Aspirations remain for Brexit deal as prudent Budget unveiled to the public

It struck me very strongly when I was beginning this column that many of the events of these few days are of a national and international variety.

Let’s begin with the Budget. As I compile this column on Tuesday evening, the Budget has come out. I viewed it on TV, and as I did I thought back to all the Budgets past, when I was a member of Dáil Éireann.

In the years gone by, Budgets were shrouded in veils of secrecy. As time went on towards the Budget day, some of the veils were put to one side and we gradually got a feel of what it might be. But never before was the Budget so displayed as it was this time. For this Budget day, we knew almost everything that was going to come out, not through leaks but through announcements from the Fianna Fáil party, from the Independent Alliance, and from various other political people and commentators. So one by one, the veils were lifted and the facts were announced.

The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue is, to my mind, a careful, prudent person, and so he framed his Budget against that background, particularly against the background of a No-Deal Brexit.

Now, that brings me to my next big item, which has been going on for oh-so-long. We have got used to the daily ups and downs of the various permutations, from the beginning of Theresa May to the onset of the present Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and each time it seemed a door could be opened and then that door was slammed.

This week is the final, final week when the proposals which Boris Johnson has put forward will be scrutinised, line by line, by Michel Barnier and the committee in Brussels, and then when the EU Prime Ministers meet they will have the very last say.

Some readers might remember that some weeks ago I put forward the opinion that I thought something could happen to bring about a better outcome than the No-Deal Brexit. I still believe, in these last seven days, that that could happen, but it will certainly require compromise from everyone as we go through the week – compromise from the UK, compromise from the EU, and compromise from us here in Ireland. It remains to be seen if that can happen, and if at the last gasp, so to speak, we are saved from the ignominy of a No-Deal Brexit on October 31.

So that deals with the national issue which is the Budget, with Brexit which is a European issue, and now we’re down to the last big item, which is the USA. There, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and her team have unveiled an impeachment order on the US President Donald Trump.

Now, I haven’t followed this as carefully as I should, because of so many other things. But I do believe that it is just not that easy to entrap Donald Trump. Has Nancy Pelosi moved too early? Time will tell, but as of now, the President of the US is fighting the battle full-on. So we await developments in that regard.

Now, after all that heady stuff, it’s time to come back to everyday life. Last Saturday night, I was invited by Carrickedmond GAA to be one of the judges for their Lip Sync Battle event in the Rustic Inn in Abbeyshrule.

Readers will know that over the last few years I have done quite a few of those, particularly when invited to do so by GAA clubs. Carrickedmond had got themselves into big debt because they had taken a bank loan out to do necessary work on their GAA grounds, digging them up, putting in fresh pipes and generally doing a fine job. They had a wonderful audience over the two nights of Lip Sync last Friday and Saturday, and they seem to have done well finance-wise to enable them to continue with their work and to pay off their debt.

It was a very good event, and I loved every minute of it – the clothes, the carry-on, the music, the comedy – it all makes for a great night and I was so glad to be part of it. An added bonus, of course, was that I met so many political friends I had made during my years in Longford-Westmeath. Carrickedmond is just a short distance from Ballymahon, and there were so many familiar faces there.

On Monday morning we had the Athlone presentation of the Fraud Awareness clinic in the Radisson Hotel. I mentioned it last week in my column, and I was very pleased to see so many had turned up for what was a hugely informative and worthy presentation, and good chat afterwards.

I had a very welcome communication from PJ Cunningham during the last few days. For many years PJ worked on the Westmeath Independent. He later went on to found his own printing press, Ballpoint Press, in Wicklow, where he lives in Bray with his wife and family. He has written many books on local issues which are so readable and relevant. With his note, he sent me his latest book which is the official autobiography of Seamus Darby, the famous Offaly footballer who scored ‘that’ goal – the famous one back in September 1982, when he kicked the ball that flew into the Kerry net and in turn earned Offaly the All-Ireland football title.

PJ and Seamus have linked together in what I know is going to be a pulsating and full-on read. As PJ said in his note to me, “This story is about much more than just ‘that’ goal.”

PJ was always great to meet, full of chat and discourse, and his take on so many things in life – sporting, journalistic and otherwise – is always vivid and entertaining. I look forward very much to getting stuck into this book.

I don’t know about you, readers, but I don’t like winter coming. It is now time to pull the curtains at 7pm in the evenings, which of course leads to a sense of cosiness, but no, I would so much prefer the longer days. However, I suppose there are compensations such as time to read, time to talk, time to think.

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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