Thursday, August 30, 2012

Court appearance five days before installation

Archbishop elect of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone is scheduled to be installed in the archdiocese on October 4, five days before his first court date.

Archbishop elect on drink driving charge

The archbishop elect of San Francisco's comments about his drunk driving episode are below.

Had the archbishop not been apprehended would he have spoken about the wisdom of God?

It is becoming more laughable every day.

Will the Papal Nunico in Ireland when 'appointing' new bishops take into consideration the drinking habits of the candidates?

The Roman Catholic archbishop-elect of San Francisco issued an apology Monday for his drunk-driving arrest in San Diego, which he said brought shame and disgrace on himself and the church.

"I apologise for my error in judgment and feel shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself," the Rev. Salvatore Cordileone said in a statement. "I pray that God in His inscrutable wisdom will bring some good out of this."

Cordileone was arrested shortly after midnight Saturday at a drunk-driving checkpoint near San Diego State University. After failing a breath test, he was arrested and booked into county jail. He was released before noon after posting $2,500 bond.

In his statement, Cordileone said he was driving home after having dinner with his mother and several friends.

The 56-year-old priest is now bishop of Oakland and is set to be installed as San Francisco archbishop October 4. He is set to appear in court Oct. 9. He was selected to be San Francisco archbishop by Pope Benedict XVI to replace the retiring Archbishop George Niederauer.

Cordileone is a native of San Diego, where he was a priest and then auxiliary bishop. San Diego police said Cordileone was cooperative during the arrest and did not seek any special privileges.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Unification realities make Germans wary of bailout toll

It is often argued that Germany never forgets the damage that the inflation of the 1920s caused and is therefore permanently frightend of the spectre of hyperinflation. In the article belpw, which appears in today's Irish Times the author points out that the unification of Germany created new scars and new worries that have great revelance in the current euro zone crisis.


MANY FEEL that Germany is dragging its feet in resolving the euro-area crisis because of a deep-rooted fear of inflation that stems from the experiences of German hyperinflation in 1923.

It is suggested that old fears are being rekindled by the idea that debt could be monetised again, this time on a European scale. While that may or may not be true, there is a much more recent experience that arguably matters more: German unification.

Unification in 1990 brought in the union between the internationally competitive, democratic west Germany and the economically weak east.

The collapse of the Berlin Wall caused general euphoria and led to a faster unification than pure economics might have suggested. The German mark was introduced in the German Democratic Republic in July 1990, merely eight months after the fall of the wall, and legal union followed in October.

However, the two states thus united were marked by large imbalances, to use today’s favourite expression. Per capita income in the east was about half that of the west, and unemployment was much higher. The German Agency for Labour put the unemployment rate in the east at 14.4 per cent in 1992. In the west, it was 6.4 per cent.

It was an open question at the time how the former east Germans would get used to the western market economy and the smaller role of the state in a capitalist society. However, the sense that the east Germans were Germans and would adjust fast was pervasive.

Accordingly, economic forecasts at the time were marked by optimism. German chancellor Helmut Kohl predicted that the eastern regions would become “blooming landscapes” before long. Of course, we know today that the adjustment has been slow and often painful, in the east and in the west.

Income in the east today still is more than 20 per cent below that in the west.

Unemployment at over 10 per cent is twice that in the west, and the age structure in the east has deteriorated sharply, with massive emigration of the young and well-educated towards the west.

Surveys show that the majority of the former GDR population feels disadvantaged in terms of income. One-third think that east and west will never become fully unified.

The population in the old west, by contrast, has borne, and still is bearing, the financial cost of the unification. The German CESifo group estimates that the net transfers from west to east have topped €1.6 trillion. That exceeds by far the original estimates of the costs of the union: the original fund for the German unification had been allotted €60 billion.

There are two big lessons Germans have taken away from unification. The first is that initial cost estimates were far too low. The bulk of the expense has come from automatic transfers, in particular social welfare spending. This is due to the fact that, compared with the west, the former east Germany takes in little in taxes and is faced with high pension and unemployment payments.

While the current efforts to end the euro crisis focus on loans, not one-sided transfers, it has not escaped Germans that the conditionalities attached to these loans imply an ever-closer integration of the euro area. A close fiscal union might bring automaticities in social spending similar to those in Germany’s recent history. Many Germans remain to be convinced that the pattern in tax receipts and government spending has changed permanently in the crisis countries.

They worry that the rescue funds discussed today will again turn out to have been only the tip of the iceberg.

