From the sports field to the ballot box and everything in between

Yes, Dublin won out over Mayo in the women’s GAA final last Sunday, but there were positives to this contest, which makes it different.

Firstly, 46,286 people attended the match, the highest ever recorded at an all-women’s sporting event.

Secondly, there was something about the enthusiasm and the spirit of the women on the field which was a delight to see. Really, in the end, the delight of the women in blue shone so bright in Croke Park that you would have to be glad for them.

Now, I watched the match closely. In the first half, Mayo were as good if not better than Dublin. But in the final eight minutes of the game, Dublin got three goals one after another and, of course, there was no coming back from that.

Cora Staunton, the veteran player from Mayo, was truly outstanding and I hope she stays with the game. All in all, a good experience for all who participated and all who watched.

That brings us neatly to another event that took place last Sunday, the result of the German election. As I said in previous weeks in this column, Angela Merkel will be returned as Chancellor, but with a much lower vote for the CDU than before. She got 33 per cent and there had been hopes that she would get up to 40 per cent.

Be that as it may, she now has to choose her partners in Government in order to form a coalition. At the moment, it looks like the Free Democratic Party (FDP ) and the Greens will join Angela Merkel’s CDU. If that ends up to be the coalition, there is one good point in it for Ireland, and that is that the Free Democratic Party are not in favour of Emmanuel Macron of France and his calls for a Eurozone financial arrangement which would leave Ireland battling to keep its 12.5 per cent corporate tax regime. So, that is one good aspect of the incoming German coalition.

I am sure many of the readers will have gone to some event on culture night which was last Friday. All around Ireland there were some notable events of various kinds. My friends and I went to the cinema, which is after all part of the artistic environment. We went to the film Victoria and Abdul, which is about Queen Victoria and her servant from India called Abdul. It was on in the local cinema. After all, we were learning more about Anglo-Irish culture. When the film ended we went to a local Chinese restaurant for something to eat. So, we tasted Chinese culture as well on the same evening!

Queen Victoria certainly lived to be a very old age. In the film, we see her on her death-bed remonstrating with her eldest son, Bertie, who later became king. She certainly knew how to stand up to her palace retinue, and how to get her way. In one incident, we see the Prime Minister of England telling her “there is trouble in Ireland again, Your Majesty”. Of course, there would have been at the time of the end of the nineteenth century.

This week has seen the bid by Ireland to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023. A few days before that it was good to hear Dick Spring’s voice again on the radio, when he did an interview with Marian Finnucane relaying what the presentation would mean. Then we saw the full deputation, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Sport, Shane Ross, Dick Spring, the President of the IRFU, Philip Browne, and the Ambassador for the bid, Brian O’Driscoll.

By all accounts they put on a very good show. We even had Bono saying the poem by Yeats, “I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree”, amidst a whole host of other people lending their voices to the case for Ireland to get the Rugby World Cup for 2023.

There are two other countries vying for the same accolade in France and South Africa, and France have upped the monetary amount they will give towards it in an effort to get the date. These three entries will be gone through thoroughly and by the middle of November we should have an answer. It would be great if Ireland won it as rugby has always been a 32 county, all nation game, and we have contributed so much to it down the years.

We have the ongoing Brexit debate to keep us enlivened. During last week, we had the representative of the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, visit a crowded Dáil consisting of TDs, Senators and MEPs. Again, Guy told us all the things we wanted to hear, and we loved him for that. He will “allow of no harm to come to Ireland”. The Good Friday Agreement must be honoured “in all its parts”. He answered all the questions put to him by any of the members present and it was in every aspect a very good presentation.

Yes, they all love us, and we adore to hear those sentiments expressed in public, but how is it all going to happen? Well, already there are some cheerful signs in that the Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, went to the lovely city of Florence and gave a speech in which she said they would be looking for a transition arrangement of at least two years. So, I see it all coming to pass. A transition for two years, and then maybe a further transition, and then maybe in the end another referendum in the UK.

That may sound far-fetched now, but who would have thought, even a couple of months ago, that there would even be a transition arrangement. Matters are moving along on this path and I am hopeful that there will be better news as the talks develop. That is my firm belief and, as the readers will know, I have been of that mind for quite some time now. We will wait to see what develops.

I hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go Fóill,

Mary O’Rourke

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