Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ashes on streets linked to missing persons

The beginnigs of the short story.

Ashes are found on the footpath in Liberty Square in Thurles. People are confused. But it's quickly forgotten.

Mary Madden, who worked in Thurles and lived in Galmoy is missing from her home. She is a reliable person so people are surprised. But nobody suspects any link between the ashes and human remains, let alone those of Mary Madden.

Some days later more ashes are found, this time on Harmony Hill in Sligo.

Then it becomes a regular feature. People in Ireland are being struck down and all that remains is a heap of ashes.

Every time ashes are found people are reported missing.

The Government is worried. It calls in the secret service agencies of Germany, US, UK, Israel and Canada.

They set up an office in Shannon. Every day now 10, 20, 30 people are reported missing as more and more ashes are found.

At first they think the culrpit is in Ireland, then they think it is terrorism. Some sort of trial runs before a major attack on some world power city.

The Russians, half jokingly, wonder might it be 'something' from another planet. But why only is this happening in Ireland?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Audience stayed and listened to Billy Connolly

Connolly used insulting language
Below is this week's column in INM's Irish regional newspapers.

Michael Commane
Some of you may have read or seen about the Billy Connolly affair at the beginning of May in Killarney.

The Scottish comedian was performing in the Irish National Events Centre in Killarney when he noticed a photographer taking a shot of him.

The big man with the power of the microphone told her to get out and called her a ‘f...... c..t’.

The woman in question is Valerie O’Sullivan. She is a well-known and highly regarded photographer in Ireland. But far more than that.

When I was working at The Kerryman Valerie supplied photographs for the paper week-in week-out. I know nothing about photography but I do know that she is an excellent photographer and has won many awards for her photographs. I also know what a lovely person Valerie is. And I know that first hand.

The night of the incident Valerie was employed by the INEC and was doing her job, taking photographs, without using a flash, as was required. Billy Connolly had the stage, saw Valerie taking the photographs and roared out his abuse.

The first I heard about it was in a report in a national newspaper and then the following Saturday Marian Finucane was interviewing a group of people on her show to mark the 70th birthday of Shay Healy. It so happened that these three or four people knew Billy Connolly, so Marian called Billy and they were chatting away. Marian mentioned what happened in Killarney and there was a general laugh about it all.

Comedian and big man Billy Connolly with a microphone can call a woman a ‘f...... c..t’ in front of over 2,000 people and he gets a laugh. Wonderful.

On the Marian Finucane Show he remarked he was proud of what he said. Marian did say that she understood how the photographer would be upset but that Billy Connolly had a point of view too. An amazing comment to make.

In the last few days I was talking to a man who was at the concert on the night and who also heard the Marian Finucane Show. He is an honourable person and had the good grace to write a letter of complaint to RTE.

Deputy Michael Healy Rae called for a boycott of Billy Connolly. I’m against all sorts of boycotts, whether in church or outside, but what has me baffled and flabbergasted is that it appears not one single person in that auditorium that night got up and walked out. Not only that, but I gather in subsequent gigs in Ireland he performed to packed houses.

I am also flabbergasted that none of the participants on the Marian Finucane Show said a word in protest. Not one of them gave any sense of being shocked at a big powerful man with a microphone, using abusive language. Nor a word about how a powerful man treated a woman.

It’s easy to look at TV footage of the past and comment on how primitive we were. Do you recall the run-up to the presidential election in which Mary Robinson was a candidate where Pádraig Flynn commented that she was “having a new-found interest in her family”.

It’s easy to look aghast at history and condemn so much of what was done. What am I doing today to make the world a better place?

The Billy Connolly affair has confirmed for me how difficult it is to go against the tide. How difficult it is to speak in a genuine and open way your own opinion, especially when it goes against the prevailing mood.

We wonder in amazement how the Germans let the Nazis do what they did.

The next time I hear Billy Connolly on my radio I’ll be switching station. No, that’s not boycotting him. I just don’t want to listen to someone who has used foul and degrading language in public to a friend of mine.

