Your vote is valuable, make sure who gets it deserves it

Thu, Jan 28, 2016

Before the cock crows five times, the belief is that the country will be in election mode. Not a dog will be able to relieve itself against the base of a telegraph pole for fear of having a ladder placed on his paw. Not a handshake or a greeting will be uttered by an upstart candidate that won’t be cynically mistaken for a canvass. And the stage will be set for what will be perhaps the most open and unpredictable general election in modern times as the parties and their people stomp from door to door to get your vote.

It will be an election that will be fought across a variety of new platforms. The traditional hustings style situation or the back of a lorry outside the church on a Sunday will be eschewed for mass communication, with battles fought through portable devices, and opinions whether substantiated or not, being made by supporters using audiences to which they had no access previously. Claims will be made and allegations will be made by “alligators” as the battle for every single vote goes right down to the wire. It will be an election like none before.

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Two decades of comfort and culture

Thu, Jan 21, 2016

Out back in the darkness, back beyond the velvet and the drapes and the flats that hold up the set, there are the steep stairs, bounding down them, throwing your lines together in your head, rubbing makeup into your neck, the smell of sweat and talc and panic and calmness. Up here, you can hear nothing, ‘cept for the occasional applause. And as you exit that far flung dressingroom, with your costume change completed, you struggle not to be distracted by the lane outside. Up here you could be anywhere, but in a minute you’ll be on stage in front of 400 souls. And when you wait in the green room and keep an eye on the monitor to see where your fellow cast members are at in the story you are telling your audience, you can feel the hairs rising and you rise and stretch and go through your routine, before completing the journey down to backstage. Back here in the darkness, you wait for your cue, you get into the mental space, you feel the reassuring squeezes of your fellow cast members. And you wait.

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They’re coming to get your vote

Thu, Jan 14, 2016

We’re nearly there, any day now. Enda will sup tay with Michael D, slap him on the back and say ‘howya lad, I’m thinkin’ of going to the country so will ya sign this pieceen of paper so I can turn the car wesht and start the canvassing’…the knocking on doors. But I’m ahead of him. I’ve been on the canvass for a month now. Getting the face out there. Pressing the flesh. Meeting the great unwashed. With their flus and their colds. And the smell of dinner of them. Every night I’m at it and every day. With my team. Up the path shuffle, ears open for fear the bloody dog would wake, but there’s no dog so there’s a soft cough and a rattle of the knocker and a figure coming up the lit hallway…Howya Maam is himself at home? Oh sure yourself will do. I’m running in the election so I am so I’d be hoping you’d give me your number one or two or anything at all…sure I know yer local man has looked after ye well down here with the new light above at the church and all that but I’d look after ye too so I’d take a two too so I would when you’re scratching your numbers down at the school next month…Oh ya well that’s great so it is…and here’s me card and me email address. I’ve an email address now that people can email me from their email machines on their computer thingys…or you can twitter me or like me or poke me on Facebook, so if you’ve any potholes or potheads or anything you want rid of, I’m your man. I’m your man. I’ll do everything I can, to get meself elected…thank ya ma’am thank ya… Too aisy, this is. The public love me, can’t get enough of me, but will they vote for me. D’ya think she’ll vote for me? She will in her…whole month now I’ve been doing this patch, scratching away at the list all week…patting snottynosed kids and spitting at snottynosed dogs…giving me opinion on everything and anything under the sun…’cos I’m well read…Get the Times so I do…Vote for me. I’m your man. I’ll do everything I can, to get meself elected…Repeal the eighth is it? Jaysis that’s wimmens’ matters now so I’m not too up to speed on these but sure if you want me to repeal it, whatever it is I will, and the Ninth and Tenth as well if you that’s what you want. And I’ll plead the Fifth. I will, sure I will if you’ll vote for me…I nod a lot and what’s the word, empathise. That’s the one. It means pretending I feel like they do…I tut tut. Yeah the floods and the hospital…shocking stuff shocking…you were 78 hours on a trolley…jaysus that’s terrible so it is. Well if I get elected, I’m banning trollies so there’ll be none of them. They can sleep on the floor. They’ll be glad they had trollies then, so they will…and the homeless, yeah I think about them, but sure you don’t have to think much about them when you’re knocking on doors, ‘cos they don’t have doors and you’re not going to meet one, so you nod and tut tut…and blame the government…Vote for me. I’m your man. I’ll do everything I can, to get meself elected…I dream of the guts of a million spondoolicks over five years. I dream of standing on the plinth outside the Dail in March. A plinth is just a big step, ok. One big step for “I’m ur man”kind…“what d’ya mean I’ll have no power. Sure I will. I’m me own man. I won’t be whipped. Sure I haven’t been whipped since herself came home from Fifty Shades in the village cinema last year full of bullock’s notions, so she was. I keep walking and knocking. They love me. Can’t get enough of me. I’m giving them everything they want. Another door, another mangy dog, where are all the cat lovers when you’re canvassing?… they send the kid out ‘cos they’re watching Operation Transformation and the state of them all sitting on the couch atin’ pizza and drinking Coke and laughing at the fat feckers on the telly. Father waddles out eventually…I shake the hand and he tried to catch me out. “Sure I’m a nationalist too, yeah the right kind, not the kind that kills ya, the other kind. We’re five weeks out now from the big day…don’t forget the face now or the name…got the new suit for when they lift me on their shoulders and throw me up and down…and my speech done, two of them, wan for if I’d ever lose, and another one where I thank Mammy for making me the man I am, and for making me breakfast for nigh on 50 year.

