Leo delivers first speech and our rugby stars soar

Well, so much happened in the last week, and most of it during the weekend.

Let us look first at the Ard Fheis speech of An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Cavan on Friday night. If you remember it had to be moved from Saturday to Friday night because of the Ireland match in Denmark on Saturday.

Anyway, back to his first major speech to the party faithful. I am making full allowance for the fact that it was his first big outing, so to speak, and I find myself echoing most of the political writers from last weekend and again this week. His speech was wooden and failed to impress, even though the ideas contained therein were well worthwhile and no doubt will lead on to further developments within Fine Gael policy.

I do not at all blame Leo. It was, as I said, his first outing, and no doubt as he gets accustomed to these type of speeches in public he will improve. Certainly, his audience approved of him and he will be able to bask in the memory of their applause.

Last Saturday, the Soroptomist Club of Athlone had a lunch in the Wineport Restaurant outside Athlone. I am a member of that club and I was glad to go along, particularly as the speaker at the event was Helen Dixon, who is the first Data Protection Commissioner for Ireland. We were especially delighted as a club to host her as she is from Athlone, the daughter of retired Brigadier General, Pat Dixon, and his lovely wife Maura.

The Commissioner is a very bright young woman and in her speech told us about the work of her office and what it entails on a daily basis. There is no doubt she is highly intelligent, articulate and we are so proud of her in Athlone. Above all, she is friendly and approachable, both qualities which bode well for her future in that onerous position.

Then, of course, we had the sporting weekend. You might have never left your home last Saturday with the rugby and the the soccer on one after another. And then we had the GAA on Sunday morning, if you chose to get up that early. By the way, I did not get up at 5am, but good luck to all who did.

Ireland’s international rugby match against South Africa was brilliant, with such a huge winning score. In the end, as Johnny Sexton continued to get the scores, you wondered was it all a fairytale. But no, it was a strong Irish team playing well for their country. I was just home from the Saturday lunch to see it.

Then, of course, the rugby victory led straight into Copenhagen and the Ireland versus Denmark soccer international. That fairly brought us all down to earth. Soccer seems such a tame game compared to the toughness of rugby. Yet Ireland held out against quite a dominant Danish team. In fact, I am sure the readers will remember, three minutes were added onto the game and in that three minutes Denmark went all out to get a score for their country, but it did not come off and so we lived to fight another day on Tuesday of this week.

However, the less said about Tuesday’s game the better. Ireland failed to do themselves justice in the replay, but all the hard work put in throughout the tournament should not be forgotten, and I am sure the team will rise again.

Next, the 5am GAA start in Australia. I am sure there are plenty of hardy souls who got up to look at it, but do not count me among those. This one Ireland did not win, but we await the next match in Perth in a week’s time.

All in all, a whirlwind of a weekend with all of our players in rugby, soccer and GAA on show.

As I am compiling this, Brexit looks very seriously endangered. The Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May is under pressure from the hard Brexiteers in her Cabinet, notably Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. The EU says that Britain must come forward with ideas about the Republic versus North of Ireland and the trading arrangements therein. And yet, somehow, Theresa May seems afraid to move forward on that.

Now, we will all see very clearly if the honeyed words of Michel Barnier and David Davis, and everyone else who wished so much good fortune to Ireland as the talks commenced, will be lived out, and produce a formula which will allow the same trading arrangements as if Britian were not leaving the EU.

I have said all along that I cannot see how this Brexit referendum will reach fruition in the UK, particularly as at this time also the bid to leave is going through the House of Commons and is being subject to numerous amendments, not just from the Labour Party or any other opposition party, but also from within the ranks of the Conservatives. The next few weeks will tell a definitive tale on Brexit and it is certainly time for cool heads all round as plots thicken and subterfuge abounds.

Tuesday of this week sees me in Cork, where for some time Daithí and Maura of the afternoon TV show on RTE1 have been inviting me to join them on their programme. I am looking forward to it. It is always a delight to visit Cork. After all, it is the “real capital” of Ireland! In my opinion, both Daithí and Maura are very attractive presenters with a very varied agenda each day, so I hope it goes well on my visit.

Brian Dobson is doing well on Morning Ireland and we await with interest the two women presenters for the RTE1 Six One News.

That is my lot for this week. Talk with you all next week.

In the meantime, go safely.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke

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