The church is always the people of God

In most jobs employees experience the reality of checks and balances. People's performance is noted and if someone falls below an accpetable standard, mechanisms are in place to help the person.

If people refuse to live up to what is expected of them they can and might lose their job.

That's a recognised matter-of-fact reality in the world of work and industry.

It might be argued that there are some jobs where people can manage to fly below the radar and get away with poor work.
Who checks the performance of priests in their parishes? Is there ever any sort of factual appraisal of what priests do and don't do in parishes?

When people eventually grow alienated from their priest and walk away, they may then find the courage to challenge him. A pity that challenge does not happen earlier. Why don't more people, still engaged with church, criticise and chappenge the priest?

Of course there are hardworking priests just as there are hardworking teachers, journalists, fitters, plumbers, doctors et al.

But it seems in priesthood a parish priest is 'king' in his parish and can do as he wishes.

This absence of having to answer to someone or some body is a real issue in the Catholic Church. It is something that has seldom if ever been properly addressed.

Indeed, it might well be due to a lack of any sort of permanent monitoring that the church has found itself in the place it is today.

Signing books in sacristies is a poor response to all that has happened in recent years. Signing books is no solution.

So often what people know about their church is through their parish priest.

Blaming secularisation, blaming the 'modern world' surely is lazy thinking.

Parishioners have an obligation to challenge when it is glaringly clear that what is being said and done is nonsense.

The church is the people of God.

Monday, May 27, 2013

RTE website surely is confused about hospital dates

The RTE website at 16.22 today reported that the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street is relocating to the campus of St Vincent's University Hospital in South Dublin.

In the last paragraph of the story it tells readers that Holles Street opened in 1984.

A lot of us will begin to wonder where at all we were born.

It had been corrected by 18.24. Hospital was opened in 1894.

That's a relief to know.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fanaticism alive and well in Christian churches

Everyone is aware of the radical Islamic schools that exist, mainly in Pakistan.

It is believed some of these schools are used by fundamentalist Muslims in an effort to spread a hard core Muslim ideology.

It must be clear to Christians that a similar phenomenon is happening in many of the Christian churches at present.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

In search of harmony

Below is the Thinking Anew column in today's Irish Times.

Michael Commane
I was born into a Catholic family, went to Catholic schools, joined the Dominican Order, learned something about the tradition of the Catholic Church.

I have spent most of my working life either as a school teacher or working in the newspaper trade.

As a child I heard about God, the Incarnation, Easter, Ascension, the Trinity. They were in many ways ‘givens’ that were accepted by most of the population of Ireland. And yet would it be true to say that we accepted all those words not exactly sure what any of them meant? Because each of those words involves extraordinary mystery. Scratch the surface and surely you are into a mystery that is almost incomprehensible.

Tomorrow is the feast of the Blessed Trinity - a belief that allows us say that there are three persons in the one God.
If I were to ask past pupils of mine or colleagues in the print media what the Trinity means for them what at all would they say?

As children we learned that St Patrick used the Shamrock to explain the mystery of the Trinity - each of the leaves representing one of the persons in the one God.

What at all is the Trinity about? Wise people and theologians have discussed the mystery down the centuries.

It would be enormously pretentious of me to enter into any sort of meaningful theological discussion on aspects of Trinitarian theology. But there is an aspect of the Trinity that has often caught my attention and that is the idea of communion and harmony.

How people of different opinions, ideas, beliefs can work together in harmony and unity is something really extraordinary and indeed, something amazingly wonderful to see.

It is a central tenet of the European Union, the idea that nations with separate cultures, philosophical backgrounds and different industrial ways can somehow or other, while retaining their differences, work in harmony and unity. It’s fair to say that it is an ideal well worth aspiring to.

The horror of 50 million dead forced Europe to think of a better way. Right now the Union is experiencing a great battering but surely harmony and union make far more sense than division and disharmony.

Another spectacular example of harmony at work is the International Space Station. On May 14 in the central steppes of Kazakhstan astronauts and cosmonaut came back to earth. Canadian born Chris Hadfield and his team had been in space since before Christmas. Russians, Canadians and Americans working side-by-side for the good of humanity.