The second lesson is that similarities between west and east were overestimated – even 22 years after unification, the two are still clearly distinct.

Politically, the old GDR’s landscape differs from that of the west, with far-left and far-right parties finding sizable support. And economically and socially, the idea that its industrious citizens would turn the former GDR quickly into a mirror image of western Germany has proved wrong.

Of course, it is not opportune politically to point out these differences, which helps explain why the experience of unification does not feature in the official discussion of how to end the euro-zone crisis.

Privately, however, Germans are acutely aware of the slow adjustment in the east. This feeds their fear that the crisis countries’ ability to reform is being overestimated as well.

Obviously, the EU member states in difficulty are market economies and thus more similar to western Germany than the old east was.
Nevertheless, many Germans wonder whether it will be possible to restore competitiveness and thus decrease unemployment. And if so, how fast? And beyond economics, can one expect the support for non-centre parties to decline? Unification has taught the Germans to be wary of high hopes.

Petra Gerlach-Kristen is associate research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Limburg bishops then and now

The current Bishop of Limburg is in the news for all the wrong reasons these days.

The letter below was written by a predecessor of his, Dr Hilfrich to the Minister for Justice on August 13, 1941.

"Regarding the report submitted on July 16 by the Chairman of the Fulda Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Dr Bertram, I consider it my duty to present the following as a concrete illustration of destruction of so-called "useless life."

About eight kilometers from Limburg, in the little town of Hadamar, on a hill overlooking the town, there is an institution which had formerly served various purposes and of late had been used as a nursing home; this institution was renovated and furnished as a place in which, by consensus of opinion, the above mentioned euthanasia has been systematically practiced for months-approximately since February 1941. The fact has become known beyond the administrative district of Wiesbaden, because death certificates from a Registry Hadamar-Moenchberg are sent to the home communities. (Moenchberg is the name of this institution because it was a Franciscan monastery prior to its secularisation in 1803.)

Several times a week buses arrive in Hadamar with a considerable number of such victims. School children of the vicinity know this vehicle and say:" There comes the murder-box again." After the arrival of the vehicle, the citizens of Hadamar watch the smoke rise out of the chimney and are tortured with the ever-present thought, of the miserable victims, especially when repulsive odors annoy them, depending on the direction of the wind. The effeet of the principles at work here are: Children call each other names and say," You're crazy ; you'll be sent to the baking oven in Hadamar." Those who do not want to marry, or find no opportunity, say," Marry, never! Bring children into the world so they can be put into the bottling machine!" You hear old folks say, "Don't send me to a state hospital! After the feeble-minded have been finished off, the next useless eaters whose turn will come are the old people."

All God-fearing men consider this destruction of helpless beings as crass injustice. And if anybody says that Germany cannot win the war, if there is yet a just God, these expressions are not the result of a lack of love of fatherland but of a deep concern for our people. The population cannot grasp that systematic actions are carried out which in accordance with Par. 211 of the German criminal code are punishable with death! High authority as a moral concept has suffered a severe shock as a result of these happenings. The official notice that N. N. had died of a contagious disease and that for that reason his body has to be burned, no longer finds credence, and such official notices which are no longer believed have further undermined the ethical value of the concept of authority.

Officials of the Secret State Police, it is said, are trying to suppress discussion of the Hadamar occurrences by means of severe threats. In the interest of public peace, this may be well intended. But the knowledge and the conviction and the indignation of the population cannot be changed by it; the conviction will be increased with the bitter realization that discussion is prohibited with threats but that the actions themselves are not prosecuted under penal law.

Facta loquuntur.

I beg you most humbly, Herr Reich Minister, in the sense of the report of the Episcopate of July 16 of this year, to prevent further transgressions of the Fifth Commandment of God.

Dr. Hilfrich

I am submitting copies of this letter to the Reich Minister of the Interior and the Reich Minister for Church Affairs. [initialled by the above]

Free fares and plenty of silly guff

The column below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
I had an appointment in Tralee on Friday at 3.15pm. It meant taking the 11.00 rail service from Dublin Heuston. Its schedule arrival time in Tralee was 2.58pm. It would take me less than 10 minutes to walk to the venue.

The train was full. There was a large number of senior citizens on the train, which meant they were availing of their free travel passes.

Somewhere south of Sallins I overheard an elderly lady talking about her holiday in the Caribbean to be quickly corrected by the man beside her, saying that they had been in the Canaries.

