Monday 16 September 2019

Notebook: A look at the week that was

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew’s two daughters, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice. Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse
Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew’s two daughters, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice. Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse
Carol Hunt

Carol Hunt

Did you feel all charitable and warm inside last week when you read about the amounts that the public purse shells out in pension payments to our ex-politicians?

If, like me, you have either no pension or a miserably reduced one to look forward to in your old age, then I'm sure the sight of the eye-popping sums our taxes are paying for gladdened your heart.

But spare a thought for poor Michael McDowell, who says that his pension stopped on the day he was elected to the Seanad and that he "lost out on about €30,000". Or at least he would have if it weren't for the fact that generous-hearted Michael had previously donated his pension to charity.

When you add McDowell's political income (€65,000 as a senator) to that of his legal business, it's not exactly a financial sacrifice to match that of the biblical widow's mite. Still, it must be lovely to live in a world where you can gift an entire pension to charity and hardly know it's gone.


Speaking of lovely worlds, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin noted last week that seminarians lodging in St Patrick's College, Maynooth, enjoy a very "comfortable" living, with breakfast, dinner and tea served up to them. If only that was all.

On Tuesday night I got to discuss the possible reasons for the archbishop to move Dublin seminarians to study at the Irish College in Rome on Tonight with Vincent Browne (TV3) - or rather, with Ger Colleran.

Was it the allegations that some seminarians in Maynooth were signed up to a notorious sex-dating app? Was it the "poisonous anonymous letters", the drama and the "unhealthy" atmosphere? Or was it the clash between old-style militant conservatism and a more liberal laid back orthodoxy?

Whatever the truth is - and we certainly haven't heard the last of this story - we all agreed that no one could have predicted we'd get to hear the Archbishop of Dublin explain the workings of Grindr - the world's largest gay social network app - to us over the airwaves. God certainly does work in mysterious ways.


On Wednesday I got to chat with Simon Delaney on Newstalk (The Right Hook) about the family who don't live in just another world but in a whole different galaxy to the rest of us - the Trumps.

Last week - when Daddy Trump was hero-worshipping Vladimir Putin, Mammy Trump's naked body was splashed across newspapers and son Eric was insisting that the reason his sister Ivanka doesn't get sexually harassed is because she's such a "strong powerful woman".

Nothing to do with the fact that Daddy and Granddaddy are bully-boy billionaires with massive legal powers at their disposal, of course.

It would be brilliantly funny if the possibility of the Trumps becoming the First Family wasn't all too real.


According to Private Eye magazine, another scion of a privileged family getting legal last week is Sarah Ferguson, who has Johnson getting shirty with the Daily Mail about what the Duchess of York feels is their "personal attacks" on her, her daughters and her ex-husband, Prince Andrew.

Johnson's are, em, Belfast-based. Poor Sarah complains through them about a photo that portrays her "being asleep on a London tube train" and "photos of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie in such a manner as to distort and falsely report on their demeanour and thoughts" and "articles ridiculing their dress sense in a demeaning and unfair manner".

Private Eye eminently sums it all up "as a legal threat it is even more ridiculous than the Princesses' dress sense".


Did you watch the Olympic opening ceremony? Nope, me neither. I was busy finishing reading the New York Times bestseller, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Israeli writer Yuval Noah Harari.

Suffice to say that we're all headed for hell in a handcart. According to Harari, "modern liberal culture" is a warped form of religion, with us worshipping humanity instead of God. I wonder what the ecumenical view on that would be? Perhaps they'd know in Maynooth.

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