Surely if the mysteries of God are to have a resonance on the society of the day then they must tempt us to ask serious questions. There has to be some sort of sense about them. Otherwise, is it not nonsense? If people of genuine goodwill shrug their shoulders when they hear wise theologians talk about the Trinity, then there is something amiss and it’s simply not good enough to say that people have lost their faith or that secularisation has dumbed down our sense to all things to do with God.

In the context of talking about his Father, the disciples said to Jesus: "Now you are speaking plainly and not in veiled language.” (John 16: 29) If words don’t communicate ideas or don’t make any sense to us, surely we have a problem.

Every generation tries to make sense to the world as it sees it. And theology too, if it is to be living and vibrant must be in process.

We get glimpses of God in myriad ways and that is all the time coloured and nuanced by our environment and the times in which we live. God is always being made manifest in the world.

The Trinity gives great hope in assuring us that God is all about unity and communion, friendship and bonds of solidarity.

God can have nothing to do with disharmony and fractured relationships.
In spite of our differences we can aspire to harmonious living.

We are children of the Blessed Trinity.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Soderbergh on Liberace

BBC Newsnight interviewed Steven Soderbergh tonight about his Liberace film.

Great interview. Fallout from film will be intersting to observe.

German ambassador with an eye on Wembley

The German ambassador to Ireland Dr Eckhard Lübkemeier has an opinion piece well worth reading in today's Irish Times.

He begins by talking about how two German clubs will play in Wembley tomorrow. He points out the next champions will be a German club, but not a German team.

Later he writes: " Our prospertiy depends on a prosperous Europe because the single market is and will remain our most importnt trading place.

"As the country with the most neighbours in Europe, our stability is best ensured by belonging to a community of democratic nation states.

"A Europe united in diversity and governed by the rule of law demonstrates that against all historical odds, lasting peace is possible and such a Europe can act as a force for good in the world.

The headline to the article is unfortunate. It reads: "We Germans needs Europe as much as Europe needs us"

A pity as it is a great piece.

Limerick bishop quotes Chief Rabbi Sacks

At a conference at the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick today the new Bishop of Limerick, Brendan Leahy, quoted Chief Rabbi Sacks, "Modern technology has us alone together."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A deleted comment in the wrong place

This comment appears in this format because, in error, I pressed the delete button and so was unable to post it as a comment.

Francis Hunt has left a new comment on your post "Recalling my father on Pentecost Sunday":

This is a lovely piece, Michael.

I know that it is part of the journalistic tradition to take yourself out of what you write - to report "objective facts" - but I often question how much this is possible, or even desirable. One of the worst things is opinion masquerading as "fact," something one can unfortunately meet all over the place; the right, whether religious or political, is particularly prone to it (e.g. Alive! or Fox News).

Most good writing has a strong foundation in the personal, whether Michael Harding or Tom Wolfe (even if Wolfe would try to deny it). It is, contrary to a particular onvention, perfectly okay to begin a piece with the word I.

Where in God's name did he get you indeed! :-)

Posted by Francis Hunt to Occasional scribbles at May 23, 2013

Archbishop of Cologne tells women stay home and have babies

Cardinal Joachim Meisner
According to today's Irish Independent Cologne's Cardinal  Archbishop Joachim Meisner in an interview he gave to the Stuttgarter Zeitung said that women should be encouraged to stay at home and bring three or four children into the world.

Did the cardinal archbishop really say this? If he did say this doesn't it say something about our church.

Even if it were a wise thing to say, the idea of a church leader saying it is really incredible. Do they employ PR firms to advise them?

Joachim Meisner was bishop in Berlin before moving to Cologne. He was bishop in the divided city and, as was the custom at the time, the Catholic Bishop of Berlin lived in Bebel Platz in East Berlin, the capital city of the GDR. As Catholic bishop he had a special tranist visa issued by the GDR authorities, which allowed him free access to the West.

RTE Radio behind in news reporting

Last evening's news must have shown some of the most horrible pictures ever seen on television. To hear and see the man wielding a drenched soaked cleaver was chilling.

