All changed, changed utterly,
A terrible beauty is born.
The above lines are from ‘Easter 1916’ by W.B. Yeats. Readers, you might think me melodramatic, but the above words came to my mind on Sunday, and again on Monday, as the results of the February 8 General Election came through.
Yes, of course, it was the voice of the people speaking, and as a democrat I fully accept that. However, it was the sense of chaos which ensued, and the amount of loss of seats of people I knew very well that stoked up that sense of chaos.
I am so sorry to learn of such a group of fine people who lost their seats and now must start to make their way in ‘real life’ as best they can.
The readers will know that I supported Cllr Orla Leyden in the Roscommon-Galway constituency. She was a very good candidate and hopefully will not lose her political voice in the future. She is a very active member of Roscommon County Council and there is no doubt that life will commence again for her, despite the difficult campaign she has been through.
Here in Longford-Westmeath, we had an interesting result.
It is a whole new situation now for all of those at the top in politics and in the various parties. No matter what cause they trumpeted during the campaign, political people must now live in the situation in which they find themselves.
The people have made their voices heard, and they are now saying: it is up to you, the politicians, to sort out the result we have given you – but you must sort it out.
The Dáil is due to meet again on February 20, and it will be interesting to see who will be put forward as Taoiseach, who will win the day, or will the day be postponed until further talks can be allowed to develop? I think that will be the situation.
Meanwhile, privately, the talks are going on, and in my mind the situation will gradually evolve until there is a sign of a stable situation.
We have all been so caught up in the elections that huge outside events have happened, and we have paid no attention to them.
Chief among them is the threat of the coronavirus coming from China. Every day we hear of the growing number of people sadly infected, and indeed the growing number of deaths from this virus. As I write this column, so far there has been no diagnosis of a person in this country having that particular virus, but it is early times yet and already it is in many other European countries. We await developments with trepidation and with hope that we might escape this onslaught.
Then, of course, another thing that happened in the last week was the impeachment process of President Trump, which, as I said months ago, would not succeed. That proved to be the outcome, as the number of Senators voting for impeachment was less than the number against it, and so the result was, with one bound, the President was free.
There was the contretemps before the event in which Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House of Representatives, put out her hand to shake the President’s hand and he refused it. Then she, in turn, tore up his speech, in full public gaze, when he had finished it.
Yes, you might say childish behaviour from the two of them, but that’s the way it was.
In the meantime, the Democratic conventions are being held to select the candidate who will face President Trump in the upcoming autumn presidential election in the US.
Over it all, of course, we had the threat of Storm Ciara, which was the threatened weather for the election date and for the days after it.
We are now living through that, and it has become very cold, even snowy at times, and with high winds which have grown increasingly in strength. However, we should be glad that for the course of the election itself it was reasonable weather, and Storm Ciara kept away until that part of the electoral cycle was over.
However, as I said earlier, life goes on, and over last weekend we had some terrific rugby. I hope the readers enjoyed the games – the under 20s on Friday, the main game on Saturday and the women’s game on Sunday.
The result for Ireland in the main Six Nations Championship was Ireland 24, Wales 14, which leaves the Irish team in good shape heading to Twickenham to seek the Triple Crown on Sunday week.
It is interesting to note that Andy Farrell is now the team manager and will be going to the match where his son Owen is the England captain.
It seems that the excitement of the win last Saturday has put to bed all lingering thoughts of doubt about the Irish team and the fallout from the World Cup.
For us all here in Athlone, it was good to see Robbie Henshaw back in great form as he played with his close colleague and friend Bundee Aki. Together, they made again a fearsome pair as they ranged far and wide on the rugby pitch.
Many of the players seemed to be back in full form and I hope that spirit of ambition and enthusiasm stays with them as they undergo some time off and some training prior to the upcoming Twickenham adventure.
When talking about the women’s team last week, I neglected to mention the 18-year-old Ballinasloe player Beibhinn Parsons who, as the readers will remember, raced the whole length of the pitch in a
solo run, a magnificent spectacle which I was lucky enough to see. She surely is a great player and has a fine future ahead of her as she continues to play for Ireland.
I’ll end this column as I began: back to the politics, to the endless radio and TV, to the conversations with everyone having different ideas, and in the end I hope that those who are making decisions will know that it is their job now to obey the public voice, and not to decide that they will leave the decision-making to other people.
Much wisdom, much foresight and much planning must now go into the weeks ahead, and I trust and hope that they will come, in the end, to the right decisions.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week.
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill.