Government receives recent public poll support as doubts over Tokyo Olympics remain

Hello to all the Advertiser readers.

The sun is shining, the days are long and even Dr Holohan is smiling and saying nice things about where we all are. Isn’t it amazing, in the middle of this beautiful June sunshine, that things are looking up with regard to the onslaught against the pandemic? Now I know there is the awful Delta variant yet to be dealt fully with, but I can’t help writing this with a great mood of optimism at the moment. Let’s hope that continues.

I’m sure many of the readers of this column will remember the late Mamo McDonald, who died late last week. She was the chairperson of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA ) from 1982-1985. I remember her so well because I went into Dáil Éireann in November 1982, and right throughout the 80s she was so prominent – not just in women’s matters, though they figured quite a bit in what she had to say – but she had very far-reaching views and was able to air them in a most moderate and sophisticated manner.

I heard one time that she never set out to be a feminist (“it was life that made a feminist of me” ). She was blonde and good-looking, always dressed smartly and was a real example not just to women in the ICA movement but to women and indeed life in general. In the 80s and 90s I met up with her often at various events and functions. We were always on a friendly hello basis, and I have always carried the highest regard for her. She went on to be the first chair of Age & Opportunity and always retained her sense of style and her way of talking. May she rest in peace.

All the politicians will have cause to be reasonably satisfied with the recent MRBI Irish Times poll. Readers will know that I am not a great fan of polls, even if they are favourable to my party. But the most amazing result of this poll was that the public, when interviewed, said they were highly satisfied with the way the triumvirate Government of Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan was handling the pandemic and dealing with all of the fallout from that. That, to me, was very reassuring. Apparently, these interviews were carried out person to person at people’s homes, so I think one would believe them more than you could believe a telephone poll.

Last Saturday we saw the start of the under 20 Six Nations. This will be a five-round championship and Ireland was against Scotland last Saturday. Ireland had a huge win. It was interesting to see the players and hear their names and to be able to place some of them as the sons of famous players of not so long ago in Irish rugby. I was glad to see that there were two playing who were from Connacht, with their club being Buccaneers of Athlone.

In both cases, Garbally College was the school where they would have started their rugby career, and then on to Buccaneers and now on to under 20s for Ireland. No doubt there will be scouts from Irish Rugby playing close attention to these five matches, the second of which is next Friday against Wales.

Will the Tokyo Olympic Games, scheduled for a few weeks’ time, go ahead? Every day there are varying views in the newspapers and we are left with the feeling that maybe they will and maybe they won’t. The Prime Minister in Japan is very keen that they should go ahead and, as we know from our daily TV, many Irish athletes in various fields have already qualified to go to Tokyo. Of course, health needs and the measures to deal with them will, in the end, be the overriding decision-maker as to whether they go ahead or not.

The vaccine rollout is not proceeding so well, it appears, in Japan. Of course the vaccine holds the key to everything. We are so glad that here in Ireland the vaccine appears to be rolling out. I got such a surprise in one of Sunday’s newspapers when I saw a full-page ad for those aged between 35-39 and a rollout of the days on which each of 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39 years old can register for the vaccine.

It seems such a short time since the whole idea of vaccination was mooted and then began to be rolled out. In the beginning there were mishaps, as in any new endeavour. But I feel all the professionals and all the care staff remained calm and got on with their job, and the result is now huge numbers going for their vaccines every day.

In my case, both myself and my two sons and two daughters-in-law have all got our two vaccines. So they are imbued, as I am, with a sense that we have gone through the worst and come out the other end, and hopefully with this shield of the competency of vaccines wrapped tightly around us, we will go through the summer happily. We have all, collectively and singly, been through some dreadful lockdown times, and it is great to see an upsurge in happier feelings all round.

It was great last week to be able to make an appointment to go and see my sister-in-law Eithne, who is in great form and had been so well looked after, as indeed have so many others in the Athlone area in their various nursing homes. I will go back to visiting her regularly now, as I did before the lockdown. She is always keen to hear the latest news of everyone and everything, and I enjoy my visits with her so much.

The Leaving Certificate examination rolls on and on. Of course, it is all being conducted in typical Leaving Cert weather, the warm days and blazing sunshine evoking envy in the students who would love to be out and about. I telephone both Jennifer and Luke each evening when they have done an exam. Jennifer is sitting all of her papers; Luke is sitting four of his and they each then will have the alternative of the accredited grades.

I think the pandemic has done the formal examination system in Ireland a great service. Heretofore, each student went with a feeling of dread to sit their exams, whereas now they can sit them knowing that there is always the alternative. I think it has meant a lessening in anxiety and thereby a better performance in the written examinations being undertaken by students. Results day is not until September 3, which means that when the exams are over they should firmly put all thought of what they should or shouldn’t have done out of their minds, concentrate on having a good summer break and then be ready to face the results when they come out.

The Leaving Cert is not the end of life; it is only, for every young man and woman, the beginning of a real life after school.

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

In the meantime, despite all my sunny optimistic forecast, I continue to say: stay safe, stay at home as much as you can, and stay away from crowds.

Slán go fóill.


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