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The importance of the watermark

Thu, Jan 07, 2016

When the evening stretches beyond teatime again, they’ll look at it. They’ll run their hands along it, they’ll let the green slime fill the little rivers on their fingertips. And they’ll marvel and say, isn’t that amazing?

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Local tragedies have numbed us all this festive season

Wed, Dec 23, 2015

Tragedy and misfortune seem to be amplified the nearer they are to the Christmas season. Our reaction to news of the darkest kind at this time of year centres on the ruination of the occasion, the absence of friends, the destruction of memories and the fact that it careers into the path of a season that is ostensibly presented as one of joy and familial togetherness.

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The magnet of Galway keeps drawing in med tech giants

Thu, Dec 17, 2015

Back in the day, there was nothing quite like a jobs announcement to get the blood flowing in a journalist. A jobs announcement meant a call from the hallowed offices of the IDA; a tip off that there was good news in the air; an early morning start to meet a Minister on his/her arrival at said destination; wellies at the ready if it was a greenfield plan; or surgical scrubs and hairnets if it was in one of those new squeaky clean facilities that now dominate our industrial landscape.

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The silent burglar of rising water

Thu, Dec 10, 2015

Our homes are precious places. They are the last bastion of the day dreamer, they are the harbours to which our emotional ships flee in time of strife and bother. To our homes, we afford a feeling of invincibility because they are not bolstered alone by bricks and mortar, but by love and memories and familial strength. That is why when homes are burgled, so much more is lost than the goods that are taken. What is stolen first and foremost is the sanctity of the home, that the boundaries have been breached by someone not welcome, not invited.

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Time to follow words with actions on A&E

Thu, Dec 03, 2015

Everytime I hear an ambulance, my ears prick up. Part of this is conditioning as a young hack. A squealing ambulance equalled a story. Flashing fire brigade equalled a story. A speeding Garda car equalled a story. Where haste and emergency vehicles came together, it was the cue for my journalistic curiosity and desire to make a few quid with a few paras that kicked in. Now, when I hear the same things, I think I’m more likely to be in one of them than chasing one.

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Much is lost twixt the shovel and the Charvet

Thu, Nov 26, 2015

Aren’t we a great little country after all for our exorbitant wages in the most extraordinary of places.

And I suppose we have to attribute a little bit of it to the little-known consumer psychologist Dr Maxim Titorenko. If you were to try to link Dr Titorenko to the ongoing IFA crisis and the recent REHAB crisis, you would be thinking that with a name like a Bond villain, Dr Titorenko was responsible for milk yields to the Soviet Union or in charge of beef quotas from some far flung Eastern European state, such as Krakovia.

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The right of people to live their lives must be protected, everywhere

Thu, Nov 19, 2015

Last Friday night, millions of people around the world did what millions of people do around the world every weekend. They ate, they drank, they laughed, they loved, they enjoyed music, they watched football. They did things to see off the stresses of the working week. They were doing things that people of an age do, they were enjoying life, a life to which they had become accustomed.

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Don’t leave anything on the pitch…..