This morning on RTE Radio reporter Mary Fitzgerald, who was dispatched to London after the event, filed a report.

She said that so far there was no information on either of the alleged perpetrators. Yet BBC's Newsnight reported last night a full file on one of the men.

In a later report on a television programme on alleged poor conditions in a creche the newscaster said the TV programme would be aired on a date yet to be announced.

Two minutes later in 'What the newspapers say' it was announced that the programme would be aired next week.

Not good radio.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Recalling my father on Pentecost Sunday

Communication on Twitter, Facbook, blogs, emails, all happen at the press of an electronic key. They can be devastatingly dangerous. People post outrageous copy, at least it is all so possible.

This blog will be six years old next month. Over the years it has posted a variety of comment and views. It has attempted to stay away from personal comment. As a result of having worked in the newspaper trade one learns or at least tries to learn to avoid the use of ‘I’.

What follows is a break from the rule.

Sunday was the feast of Pentecost. At Mass in St Dominic’s Parish in Tallaght at the Children’s Mass I began the sermon explaining, especially to the children, that when I was their age lorries and trucks in Ireland had helpers on board.

I explained to them that I well remembered when helpers were phased out. On one occasion driving to my uncle’s farm near Galmoy on the Kilkenny Tipperary border we spotted a truck from Killeen Paper Mills with no helper. Dad worked with Killeen so he noticed there was no helper on the truck.

After Mass a man came up to me and asked me if I were Paddy Commane’s son. Over the previous weeks he had wondered if there was a link between me and ‘Paddy’ Commane.

He had worked with Dad in Killeen Paper Mills and then later in Smurfit Mills in Clonskeagh. He is now 79 and served his time under my father.

He told me that my father could make a lathe sing, could do anything with lathes that were almost unworkable, that he was a man who could do anything and did everything that anyone ever asked him.

“He was always smiling, the most gentle of men,” he said.

We were about to part and I called him back and asked him did he ever hear my father use a bad word. “Not only did I never hear your father use a bad or crude word but any time anyone did he would turn away his face,” he replied.

Where in God’s name did he get me?

I’m often asking what life is about, what’s the point to it all, God, all those questions. I have a brittle relationship with the institutional church. I’m not sure about anything.

To hear those words about my father after Mass on Pentecost Sunday made the best sense I have ever heard about the Holy Spirit. It also caused many many tears. Tears of great joy, tinged with sadness too. That always turns up, whatever happens.

In the afternoon I climbed Kippure in the Dublin Mountains, a world to which my father introduced me. About 30 minutes from the TV mast I checked the time. The watch I was wearing was presented to my Dad by the staff of Killeen Paper Mills in 1974. Paddy O'Keeffe, the man with whom I had earlier spoken, no doubt had contributed to that watch.

Opposition to gay marriage

The European Union has denounced a violent attack by thousands of Georgians - with Orthodox priests in the vanguard - on a few dozen gay rights campaigners in the capital Tibilisi.

In London a group of Conservative party members called on David Cameron to abandon attempts to redefine marriage.

Among the countries that are strongly opposed to gay marriage are Russia and Iran.

From the school house to the White House

In his Boston College commencement speech Taoisach Enda Kenny said:

"The hands that were roughened in Irish soil were leathered in your mines, on your scaffolding, on your bridges and on your railroads.

"Over the generations, our farmers-turned-labourers saw to it that their children went from the school-house and the fire-house right to the White House itself."

The Taoiseach was welcomed to the ceremony, where he received an honorary Doctor of Laws, by Boston College president Fr William Leahy SJ.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cycling in Germany with alcohol in blood

Did you know that in Germany cyclists with an alcohol reading of 1.6 per mil can be fined?

Tomorrow transport ministers from the Federal States will meet in an attempt to lower the alcohol limit in blood for cyclists.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

'Francis Effect' is going to take some time

Robert Mickens in his Letter from Rome in this week's Tablet argues that it will be some time before the 'Francis Effect' permeates the many facets of church life.

To support his thesis he cites a recent Mass celebrated by the newly appointed nuncio to Colombia, 46-year-old Ettore Balestero in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.

"One might have thought he was a cardinal coming to take possession of his titular church since the basilica's rector greeted him at the door and presented him with a crucifix to kiss. Archbishop Balestero wore the classic Tridentine fiddleback chasuble and celebrated Mass in Latin.

"Three cardinals - Mauro Piacenza, Bernard Law and Willem Eijk were in attendance and among the concelebrants was the papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Newbridge debaters win the night

Newbridge College won the Concern National Schools' Debate in Dublin this evening.

The debaters dicussed the turmoil in Syria.

Irish Examiner's Juno McEnroe chaired the evening.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Death of Len Perrem

Dominican priest Len Perrem died this afternoon.

Len was a kind man, innocent to the core. He was a priest who had empathy for people.

A good man.

Launch of Denstone Murphy's memoir

Dermot Lane introduced Sean Freyne at the launch of the late Denstone Murphy's memoirs In Balally Pastoral Centre this evening.

The publishing of 'Rumour of Hope Challenge of Choosing' came about due to the work of Denstone's wife, Maua Wall.

Denstone enrolled to study medicine at UCC.

He discovered his father did not believe in God and as a consequence gave up the study of medicine and joined the Dominicans.

He spent two years in Trinidad teaching biology before coming back to Tallaght to be student master.

Some years later he asked to be dispensed from priesthood.

Denstone suffered Parkinsons, losing his voice in 1991. He died in 1996.

The book includes a photograph taken at San Clemente. Included in the picture are, I think, Rom Dodd, TP McInerney, Paul Hynes, Paschal Gunning and Denstone.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Olivia O'Leary and Eamon Martin write about life

In today's Irish Times there is an edited version of the closing address delivered by the Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, last Thursday at the novena in St Patrick's parish, Dundalk.

His theme was human life is sacred. Any legislation that might threaten it is gravely immoral.

Archbishop Martin says that we cannot separate our communion with Christ in the Eucharist from the call to mission and evangelisation.

He quotes from the Commandments.

On the same page of that newspaper columnist Olivia O'Leary writes an opinion piece on the death of Donal Walsh from Blennerville, Co Kerry. Donal, who died from cancer, made national headlines in the last few months speaking publicly about his illness.

In her piece Olivia talks about the vibrancy of life and how life is a privilege. She talks about life being a prize that we have already won, just by existing.

She quotes from St Luke.

Both pieces make for interesting reading.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Children wearing gloves on May 13

Spotted on Dublin's Meath Street today at 20.20 two young cyclists wearing gloves. Today is May 13.

Thirty nine days to mid-summer day

Ten degrees Celsius, high winds and scattered showers in Dublin today.

Earlier this morning cycling the bicycle gloves would have been a big help.

And 39 days away from min-summer's day.

What's happening?

Radio performance of Chairman of Revenue Commissioners far too glib

On Morning Ireland today Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners Josephine Feehily gave a very poor performance when talking about the credit card scam that has been discovered concerning the payment of the new property tax.

Right through the interview she kept using words that sounded ambiguous. On many occasions she said, "I suppose .... "

And then she assured listeners that her staff would be talking to the credit card company in the next few days. In the 'next few days', why not today?

Ms Feehily assured listeners that their payments are safe. For those who had concerns, she gave a telephone number, which they could call. It is a 1890 number, which the cutomer has to pay to use.

The arrogance of Ms Feehily this morning was breathtaking.

That's the second time in recent weeks that Ms Feehily has not impressed when talking about the property tax.

On the previous occasion she spoke of how simple the online facility was for paying the tax. Nothing could be further from the reality. One of the numbers issued on the form was incorrect and tax payers were later informerd to delete one digit.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The JFK 'doughnut' speech was at Town Hall

Correction. JFK made his famous speech not at the Berlin Wall but at Schöneberg Town Hall.

His script writer got it wrong: 'ich bin ein Berliner' means 'I am a doughnut'. What he should have said was: 'ich bin Berliner'.