The train arrived on time in Mallow, where passengers for Tralee changed trains. The Tralee train was due to leave Mallow at 1.30pm. It was a relatively new train - a South Korean built rail car. Anyone who uses the Dublin Cork railway will have noticed that in recent years Irish Rail has built a dedicated workshop south of Portlaoise, which is dedicated to servicing this fleet of rail cars.

It was 1.30 and the train was still at the platform. People were standing on the train. The seat reservation digital display system was out of order so passengers who had no reservations were sitting in seats that most probably were booked. Others with bookings were standing and annoyed. The doors of the train were closed and the air conditioning was not working.

1.45 and still not a move. People were beginning to get 'edgy'. Sitting opposite me were a German couple. They were obviously going on a walking holiday in south Kerry. They were reading their holiday guide and a book on walking tours.

Circa 1.50 the driver did tell us that there was a problem with the braking system on the train. Modern trains use an air brake that requires the brakes building up air in the system. Our train was not managing to do that so there was no way we could move off.

At about 2pm people were beginning to get more agitated and the woman who mistook the Canaries for the Caribbean was talking about calling the Joe Duffy Show to explain her plight on the stationary train.

Sometime about 2.10 Irish Rail decided that our train was going nowhere and buses arrived to bring passengers to Tralee and all the intermediate stations.

The German couple opposite me took it in their stride and as the woman was getting off the train she commented in a friendly and nice way that it could happen anywhere. And off the two of them went to the bus with not a bother on them. The Irish lady with the free travel pass was greatly agitated and giving out hell that this could only happen in Ireland and that probably all the bosses at Irish Rail are living in colossal houses and never use the train but travel about in their big company cars.

It was now approximately 2.20 and I decided that there was no way I could get to Tralee on time for my appointment and made the decision to return on the next up train back to Heuston.

Irish Rail could not have been more pleasant and caring. They supplied me with a complimentary single ticket back to Dublin and assured me that the company would listen to my case when I explained to the them that I had missed my appointment.

Of course the State has an obligation to care for its citizens, to see to it that there are adequate health, educational, social facilities available for all its citizens. But it did cross my mind on that stationary train in

Mallow it's hardly a God-given right that the State is obliged to ferry pensioners all over the country for free, especially if you have spent the last few weeks in the Caribbean, or even the Canaries.

A special word of thanks to the Station Master in Mallow and the ticket agent. If I had one quibble with Irish Rail it would be; how safe is it to run passenger trains with no Irish Rail personnel travelling on the train?

Commiseration to the Irish Rail personnel at the platform, who had to listen to loads of silly guff from a number of Irish passengers holding free travel passes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The void between Bonn and Berlin

On Gunther Jauch this evening journalist Wolfgang Herles made the comment that Angela Merkel really knew nothing about the Bonner Republik.

An important observation.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dolan should not give the 'blessing'

It has been announced that Archbishop Timothy Dolan is to give a 'blessing' at the upcoming Republican Party convention.

This is a shocking development. He argues that this does not mean that he is supporting the party. Would the archbishop attend a meeting of one of many groups of people he condemns and give a 'blessing'?

Is someone, somewhere within the Catholic Church going to be brave and shout stop at the current tendency.

Has the world not suffered enough under German authoritarian behaviour in the last 100 years?

And the so-called certainty of their behaviour.

This can have nothing to do with the message of the Gospel.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The first battle day on the Volga remembered

On this date 70 years ago, August 22, 1942, the battle of Stalingrad began.

The Luftwaffe bombed the city almost close to total destruction. But it was that very bombing that gave the Soviet Army the chance to counter attack in sniper fire in every ruined building on the banks of the Volga.

Many historians will agree that it was on the Volga that the decisive strike against Nazi Germany was made.

Politician talks of 'legitimate rape'

US senatrorial candidate Todd Akin from Missouri talks about a 'legitimate rape'.

Mr Akin said on television at the weekend that women do not get pregnant in the case of 'legitimate rape'.

Has one single US Catholic bishop spoken in public criticising Mr Akin's comment?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The poor die young and who cares

The column below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

The £10 Rosary deal

By Michael Commane
It rained every single day in Kerry in early August. Maybe it rained every single day right through the 'summer'. In the end I took flight and decided to revisit places in which I had lived many years ago.

It's interesting to go back to places in which you previously lived.
My first call was Cork and on a whim I decided to retrace steps I had often taken in the late 1970s.

Back then I became friendly with Julia. She was an old lady, who lived in poor conditions. We immediately hit it off and I was greatly impressed with her gentleness and kindness. I got to know her children and their children and she became friendly with my parents.

