Testing times for US and Brexit, but we have some excellent rugby to enjoy

As I am compiling this weekly column for the Advertiser, people in the US are voting in the mid-term elections for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. So by the time my column appears the results will be fully out. I hope that the polls which are forecasting Democratic wins in the House of Representatives are correct, but of course our belief in polls has run low. President Trump has put a huge effort into shoring up the Republican seats in both the Congress and the Senate, and he has campaigned tirelessly for the last 10 days hoping to consolidate the Republican vote. It seems that the US is viewing these mid-term elections as a referendum on President Trump and his handling of the US. So it will be very intriguing to see the results and to see whether the Democrats will come back in charge of the House of Representatives.

There are very interesting elections also for the post of governor, two in particular where in Florida Andrew Gillum hopes to be the first African-American governor, and in Georgia where Stacey Abrams hopes to be the country’s first female African-American governor. Former president Barack Obama has come out campaigning for Andrew Gillum and for many others in these elections, and it is expected that his influence will be pivotal to the present mid-term elections.

Now I know many will say, what effect does all that have on us in Ireland? Well I think it does have an effect, because if the Democrats come back into power in the House of Representatives and/or in the Senate, they will be able to put a stay on some of what might be seen as President Trump’s somewhat outlandish proposals, and many of those proposals would affect Ireland as well. Elections are exciting wherever they are happening and nowhere more than in the US where there is such a huge Irish diaspora.

Last weekend Brexit and all of the matters surrounding it came back into Irish public life with a bang. For two days over Saturday and Sunday, it appeared as if there was going to be a decision and definite result from all of the meetings in Brussels and London.

The British prime minister Theresa May seemed to have a new spring in her step and appeared to be ready to confront the Brexiteers and to put forward a good compromise which would in turn lead to a soft Brexit. But all the huffing and puffing came to nothing and the situation still looks uncertain and bleak for Ireland. I hope both Brussels and the Irish Government keep their nerve and do not at all deviate from the solemn promise of backstop. It is so important that backstop not be treated in a temporary way or as a matter open to review. It should be there as a permanent insurance policy so that the frictionless border will be assured, and the people living in the border areas will be reassured that life and business can go on as normal. But as I have said before it’s a hugely fraught position, and there is no clear voice emanating that would lend credibility to whatever solution is reached.

We had some terrific rugby results over last weekend. Firstly on the international field there was Ireland versus Italy in Chicago’s Soldier Field. As we all know, the result was 54-7 to Ireland. But we should not at all lose the run of ourselves based on that result. We all knew that Italy was really no task for Ireland, and so it proved to be. However over the next three Saturdays we will have some wonderful autumn internationals. Next Saturday it will be Ireland versus Argentina. The following Saturday, November 17, Ireland versus New Zealand, and the following Saturday again Ireland versus the USA. The good thing about these fixtures is that they are all in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, and also that they are all live on RTÉ and on Channel 4. They are some really good things to look forward to over the next few Saturdays. The hero of Ireland versus Italy was Jordan Larmour, 21 years of age and really playing a magnificent game.

In the Guinness Pro14 games, Leinster had a win over Southern Kings, Ulster struggled but won against Benetton, and Connacht had a magnificent game against Dragons. That is the only game I saw as it was on TG4. As well as winning they got a bonus point win and are well placed in Conference A.

We all know how wonderful the public library system is in Ireland, and I am sure that many of the Advertiser readers use their local library to good effect. I had very good news this week in our own local library in Athlone, where I asked if they had a particular book. No, they hadn’t got it, but the librarian can now trawl right through the other libraries throughout Ireland and when a book that a reader seeks is located it can be got within four or five days from wherever it is in Ireland. It’s a marvellous service and to think that it is completely free! Libraries in general have had makeovers, they are usually conducted in lovely premises, with the benefit of skilled librarians who are able to assist the public in so many ways. I never cease to be amazed at the wonders of libraries and the great treasures they can unfold, and I hope the great usage which they have from young and old alike will continue.

The drama of the presidential campaign has all died down, and Michael D and Sabina are safely back in Áras an Úachtaráin. I look forward to viewing the inauguration and to their years ahead on both the national and international stage.

That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.

In the meantime go safely.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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