But it didn't matter a whit - the line went global and it is now one of the world's most famous sentences.

The Berlin Wall was built in August 1961 with the aquiesence of the US government. It was breached in November 1989.

The Catholic Church was one of the few organisations, if not the only one, which spanned East and West Berlin.

The Bishop of Berlin lived in Bebel Platz in the East but the diocese included all of the city.

During the division of the city the Catholic 'territory' was a diocese. The bishop would have been one of the very few people in the church who would have been a cardinal bishop.

Today Berlin is an archdiocese with a cardinal archbishop.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Obama to visit the 'Wall-less' city

US President Barack Obama will make his first visit to Berlin after attending the G8 conference in Fermanagh next month.

The visit will recall JFK's famous visit to the city 50 years ago where he said at the Berlin Wall 'ich bin ein Berliner'.

Today in Berlin at the Humboldt University Germany recalled the 80th anniversary of the burning of books in every town and city in Germany, including Bebel Platz in Berlin on May 10, 1933.

It was pointed out at the service that students and university professors played a significant role in the burning of books by such authors as Brecht and the Mann brothers.

Also today Angela Merkel and the German Defence Minister visited German troops serving in Afghanistan.

They were shown on German television praying side by side with army chaplains and troops in Kundus. Last week a German special services soldier was killed in Afghanistan.

Alex Ferguson the director of the orchestra

In yesterday's Guardian, BBC's political editor, Nick Robinson, wrote a piece on Sir Alex Ferguson.

On Wednesday's BBC 'Today' programme Robinson told John Humphrys that 'Sir Alex Ferguson is the greatest living Briton'.

In The Guardian article Robinson quoted from a talk Ferguson gave at the Harvard Business School: "I have never been to a classical concert in my life. But I am watching this and thinking about the co-ordination and the teamwork - one starts and one stops, just fantastic. So I spoke to my players about the orchestra - how they are a perfect team".

Later in the piece Robinson writes: " What Ferguson understood is the need to channel the anger of the players away from self destruction and towards their shared goal - victory on the pitch."

Priests are no Manchester United players. Bishops and provincials are no Alex Fergusons. But what it would mean if bishops and provincials read Nick Robinson's piece and might ask themselves the relationships they have with their priests.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Study says Dominicans 800 centuries old

The paragraph below is a direct quote from an article on the website of the Dominican Order.

"Above all these, we must not lose sense of the fact that, after 800 centuries, the Convent remains even today; a home for the friars and the dwelling place of the body of our Holy Father Dominic, the place where he has found comfort and rest."

The words we use are always a giveaway

Yesterday on 'Morning Ireland' the interviewer used the term 'well listen' when talking with someone. It jarred.

Those two small words made it so clear how people use different words and styles when communicating.

It is highly unlikely that the interviewer would have used those words if intervieiwng a person of 'high rank'.

And that's what happens all the time and everywhere.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wages keep falling while prices continue to rise

UPC introduces wide-ranging price increases.
The column below appears in this week's INM's Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
On May 1 the price of briquettes went up by 26 cent a bale. Coal also went up.

The increase in fuel costs is due to a carbon tax increase. It’s hard for people to see the long term environmental issue when they are struggling to pay bills but climate change is a huge issue, and the people most affected are the poorest people in the world.

The following day it was announced that health insurance was to increase, yet again, by a substantial amount.

It seems everything is going up in price while at the same time we have all seen cuts in our wages or salaries.

But the increase that has really drawn my attention in the last few weeks is the one announced by UPC, the television, telephone and broadband provider. They don’t call it a price increase, instead a ‘price adjustment’.

In mid April I received a letter from UPC informing me that there will be a ‘price adjustment’ of €5.51 to my monthly UPC television bill. That works out as an annual increase of €66.12. Just imagine if the Government agreed to a similar television licence increase, the country would be up in arms and every opposition politician would be screaming and roaring. There has not been a whimper from any quarters in reaction to the latest UPC increase.

