so good to wake up every morning to it and to go to bed every night with the heat still around us all.

I hope you enjoyed the end of May recent bank holiday. As you know, and as I’ve often told the readers, I just really like a bank holiday. On Sunday last, we had the Dubliners down and that’s always an occasion for chat, talk, play and more chat- a wonderful time for all. Then, on the Monday, it’s time to relax and recover from the week past and ready to face the week to come.

Next weekend we will have the first of the Irish/Australian matches. Joe Schmidt will announce his team this Thursday. These friendly overseas matches are a preparation, I think, for the World Cup which will be held in Japan in 2019. Joe has plenty of fine players from which to make his pick and, of course, it is wonderful for them all to get going and also to uphold the flag for Ireland.

Over the weekend there were some terrific GAA games. The Waterford versus Tipperary game which saw the goal that was and the goal that wasn’t, but the end result was a draw. There will be much heart searching over that goal which is generally regarded, I believe, as being a goal in error but, be that as it may, Waterford has lived to fight another day.

The most dramatic match of the weekend was Fermanagh versus Monaghan. Closely fought by both sides but, in the end, Fermanagh got the win.

Then we had the Connacht semi-final in which Galway trounced Sligo 4-24 to 1-12.

Next weekend will see Galway and Roscommon in the Connacht final which is to be held in Hyde Park in Roscommon town.

There was a lot dithering about where this Connacht final would be held. Last year Roscommon played Galway in Galway on their pitch and this time it was adjudged to be Roscommon v. Galway in Roscommon in the Douglas Hyde Park. And so, it has turned out to be, but not without a lot of pursed lips and tut tuts from on high in Connacht GAA circles. But Kevin McStay, the Roscommon coach, held firm and, in the end, it was Roscommon’s turn and Roscommon will be the venue.

I remember, so well, last year in the Galway versus Roscommon match. Roscommon won out in Galway and then they faced Mayo in Croke Park. The first match was a draw and then the repeat match was a huge win for Mayo against Roscommon.

Roscommon are a hardy team and they are playing well and in good shape at the moment. They have a huge following from Athlone and all the way upwards and beyond Roscommon and there is great anticipation for this match next weekend.

Great political turmoil in Spain where the Socialist Leader, Pedro Sanchez, ousted the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy. There was a strong debate in Parliament and then the votes were taken. Hence the take-over.

It just shows you that there doesn’t have to be a general election to have a new parliament. I can remember back in 1994 when Fianna Fáil and Labour were in government. Then there was a seamless take-over and Fine Gael joined forces with Labour and the Democratic Left and formed a government, and Fianna Fáil were in opposition. It was a mere matter of crossing the floor and exchanging places in Parliament.

I was talking to someone who has just spent a week in Spain and they said Spain has really recovered from the economic crash which they had at the same time as Ireland, Greece and Portugal. But, apart from Ireland, which has made a spectacular recovery, Spain is next with very good growth rates, employment and a bright future.

Let’s hope Sanchez will govern well even though he is in a distinct minority and there is no sign of a confidence and supply agreement as Fine Gael has here. Rather, he is being supported by a hotch-potch of smaller parties. But, we’ll wait and see what the outcome will be. The constant good weather in Spain should add, however, to a benign political environment.

Then we have had all the political carry on in Italy and finally, just when it seemed there was no answer to the dilemma, we had a new government sworn in composed of the Five Star Movement and the Far Right League which struck a deal with Giuseppe Conte, the new Prime Minister.

This combination government in Italy is strongly Eurosceptic so Europe is distinctly unimpressed with the whole election result. But that is democracy, as we all know.

So, we’ll watch these two countries, Spain and Italy, as they go on their new political paths whereas, here in Ireland, we are awaiting the October budget and the legislation which will flow from that.

It’s a very difficult time for Fianna Fáil and for Micheál Martin, though he is in the good position of having, early on in the campaign, announced his preference for the yes vote, which has left him in a position of authority in political circles, even though many in his own party were straightforwardly for the no vote.

I had a lovely engagement last Wednesday in Abbeyleix in Co. Laois. The county of Laois has a very active and friendly Age Action Plan and they kindly invited me, as a guest speaker, for their afternoon tea dance at which there were over 300 people, women and men. It was a marvellous turn out and great spirit evident everywhere.

Laois takes Age Action very seriously. They have set up an Age Action Forum and from it has flowed many useful plans and ideas involving the older people in the county. Many counties are doing this initiative and I think it is very good seeing as, as the years go on, we’ll have more and more much older people living useful lives in the community and the easier it can become physically for the them, the better it will be all round.

Lastly, but not least, what are we to make of the on/off romance/friendship between Donald Trump, the US President, and Kim Jong-un? The meeting date is set again for some time next week. For all of our sakes I hope it happens and that there will not be another dramatic falling-out before then. These leaders are volatile and the work put in by the officials, on both sides, will help to pave the way, I hope, for a more tranquil type of a meeting between the two main actors.

As I write this, the main political news is Mary Lou McDonald, the Leader of Sinn Féin, with her strong interview in the Irish Times, laying out her political stall and saying that she will do a deal with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael come the next election. So, let’s wait and see how all that works out. After all, the final say will be the hand of the voters who will deal the political class the votes to enable them, I hope, to form a government.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all again next week. In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go Fóill

Mary O’Rourke

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