Fine Gael in full flight!

Another Saturday, another Ard Fheis...

Never let it be said that I only follow the Ard Fheis of one Party. Last Saturday night, having spent the morning and early afternoon in Dun Laoghaire with Fianna Fáil, I sat down at home to look at Enda Kenny’s speech at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis.

Commentators have described the address of An Taoiseach as dull. I thought it was steady. Yes, it did perhaps lack the inspirational flourishes of the address of Micheál Martin, but it contained a very important proviso. There was a distinct shift in his speech and in the speech of Michael Noonan of a move from the American-style tax regime which they had been promising up until now to more of an emphasis on services vis-à-vis taxation.

That is an important shift for them because they were losing the battle on services. The problem of homelessness, and it is quite dreadful, was being portrayed almost every night on TV, as was the plight of whole families being brought up in hotel rooms and other issues in that vein, so a shift was necessary.

Equally disturbing are the hundreds and hundreds of people waiting on hospital trollies for endless hours. No doubt all of these images have prompted a shift in emphasis. Speaking for myself, I would much prefer an emphasis on services rather than on the lowering of taxation.

Let’s not forget Fine Gael also promised - now and into the future - endless lines of teachers, doctors, nurses, consultants and all the people necessary to run these services. I hope these are not more of the election goodies which we will all live to regret later.

In the aftermath of the Ard Fheis in The Sunday Independent there was a nasty, nasty article by Niamh Horan speaking with Cllr Kate O’Connell. The thrust of the article was a blatant attack on Lucinda Creighton, whom she [O'Connell] is seeking to replace in Dublin Bay South. The article neglected to inform readers that both women are candidates in Dublin Bay South.

There was no hiding on Kate O’Connell’s side the blatant insults she heaped on the founder of Renua, Lucinda Creighton. I do not think I have ever heard or read such a raw insulting tirade. It was prolonged and repeated on Monday of this week in The Irish Daily Mail in an article with Senan Moloney. Quite rightly, Lucinda Creighton declined to comment.

To my mind it is this kind of naked attack between one candidate and another – one woman to another - that breeds cynicism among young voters. I myself have an admiration for Lucinda Creighton and I have no hesitation in expressing it. I hope she will have a gathering of TDs no matter how small the grouping, to form a cohesive voice in the next Dáil.

Have you been watching Rebellion at 9.30pm on RTÉ 1 every Sunday night? Next Sunday is the last of the five episodes. I found it enthralling, vivid, and so historically interesting. There were lots of back stories in every episode, and to the viewer, the characters playing in them are every bit as vivid as the main fighters in the GPO.

The portrayal of some of the English officers was so debasing. In particular the waving of the white flag of surrender coming towards the end of the episode on Sunday night was so poignant and yet uplifting. The same dramatist who is the author of Rebellion was also the author of the drama documentary on Charlie Haughey – Colin Teevan.

Above all, this series of Rebellion has evoked passionate and partisan responses in people and that, to me, is the hallmark of a magnificent piece of drama.

There was a very interesting development last week on post offices in Ireland. Businessman, Bobbie Kerr, chaired a meeting on the future of Irish post offices. I have not read the report, but I have read a condensed version of it and heard some commentary on the radio about it.

According to this report, there is a fine future ahead for post offices if they can be encouraged to be linked with another commercial enterprise i.e. a shop or a petrol station, as indeed many of them are. Small stand-alone post offices will still find it very difficult to continue, but there are good suggestions that any incoming government can take up and can implement.

What I found fascinating about the report is that it lays a clear commercial value on the social aspect of the gathering of people in post offices. Too often this is dismissed as old silly nonsense, but it is a very real factor in the lives of many people living in rural Ireland.

I would like to see the major Parties taking a combined decision that they would underwrite and implement the findings of this Post Office Report. Now that would be a good, hopeful, political act.

Talk to you all again soon. In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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