Well, thank God, we are still basking in the kind July weather. Weather like this makes such a difference, in the most ordinary way, to everyday life, so let us hope for a continuation of same.
The main talking point of everyone for the last week has been the water situation – ‘Water, water, everywhere; nor any drop to drink’. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There is no water anywhere! The airwaves are full of the woes of the people of Louth and East Meath. Every time I hear them I thank God that, so far, in the Midlands we have been spared.
But I am filled with a fury at the thought of almost €2 million being planned to give back to people who had paid their water rates. If you paid your water rates, as myself and many others did, we do not want them back, thank you. Put them to renewing the pipes and infrastructure so badly needed in the water supply of Ireland.
Of course, we can blame Irish Water and their useless deployment of money to consultants and others in the early days, but now we are landed with the truth that at any stage an outage such as is now being occasioned in the east of the country can come our way.
I go back to the quite crazy decision by the now Commissioner in Brussels, Phil Hogan, then Minister for the Environment, to take away the water functions from the local authorities and give them over to a central agency. One would think that that would be a good idea, but it was one of the worst ever conjured up.
I heard a Fine Gael TD in Louth saying that the large town councils were going to be brought back, and I will wait to see the day. I remember when Phil Hogan was demolishing all the local councils, there were 10 towns which he said he would retain the services. One of those towns was Drogheda, another was Athlone, and Ennis, Clonmel, Dundalk, and others, but when the demolition came all were done away with.
I think it is a disgrace that our water infrastructure is in the condition it is in, and this has to be repaired whatever the cost is. We will all just have to bear it. But, in the meantime, what is the point of sending back the paltry sums that some of us have paid for our water rates? That is my crib over for the moment. But it is a massive crib and no one will fully realise it until a water shortage comes to their door.
We had a great party in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Athlone last week. I was delighted to accept the invitation to attend. The Radisson has embarked on a €2 million facelift, comprising huge changes in the ground floor and in four of the five bedroom floors.
Originally, the management of the hotel started out their ideas for a corporate buffet evening. Then they decided to make the announcement of their very generous sponsorship of underage football and hurling for County Westmeath. Then they decided to combine the two events.
So, we had a massive crowd with all the worthies and all the GAA in the ballroom, looking out on the River Shannon, being treated to a massive buffet. It was a wonderful evening of fun and talk and delight in the young people who appeared in their GAA jerseys with the sponsorship logo emblazoned across it. The only way Westmeath will ever make their way upwards again in GAA circles is through the young people, so it was a very inspiring endorsement and one which everyone can support, particularly as the endorsement is for three years.
Ah! Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. We can’t get away from it. But, in turn, I feel very strongly that the whole tone of the Brexit debate, both in the UK and here, is changing. I am quite convinced that the attitude towards it is dramatically changing. It was so funny and odd too to see David Davis, the Minister in the UK responsible for managing Brexit, arriving in Brussels to meet with Michel Barnier.
The TV picture we saw was of David Davis and his two colleagues facing Michel Barnier and his two colleagues across a table. But, the massive difference was, the Europeans had piles of documents and notes in front of them, David Davis came, as we would say, with his arms hanging – no notes, no documents. What are we to make of that?
Now, talk in the UK is of a ‘transitional period’, with Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, saying it could be anything from two to 10 years. That call is now being taken up by business leaders in the UK and also here in Ireland.
That, to me, sounds very like the whole thing is gradually losing its pace and, with that, its ferocity and its implications for a deep downturn in both countries. Let us hope that this kind of talk continues.
In the meantime, David Davis was sent back to London like a bold boy in class and told, when he comes back, that he has to have much greater clarity in his submission and in his talking points. So, let us see how that works out.
Great matches again at the weekend. But for those in the west of Ireland, we are now left with a dilemma. Mayo, who won over Cork by one point in a very tight match, will now be facing Roscommon, a team that has got fire in its belly and a determination to continue upwards.
I find myself forced into a dilemma. As I told you all before, I was reared in Roscommon from age 12 to 22. Many of my friends and acquaintances live in Roscommon and I am strongly inclined to the Rossies as a team. I have a great affection also for Mayo due to all sorts of reasons, but mainly because I like their determination and their spirit to keep at the game – to keep playing with their wish that they will make it through.
So, there we are. The Rossies versus Mayo is our next spectator thrill, and I would not take any bets on the outcome of that encounter.
So, Wednesday night of this week Vincent Browne is to have Leo Varadkar on as his guest. I am glad that Vincent is ending on a high and I know there will be a gap for many of us in our late-night viewing when he departs. I have been asked to contribute one minute to a video that many of the participants throughout the years are doing. So, he will have something to warm his retirement years in the autumn if he feels like looking back at past triumphs and clashes!
That’s all for now. Talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go Fóill,