At home and abroad – so many issues

Well, there is so much to talk about this week both at home and abroad, so let’s begin with abroad.

I expect many of our readers will have been looking at the Trump inauguration. All the great and good were there. I just don’t know how Hillary Clinton managed to keep her face solid and interested throughout the proceedings, when you think of all that she endured throughout her campaign. But she managed with a frequent stoic smile here and there.

The passing-on ceremony from one president to another is very awe-inspiring as it is conducted in the US, and I watched with interest the various religious and state ministers who came to the microphone to say their bit. Trump’s speech was all about himself and America and, of course, all that he is going to do for America - nothing different really to what he had talked about during his campaign.

I admire the way his wife, Melania, looked. I liked, very much, the pale blue dress with accessories to match. I read that she went first to Tom Ford, the couturier and make-up artist in the US, and he refused, so then she went to Ralph Lauren. Whatever about that story, Ralph Lauren did a very good job on the dress. It was a simple dress and yet suited very much the occasion.

It was the next day that all of the real action began, with the women’s marches all over the world. Thousands and thousands marched in various cities including Dublin and Galway.

Then the real row began with Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, saying that so many, many thousands attended at Trump’s inauguration. He said there were far more in attendance than the media would report. Then he downplayed the number of women who marched in protest. I thought to myself, they are like children fighting over how many they each had at their respective parties. They should all drop that silly carry-on.

He seems to have gotten to work at a rapid pace with meeting after meeting, so there is something new to listen to and to comment on every day about what the president of the United States is doing.

Across the water in London, we had Theresa May’s major Brexit speech on which I made a brief comment last week. It seemed to herald a hard Brexit, but then on Tuesday we had the Supreme Court judgement in London, whereby they agreed with the case taken by Gina Miller that Theresa May could not trigger leaving the EU until she went back to the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The Chief Justice gave his judgement in about three minutes in good plain, understandable English, and I thought it was a model for anyone to look at and admire. No highfalutin’ words; just a plain result delivered in plain English.

By the way, and as an aside, Gina Miller, the businesswoman who took the case against the government, had a team of lawyers with her on the case. One of them is Derval Walshe, the son of PJ and Dolores Walshe who used to live in Willow Park, Athlone, many years ago. Derval is a very bright young man in legal circles in the UK, and I was delighted to see him standing in the party of lawyers who were surrounding Gina Miller when she gave her few words on TV.

Dolores Walshe was a very strong member of the Fianna Fáil women’s team many, many years ago when I went forward to be a TD. She was a great worker and I’m always glad to meet her now, to chat about old times and to keep up-to-date on her family.

Back home, we had the ongoing retiring of Martin McGuinness and his replacement by Michelle O’Neill. She will have a hard job to match up to Martin McGuinness, who trod so well the path from IRA leader to peacemaker.

I remember so well, the days when Fianna Fáil were in opposition, 1994 to mid-1997. During that period, I was Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil, and had on many occasions, with Bertie, to meet with Martin McGuinness and Rita O’Hare as Fianna Fáil input into the ongoing talks went on. Above all, I hope that Martin’s health holds up and that he and his wife Bernie and the family have a peaceful life together.

O the dancing, the dancing! Every Sunday night at 6.30pm for two hours we have Dancing with the Stars. I love looking at it, and last Sunday was particularly good because there was going to be an elimination and we were all wondering who would it be. I was rooting, of course, for Katherine Lynch, my friend from the Pat Kenny Review Book Club. Again, she performed really well and was one of the pairs kept on.

I laugh (though I suppose I shouldn’t ) every time I see Des Cahill. Last Sunday night, he wore a matador outfit with a multi-coloured matador cloak, and to look at him going around the dancefloor was hilarious. Nevertheless, he was kept on as well and it was Hughie and his partner who were eliminated.

The Sunday night dancing show has altered my social life! Every Sunday night I used to have a friend/visitor, and we would talk politics, life, what has been in the papers, and news. Now we have had to change the timing of all that because of the dancing! So, that particular social visit has been transferred to Monday night.

In European rugby, Leinster and Munster power on while Connacht faltered last weekend. We will not have long to wait now for the onset of the Six Nations Cup, with Scotland being the first country Ireland will meet and that will be on Saturday week. That will be something to look forward to and to watch with great interest.

Finally, we had the unveiling of the rural plan by An Taoiseach in Ballymahon this week, and later he came to Athlone to launch the extra 100 jobs at DPD, that very fine facility. Heather Humphries, the Minister in charge of Rural Affairs, is a Minister who has improved so much since her very shaky start in Government. She seems to be working hard at her brief and is certainly giving out the results.

I have had a quick look through the Rural Plan. Of course, as in all plans, it is the implementation of it that will tell the tale – for good I hope.

What a busy, busy week it has been. I will talk with you all again next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go Fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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