Tanks for the memories — now the race countdown begins

Thu, Apr 16, 2009

It was only from the ignition of the first metal cutter at the docks on Tuesday that local people could fully engage with the fact that the Volvo Ocean Race is to land on these shores in a little over a month. Only when the first metal was cut to dismantle the massive oil storage tanks, could we fully imagine the enormity of the event that is to visit these shores at the end of next month.

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Time for a toxic town for those toxic people

Thu, Apr 09, 2009

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the opening of the first new town in Ireland since Shannon and Craigavon. Yes, its time to throw open the gates of Baile an Táicsigh (Toxic Town), the town where we promise to bring you the best of the worst, where you are guaranteed to get the worst service, where the roads will be the worst, the pint will be terrible, where the spittoons will never be emptied and where in order to make the rest of the country look great, we are going to feck everything bad. In demographic terms, it will be like the child in the back room of the olden days. The motto for this town will be ‘Hors de la vue, hors de l'esprit‘ (out of sight, out of mind) and by doing this, everywhere else in the country can feel good about itself.

Let’s be honest now. We’re all a bit down about everything these days and anything that make us feel better has to be considered. We all have parts of our communities that w e could do without. And fair play to Fianna Fail for coming up with the idea of the toxic bank and the toxic loans.

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CF sufferers are unlucky to be born Irish

Thu, Apr 02, 2009

Is there anything more this Government has left to do that can shock us? Is there much they can introduce next Tuesday that will horrify us as much as the heartless decision this week to kill the little bit of hope that lay in the hearts of cystic fibrosis sufferers and their families? For such people, life is a constant struggle against death. Every shower of rain, every dark cloud, every sneeze, every shared waiting room is a potential killer.

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When closure is just the beginning...

Thu, Mar 26, 2009

And now it’s over. When they turn the key and step in, the house seems emptier. It was quiet before they left for Ireland, but now, if it was at all possible, it seems to have lost even more of its heartbeat. The clock ticks in the background — its tick hitting a false note of optimism, its tock emphasising the silence. They look at the door, and sob inside and wish that for just one more time, it would swing open and their bouncy happy daughter would come back in through it. Closure is sometimes seen as the end of a journey, but often it is just a mythical void. The pain in their chests that comes with every waking moment of the horrific realisation has not abated, as they thought it might. Now, alone together for the first time in weeks, they realise that often closure is the beginning of the journey and not an imagined end. Now, the hard work begins. The bit where the desire for justice has left them unfulfilled, the hole in their hearts just too large.

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Pucker up the lips, and get down on those knees

Thu, Mar 19, 2009

Pucker up those lips lads and lassies and get out the lip balm. Yes, make those lips as big as our leader’s. Now, get down on one knee, and then the others. And get practising at something we haven’t done for a while. Ass-kissing is back. In a big way.

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Brace yerself for the crazy taxes

Thu, Mar 05, 2009

Brace yerselves. Tie down everything because when next month comes and April Fool’s Day flies through faster than a flasher in a turnstile, we are set to be royally shafted by the Government in a whole series of crazy new taxes designed to make sure that we keep filling the giant hole in our finances with a watering can.

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Students lose sight of Rag Week’s traditional values

Thu, Feb 26, 2009

You’d have to be deaf and blind not to have noticed the revelry in Galway this week – an antithesis of a low spirited January in which the population was getting to grips with our economic collapse.

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A punnet of Golden Circles, please, and a Government to go

Thu, Feb 19, 2009

When the great Chinese philosopher Hu Flung Dung penned the immortal line “may ye live in interesting times,” surely he was thinking about days such as this. Days when the news brings unprecedented details of the unthinkable happening to all the institutions that we all previously thought were solid. Days when the squeaky bum times of footballing parlance have well and truly been transferred to politics.

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Another minute, another job lost, another dream dashed

Thu, Feb 05, 2009

Tick, tick, tick...watch the hands move around the face of the clock, the two senior hands watching as the frantic second hand makes its way around the face, down the bottom and up the hill towards the completion of another minute. Another minute. An Irish minute in which another person has just been told she has lost her job.

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How many boats do we need for the boat race?

