Christmas gives us time to assess our daily lives
Published 24/12/2015 | 02:30
Later today most of us will manage to declare a truce and finally call it "Christmas". Many of us have rushed into the festive season frenzy, with all its excitement and pressures. But let us go back to the basic principles behind Christmas. Whatever your religious beliefs, the main focus transcends all religions and none. It is a universal story which has appealed across cultures over two thousand years.
It tells of a defenceless child, born without even a cradle to rest his head, but sent to us to bring a message of peace and joy to the entire world.
It is about our basic humanity, about how we can live together in fairness and decency. It is about recognising the humanity of others and their inalienable rights in affording "room at the inn" to all.
Christmas time is also about remembering those who deliver vital services too often taken for granted.
Our doctors, nurses, fire fighters, gardaí, and ambulance crews, depend on these men and women who work professionally but also with remarkable generosity and kindness.
Lives depend on them. Emergencies and accidents do not cease just because it is the Christmas season. Often, given unwise celebrations, these services are under increased pressures.
People who have lost loved ones in road accidents over the past year know the horror such a tragedy can bring. They have also seen the compassion and bravery of the members of our emergency services.
Sick and frail people benefit from the generosity of our nursing services at this time of year. We also salute the men and women of our defence forces serving overseas - especially the Irish Navy who have rescued thousands from the Mediterranean Sea - who have done Ireland proud.
These thoughts, and others, swirl around us this Christmas Eve. But here's the best one: Happy Christmas!
Storms bring home need to tackle climate change
Exit Desmond and enter Eva. Each sounds harmless enough. But the consequences of these storms may be with us for quite some time. Storm Eva brings us a wet, wild, and windy end to the year. Forget a 'white Christmas'. Instead, think about wind damage, power outages, dangerous driving conditions, and alas, even more flooding.
We have had more than our fair share of wild weather over the latter end of 2015 - not to mention a less-than-ideal summer.
Many people in the West and Mid-West have been hit by prolonged and repeated flooding and can certainly attest to the vagaries of our climate. As we sit down to our turkey dinner tomorrow, we must remember that it is far from a happy Christmas for many people who suffered the stress of being forced from their homes and the financial loss that they have incurred as a result of the flood damage.
Our unpredictable weather is a timely reminder to us of our defencelessness in the teeth of nature, and underlines the importance of ensuring that the climate change agreement from Paris is honoured.