Well, we had such a week of emotion last week - in the Dáil, in the Seanad, in the newspapers, and on radio and TV.
I applaud Finian McGrath, the Minister with special responsibility for Disability Issues. When his terms for the examination of Grace and others were rejected, he took away his motion, amplified it to a great extent and brought it back to the Dáil where it was accepted. I hope we will have the results of this investigation as soon as possible.
Equally, the story from Tuam and all of the other ‘Tuams’ around the country. I hope it will be soon decided what way that examination is to go. We saw Catherine Corless on the Late Late Show and also heard her on Marian’s Sunday AM radio show. She seems to be a modest, quiet historian, and did you see the standing ovation the audience in the Late Late Show gave her? What wonderful acclaim! But, of course, Catherine didn’t want that, she just wanted her story out and now she wants it properly examined. We will await developments on that.
I hate to talk about the rugby last weekend. The Irish team playing Wales went out on the pitch but did not seem to have the zeal in them to make them believe that they should and could win. On the other hand, Wales went out full of fight and full of the will to win. I cannot, at all, come to grips with this Irish team. I really think the hype beforehand gets into their brains and somehow affects them on the pitch. Mistakes were made by nearly every player on that pitch at one point or another, and they all added up to a really disappointing result.
But the women saved the day. I watched the women’s rugby on Sunday morning and they were just brilliant. They have won every match so far this year - they are to be admired.
This week (Wednesday ) we have the Dutch election in which the Premier, Mark Rutte, seems likely to be beaten by his far-right opponent, Geert Wilders. It would be a great blow to Europe if the Netherlands succumbed to the far-right doctrine of Wilders, which would set the tone for other countries in Europe who will be facing general elections later on - namely France and Germany.
Last week, I went to the cinema in Athlone to see the film called Loving. It is about an American couple called Richard and Mildred Loving in the US State of Virginia in the mid 1950s. Richard is a block layer and he gets married to Mildred, a black girl, played by Ruth Negga. At that time the State of Virginia had a law that marriage between a white and a black person was illegal, and so both of them were arrested in the middle of the night and put into prison.
However, she sat down and wrote to Bobby Kennedy - at that time a Civil Rights Activist in the US - and asked him to look into their case. The case of Richard and Mildred was taken right through all the courts of America to the Supreme Court. The lawyer acting for them won their case and the law was struck down in Virginia, and in any other American State in which it was held, heretofore, to be illegal.
It was a truly wonderful film and when the three of us were leaving the cinema I thought how lucky we are, in Athlone, to have a modern cinema which gets the very latest in the films as they come out on general release. We are already looking forward to Sebastian Barry’s fine novel made into a film called The Secret Scriptures, which will be coming in the next month to six weeks.
Lately, I have been watching a good bit of the Dáil reports and following some of the Dáil debates. There is one thing going on which is just awful to observe. Everyone, from the highest Minister to the lowest back bencher, playing with their phones and not paying attention to what is going on. If they only knew that they can be seen so clearly.
With all sorts going on in our daily lives, it is very easy to neglect to think of the forces of nature. Yet, this week alone, we had three clear examples of both the good and the ill the forces of nature can play in our lives.
Firstly, we had the utterly sad event of the coastguard crew being lost at sea at Black Sod in Mayo. It is easy to forget that these people work to save people’s lives all the time, and yet nature decided otherwise and so we have the great grief of all who knew them.
We have the second force of nature unleashed weatherwise in the US, where so many feet of snow enveloped all of the cities that Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach, was to visit on his week-long trip to the US. The falls of snow put a stop to a lot of that, and he is ending up going to meet the President and having to forego visits to various cities which are cut off by the weather.
The third force of nature was one of love - the powerful force of redemptive love between a father and a son. Bishop Eamonn Casey made peace in the last three or four years with his son Peter, who visited him several times in Ireland in his nursing home. I thought that was the most wonderful flow that came out of the whole story of Bishop Eamonn Casey, that he was reconciled with his son Peter and Peter with him.
They enjoyed one another’s company and the fact that they were able to be dad and son, if only for a short time. Life has many quirks to it and it is often there we see the true meaning of life in these events - some terrible, some awesome, but all imbued with the forces of nature.
By the time we speak again Enda Kenny will surely be back from the US and will have laid out his plan in a conclusive fashion to his parliamentary party. We will await and see what that really means.
In the meantime, have a very happy St Patrick’s Day.
Talk with you all again next week.
Slán go Fóill,