Thu, Jan 29, 2009

Oscar Wilde once said to lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

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Obama the boost that politics needs

Thu, Jan 22, 2009

On another occasion, you might feel sorry for all of the country’s politicians having to live up to the image of Obama. After all, how many of them are stick lean, fit, handsome and boasting a complete of teeth? How many of them can deliver a speech without the proliferation of ah and ohs and like, ya know what I mean. But they should relax. How often is it that someone who looks like him comes along.

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By shopping local, we can stop our communities crumbling

Thu, Jan 15, 2009

I met someone the other day who told me wide-eyed that she had never met anyone who didn’t have a job. In the two and a bit decades that she’d been on this earth, people losing their jobs just weren’t known to her. And that is how it has been for many people who have grown up seeing jobs as disposable as weekly contact lenses. If it was irritating you, you just flung it away and tried another. But a harsh reality is about to set in for us all which will see us all soon know a lot of people without jobs. Or be without jobs ourselves.

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Flynn arrogance contributes further to our growing scepticism of politicians

Thu, Jan 08, 2009

God knows all we Mayo folk could do with the odd dig-out, on the basis that for us the road to perdition is often littered with potholes and rabid dogs, but we have to say that even the most brass-necked of us had to hold our hands up and say the antics of Beverley Flynn left us all a bit red-faced this week.

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Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

Tue, Dec 23, 2008

They say that the concept of Christmas lights emanated from the location of the season in the darkest time of the year. When the days are the shortest, when even the light from the stars is covered by the dark clouds, creating a big dark curtain over the world and allowing our weary eyes respite from the bright summer sun.

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Maybe the recession will make us nice again

Thu, Dec 18, 2008

You know there is nothing in this world as important as the present you have yet to pick up for Christmas. Or the friend you just have to meet. Or the things you just have to do. Or the stuff for the turkey that your one without the hairnet on the telly said you just must have. And so on and on and on.

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The bypass that doesn’t pass by — the joke’s on Galway

Thu, Dec 04, 2008

The news that came out of An Bord Pleanala on Tuesday that the Galway City Outer Bypass has been consigned to history is a massive blow to Galway’s chances of ever really developing the sort of infrastructure it needs to put this city on a level footing with the other major cities. The news has been greeted with dismay by people who have a strong commitment to seeing Galway get the sort of facilities it deserves if it ever hopes to genuinely be this country’s third city. It has been welcomed by those who opposed it on grounds of proximity, ecological concerns and perhaps in some cases, by people who object on a point of principle, no matter the location throughout the country. For the tens of thousands of others who were looking forward to Galway’s transport infrastructure getting a shot in the arm, it is bad news. Every year we are slipping further and further behind the other cities which must be laughing at Galway’s ability to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to providing the sort of infrastructure that cities by their nature need if they are to carry on being cities and not become bottlenecks. We had the same thing with Mutton Island. Months in meeting-hours were spent at city council level trying to get this through, and now even its original detractors have to admit that the sky did not fall in. With any major infastructural development, there are worthy merits and demerits, and the Galway City Outer Bypass was no different in that regard. No doubt, it would have had a major detrimental effect on the quality of life in picturesque areas such as Ballindooley and Bushypark. It would cut through the natural environment like a sword, but the nature of modern geography is to change the landscape to allow people to live in the times they are living. Other countries such as the UK manage to have broader and noisier roadways cutting through its green heart and over time they blend in, as the realisation of their necessity overrides any localised objection. But they get built. Even the motorway through the heart of Tara got the go-ahead in the end. What we were left with in Monday’s ruling is a sort of joke, an Irish joke. A joke on Galway. The bypass that does everything but allow you to pass by the area it is meant to be bypassing. And so Galway commuters will face the crawl around the city for another decade with little idea of what will be put forward as an alternative to the bypass. Thankfully, the N6 is motoring along and should be open on time, but that will do little to alleviate the city’s traffic problems where there is a massive imbalance on the location of schools and industrial estates, necessitating river and city crossings. Now the upshot of it all is that we must go back to the drawing board and start from a clean slate. We have to ask what is really achievable and what is not. How realistic is GLUAS? If it is, then let’s go down that line, but at €200 million, that too looks like a non-runner. Are bus lanes really working? Can we get people to cycle to work? Will there be work to cycle and drive to? The officials who will be charged with picking up the pieces of this decision have a lot to occupy their minds. However, let’s look at ourselves. Cork has had its tunnel for several years now; the one under the Shannon will be open in Limerick in about 24 months, and in Galway, well, zilch. Let’s hope that the programmes on the radio are interesting for the next decade, cos we’re going to be stuck in traffic for many many more years to come.

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Thermo losses and ‘nail-gate’ show we’re not laughing anymore

Thu, Nov 27, 2008

No-one’s laughing anymore. If anyone thought that the cold bite of recession was just a wind on the faraway hills, then think again. Last evening’s announcement in Thermo King that 110 employees are to lose their jobs and Tuesday’s revelation that jobs are to be lost in Tuam’s Valeo Vision Systems brings the realisation closer to home that everyone is going to feel the cold snap in the near future. And with that mindset among us, it is all the more galling to hear the attitude of Fas executives try to justify their extravagant business expenses this week and behave as if they are still living on an alternate planet to ourselves.

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Leave the engines running and avoid the parking charge

Thu, Nov 20, 2008

When you drive into work tomorrow morning, before you get out of your car, just sit there and enjoy the experience, feel the ground beneath your wheels, appreciate the view that your car has all day while you’re at work. Because from January, that privilege is going to cost you. Yes, that is cost you on top of the fee being paid by your company.

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Party cities are fuelling the business that killed Shane Geoghegan

Thu, Nov 13, 2008

It is frightening to realise that it was just an hour or so down the road in our sister western city that the brutal killing of Shane Geoghegan took place last weekend. As thousands flocked to his funeral yesterday afternoon, the revulsion in that city is shared by all around the country.

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Now, isn’t it high time we had a Traveller Taoiseach

Thu, Nov 06, 2008

There is a great feeling around the world today, that at last the good guys have won out, that the forces of oppression that kept the White House out of the grasp of the non-whites (Condi and Colin Powell excepted) have at last been overtaken in a mass coming together of goodness. And we are all entitled to feel proud of what has been achieved in the US, that yet another barrier has been broken, that like in South Africa, another last bastion of inherent apartheid has been shattered and that the American dream has been taken one step further. And all over the world, those who supported Obama are patting themselves on the back and are rightly proud of what this suave senator has achieved in just a few short years, even if he has been helped by the ineptitude of his opponents, but then as Napoleon said, every battle requires a large amount of luck. And all around the world, (and especially here in Old and New Europe) there is a sort of snobbery that it has taken so long for this supposedly sophisticated democracy to allow access to its top post to a person from a minority culture. When Sarah Palin emerged, the same people laughed at her ordinary-ness and at the fact she had not travelled much beyond her own continent. And so we are thinking that at last America is thinking like the rest of us. But in reality, that is not the case. This election has shown that they are ahead. The victory has been welcomed by the luvvies. And those who proclaim themselves liberal. And we all like to think of ourselves as liberal as nobody wants to think that their mind is anything but free and open to new ideas. But let’s see just how liberal we are here in Ireland. How likely is it that a Traveller will ever emerge as a leader of our Government? You would get long odds on that, especially since many of the basic rights long denied the African-American community are the ones that they have to face life without? For many years, parents were put off schools that catered generously for Travellers. And so denied education, they are denied opportunity and fairness, and so throughout life, they are prohibited from achieving what others can. You can be sure that many of the people who stayed up all night to celebrate the dawning of a new era with the election of Obama would be less than impressed if a convoy of Travellers pitched up on their local football pitch. It always amazes me how concerned people get for the welfare of Travellers when they pitch up on the front lawn. In Ireland, often the word RACISM is misspelt NIMBY. You can also be sure that the people who ring in here with short messages every time we put a person who is non-national in a prominent photograph; that the people who think twice before using a taxi being driven by a person who is not a Caucasian; may too have gone around today with a warm feeling in their hearts about Obama, glad that one form of racism has been tackled, but also enforcing the stereotyping that we create every day. We all play a role in determining and preserving stereotypes — this is done through the business of advertising, through the business of media, but mostly through the business of life. Only when the day comes that we can truly say that every person in this country has the same opportunity to sit in the Taoiseach’s seat in Leinster House or to become President of our own country, will we be really sharing in the principles that Barack Obama and Martin Luther King have both espoused, but who have so far never got the chance to put into practice. Remember, it is not just America that Obama has to change. We all have to play our own part.

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