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Michael O'Doherty: Eddie's eco friendly island . . oh please?

You've got to love Eddie Irvine. 'Fast Eddie', 'Irve the Swerve', 'That Twat from the North' ... whatever you want to call him, Irvine has always come across as a feckless, happy-go-lucky womaniser.

And far from being embarrassed by the image, he's spent most of his years on this planet cultivating it.

But the man who seems unfettered by what people think of him, by any public pronouncements on what is appropriate behaviour for a man his age, has now gone all green, eco-friendly and touchy-feely.

Eddie has bought a remote island in the Bahamas, and is planning to build an environmentally conscious home complete with solar power, a pump-powered compost heap for a toilet and, wait for it, no flat screen TVs or fridge.

Mosquito

He's not even going to have a generator, planning instead to "go to bed when it's dark, and wake up when it's bright".

How very environmentally conscious of our Irve... Or could it be that with his advancing years, expanding paunch and increased wrinkles, a lack of lighting Chez Irve will make it easier for him to charm the ladies into his mosquito-netted boudoir?

And that having such an isolated crib will allow him to party even harder without the neighbours complaining?

You'll have to forgive my cynicism when it comes to what you might think is an epiphany on Eddie's part, but self-deprecation, and the suspicion that not only is Eddie bullshitting you, but he knows that you know he's bullshitting you, and yet continues to do it, is at the heart of the Eddie Irvine experience.

Hermit

I remember a photoshoot with him three years ago in his Dublin bar Cocoon.

Eddie spent much of the interview denying he was a playboy, while at the same time coming out with some gems such as "I can't settle down -- I've too many options... I'm sitting in New York and I think 'I wouldn't mind going to LA', so I hop on the plane and go to LA".

And then his phone rings, and it's Pamela Anderson...

So when he tells you with a straight face that he's planning to hang up his partying boots and live a hermit's existence, you've got to take it with an ocean-full of salt. After all, when did he admit the idea for this carbon-neutral, footprint-defying home in an idyllic and untouched part of the world came to him? While flying above it in his gas-guzzling, ozone-destroying private jet.

You couldn't make it up...

Use Spike for bankers, builders

So Spike Island, the former prison in Cork harbour which has been lying idle since 2004, is to be turned into a tourist attraction, following its handing over to the County Council.

Already the good people of Cork are doing what they do best -- getting ideas above their station.

Straight away, they have fanciful notions about positioning Spike Island as an Alcatraz/Robben Island-type tourist resort, overlooking a few subtle differences that should be borne in mind.

First of all, there's the problem that Spike Island is not located in San Francisco Bay, under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead, it's located halfway between Ringaskiddy Ferry Terminal and Whitegate Oil Depot.

Doesn't quite have the same ring to it, dare I say? And while Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island, Spike's most famous son is 1848 Rising leader John Mitchel. Er...

The various people who are hopping on the bandwagon aren't helping either, as everyone involved seems to have a different opinion as to what it should become.

One wants a Blarney Stone type tourist attraction, complete with hotel and marina. Another talks of it being a "Phoenix Park for the people of Cork".

And then there's the "Irish Alcatraz" idea.

And you can almost feel the desperation in trying to find something, anything to make Spike seem interesting when a local historian is wheeled out to describe it as "one of the most haunted places in Ireland".

When you have to use half-a***d legends about banshees to sell a tourist attraction, then it's truly time to be afraid...

So here's an idea. We have overcrowded prisons throughout Ireland.

We have arrogant, shameless bankers and property developers who've nearly bankrupted the country that we'd love to throw in jail. And we have a state-of-the-art prison lying empty in Cork Harbour, from which no escape is possible.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Family values? Bishop has got some nerve

I'd almost forgotten how ridiculously out of touch the Catholic Church was until I read the words of the Bishop of Elphin, Christopher Jones, on the subject of the new Civil Partnership Bill, which will give legal status to co-habitees and gay couples.

Naturally enough for someone who continues to beat a drum straight from the Dark Ages, he's against it, giving equal rights as it does to people who choose to 'live in sin', and people who perform 'ungodly sexual practices'.

And we can hardly be surprised to hear him wheel out the old defence about the family being enshrined in the Constitution, as though a few words in some dusty old tome have ever helped to save a single marriage.

Hypocrisy

What is astonishing, however, is the sheer hypocrisy of the Church when it makes pronouncements such as this.

Bishop Jones talks about "drugs delinquency and crime in our society", suggesting they are a direct result of a move away from the sanctity of marriage and the family unit.

Okay, maybe they are a factor, but just as broken homes and children outside wedlock contribute to crime in our society, so do children who turn out to be troubled adults because they were abused at a young age by their elders.

And remind me again about the Catholic Church's track record when it comes to that issue?


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