Siege, sorrow, and endless speculation

We talked last week about the bravery of the Army men from Custume Barracks in Athlone at the Siege of Jadotville.

Since then the film has got huge reviews in all of the papers, magazines, and on social media. If you get a chance, please try to see it in a cinema. As all the reviews attest, the film is a far better experience when watched on the big screen rather than on the much smaller Netflix screen. I urge you to find out if there is a cinema near you and if you get an opportunity go to it. You will enjoy it thoroughly and it will remain in your mind as a time of extraordinary valour and bravery.

When we are talking about bravery, I had meant to bring up the name of Caitríona Lucas, the young Coast Guard Unit volunteer who died after an inflatable boat flipped during a search operation at Kilkee in County Clare. She was 41 years of age, married with a family and loved her work as a librarian with Clare County Council and also as a volunteer with the coast guards. All who knew her speak of her with great warmth and feeling – may she rest in peace.

Did many of you see our President, Michael D Higgins, on The Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy last Friday night? He was there to talk about his new book - When Ideas Matter - which a kind friend has given to me. There is no doubt that the speeches contained in this book are highly inspiring. On the show, he would not give a definite answer as to whether he would run again for another spell in the Aras. He did likewise with Sean O’Rourke during the week on the radio. He has lost none of his political skills in not answering questions he does not want to answer.

I feel Michael D has become a great president and there is no doubt that the majority of the people of Ireland feel likewise about him. My feeling is that he will run again and we will be spared all the drama of a presidential contest.

During the last few days, we had Michael Noonan on television as he went to the committee on the oversight of the Budget in Dáil Éireann and answered the questions. His spokesman explained he was out of hospital following a dose of cellulitis and it was so evident when he was on TV to note the cellulitis was on his face.

I have some knowledge of this complaint as two years ago I had it for six months in my foot. I can still so vividly remember the pain and the discomfort and how truly sick I was. Likewise, I am sure it is with Michael Noonan, but he has to keep up because there is so much to be done now prior to the Budget. At the Budget oversight meeting, he acquitted himself well and gave very clear lucid answers to the questions posed.

So the media have a new story to latch onto - ‘If Enda Kenny goes, will Michael Noonan go too?’ The papers are pondering that alongside the rumblings from the ‘Kenny Must Go’ camp.

It is my belief that the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, will go when he decides and he will not respond to the tune being played by Brendan Griffin, Jim Daly, Pat Deering, and whoever else is in their group.

I strongly believe that Minister Leo Varadkar is behind many of these rumblings, though he says not. It all reminds me so much of when the so-called ‘Gang of Four’ back in the summer of 1991 laid siege to Charlie Haughey with their mantra of ‘Charlie Must Go’. The gang of four were Liam Fitzgerald, Noel Dempsey, MJ Nolan, and Sean Power. They kept up a relentless pursuit of Charlie and were encouraged to do so by some of the media.

But Enda and his mojo are firmly back in control. The Dáil season kicks in next week and we will see all of the elected luminaries showing their paces.

The Budget is the big upcoming event before us in the next couple of weeks and the Government is assuring everyone that there is very little cash in the ‘fiscal space’ that is available. That is consistently the tactic of Ministers for Finance to dampen down expectations so that when on Budget day the book is opened and the story told - every Finance Minister tries to roll out one or two good packages. Of course, it is never enough and the clamour for more and more goes on and on.

Let us not forget this Saturday, October 1, the replay of the All-Ireland football final between Mayo and Dublin. Will Mayo be able to match their earlier display? Will Dublin improve the game over the one shown a few weeks ago? And so the endless speculation goes on, yet the papers still favour the Dublin side in their writings. I cannot understand it. As a woman from across the River Shannon in Athlone, I am all for a Mayo win and I hope it comes to pass. As the ballad goes: ‘The West’s Awake’ - so let’s show then how it can be done!

That’s all for now.

Talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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