Week of contrast as violence and celebrations erupt

In the past seven days we have had the most contrasting pictures of Ireland. In Dublin we have witnessed the dreadful murders between feuding gangs. Murders it seems carried out without any worry of danger or of being apprehended.

The Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, being questioned and harassed at every turn and yet so many of the ills of mismanagement within the Gardaí were there before her time. Now she must bear the brunt of putting it right.

The setting up of the Police Authority under the ex-head of the Revenue, Josephine Feehily, has been most welcomed. They issued a truly stinging rebuke after the first meeting with Nóirín O’Sullivan, which was held in private. I feel strongly that we are on the cusp of the sweep of a new broom within the Gardaí in Ireland, and I wish Josephine Feehily and her committee every good luck as they strive to get between the layers of bureaucracy and mismanagement that have existed for some years within Gardaí circles. It is not going to be an easy job, but it has to be done.

Then the feud between the two gangs has left people living in inner city Dublin in a state of constant fear and apprehension that they will wake up to a further atrocity within their midst. I have listened to many of the debates on radio and read those in newspapers, as I am sure everyone has.

It seems to me that there is a great need to go back to the schools if authorities wish to seek out where the bad behaviour is beginning. Often a teacher is able to notice bad or difficult behaviour beginning early on which, if explored further, could lead to better social circumstances for such families who are being brought up in inner city Dublin.

So often the schools and proper resources given to DEIS schools hold the key to early detection and the bringing of such difficulties to light, helping to put young children on the right path. However, I heard very little talk about the necessity for proper resources in the disadvantaged schools to be given to teachers devoted to such work.

I hope the many organisations which are working to bring about changes within their community are looking at the whole side of education as they seek to remedy the dreadful ills of drug-trafficking, murder, and mayhem within their communities.

Did you watch Connacht versus Leinster on Saturday last? I watched it on TG4. I haven’t got Sky Sports and do not intend to get it, however I had unrestricted access to TG4 and the wonderful game unfolded before me. To see the Connacht and Irish crowds in Edinburgh; to see the crowds at Knock Airport as the team came back the next day; to see the crowds gathering in Galway City and out at the Sportsground was all truly exhilarating and memorable.

Pat Lam, the New Zealand coach for the Connacht team, has been described as the ‘stardust for a great team’. Here in Athlone we have our own special hero in Robbie Henshaw, who always plays magnificently. “He plays with his body and he plays with his brain” was what an avowed rugby supporter told me on Saturday night when he phoned me in joy and admiration after the match had ended.

For years early in our married life, Enda was the honorary secretary of Athlone Rugby Club. Indeed his span in the position extended to almost 20 years.

Early on I got a taste for rugby, but I do love watching GAA, football and hurling, and of course Athlone Town is famous as a soccer town.

It seems to be the year of the underdog. We have Connacht in rugby. We have had Leicester City in the English Premier League, and what about Jeremy Corbyn, who was the underdog in the election of a Labour leader and yet who triumphed? So there is hope ahead for all the underdogs it would seem.

As I write this, the sun is beaming down. Much as I would like to see it continue (wouldn’t we all ), I hope that it has eased off before the State Examinations on June 8.

It is difficult enough for students to be sitting down to three hours of a State Examination, but it is far more challenging when the sun is beaming outside. We all went through such challenges and I would like to wish the very best of luck to all the students.

In the UK, the Referendum on Brexit is in full swing. Up to half a dozen Irish ministers are going over to deliver speeches in favour of the UK staying in the EU. No matter how it is dressed up, it will be in market terms quite difficult for Ireland to withstand the commercial situation if UK voters vote to leave the EU.

The debate is getting heated and positions are becoming more polarised. I guess that is the way with all campaigns and particularly with referenda.

So enjoy the sun while it shines. I will talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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