Budget largesse a necessary in present times as search for Fungie continues

Well readers, so much happening, so much going right, so much going wrong, where to begin?

We’ll begin with the Budget. As you know, it came out last week, and there was, quite literally almost, money for everyone. This is all so necessary during the terrible time of the pandemic, and yet, of course it all will have to be eventually paid back.

Budget was good for education, Budget was good for health, Budget was good for payments for those who are suffering during the pandemic. So much largesse, and yet amidst and against such a dreadful background.

In the current health debate, no matter what level of living we attain, we in Ireland, like all of the other countries of Europe, simply cannot mange to strike a balance between depressing the curve of the virus and allowing a country to live its economic life.

Restrictions up, restrictions down, in and out; we really don’t know from one day to the next what is going to happen. And yet, the inexorable rise of coronavirus infections continue, and sadly so do the deaths.

We have all begun to pin our hopes on the coming of a vaccine. Some reports suggest that Pfizer will have a successful one out by the end of 2020/early 2021. Then there will have to be widespread usage of it, and so on and so on. Let’s hope, because as of now on the health scene it is the only bright spark.

So, we’re back to Brexit. I watch Andrew Marr every Sunday morning on BBC One, and this weekend he had Michael Gove on who said yes, Boris Johnson broke the talks off between Michel Barnier and the UK, and yet a trade deal is what we all wish for. I believe there will be really intense talks this coming week and with it, I hope, the opportunity to make a step forward so that in the midst of the coronavirus rampage we would have something solid and good to aspire to and to hold onto.

We have had some good news, particularly on the games front. Last weekend we had the win of Roscommon over Armagh and Westmeath over Laois, both in the Second Division and both hoping for promotion upwards.

I saw the Roscommon versus Armagh match on RTÉ2 and it was truly exciting. Roscommon played a steady game and even though in the first half Armagh appeared to be triumphant, it was the second half before Roscommon got into their stride and the way they played the game was truly amazing. Every year, Roscommon shows this promise and they get so far and then no further. Let’s hope following last Saturday’s game that Roscommon are on an upward path.

Likewise with Westmeath, who played a strong game with John Heslin as the hero, scoring eight points. Westmeath face into their next game with Kildare at least with the wind at their back. It was great to see such good local teams on TV and radio. I am Roscommon by birth and young childhood and Westmeath for so many years, so I had a delightful Saturday afternoon.

There is good news too for Athlone in the commercial field. DPD, the second-largest delivery firm in Europe, has announced 700 new jobs for Ireland, with 150 of them at its headquarters in Athlone. I saw Des Travers, the CEO of DPD, on TV and he gave a very good account of how the firm has jumped up since the coming of the COVID pandemic.

Now of course that is not all good news, in that so many people are now buying online. Fine if they’re buying online from here in this country, but so many are buying online mostly from the UK and then of course the carriage of the goods back means the good news for DPD.

There is so little truly good news in the times we’re living in that of course we fasten onto the good story when it comes and revel in it.

But in the midst of all the momentous things which are happening, there is a missing beat in County Kerry. Where is Fungie the dolphin? It appears he has gone missing, and one of the strong points of Kerry as a tourism attraction is the jumping dolphin Fungie. So many have heard of him, so many come to see him, go out in the boats and revel and glory in his gymnastics. It is not quite clear if he is gone missing temporarily and will suddenly appear, or if he has got so fed up with coronavirus, Brexit and all of the trauma of daily living that he has decided to make one big leap and get going.

The news of Fungie brought a little light relief in a week of increasing tensions and drama. Also of course, there is the continuing good news that the schools are staying open, that children are attending and going back to a life of not just absorbing knowledge but also of a certain amount of social interaction. That is the beauty of education, particularly with the younger children. They see one another – yes of course at secondary level they are wearing masks – but there is nothing to beat the collegiality and friendship between young people. To them, daily living is a delight, and particularly so since they have all got together again in the schools.

Well done to the teachers at primary and second level. They are truly the heroes and heroines of this year of 2020.

So whether it’s Level 3, 4 or 5, life will go on, and it is up to all of us to mind ourselves and particularly to mind others.

I’ve left my reading to one side this week, there has been so much else going on, but hopefully we’ll be back to that topic next week with some good new books.

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

In the meantime, stay at home and stay safe.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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