Hello to all the Advertiser readers.
When I wrote last week the Budget had not yet issued, which it has now done. I have a separate piece in this paper on education and in particular how it will help those who are disadvantaged or need special attention in education. I am hopeful that many of the readers will find it helpful.
Now for the overall Budget, well I suppose the best we can say is that there was something for everyone – small, but it was there – and I think both Paschal Donohue and Michael McGrath did their best in the circumstances in which they found themselves.
Can you ever get over how much of the Budget was actually leaked before it ever issued? There was absolutely nothing in the Budget that we hadn’t read about or heard about on the radio or TV prior to Budget Day.
When I remember back to 1995 and poor Phil Hogan (Fine Gael ), then a Junior Minister in the office of the Minister for Finance, Ruairi Quinn (Labour ); Phil inadvertently leaked a harmless aspect of the Budget, and of course he was duly punished.
Now all that is for another day, but it is indeed a very full story. However, the Budget is over and done now, and what remains, of course, is the whole Mica scandal for County Donegal, Sligo, Galway, Clare and whatever other counties Mica is found in. That is a huge issue which has to be addressed now because many people are living in their Mica houses in fear of further breakdown in the fabric of their house. I understand the Government will be addressing the issue in the next couple of weeks.
What a great loss we have had recently of people who have given us, in different ways, so much enjoyment. Last Thursday/Friday, we lost Paddy Moloney, the famous musician and head of the Chieftains. It was great to see The Late Late Show that night with ‘oldies’ such as Finbar Furey and John Sheehan paying tribute to Paddy. He was truly outstanding. Then on Sunday/Monday of this week, we had the sad deaths of two great poets of our lifetime: the Irish poet Máire Mhac an tSaoi and the Trinity poet Brendan Kennelly.
Due tribute was paid to them all, musicians and poets, and I would like to say God rest their souls, and in particular to be grateful for all the enjoyment we got from them when they were in full flow in their lives.
Listening to our President Michael D. Higgins over the last few days, when he was paying tribute to the ‘greats’ who have passed away, I thought how lucky we are to have him. He is so fluent and yet so precise in his admiration of the attributes of the fine people who have passed away. Thanks to Michael D. for expressing so vividly what many of us feel in our hearts.
We had great rugby last Friday when Ulster did really well against the Lions/South Africa: Ulster 26-Lions 10. The big score was belied by a very good game: tight, physical and all the time well worth viewing. This was followed by Leinster versus Scarlets: Leinster 50-Scarlets 15. Leinster had a great game but during the course of the conversation about it, it appears that Robbie Henshaw has an ongoing foot injury and therefore did not turn out for Leinster. There is great worry about this because, of course, Ireland will be relying on him for the upcoming internationals. Johnny Sexton is being used sparingly, but still, he’s in full fettle.
But the greatest game of them all was Connacht versus Munster. Imagine, throughout that game, the lead changed five times. Connacht were winning up to the very end when Munster got a try and converted it safely for themselves, to finish Munster 20-Connacht 18. Connacht really played their hearts out, and I was so sorry that they didn’t make it.
Jack Carty, our local friend here, got Man of the Match, and he well deserved it. He played consistently and forcefully right throughout the game. He is truly a great rugby player and my hope is that now, when they are looking to fill a national team within the next few weeks, Jack Carty will surely feature in it.
Bundee Aki for Connacht, together with Jack Carty, played a blinder. Meanwhile, for Munster, Joey Carbery, also number 10, had a great game.
So, we come again now to the ever-prevalent pandemic, which is constantly colouring our lives and leading to so much distress. As I am compiling this on the Tuesday, we do not as yet know what is to be the outcome for this coming Friday October 22, which had long been pencilled in for the final loosening of any restrictions we’ve had. The Cabinet will meet today and by the time I have my column finished, we will all know what has been the outcome of the Cabinet deliberations.
One outcome I’m entirely sure of: we have moved away from the ordinary protocols which we had been adhering to so well, like hand sanitation, keeping your distance, keeping out of crowds, and most of all being constantly aware that the pandemic is here and looks like it is here to stay for quite a while. So, the mask-wearing continues, and the everyday constant caution in all we do in our daily lives.
Now I know I sound like a broken record, but it must be said repeatedly: we are not at all clear of the pandemic.
So whatever episodes you were planning post-Friday October 22 which have now been curtailed, remember such curtailment and such caution is for the good of everyone. Yes, we have the highest vaccination rates, it appears, in the world, but we also have the highest Covid rates, it appears, in the world as well. So less of the praise, more of the caution and care.
I hope the readers will get some help from my Budget piece about children. Still, after all the years away from education, I frequently get asked various questions about schools and education.
That’s my lot for this week. Hope to talk with you all next week. In the meantime, take care and mind yourself.
Slán go fóill.