Celebrating Easter with a difference as Biden’s tax thoughts may prove problematic for Ireland

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

Well, Easter has come and gone, and it was a very odd one in so many respects. We are all, in the main, so used to going to Good Friday in our local church, usually at 3pm in the afternoon when there is a ceremony of Stations of the Cross and a very strong feeling of Easter and all that it entails, but because of the pandemic, we couldn’t do anything about that. However, I tuned in to the Good Friday ceremony from Knock, and it was quite beautiful.

Canon Gibbons, who is the PP there, conducted a lovely ceremony but of course there was no one at it; just three other priests and the lovely young women singing the appropriate hymns. Nevertheless, it was well worth viewing, and I was glad that for that hour I found myself transported to when Good Friday was suitably penitential and suitably celebrated by us all.

Then to liven us all up that night, we had a very good Late Late Show, in which we saw many people of interest. There was Sarah McInerney, who is going to be one of the team on Prime Time. She was in a most exotic blue dress and, in her own words, is really looking forward to the challenge of Prime Time. She will continue with Cormac Ó hEadhra on her Drivetime programme on Radio 1 from 4.30-6.30pm each evening. She is extremely competent and I am glad to see her recognised as such.

Of course on The Late Late Show we also had former Taoiseach Enda Kenny talking about the programme Iarnród Enda which started on Monday night. I will leave that now because I am going to go into detail on that programme further down in the column.

You know the way we’ve all been glorying in the fact that Joe Biden, of Irish extraction, is now the President of the US, and is always so glad to show off his Irish roots? In numerous reports recently, we have learned of his taxation plans, which may have dangerous consequences for Ireland and for all the big pharma and other companies we have here.

Ireland is already working with the OECD to bring our taxation regime in line with other countries, but the intrusion of these ideas from Joe Biden will most certainly pose a difficulty. It’s too early yet to say how exactly they could affect us, and in the meantime the IDA, the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and all the other interested bodies are getting their plans together, particularly pointing out that Ireland has so many other attractions for industries apart from the 12.5% corporation tax.

We are now the only English-speaking country in Europe, since the UK took off, and that is a great attraction. We have a very well-educated workforce, ready to take up positions at whatever level of competency, technological or otherwise, that is required, and that is a huge readymade tranche of talent. The debate is really only beginning, but we will certainly have to plan and be ready to meet it in all of its facets.

So, we come to Monday night at 8.30pm on RTÉ One, when we saw the beginning of the six-part series Iarnród Enda. I had not realised until it unfolded that it was multilingual, and somehow that suited the subject except for one thing: I wish the producers did not whip away the English translation so quickly. You barely have time to begin to read it when it is gone and they’re on to the next one. I am sure other voices will be telling them that.

So how was Enda? Well Enda, as always, was natural and so suited to the subject. We saw him on his bicycle down in Waterford, going through the various stages of the Greenway. His hair, like all of us, was suitably dishevelled as we await the return of barbers and hairdressers. We got great information about Waterford and the various villages where the train used to run, and where the Greenway is now. We were introduced to wonderful people along the way who all had their story to tell. In a way, the series reminds me of Mary McAleese when she went out walking with different people and they talked and met people and exchanged views, etc. It was very much like that except based on the railways and the very fine use which is now being made of the abandoned lines.

Enda never lost his youthful looks. He announced he is now 70, and you know, when I saw him pedalling off, he could be 50. I always liked him in the Dáil because there are very few Endas in the world, and when I went into Dáil Éireann way back all those years ago, he was the only Enda and I had my own Enda at home. So it was sort of a comfort, if you like, to be able to say every day “Oh, hello Enda, how are you?” It remains the case, and when my Enda passed away, I always thought of him so vividly whenever I met Enda Kenny in my workplace in Dáil Éireann. It’s only a small thing, but it mattered so much to me, and in its own way accentuated the friendship between Enda Kenny and myself. For five more Monday nights, we will have that programme, Iarnród Enda, to look forward to.

Back home, we had an unwanted upset domestically. My son Cllr Aengus, who the readers will know was my caregiver and doing so much for me during all of the pandemic lockdown, had a personal accident last week. He and his family were out the back doing work in the garden. A garden shears was left on a table unclosed, and it fell and caught Aengus on the leg with a very deep cut and a fractured ankle. Lisa brought him to Tullamore and he came back with this hideous big boot on his leg and ankle, and is otherwise out of action. While he is indisposed, he will be a great loss to his own family and particularly to me. However, Lisa has been coming in and out and she is such a good daughter-in-law. I’m so lucky to have her.

What a change in the weather. Last week, everyone that could was swimming, sunbathing and enjoying temperatures of up to 17-18 degrees and constant sunshine. This week, there is still sunshine but there is a deep northerly wind and the temperatures are barely making 7-8 degrees. What a change! People from various parts of the country are telling me that they met snow showers etc. So far we have escaped those, but I am sure they’ll come as the weather is forecast to get colder as this week goes on.

Meanwhile, as regular as Easter comes around, the teachers’ conferences come around, and the radio and TV are full of debates about who said what to whom, and what should happen now with regard to the pandemic. We will have our fill of it.

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

In the meantime, stay safe and stay at home.

Slán go fóill.

Mary O’Rourke


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