What an awful few days there has been again in this world in which we live.
The poet John Donne wrote a long time ago: ‘No man is an island / Entire of itself / Every man is a piece of the continent / A part of the main’, and it is so true. It would be too easy for us to brush off the atrocities that have recently occurred in France, Turkey, and the US. But we are all part of the one world and we all share kinship with these countries.
I was in Istanbul once myself years and years ago at an educational conference for just one day. I found the city crowded, hot, and interesting. I have never been to Nice but I know many people who go regularly. Of course, we have seen it all in pictures – the beautiful promenade, the lovely sunny weather, and the general wellbeing of such a fine resort.
To think that so many were mowed down by that senseless galloping of a lorry driven at speed straight at people and twisting and turning on the road to ensure that more and more victims were claimed - there really are no words for such horror.
I see in the paper that Ray MacSharry from Sligo was in a hotel in that part of Nice at the time when the atrocities happened. Then, I heard him on Saturday morning while being interviewed by Marian Finucane where he gave a lucid and chilling account of the mayhem that occurred - the sight of the bodies lying all over the promenade.
On Friday night we had the breaking news of the attempted coup in Turkey and again it was so hard to take it in. The coverage on Sky News was detailed; we got it scene by scene. We saw President Erdogan of Turkey talking on his mobile and asking the people to come out and save their country. It was a marvellous use of social media and in fact saved his life and so many others in Turkey at that pivotal moment. It appeared to be a very clumsy army move and not very well planned. We will know the aftermath of it very soon, and I guess it will be totally punitive and bloody.
Then there was the shooting of five officers in Louisiana in the US. Is the race conflict ever going to be settled in that country? From time to time there are outbreaks of it and I feel sure that President Obama would have done his best during his eight years of presidency to heal many racial rifts and divisions, but somehow they keep cropping up again.
As I am writing this, the Republican presidential convention is being held and that will be some spectacle. Whoever thought, many months ago when I first wrote about Donald Trump entering the race and speculated on his chances of gaining the Republican nomination, that he would now be not just the uncrowned king but the crowned king of the Republican Party for the forthcoming election.
Going back to a matter I referred to last week, we had a wonderful night in Lissadell with 16 women who had been full cabinet ministers under various Taoisigh since Constance Markievicz became the first. It should have been 18 but Eileen Desmond sadly passed away some years ago and Joan Burton was away so she could not be there.
But we 16 had a wonderful night together, talking over old times and about modern times as well. It is amazing how women of all parties can come together on one level. We all had tales to tell of near misses and near triumphs during our times as cabinet ministers, and of course the tales being told were both hilarious and serious at times.
Lissadell in all its glory looked beautiful and full marks to Constance Cassidy and her husband, Edward Walsh, and their lovely family, who continue by their hard work to have made such a success of the house and the whole estate. Four out of their eight children were helping on the night to serve which was fantastic to see.
The opinion polls during last weekend would make great reading if you were a follower of them. However, I have long lost faith in those polls, no matter how professional or how appropriate they seem. I keep thinking that they have got it wrong on so many occasions and, therefore, I read the material and I raise my eyebrow and tell myself there will be a different poll in the next few weeks.
The idea of a post-Brexit all-Ireland forum, which had been floated by the Taoiseach, seems to me to be a very good idea and one that should not be lost sight of even if Arlene Foster does not like the idea. Let her go off and sulk for a while about it, but I think that the Government should go ahead and set it up anyway to gather up the strands of feeling all over the island about the best way forward post-Brexit.
By the way, there is a note of warning in the recent carry-ons in Turkey. The President of Turkey was on his holidays when the army mutiny occurred, so there is a lesson there in the present period of unrest within the backbenchers of Fine Gael. Let not Enda Kenny go far away on his vacation. I would suggest he goes no further than Mulranny or Achill Island, or perhaps just up to Donegal, but in the present climate that would be as far as it would be safe for him to travel. We certainly do not want a mutiny breaking out among politicians here at home.
Talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill,