HSE cyber attack quells mood of positivity as funding parity announced for gaelic games participants

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

Well, of all of the things that have happened recently, the cyber attack on our health service is the most ominous and dangerous. The Government and the people had begun to be imbued with a sense of hope that we were going to come out of the pandemic, and better times, better weather and a general feeling of goodwill were beginning to run through Irish society with shops and hairdressers opening and a gradual awakening of life in Ireland; just when all of that was beginning to be felt, we had this dreadful cyber attack on the health system in Ireland.

It would certainly put you thinking and wondering, what is the whole onward-and-upward march of technology about, if technology can be attacked and exposed by a criminal gang such as carried out this one here in Ireland? It is just a dreadful thing to have happened, and your heart would certainly go out to everyone who was awaiting a call to an important consultation or advance in their treatment, and now there’s a halt put to that.

We are told that the health service is working to try to get parts of the system free and clean and up again, but apparently that will take weeks and weeks of effort. So, we await developments in that sphere. Cancer sufferers and people at a vital point in their treatment are so upset, and what is the future to hold?

Anyway, life goes on and there were some interesting things happened last week, outside of the dangerous health attack. One that I thought was really good was the fact that funding for women in Gaelic football and camogie will now be at the same level as it is for male participants in those games. The announcement was made by Jack Chambers, who is the Government Chief Whip and Minister of State with responsibility for Sport. Catherine Martin is Minister for Arts, Culture, Media and many other headings, including Sport, and I would say she was glad to have an eager young colleague like Jack Chambers to take on the role of Sports Minister. Amy O’Connor, an eminent camogie player from Cork, said “When little girls see that women are now treated as equal as men, that’s phenomenal.” Of course it is.

Jack Chambers’ announcement went without much comment in the media at the time he made it; I think it was because the horrible news about the cyber attack was just beginning. However, it will make a real change in how the GAA is practised by women on the field and its treatment by the media. Well done to Catherine Martin and Jack Chambers.

We can’t overlook the recent findings of Mrs Justice Siobhán Keegan of the Northern Ireland High Court, in dismissing claims by soldiers that some of the people shot dead in Ballymurphy had been armed and shooting. She found that nine out of ten were shot by the British Army, and the force used was either unjustified or disproportionate. Imagine, a parish priest, Fr Hugh Mullan, was hit by two bullets as he read the last rites to an injured man. This despite the fact that he was waving part of a white sheet to show that he was engaged in a mercy call.

The Ballymurphy killings took place in 1971, shortly after internment was introduced in the North. For 50 years the families of the victims have kept up their defence and their fight, and finally they have been vindicated. They behaved with dignity and self-belief throughout the long campaign and were very unfairly treated by the way in which Boris Johnson ‘apologised’ to them. There will be much more to come in the future of the whole saga of the Ballymurphy killings.

Well, the GAA system is back and up and running, and it was great over last weekend to see on RTÉ TV reports of games in the Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues. Already, the likely counties and teams are beginning to emerge and so we have much to look forward to in that regard.

Now before we part with the whole game of rugby, there was one terrific game in the Rainbow Cup of the PRO14 last weekend, in which Connacht emerged victorious in their game against Munster: Connacht 24, Munster 20. I saw that on TG4, even though it was about an hour after the time when the actual match was on, but Connacht played really well. They were doing well at half-time and they certainly did not slacken off.

Likewise in the same Rainbow Cup, Leinster had a win over Ulster: Leinster 21, Ulster 17. Both games were closely fought. I understand there is great excitement in Connacht Rugby, and in Connacht generally, at Bundee Aki being chosen for the Lions Tour. He is regarded so highly among all in Connacht and has endeared himself to the rugby fraternity of all ages.

Meanwhile, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has been to Chequers and back. Imagine coming out of that meeting and hearing immediately the news from Dublin about the cyber attack on the health service in Ireland. The UK is proving very difficult in dealing with the mechanics of the Protocol as it affects Northern Ireland. The UK is blaming the EU, and the EU is blaming the UK. This has a good way to run yet, and meanwhile Boris Johnson is behaving at his obdurate worst in dealing with it.

As I am compiling this piece the sun is shining, and the lovely bright early mornings and the late evenings when it is bright up to 9.30 are proving terrific tonics as we recover from the pandemic. So far so good in that regard, but I would urge everyone to continue to abide by the rules of social distancing, mask-wearing, handwashing and in general keeping out of crowds.

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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