And the award goes to...
THERE WAS a great piece of television a couple of weeks ago on TG4. It was called 'Arise, You Gallant Sweeneys'. The quote, it seems, comes from the song, ' The Rocks of Bawn'. And essentially, it was the story of men who had emigrated from Ireland in the 1940s and ' 50s, due to lack of work, and were returning home for the first time since then... 52 years in some cases.
Ravaged by the culminative effect of overindulging in alcohol, hardened by the physical demands of working on England's motorways, it was a tragic yet fascinating look at the effects of emigration on people, and on communities. It's worth a look, to show, if nothing else, how little has changed in Ireland – a year ago in this very column, I mentioned the effects emigration is having on this country, and it seems, 12 months on, it's getting worse.
But, it's still Christmas, enough of the doom and gloom. And as the year draws to a close, I think some awards are probably in order -
The Bare-Faced Cheek Award: Who else, but our Banks, whom we now own. In the week before Christmas, it emerged that the former Tanaiste and Labour Party leader, Dick Spring, got paid €1,000 PER DAY for his role as a "public interest" (yea, right!) director at Allied Irish Bank.
€59,000 for 60 days work. And he defended the payment as "reasonable"! The same bank sent out a letter last November to one of our Ocean FM listeners charging them 24.50 for a three-month period for account maintenance, and charges for ATM withdrawals, direct rebits, and internet banking. Could you get a barer arse than that?
The Harry Houdini Disappearing Act Award: Goes to Minister John Perry. Once, the Minister would be at the opening of every envelope. Now? Oh, sorry, he's on Government business; that explains it. His role as Minsiter for Small Business is a busy one, which demands lots of travel. And we want to move away from the parish pump politics, do we not? Minister Perry is best placed serving the country, not attending local community functions and openings. So that's that then.
The we should be thrilled but we're not for some reason Award: To the people of County Sligo, and in particular, its GAA fraternity. Let's just say the victory of neighbours, Donegal, in the All-Ireland final, wasn't as celebrated as it might have been by a neighbouring county. The Green on the Donegal jersey reflected in the Green of envy in the eyes of those from Sligo, perhaps? And to make it worse, Mayo were also in the final…
The Get a Life Award: Seen on the back window of a car on Hughes Bridge last week, a car sticker with the declaration 'We're not Paying the Houshold Charge'. Fair enough. But it was an Audi A4, with a 12 D registration.
The Political Quip of the Year Award: When Fine Gael councillor, Gerard Mullaney proposed at the recent Estimates meeting that Minister Phil Hogan be thanked for his work and his increased allocation to Sligo County Council, it prompted Cllr Sean Mc Manus to reply, "How much drink have you taken?"
The Whatever Happened To Award: The Sligo Fair Dealers.
The Survivor of the Year Award: To us all. For still being here. Minister Pat Rabbitte said in Sligo earlier this month that 85 per cent of the heavy lifting is now done. Hold that thought.
And Happy New Year.