Our friendship spanned a three year period. Within about a year of my leaving Cork Julia died. I had just begun teaching so I was unable to attend the funeral Mass but I did travel from Newbridge to Cork so as to be at the evening removal service.

In the funeral home before the body was transferred to the church I said a decade of the rosary and when I was leaving a member of the funeral home staff offered me a £1 note, which I declined. I suggested he give it to a deserving charity.

The following summer I was back in Cork and called on Julia's daughter. The moment the door was opened I felt all the wrong vibes. I had been friendly with Julia's daughter over the years and many is the laugh and joke we shared. Her husband experienced bad health and was in and out of hospital.

On this summer's day I certainly did not feel the usual warmth and welcome, which I had previously experienced. We chatted for a while and then when I was leaving I asked the woman of the house if the funeral of her late mother had set her back much. There was a momentary silence and then, and I can still see it, she looked at me with a coldness I had never seen in her face before. "Father, you don't mind if I say to you that I thought your charge of £10 to say a decade of the Rosary was very high."

I was stuck to the floor. I could not believe what I was hearing. I tried to explain that the reality was very different. But she did not believe me.

The funeral home people always dressed in a most respectable manner and haut couture has never been my thing. It seems people find it easier to believe the well-dressed 'respectable' merchants.

It must have been ten years later when I met up with her again. I explained to her in as forceful and convincing a way as I could, what had actually happened. I think eventually she believed my story.

When I was back in Cork earlier this month I met a neighbour of Julia's. She told me that Julia's daughter and her husband had died. They would have been no more than 10 years older than I.

The poor die young. And who cares.
It made me think how we treat our poorer and less privileged people in society. No one will convince me that the dice is not always stacked against those who have the least resources.

They are battered, abused and yes, insulted by State and the private sector.
After my evening in Cork I went on to Rome to retrace old haunts from the 1970s. Almost 40 years later I found myself scratching my head and asking myself, what indeed is it all about.

As a young student in Rome I really enjoyed skiing in Terminllo in winter and swimming in summer in Ostia.

Back then I never managed to get my head around those young men all dressed up in cassocks and habits. That clerical haut couture has always made me smile. It confirms me in my beliefs. A well researched story for a later date.

If Jesus Christ turned up on our doorstep what would he have to say about how we live out the message he left us? What would he say about how we treat the poorer and less privileged in our society? I think I have a fair idea.

Wall graffiti on cyber space

An interesting quote from Stephen Collins in Saturday's Irish Times.

"The mainstream media has given an entirely undeserved credibility to such outpourings( Chris Andrew's tweet) by paying so much attention to what is essentially online graffiti, whether anonymous or not."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

On a pilgrimage

This column appears in today's Irish Times.

By Michael Commane
The house in which I am writing these words was the home of my grandfather, his father and his father before him. It was probably built at the end of the 18th century.

Imagine, if when it was first built someone had stood outside the door, looked up in the sky and said they had just seen the 10.45 London New York service pass overhead.

Of course people would express great worry about the person who would say such a thing and they might well be conveyed to the nearest mental hospital. Those days they called them mad houses.

During the years of Concorde every day at noon one could hear the sonic boom close to this house as it sped across the skies over the sea from London Heathrow to JFK in New York.

What would anyone have said in the early 1800s if someone told them they had heard the sonic boom in west Kerry?

Back then God was taken for granted. God was in the heavens and people had no problem believing in God. Today it is a different story and for many it is anything but God.

One thing is certain; our knowledge is limited. We are all the time learning new things. Individuals are constantly in a process of learning and so too the community and society.

Imagine how difficult it is to explain to a eight-year-old child that less than 50 years ago most people in the village where this house is had no telephones. Most eight-year-olds probably don't understand the word 'landline'. I did that and asked little Maurice what a landline was. He had no idea.

So what does one say when it comes to trying to say anything about God? Why can't our words about God change?

In tomorrow's Gospel, those who were listening to Jesus talk about eating his body and drinking his blood said: " This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it." (John 6: 60)

The US writer Gore Vidal, who died on July 31 expressed the opinion that it was outrageous to believe in a God or an afterlife. The previous day Maeve Binchy died. And she too expressed her disbelief in God or an afterlife.
To say that one believes in God and the efficacy of the Sacraments is in many ways '”intolerable language'”

There is indeed something “preposterous” about it. And even when we say we believe in God, what exactly does that mean? Also, what does it mean to say that one believes that Jesus Christ was God? We really are using 'incredible' words. It is certainly easy when one is born into a faith to accept it without ever giving it too much thought.