Thu, Nov 12, 2015

In sport when your team cross that white line, the amount you can do for them is reduced by about 90 per cent. Months and nights of training, in all kinds of weather, to prepare them for all eventualities puts your desires at the centre of theirs, but once they cross that white line, once the whistle blows, you can only but hope that what has been said to them and drilled into them will be retained so that it becomes instinctive. In that regard, you want those teams who represent you to be bright, intelligent, to be able to retain the importance of what you have stressed, and to use it when most opportune.

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Banks should have duty of care to elderly customers

Thu, Nov 05, 2015

Back in my school days when everyone was thick and nobody had allergies, getting a job in The Bank was The Thing. It was as if being good at sums and living in a provincial town was the be all and end all. It was as if all your ills would be sorted if you could get a good job in The Bank and settle down. The Bank was the paragon of all that was respectable about small towns, like the one I hailed from.

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Stop trying to get away with drink driving

Thu, Oct 29, 2015

“I spoke to God about Ciaran’s favourite toys, food, colour and all the things that made him unique. My injuries were two fractured ankles, a compound fracture to my left leg, a fractured pelvis and hip, a fractured elbow and sternum, but the worst injury was the pain which came from my broken heart.”

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The future is now, so grasp it Xxx

Thu, Oct 22, 2015

They say that some of the metal moulds for the original DeLorean cars now lie in the bottom of the sea off Connemara, having been bought in the bankruptcy sale as scrap by some fisherman who wanted to secure his lobster nets to the floor of the bay. Imagine that. The mould for the cars deemed the world’s sexiest, so much so that they could pass as contemporary in a movie that spammed three decades, used as scrap. Shiny enticements to lobsters on their last journey. And as those crustaceans walk slowly towards the cages that will transport them to the boiling waters of a posh eaterie, one hopes they tap those moulds and say, thanks for the memories. And if that urban myth is true, then today those moulds are unaware that the whole world is talking about them. For just one day. Unaware of the mayhem above the choppy waters that trap them there. They are the focus of international attention because of Marty McFly.

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The bid book is gone. Now the hard work starts

Thu, Oct 15, 2015

And so this is it. After all the walking and talking and consultations and soul searching and swearing and gnashing of teeth, it has all boiled down to 80 pages of glossy print which sits proudly in the back of a car this morning like a latter day Book of Kells as it winds its way south to Kerry. Precious cargo indeed, as it is the most important document to ever leave Galway. If successful, it will leave an imprint on the city like none before. An imprint that will last for the bulk of this century and locate Galway as the happening city in Ireland.

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Get ready for a nasty election campaign

Thu, Oct 08, 2015

So this is it. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Stop the dog from barking, with a juicy bone.  Cancel all those pesky appointments, for the election is in sight. Silence the pianos, and with a muffled drum, let us move forward with the end of November in sight. This is the Most Important Election since…. the last Most Important Election four years ago.

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Time to stop pussyfooting around the doggie dilemma

Thu, Oct 01, 2015

Roll back about a month when we were in the throes of preparing for the hurling final and when our heads were full of thoughts of history and success and homecomings and of the McCarthy Cup being hauled around every primary school in the county.

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Let’s get creative about this

Thu, Sep 24, 2015

One of the 5k races I ran in early summer was at Galway Airport. It was one of those rare nice Tuesday nights, when almost a thousand runners ran around the edges of  the runway, around and around, running one way towards Boston and then the other way towards Brussels — and when you are labouring up one length of the runway and then down the other end, you get a view of the place that only a few have ever had.  Normally you were only air-side of the terminal if you were embarking and disembarking. On this evening, we all had a privileged view of a facility that was crying out to be loved again.

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O Conaire statue — an icon that straddles old and new Galway

Thu, Sep 17, 2015

Even though parents and grandparents would have you believe that there was no gallivanting in their days and that there was no sex in Ireland before Wanderly Wagon, there isn’t a house in Ireland that doesn’t have a fading greying naturally sepia-tic photograph of Granny draped erotically around the shoulders of Padraic O Conaire, the statue, not the man. 

And in that photo you would see a different side to your ageing relatives, a fun side, a side normally hidden in accordance with the mores of the times.  There was something about that statue that made people throw caution to the wind, to let down their curtain of pretence, to behave in public in a manner not normally accustomed with the era.

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