Emigration still driven by the rural-urban divide
Published 08/04/2016 | 02:30
In summer 1977 as a 14-year-old I walked early out of a church in Tooreen, Co Mayo, to see the two local TDS - one Fianna Fáil and one Fine Gael - laughing and joking together during the election campaign, that was, until the crowd started to come out of the church.
They then separated and tore strips out of each other on their respective soap boxes.
That year, I was a polling clerk in Aghamore and Mayo elected six TDs to the Dáil - four Fianna Fáil and two Fine Gael.
Nearly 40 years on, roads have improved and an airport has been built only because it was brokered by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and a canny parish priest who also built dance halls and a basilica in Knock.
We have gas off the north-west coast of Mayo and fibre optic coming in through Killala, and still emigration continues from rural areas and small towns.
The balance of power has been transferred to the east coast and hence the money wealth and jobs.
This balance of power also exists in Europe, with the central axis of Berlin-London-Paris, leaving weaker economies in other parts of the EU.
A Minister for Rural Affairs, permanently resident in the West, was proposed in 2002, giving some hope to rural Ireland, but because of local and national 'me too' politics this forward-thinking proposal - which has now been proposed again by the Healy-Raes - was dumped after eight years of party political squabbling.
Albert Reynolds, when he was Taoiseach, knew how to spread the power across all parts of the country when he appointed his ministers. He knew a fiver from a farmer in the west was the same as a factory worker in the east.
But sadly he was not given this opportunity for long. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have now a duty to put the laughing and joking behind them and build a nation for our people and their families across Ireland, without the fear of parish pump politics.
The oldest GAA club in Britain - John Mitchels, in Liverpool - is still drawing new emigrants and wining the All Britain finals, engaging with people who emigrated in the 1930s who are among the four million in a 40-mile radius, many with Irish ancestors.
It should give all our politicians something to think about and plan for, so in 100 years we will not be experiencing emigration the way we are today.
Better off without them
I refer to the manic preoccupation of the media with the forming of a new government.
In the five weeks that have elapsed since the election and without a government, has the sky fallen in? No! Has our trading partners ceased to do business with Ireland? No! Have the Luas drivers seen the light? No! Has the housing crisis being solved? No! Has the hospital trolley crisis improved? No! Has the crisis in education been addressed? No! Apart from Enda and Micheál, does anyone know the difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil? No. No. No.
Now, in a normal country, the government would have addressed the foregoing challenges with all of the resources at its disposal, but this is Ireland, where we have juvenile miscreants posing as politicians supposedly qualified to run a country.
But these 158 numbskulls couldn't run a model railway. Yet they receive mind-boggling remuneration?
However, to me, the past five or so weeks have shown that we need neither TDs nor Senators. And aren't these people in breach of contract by not doing the job for which they are paid?
In which case, should they be suspended immediately, their pay and expenses put on hold - backdated to Friday February 26.
Just have the President rule by decree, with a supplicant and efficient civil service.
Just think of the money saved that could be diverted to funding health, homelessness and all the other problems facing our nation.
Or, let's just have another General Election.
Panama Papers shock
One can imagine the reaction by finance departments and tax offices over the 'Panama Papers'.
Their surprise perhaps would be best paraphrased by Captain Renault's response to gambling in the film 'Casablanca': "I'm shocked, shocked to find that tax evasion is going on here!"
Sinn Féin on Irish Water
The Irish Independent claimed that Sinn Féin's position in relation to water charges is in tatters (April 6). This is not true.
Sinn Féin has consistently said that we would establish an independent commission to examine the most appropriate model of public utility to replace the flawed Irish Water model. It's not that hard to understand. All commissions are given terms of reference. They couldn't function otherwise.
Allow me to set out the Sinn Féin position in clear terms for your readers. There are four steps in Sinn Féin's position:
1. Abolish water charges - to take place with immediate effect.
2. Abolish Irish Water - to be concluded within one year
3. Establish an independent commission on water services to examine the most appropriate model of public utility to replace the flawed Irish Water model - to report back within nine months.
4. Hold a referendum to enshrine the ownership of Ireland's water as a human resource in the constitution.
This is the Sinn Féin position as presented to the people in the General Election and is clearly set out in our policy document: 'Water Charges - A tax too far', launched in November 2015. There has been no change to this position whatsoever.
What there has been is a certain amount of mischief-making by elements of the media.
Sinn Féin has also committed to investing an additional €900m in water infrastructure over five years.
Sinn Féin President
Room 101 for the leaders
Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin were meeting in Room 716. Are they sure it wasn't Room 101?