Brooklyn, banking, and Deputy-bating

If you have the opportunity, please try and get to see Brooklyn, the film which is now showing at major cinemas throughout the country.

I went last week with some friends of mine, and it was such a counterpoint to the gloom and cold of the weather and the gloom that is still sweeping Europe. Like many people, I had read Brooklyn, the book by Colm Toíbín, some years ago and loved it for the simplicity of the story it was telling and yet the great questions which it was raising in the reader’s mind.

So it is with the film. It is the story of a young Wexford girl who goes to New York in the early 1950s. She leaves behind her widowed mother and her older sister. Saoirse Ronan plays the main role in the film, Eilis, and what a wonderful job she makes of it. Her eyes are magnificent and tell the story without her saying very much.

When she lands in the U.S. she gets a passable job in a department store and she settles in, albeit a little unwillingly, into her ‘digs’ in the Irish suburb of Brooklyn in New York. The story really takes off when she meets a nice Italian young man and romance flares between them. I will go no further with the story except to say that it involves Eilis coming back to Wexford having gone through a state marriage with her Italian boyfriend.

Back home she meets and falls for another guy, but in the end follows her dream and her heart back across the Atlantic Ocean to the new world. It all sounds a simple story, does it not? But the fantastic cinematography, the wonderful shots of Coney Island contrasted with the empty beaches at Wexford, the entry into the free world through Ellis Island and all the memories that evokes in so many Irish people add hugely to the emotional impact.

I hope it gets the Academy Award; Saoirse Ronan is worth any award which comes her way for her fine acting in this film. Last Christmas I read another book by Colm Toíbín entitled Nora Webster. It too has terrific appeal and is truly a great read.

Have you noticed how Vincent Browne is failing to get the Fine Gael and Labour TDs to come on his shows? In the beginning, any sitting TD appeared enthusiastically in front of our eyes and it led to quite good TV dialogue.

However, in the last eight to 10 weeks, both Labour and Fine Gael have actually refused to come on. Well I tell you something, I think they are right. I imagine they did their own little survey among themselves to see if they would go on to be bewildered and humiliated.

Vincent Browne is a brilliant debater and he has in front of him 600 of an audience, which he choreographs as if he were the conductor of an orchestra. Therefore, if he wants to turn the audience against a particular TD, he will do so by comment and by innuendo. I must say I don’t blame the TDs at all, but it has led to the scenario in many constituencies that there is only one TD sitting at the table, usually an Independent. It takes a lot of the fizz out of the show.

What do you make of the banking inquiry? It seems it has run into the sand and none of the members of the inquiry team are happy with the report as it is slowly emerging in its compilation. It seems that the terms of the inquiry, as laid out to the members, have proved irksome in that they are constrained in what they can say and do against any person.

Reports say the team will have to sit over the Christmas period in order to get it all in order for the due date of publication, which is January 25, 2016. I always felt the team were on a difficult mission; how could it be otherwise when the one person who could throw such light on the whole matter was no longer there to do so, in the person of Brian Lenihan Jnr. However, we wait and see, and I hope the members do not get indigestion by rushing through the Christmas festivities in order to get back to work.

This brings me to my last topic: the threat to our democracy. Recently, both Stephen Collins in The Irish Times and Pat Rabbitte in The Sunday Business Post have posed the question of continuous blame being heaped upon the elected politicians. Both have made powerful arguments that if this continues, the break of the link between the politician and the voter will be damaged. That would be a huge mistake in any climate, but particularly in the dangerous aura we now have.

In the main, politicians work hard. Of course there are some who are lazy or incompetent as there are in any walk of life or work. But in the main, as I say, they are a decent bunch of men and women and I feel the treatment of politicians is important. Wholesale denigration of politicians does nothing for society or for the world around us.

Make a resolution: the next time a politician comes around seeking your vote, of course you will question him/her, of course you will probe what happened such and such a promise, but give him/her a fair hearing and the interchange between you both will be all the better for that.

That’s my message over for this week. I will talk to you all again next week.

In the meantime, go safe.

Slán go fóill,

Mary O’Rourke


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