Blatant disregard for democracy in the US as alternate Leaving Cert plans must be forged

Before I begin to talk and write about anything else, I simply have to refer to that dark Wednesday last week when, in Washington, Congress was stormed by rebels shouting that Donald Trump had won the election, waving flags, and being egged on by Trump himself, who said “Well done, I’ll be with you shortly.” And of course, he never was.

Now if you remember, last Wednesday was the night of the documentary on Martin McGuinness on TG4, but of course I never got to look at it because I started looking at CNN and I never stopped until well past 1am in the morning. What an awful day for the US and for democracy. I kept thinking, what if the Dáil was stormed by flag-bearers, wrecking offices and egged on by our President Michael D? Of course, the whole picture was absolutely absurd, because, thank God, we have regard in this country for democracy.

I could not believe that America, under its current president, had stooped so low. I’m sure so many of the readers followed it, firstly in disbelief and then in belief as they saw how the so-called ‘rebels’ invaded the offices, swung from the chandeliers, destroyed all the documentation and generally behaved like exactly what they were – a crowd of hoodlums and insurrectionists.

As I write this column this week, Congress is debating the impeachment of Donald Trump.

I do not think it should happen now, because next week we will have the inauguration of Joe Biden, and I certainly don’t think that America should have the impeachment hanging over them as he is duly inaugurated. See how the next few days play out.

I understand that the so-called ‘rebels’ are planning to attack the Houses of Parliament in each state on the day that Joe Biden is sworn in as president. I hope that there are plenty of security forces in place. What a shame. I still hope, however, that there will, in the end, be a smooth transition of power, as has always been the way.

Donald Trump says he will not attend the inauguration, and I guess he cannot do so anyway, for his own safety if nothing else.

We all have family or friends in the US, and we hope that under this new president life will come back to normality in the United States, and that somehow the hurts and the misdeeds of the past four years can be overcome.

Anyway, back to the present, and I want to bring a terrific programme to the attention of all of the readers. This Friday, January 15, there are a further 6-8 episodes of a programme which aired last year called All Walks of Life, in which former President Mary McAleese takes a walk with somebody who is known in public life in Ireland, and they exchange ideas and thoughts on life, on religion, on family and on the future. I loved that programme last year, and looked forward every Friday to it. So if you can, try and fit it in. It is at 8.30pm next Friday. In their walks with Mary McAleese, they will be exploring some of the ancient pilgrim trails in Ireland, so that certainly will be something to look forward to.

We had a wonderful rugby game last Saturday night, and it was televised live on TG4 – the game between Connacht and Munster held in the Sportsgrounds in Galway. Now that was truly a terrific game to watch. Athlone’s Jack Carty was of course on for Connacht and played a stunner. It was a wonderful spectacle for almost two hours, particularly the last 20 minutes when it looked like Connacht were really going to storm Munster and perhaps get a try and conversion which would leave them one point ahead of Munster.

But it was not to happen, never mind we had a wonderful live spectacle and could watch it in such comfort. Well done Connacht; you are really showing up our province in such a good way.

As I write, the wicked severe, frosty weather seems to have disappeared, temporarily anyway. Today there are temperatures of 5-8 degrees, as distinct from minus 5 last week. I hated the frost and cold. It didn’t matter what number you put the heat at, somehow you couldn’t get yourself truly warm. Of course, there was the added huge disadvantage of constant danger on the roads if you were driving, and even more importantly, I hear of constant falls of people just going out on a footpath or around the back of their houses.

Anyway, let’s enjoy the kinder weather when we can. I am reminded constantly of the refrain:

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

I notice in my front garden that there are tentative attempts by daffodils to poke their noses through the soil. Isn’t that wonderful, again, nature expressing itself.

Apart from all the mayhem in the US, the big news here was the non-opening of the Leaving Cert classes and the schools for special needs pupils. It simply was not feasible in this time of rampant transmission of the pandemic. As I told readers before, I have two grandchildren, a granddaughter in Dublin and a grandson in Athlone, both now reached 18 and both hoping to do the traditional Leaving Cert come next June.

They quite simply hope that they will be sitting at a desk with papers being handed to them, and they writing away from their accumulated knowledge.

Yes, the Government hopes to carry out, in June, the traditional Leaving Cert, and we all hope with them that that will happen. However, I think it would be a good ploy for the Government to have Plan B and/or Plan C in readiness in case that, come June, it just might not be feasible to carry out the traditional Leaving Certificate.

I have conveyed that wish to Government, and I am sure that they are already taking account of what could happen and what might not happen in the few months ahead.

I also think that the plan which is now being mooted of giving teachers and pupils in Leaving Cert the vaccination, and also the teachers of special needs children, is certainly an idea worth promoting and pursuing.

Yes, life is very difficult right now and subject also to the vagaries of the pandemic, and in particular the speed at which the new variation travels within the community.

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

In the meantime, stay at home, don’t meet anyone, and stay safe.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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