The bravery of gardaí must be recognised
It is not an easy time to be a member of An Garda Síochána. The force is beset by industrial relations turmoil while its senior management is hit by controversy. That is why it is worth going back to first principles and remembering how this force stood four-square behind our democratically elected governments through some very dark decades.
This weekend, an important anniversary almost passed us without much notice. On October 16, 1976, Garda Michael Clerkin was killed by an IRA booby-trap bomb at a deserted cottage near Portarlington, Co Laois.
Garda Clerkin, aged only 24, and his colleagues had been lured to the spot by an anonymous caller to Portlaoise Garda Station. Four other gardaí were badly hurt - one of them was blinded for life.
The murderous incident was condemned by the Provisional Sinn Féin, who called it an act of sabotage. But it was widely believed to be yet another cowardly outrage by the IRA members, in breach of their own 'Standing Order No. 8', which in theory banned attacks on gardaí.
Garda Clerkin's memory has been kept alive by his family and by dedicated colleagues and friends. Yet he and his comrades who suffered so much have been given scant regard by the authorities.
It is always worth remembering those who stood by the State against the cowards in the IRA at a time when all our democratic structures were under very real threat. It is disappointing that so much time has passed without appropriate honour being given to those who suffered in this appalling incident, the horror of which has not diminished by the passing decades.
But it is never too late to right this wrong. It is time to give Michael Clerkin and his colleagues a Scott medal in recognition of their bravery and sacrifice.
The gesture will not stave off upcoming industrial action next month. Neither will it banish controversies over allegations of mistreatment of whistleblowers.
But it will recognise the heroism of gardaí literally putting their lives on the line.
Foley's death a cruel and untimely loss
There are no words to express the grief felt by lovers of Irish sport at the cruel and untimely death of Anthony Foley. Players, supporters and fans of all sporting codes had great affection for the Limerick rugby hero.
Anthony, like his father Brendan and his sister Rosie, proudly wore the Irish jersey and brought joy and success to the entire country through his rugby heroics.
Anthony epitomised everything that is great about the Limerick rugby tradition which welcomes everyone to compete without fear or favour. He proudly represented Shannon RFC, St Munchin's College, Munster and Ireland.
His father Brendan was part of the legendary Munster side which delivered a shock defeat to the All Blacks in Limerick in 1978. Anthony went one better by captaining Munster to a historic European Cup win in Cardiff back in 2006 and he played 62 times for Ireland. In recent years, he had contributed to the game as a coach. This work was characterised by his determination in the face of adversity and typified his commitment and courage.
Anthony Foley's rugby exploits touched many people's lives in Ireland, in the adjoining islands, and anywhere the great game of rugby is played. His sudden death in France, at age 42, deprives us all of other exploits. To family, friends and countless fans, we extend heartfelt sympathy.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílís.