Wednesday 17 July 2019

Women laid groundwork for Michael D's visit

Women, including past presidents Mary Robinson (L) and Mary McAleese (R), laid the foundations for the historic state visit of Michael D Higgins (C) to Britain. Photo: Simona Granati Photos: David Conachy
Women, including past presidents Mary Robinson (L) and Mary McAleese (R), laid the foundations for the historic state visit of Michael D Higgins (C) to Britain. Photo: Simona Granati Photos: David Conachy

Many moons ago, when I worked in the ESB, we had planned a power switch-out in a rural area of West Limerick. These switch-outs, for maintenance and repairs, were always arranged for weekdays between the hours of 10am and 4pm and the customers would be notified two to three days in advance. This was done to confine disruption to a minimum for the mainly farming community and, as a result, was met with little or no resistance.

However, this particular switch-out, which was arranged for Wednesday, July 29, 1981, was different. When the notification commenced on the Monday, all hell broke loose. The official on the doorstep was met with stern resistance and, a short time later, the phones in the office were hopping. We menfolk scratched our heads and wondered what major event we had missed.

Phonecall after phonecall conveyed the same message and asked the same question – mainly from the womenfolk: "Are you aware that the royal wedding is taking place on Wednesday?" Mna na hEireann would not be excluded from the 750 million viewers who tuned in around the world for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

It came as no surprise to me that, years later, the seeds for this week's historic Presidential visit to Britain were sown by three women: Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese and Queen Elizabeth.

Therein lies a message for us menfolk!





This morning I received a text from a very good schoolmate: "Can there be anything worse than losing a child?" We were both in school with Bob Geldof.

I have admired this man for many years, for both his great goodness to humanity and his great intellect and courage to speak out, with regard to all aspects of life in this country and beyond. No words of mine will help him or his family, but I do pray that the awful passing of his beautiful young daughter Peaches will not destroy this man, as the world would be a poorer place for it.





Recently, I was listening when the usual 'it's a disgrace' brigade on the Joe Duffy show bemoaned the sale of 20 GAA games to Sky Sports for this year's Championship.

Since the announcement was made, there has been hysteria surrounding this issue because Irish people will have to pay for an expensive Sky package to watch a handful of games.

There seemed to be a cry that the GAA had somehow reduced us all to an inevitable trip to the pub of a Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon to watch our counties. Nonsense!

This deal is a resounding endorsement of our game; one of the biggest sports carriers in the world has come knocking. The sole argument against this move has been money; people won't be able to afford Sky Sports, they say. They will, however, be able to go to the pub – and the complainers seemed to be leaning toward the pub rather than actually going to the games to support their teams, which would cost roughly the same.

On a broader point, not every GAA game is shown on television at present anyway, but local and national radio keep us up to speed. I have often listened to my county playing on local radio because the game was not offered on television. Your local stations are always going to keep you informed, and the outcry has been nothing short of pure histrionics.

Forget about the GAA's spin of wanting to bring the sport to the diaspora – this Sky Sports deal is plain old business, and extremely shrewd business too. Sky Sports has grown viewership and interest in the NFL and Super League in Britain, and there is every reason to believe the GAA will see an increase in participation in clubs across Britain as well.





Bruxelles is often regarded as being too directive in matters which could be best handled at national level. But sometimes it does leave margin for manoeuvre.

In dealing with free competition in the broadcast media, member states were allowed designate within reason events of national interest which must remain available on a free-to-air system. The Government nominated the GAA Championships as such an event. This was accepted by the EU.

When the EU was dealing with the preservation of water through the introduction of water charges, the Government argued that we should be exempt from that requirement. It pointed out that with the rainfall we enjoy we would always have adequate supplies, essentially once we reduced the leakages in the system. Again, this was accepted by the EU.

How things change when we look beyond a principle and see a cash cow.





I refer to an article on deflation by Professor Stephen Kinsella (April 8).

Deflation has taken hold. There is no alternative in a world that produces too much of practically everything without any controls or restraint except the crude law of the market.

Cutthroat competition drives prices into the ground; survival means pricing the competition out of existence. At best, prices stay static, at worst, they decline to levels that eliminate all profit, precipitating epidemic business failure, which we now experience.

As long as over-production remains, deflation will only get worse. Historically the problem never existed before, except of course in the experience of agriculture in the EEC about 50 years ago – mountains of beef and butter; lakes of milk, wine and olive oil. The Common Agricultural Policy took care of that problem with production quotas and payments to produce less. Not a perfect solution – it broke all freedom-of-trade rules and is considered heresy by economic purists – but it saved farming in Europe. What happened to farming back then has happened to practically all production in the 21st Century.

I listened yesterday to a tirade on food wastage supposedly promoted by supermarkets; the world threw away half the food it produced last year. That is why we had vegetables at five cent just before Christmas – a time when historically prices were increased. They are not increased any more; desperation to sell more is at crisis point. Unregulated over-production breeds such selling mania and deflation.

We need new economic thinking; it is past time that politicians and economists saw the inadequacies of their ideology and faced the realities of the technological 21st Century.





In his letter of April 8, Philip O'Neill is continuing the promulgation of the 'we are all to blame' mantra in relation to the bankrupting of the country.

We are not all to blame. A small number of the most powerful people at the head of the government, financial institutions, etc, made the decisions during the boom which bankrupted the country. The rest of us were simply not told of the risks of the policies pursued during the boom.

Philip O'Neill is wrong, therefore, when he says that "our minds become atrophied and failed to notice".

The truth is, we were not told, by those whose business it was to do so, until the troika landed.



Irish Independent

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