Well, we will all be voting for the presidency this coming Friday. It seems to me that none of the candidates apart from the incumbent have really caught hold of the imagination of the people. Yes they have worked very hard, and yes they have performed on TV and on radio, and they have really done their very best to appeal to us, the voters. But somehow it has not come off, and it seems, if opinion polls are to be believed, that the incumbent Michael D. Higgins is the person to whom the majority of voters will give their allegiance on voting day.
Now, as all the readers know I am not a great believer of opinion polls, but somehow these numbers seem so high that I cannot believe that any of the other contenders will ever get close to Michael D. He has served us well and hopefully will do the same for the next seven years. As I picked up my polling card which came in the post, I hoped in my mind that people would come out to vote. As a citizen it is always a privilege to have the voting card dropped in your letterbox and to know that in your hands lies the fate of whoever is to be elected. So I hope that regardless of the outcome there will be a very big turnout this Friday.
This week is National Book Week, and as we are talking about books Martina Fitzgerald, the RTÉ Dáil reporter, turned up last Monday in Eason in Athlone to sign her book Madam Politician. She attracted quite a lot of attention and I was very pleased to see the councillors Aengus O’Rourke and Ailish McManus turn up, as well as Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and also Senator Gabrielle McFadden. Martina was delighted to meet them, and they all had a great chat together.
The Brexit campaign trundles on now against the background of no November European meeting. Quite wisely, Michel Barnier and the rest of the European team have decided that there’s no point in having another meeting on the matter until there is some breakthrough from the UK side. Let’s hope that can happen. In the meantime tension regarding Brexit remains high in all areas of life here in Ireland.
Of equal importance in the political sphere is the fact that a team from Fine Gael and a team from Fianna Fáil have started negotiations between them to see if there will be another confidence and supply agreement. The first thing to be done is to review the existing agreement and to see if the areas agreed between the two sides three years ago can now be dissected and worked through to see if they fared well, and if so are there grounds for negotiating further agreement and for how long? That is the point really; it seems to me that Micheál Martin and his team just want to do one more budget and yet Leo Varadkar is holding out for confidence and supply to last until 2020. I expect in the end there will be a compromise agreed.
We had all the provinces involved again in rugby over last weekend, and apart from Munster who had a very good win, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster all fared badly. I saw the Leinster match against Toulouse in full out in my son’s house last Sunday. For much of the period of the match it seemed as if Leinster were going to win, and then in the last 10 minutes Toulouse cut loose and got the edge and the result was 28 for Toulouse, 27 for Leinster. Now that was a hard one to take. Of course if you’re beaten by one point or 21 points, it’s all hard, but at the same time to lose a match, which it looked as if you were going to win, by one point is a hard pill to swallow. Robbie Henshaw played magnificently and you could see the disappointment etched in his face as the match ended. I think it will do no harm to give Leinster a jolt as to my mind they had been viewed as the team that was going to keep on winning, and that was never so of course. However I’m sure there will be lots of other wins as the Heineken Cup advances.
Katie Taylor had a great win. Isn’t she just a most marvellous young woman? I didn’t see the match as it was on I think in the early hours of Sunday morning, but it appears she won it outright in the summing ups of each of the three judges. She is so plain and unassuming and takes her victories in a very easy fashion, and I hope all goes well for her in the future.
I have a grand Hallowe’en invitation – no, not to a bonfire or anything like that. I have been invited to the Máire Ní Síthigh Autumn School in Courtmacsherry in West Cork to join a panel who are talking on the theme ‘Votes for women: 100 years on’, and I am very much looking forward to it.
I notice now that lots of societies are arranging lectures marking the 100 years since the vote for women. In other cases they are arranging seminars to do with the upcoming centenary of the first Dáil and the War of Independence, and then of course the Civil War. So many commemorations to look forward to, and of course some of them will be giving rise to painful memories for many people.
It seems that young people have only returned to school and suddenly it is the change of time on our clocks and it is the mid-term break for Hallowe’en for all the schools. Time passes by so quickly, and once Hallowe’en is over we will be in the throes of Christmas preparations with jingles playing in every shop and the predictable Christmas songs being played on the radio. It is of course a very wonderful time and particularly so in households where there are children. I am not a great advocate of Christmas but I love the time spent with my son Aengus, his wife Lisa and their four children in Athlone, and then my son Feargal and his wife Maeve and their two children will come down from Dublin to me in Athlone. So that is all something to look forward to. But somehow in my heart I feel a sense of sadness because of course I remember times past when dear Enda was alive and life was so different. But then isn’t it great to have my own family around me? So many people have not that blessing.
That’s my lot for this week. Talk with you all next week.
In the meantime go safely.
Slán go fóill.