You know, I do not know how to begin or what to say to you at the start of my column this week. We all know the terrible heartbreak of the story of the five people in Ballyjamesduff in County Cavan. Yet every time I read it or talk about it to anyone I find the tears coming into my eyes. It is so sad for every one of them - such a tragic horror story.
Looking at the family photograph with the line-up of children and the little fellow at the end literally brings tears to my eyes. From what I read, the priest said in the church that what we must have is faith, hope and love. It made me think that we do not express our love strong enough to those nearest and dearest to us at all times. To love other people and to be kind to them is what is important in life.
I will write no more and say no more now because if I do I would not be able to go on any further with this piece. Not to say anything at all would be dishonest of me as a columnist, because I know the events reached into every house in Ireland. To ignore the whole tragedy would be doing a disservice as well.
We will move on for a while and talk about the Tipperary versus Kilkenny All-Ireland Hurling Final on Sunday. We have gotten used to terrific games all summer, but this was a game above any other – each side scoring point by point, goal by goal, until the second-half when a definite shift took place in the play and it seemed that Tipperary were truly invincible. Somehow Kilkenny had lost their golden glow.
Now that the barrier has been broken, it will open up the game to many other counties who had always dared to hope and yet never made it. But it was a game worth watching and worth savouring.
Talking about games, the The Late Late Show last Friday night was truly terrific - the Donovan brothers and Annalise Murphy were brilliant, telling their tale of the games in Rio, and the pride the audience showed in standing up to applaud them. It made for wonderful viewing.
Then we had Ryan Tubridy interviewing Shane Ross. Even though he tried to trip up Shane once or twice, the Minister was having none of it and I thought all round it was a satisfactory interview – no holds barred but nothing given on either side.
Now we come to the Apple story which broke last week and which left people taking different sides in the whole debate. I am inclined to the point of view that there is jealously in Europe at the Irish Corporation Tax rate of 12.5 per cent, which throughout the years we have guarded. Through it we have managed to ensure that many worthwhile multinationals set up base here in Ireland. From a personal perspective, I have every reason to know that France is intensely jealous of our Corporation Tax rate.
In December, 2010, Brian Lenihan Jnr was Minister for Finance. It was a terrible period in Ireland’s political and financial history. He travelled to Brussels alone on a bleak day in December to sign the final papers with the Troika. It was a cold early winter day and snow was on the ground. I know all this from a radio interview he did with BBC2. They kindly sent me the tape after he passed away and I have it here in safekeeping.
Brian said to the reporter: “The snow is on the ground and hell is at the gates”. God only knows what was going through his mind at that time. As well as Ireland, there was his own future and the mortality of that must have struck him at that time.
A month or two later Brian told me that when this country was in the depths of despair, the French Prime Minister, Nicholas Sarkozy, and his officials bombarded the Department of Finance in Dublin and Brian himself with messages. They said that Ireland would not get the bail-out money unless they agreed to increasing the 12.5 per cent Corporation Tax. I have never forgotten that conversation with Brian and I know full well that we are viewed with very jealous eyes from countries like France and Germany who wish that they enjoyed the good luck we do in attracting inward multinational investment.
Be that as it was then, we are not going to give in to bullying now either, and I was glad to see Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan, and Micheál Martin stand up to that type of behaviour. Let Ireland make a strong appeal and we will see what develops. In the meantime, we will continue to welcome the strides which have been made in tax transparency in this country and the continuation of our multinational investments here.
To end on a joyful note, last Friday night here in town the Athlone GAA put on a terrific vaudeville show. It was called ‘Lip-Sync’ and it consisted of people presenting songs from the stage in harmony with the record – hence the title ‘Lip-Sync’. There were some marvellous episodes but above all it was a real night of fine old-fashioned vaudeville theatre. A laugh a minute and huge exertion put into it by all of the people in Athlone in the GAA who went up on stage and gave of themselves so freely.
Ray Collins, Deputy Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, a man from Edenderry called Adrian Brereton and myself were the four adjudicators. To say we had a ball would be an understatement. We had a wonderful night of wholehearted fun and outright enjoyment. Fair dues to all who competed and to the GAA who raised some terrific funds for their community facilities at St Ciaran’s Park in Athlone.
In the end, the outright winner was Ann Hoey who mimed Meatloaf - she was a wonderful performer in her dress, make-up, and in her Lip-Sync ability. All in all a wonderful night was had by all. The four adjudicators got on very well and when we came to make the decision together we felt we had done justice to all who performed.
I will talk with you all next week, in the meantime go safely.
Slán go fóill,