Brexit continues to prove a topical issue as new Garda Commissioner takes on key role

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

I hope so many of the readers of this column got an opportunity to look at the camogie finals last Sunday on RTÉ2. I had earmarked them in my mind for viewing and then had the double delight of the intermediate final and the senior final, both won by Cork. But it was the senior final, Cork versus Kilkenny, that fascinated me and held my complete attention for the whole duration of the game.

Talk about the cut and thrust of hurling and the magnificent games we have seen this summer. they nothing on the edge that was displayed in Croke Park last Sunday. The women were every bit as ruthless and as determined as ever the male players were. To give it a real edge, it was a close, close game, for eight times during that match the scores were equal both sides. So it was truly enthralling.

Well done to the Cork women and indeed to Kilkenny too. They really showed their mettle.

Did many of you have the opportunity to listen to Miriam O’Callaghan’s interview with Drew Harris, the new Garda Commissioner, last Sunday morning? I only came upon it by chance, and it made for riveting listening. My conclusion when the interview was over was that we, the citizens of Ireland, are in good hands while Drew Harris carries out his duties as the newly appointed commissioner of the Garda Síochana. He was straightforward, upfront and honest and I look forward to his tenure in that job.

As I told the readers earlier, last weekend I was a guest at the Kennedy School in New Ross. It was a truly wonderful event. Good speakers, good topics, good night time conversations, and some lovely meals thrown in – all in all it was a fine experience. The after-lunch speech on Friday was given by Phil Hogan. The speech was well written and he delivered it well, but it was the subsequent question and answer debate that really gripped the attention of all 200 of us in the lecture hall.

Commissioner Phil Hogan was quizzed at length by the head of Boston College in the US on Brexit, on the hopes for the future for Ireland, on history, a wide palette of subjects and Phil Hogan really came to life in answering so fully in such an impromptu way. It confirmed in me an idea I have always had that written scripts as delivered really don’t show the character of a person, or give the facts in an easily absorbed way. Whereas the thrust of question and answer, which is informal, fully shows up the knowledge and the character of the person in such an arrangement. Well done to Phil Hogan and to the head of Boston College.

Brexit was the subject matter of our panel talk, the panel consisting of four women, Dervail McDonald of the Irish Independent, Lucinda Creighton, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew and myself. So we made up a full quartet of our views on that most vexatious of subjects. Brexit trundles on in Brussels between Michel Barnier and Dominic Raab and the various civil servants on both sides. For the past few days I have noticed a glimmer of light in that Michel Barnier appears more cheerful and actually says things like “Yes I feel we are working towards a solution.” So let’s wait and see.

On Tuesday evening of this week I was in the public library in Ballinasloe by invitation of the author Nuala O’Connor. She has written a new book called Becoming Belle and she kindly invited me to do the launch. It’s a hugely enthralling tale of a girl called Isobel Bilton in Victorian England who comes up to London, becomes a Vaudeville star, and ends up four years later as the Countess of Clancarty in Garbally Court in Ballinasloe. It’s a great read and Nuala has carried out extensive research in London and here to get all of her facts correct and then she has mixed all that with some lively fiction, so it’s a compelling book to read.

Some years ago I read an earlier book she wrote called Miss Emily which was about Emily Dickinson, the wonderful American poet of the mid-19th century. To undertake that book she went to Amherst in Massachusetts in the US, researched all of the details there in the small museum which is in that town in honour of Emily Dickinson, and then wrote a wonderful account, a mixture of fact and fiction. O’Connor really is a great author and I hope that many of the readers will have a chance to look it up in their local library or perhaps get an opportunity to purchase it, read it and pass it along to other people.

There is a wonderful conference going on in Dublin at the moment, consisting of female politicians from all of the various countries which have democracy and parliaments. It’s fascinating to listen and follow the arguments and debates and to know that Ireland is hosting such a worthwhile gathering.

Sweden has just had a general election. There was great fear abroad that the far right in Sweden called Sweden Democrats were going to sweep the board. Yes, they did increase by four percent and Sweden now finds itself between the far right and the far left, and will be trying to re-form a government.

We could send them a few lessons here from Ireland in how we have managed our supply and confidence arrangements, with Fianna Fáil being the supply and confidence party keeping Fine Gael and other parties in power. We may not cut a great example, but it has worked, and more debate to follow on that very issue once the budget is agreed and voted through in the next few weeks.

That’s my lot for this week. Talk with you all next week.

In the meantime go safely.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke

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