But we live in times where everything has to be tangible and immediate for us. If it can't be pinned down by sceince we are at once sceptical and suspicious. If we can't see it with our own eyes then we might well be tempted to dismiss it as a fairytale.
In tomorrow's Gospel, Jesus tells his followers: "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." (John 6: 63)

Jesus recognises that there are those who do not believe in who he is or what he is doing. He tells them that it is through the power of the Father that we are called to love and see God.

The world in which we live is for all of us from time to time a valley of tears and It might well be an escape into fantasy to argue that there has to be more to it than this. And yet, the God question never goes away. There is something powerfully attractive and sublimely interesting in the life and words of Jesus as recalled in the New Testament.

All of us are children of our time, influenced by the styles, customs and mores of the here and now.

It would have been absurd to have spoken about sonic booms when this house was built. People who looked into the sky and spoke about contrails would have been a laughing stock.
Rather than say there is no God or after life, is it not more gentle, more possible to say that it is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer.

Once we utter the name of God, surely we have to go gently. No doubt there are those who are certain that God exists. But we can never ever afford to be glib when we talk about God.

In faith we can say, the same words as Simon Peter, "You have the message of eternal life and we believe".

Belief can never be placed in a straitjacket. The spirit gives life. Once we try to tie down that spirit, limit it to our way of thinking, surely we are attempting to control the spirit, expecting it to act and react according to our rules.

All of us are in process, on pilgrimage to discover the wonder and love of God. As a an old election slogan suggested –“'we are not there yet”.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

In the words of Voltaire

A quote from Voltaire:
"Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy."

Poking fun at priests

The graphic referred to on the link.
The link below is doing the rounds today.

Often what is said in cyberspace can be nasty. Just some months back, priests and young clerical students wrote nasty material re the Association of Catholic Priests.

No one is immune to being offended or hurt by criticism. But maybe it particularly stops us in our tracks when what is said has truth to it. Even worse, when it is personally inflicted.

And what is saddest of all is that there really is no attempt to examine in any sort of real way the issues that cause people, even nasty people, to say these sort of things. Indeed, they could say so much more. They might even ask how much the institutional Catholic Church in Ireland spends on litigation annually.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The end of 'The Dandy'

The Dandy had two million readers in the 1950s
The children's magazine 'The Dandy' may be about to disappear off the shelves and its new publishing platform will most likely be the web.

In the 1950s/1960s I was one of the two million children who read it.

I bought it every week in a little shop at Dublin's Kelly's Corner. Korky the Cat was great fun, Desperate Dan too. Did Tin Lizzy feature in it? But my favourite was Black Bob. It was the story of a Scottish farmer, Andrew Glen from Selkirk and his faithful collie, Black Bob.

It must have been on just one occasion I bought the magazine in a shop in Terenure. I can still see the shop exactly as it was back then, 50 years ago.

Amazing really, the impression that Andrew Selkirk and Black Bob could create.

I forget the name of a person I met ten minutes ago.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Press card gets almost universal acceptance

A wise Dominican friend has said that he enjoys reading this blog but from time to time finds the negative aspects somewhat tedious. Point taken and a purpose of amendment is in the pipeline.

Having said that, it might be worth relating this tale.

Anyone who is a member of the NUJ is entitled to a press card but one has to apply for it.

The press card is accepted in museums, galleries, gardens exhibitions around the world and grants the bearer free admittance.

This blogger has been using the card for over ten years. On Thursday for the first time, free admittance was refused. The place was at the church of San Clemente in Rome.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fairytale to lift depression

The Irish Times Maeve Binchy supplelemnt carries many gems.

Her report on the Prince Charles and Diana wedding in July 1981 is funny but maybe it's a lot more than funny.

Did Binchy mean to convey the idea that it was all a fake - she uses the word 'fairytale'?

In the last paragraph referring to the wedding day, she writes: "And the best bit of the fairytale is today".

Did she know something that the rest of us did not know back then?

And then how cleverly she tells the reader Diana was no good at school but her Dad had loads of money - so much that he could buy her a £100,000 flat in London. And that long before Paddy was hopping around the world with his spare cash buying up property in all the smart places.

So behind her smile, maybe Maeve Binchy saw it all as a whiff of cloud dust. Everything.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The archbishop, the fragile and the oppostion

An ineresting 'discussion' in this week's Irish Catholic between the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin and the Vocations Director of the Irish Dominicans, Gerard Dunne.

