I have not spoken with you since the terrible events in Brussels when evil stalked that lovely city in the two dreadful events at the airport and the metro.
Brussels, Paris, Madrid, and London – all names of cities familiar to us; and then to see the indescribable scenes which unfolded. It is so strange that in a city which houses so many Irish people that no Irish person was killed or injured. So many young people from so many countries felt that brush with evil on that recent March morning.
It is difficult always to know what to say because there is no explanation for evil. The continuing worry is that no one knows from where the next outrage will come.
At around the same time we had the unspeakable tragedy of the five deaths at Buncrana Pier in County Donegal. The horror of this struck everyone who heard and read about it: that lovely family decimated; the bravery of the dad who saved the four-month-old baby; the sheer bravery of Davitt Walsh who plunged into the sea and swam out to get the baby from the father in the icy waters.
Such a terrible event. So much sorrow heaped on one family. It was almost indescribable the sorrow and the grief which the people of Buncrana and Derry experienced last week.
The world is full of evil and sadness. All we can all do is try to understand, to pray for and to hope that such evil and sorrow does not affect us in our lives.
Now to another theme altogether: no Government as yet. I do not know about all of you but I am getting really fed up and puzzled by it all. One day it seems Enda Kenny will have the numbers. The next day we are told Micheál Martin would have the numbers. There is one definite combination that has the numbers that is the combination of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael but we are told constantly that that is not going to happen.
I know enough to know that that proposition would not get through a Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis so therefore it is a non-runner.
In the meantime, caretaker governments and caretaker ministers and caretaker Dáils are not enough to keep the country moving at a proper growth pace to allow for an increase in employment, to allow for a housing policy to be set out or to allow for educational matters to be sorted out properly. All the political matters are in a state of flux right now, but what is to be the outcome? We will await to see if next week makes any difference.
And now to the Rising. What a glorious weekend we had on TV and on radio and the opportunity to savour it in full. Everything on Easter Sunday went off with a great sense of proper pride and proper respect for all that had happened 100 years ago. It was wonderful to see so many relatives of the main players in Easter week, 1916. In particular, I loved a programme that was on RTÉ on Sunday night at 7pm produced by Ryan Tubridy called 16 Letters. It was a great story and he handled the interviews with a delicacy and a sensitivity which was remarkable to savour.
Another favourite of mine on TV was an hour-long documentary on Eoin Mac Neill. All many of us know about Eoin Mac Neill was that he was the man who gave countermanding orders about the Easter Rising. And yet Eoin Mac Neill was a fine complex character himself – learned, brave, nationalistic, and imbued with the feeling that he wanted to do right for his country.
I thought all of the arrangements were beautifully carried out and credit is due to everyone in the Government, in the committees, in the defence forces and marching bands. It was all such a wonderful spectacle and huge credit is due to all those who planned this wonderful weekend of events. We can be rightly proud of 1916 and I think the last few days have shown the proper pride of ordinary people in the events long ago.
It was wonderful that every primary and secondary school had a ceremony leading up to last Easter weekend. The ceremony where the flag was presented and then unfurled; where the Proclamation was presented and then read and re-read; where the children participated with the Army in what was a truly democratic play-out of all the events so long ago.
I have spoken to quite a few young children who were rightly awed by the whole story of the Rising, by the whole story of bravery, dedication, patriotism, and love of one’s country. I think we all in this country have set in train a very fine heritage for our young people and one I hope that will bear fruit with a proper sense of pride as events are relayed and replayed in the weeks and months and years ahead.
Great work and effort went into everything and I would like to pay tribute to Heather Humphreys, the Minister for Arts and Heritage, who clearly took on a huge task to be the figurehead of all of these celebrations. She carried it through with great care and dedication.
So we have had some dreadful lows and magnificent highs in the last number of weeks.
Now all we need and want is a proper Government.
Talk to you all soon.
In the meantime go safely.
Slán go fóill,