At face value it's an interesting debate. But there will not be a word about the sub-plot. And in that context, it would seem that Diarmuid Martin did, ever so slightly, refer to the 'sub-plot.

And the sub-plot is huge. If the truth were told, it could be a fabulous argument and one hell of a row.

And in the same paper, Professor Patricia Casey asks the Archbishop of Dublin to apologise for his comments at the MacGill Summer School for his comments about those men presneting themselves for priesthood.

Are we now to apologise for our opinions? Maybe.

A good discussion on those in 'charge' of priestly formation would surely be a far more necessary and beneficial exercie.

Interesting times.

A princess looking like a lighting devil

Yesterday's Irish Times 'Maeve Binchy Supplement' is not to be missed.

Binchy's piece on the Princess Margaret wedding on November 15, 1973 is a great read, of historical worth too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Haranguing priests please stay quiet

Maeve Binchy is on public record for saying she did not believe in God.

Her death notice today informs readers that her funeral Mass will take place in the Catholic Church of the Assumption in Dalkey on Friday.

One might well discuss how consequential that is. That might be for another day.

But surely no priest in Ireland dare harangue people for having their children baptised who do not attend church.

Just in recent weeks a priest harangued the congregation for not going to confession (sic) before receiving Holy Communion.

If it were not so sad it would be all so laughable. It's nevertheless laughable.

Why not trust in the integrity of the individual person?

The apparatchiks always on winning side

Th column below appears in this week's INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
Just 12 months ago I received a letter from my telehone provider with information on 'important changes to services'.

At the end of the page there is a short paragraph: "We are also aligning our daytime peak hours to 7am - 7pm; bringing us in line with other phone providers; simplifying our call rates by blending our evening and weekend call rates and changing the call set up charge to 6.5c.".

That's a direct quote from a letter dated July 21, 2011.

Last month I received another letter from my telephone provider dated July 4, 2012.

Here's a quote from the latest letter: "On 1 August 2012 our call rates will change and we will also simplify them by bledning our peak, evening and weekend rates. The call set up fee will also change to 7c."

I find all this remarkably odd. Just 12 months ago they told me that they were bringing their customers in line with other phone providers and blending evening and weekend calls. Have they decided there is little point in 'being in line' with other providers? Did their plans and policy not work?

Note the word 'blending'. It even has a gentle sound to it, elements of onomatopoeia. It sounds positive as if the telephone provider really has me at heart.

And now they are telling me that they have scrapped all of what they were introducing just a short 12 months ago and will be charging the same price for calls, whatever time you call.

For me that means that I will now be paying full day-time rates during the 24 hour period. The price of a call made between 7pm and 7am is changing from 1.3c to 4c - the same as the day-time rate.

That's an increase of over than 300 per cent. Is there any regulator out there who might think of examining such an increase and have a word in the ear of the telephone provider? Is there any user lobby, any watchdog of any shape or form, who is going to ask questions, object, say a gentle word about such a draconian increase?

Imagine the outcry if Government increased VAT by over 300 per cent, or if Irish Rail increased its fares by over 300 per cent.

A customer with my telephone provider can buy different packages. The new increases do not apply to the packages - at least not yet.

And the idea of paying seven cent for call 'set up' seems simple exploitation. It means if I spend just two seconds on the phone I pay the seven cent set up charge.

If you do not have a laser or credit card too bad. Then you have to pay an extra €3.75 per monthly bill. That's €45 per year. Almost half the current household tax and not a word of complaint from anyone.

We all know to our cost that no-one was keeping an eye on the banks. We were fooled and lulled into a fool's paradise. But who is keeping an eye on our telephone operators?

And by the way, make sure never to call directory enquiries. My telephone provider charges a minimum of €2.50 to call 11850 and €1.78 to call 11860.
No doubt, telephone books are coming to their sell by date. So make sure to keep one in your house. If you are looking for a number check it on the internet if you have internet connectivity.

There might well be readers who will say that I have little to worry about or that I am always ranting and giving out. Fine. But maybe it's the way of the world but the power of the strong over the weak is something I find difficult to take.

The big organisations, whatever they do or represent seem to have the ability and power to crush the small individual person.

And it seems we all sign into it and take it on the chin. And then the craven apparatchiks, who always manage to be on the side of the prevailing wind. Sad and pathetic, dangerous too. And they turn up in every organisation, clerical and lay.

I suppose they would like us all to 'blend' into conformity and accept the 'ways of the world'.

The Gospels have a lot to say on all this.