On a separate page and in smaller print UPC inform their telephone customers that the call set up fee, where applicable, is to increase on June 1 to 9.5 cent. In August of last year they increased the call set up fee to seven cent. The new charge means an increase of 35.7 per cent. This ‘call set up charge’ that they refer to is what UPC charge you just to make the connection to the number you are calling.

Have you noticed how all the facility providers are constantly asking their customers to go electronic and so receive their bills over the internet? It sounds great and environmentally friendly but I wonder do people, who receive electronic bills, analyse them in the same detail as they do the printed or posted version. I often find myself looking over my printed bill at breakfast.

These are the incidental items that have been increased. Then there is the new property tax and the upcoming charges on domestic water. Personally, I believe it makes sense to pay a property tax but I will be greatly annoyed if the Government introduces a blanket domestic water charge before they have installed water meters. That would be sloppy administration and certainly most unfair. Why should a person, who is careful with their water usage, subsidise someone who is profligate?

Just last week while sheltering from the rain in the foyer of a pub I spotted the stairway festooned with pictures of a former taoiseach who is now being paid a pension in excess of €2,200 a week from the coffers of the public purse.

You might well be inclined to say is this a question of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. There might be something in that. But it’s easy to be ‘gracious’ and ‘polite’, yes ‘sophisticated’ and ‘learned’ too about ‘issues’ when you have no worries or concerns about what it means to be worried about how you will pay your next electricity bill.

In recent days I watched a website about something in religion/theology. It was dealing with the words in the Creed. I was struck with how far away it was from anything to do with living in Ireland today. I wondered what Jesus would have thought about this sort of thing. It really was similar to discussing the number of angels on the top of a pin.

The Jesus of the Gospels spent his time comforting the poorest of the poor in their daily struggles, always critical of the status quo.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Wicklow hills drenched in sun

Lough Ouler yesterday as seen from Tonelagee.
Ireland has jumped from cold winter to warm summer in a weekend. It was 22 degrees Celsius along the River Glenmacnass in Wicklow today.

Ireland looked incredibly beautiful from the top of Tonelagee, indeed, the entire route to the peak.

With clear visibility and total blue skies it was possible to see Kippure, Duff Hill and Djouce. Every hill in Wicklow was there in complete calm.

Tess on the top of Tonelagee.

Lough Ouler was black and perfectly calm. Not too far off the cement work around Turlouch Hill looked just as it did 40 years ago.

And Tess enjoyed every moment of it.

Could there be a better place in the world to be on a beautiful sun-drenched day?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Anniversary days of ending of war

These next days mark the anniversary of the ending of Worl War ll.

In Reims on May 7, 1945 Jodl signed the surrender declaration and on May 8 at Karlshorst Keitel signed the surrender terms. Among those present in Karlshorst was General Marshal Georgii Zhukov.

Karlshorst lies between Berlin Schönefeld and city centre. It is served by trains between the airport and Berlin. It is well worth a visit.

Before the fall of the Berlin Wall it was managed and guarded by the Red Army.

Today the museum is under the care of the Federal German authorities and is regularly visited by Bundeswehr troops.

The seating arrangement in the museum is exactly as it was on May 8, 1945.

There is an irony about Karlshorst.

Name calling in a Sunday newspaper

In an article in today's Sunday Independent Business Editor Nick Webb refers to Ictu President David Begg as a 'bearded leftie'.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cowardly laughter on Marian Finucane Show

On the Marian Finucane Show this morning at the end of an interview with comedian Billy Connolly, Marian asked him about an incident that took place in Killarney on Thursday evening.

Billy Connolly had words at the INEC in Killarney with photographer Valerie O'Sullivan where he told her in abusive language to get out.

When the episode was mentioned on the Marian Finucane Show, Billy Connolly said he was not apologising. His radio comment was greeted with laughter from the other guests on the Finucane Show.

Valerie O'Sullivan is one of Ireland's top photographers. I worked with her at The Kerryman and she is an outstanding woman in every way.

Marian Finucane and the other guests on her show this morning behaved in a manner which leaves much to be desired.

In a matter of seconds they all showed how cowardly they were.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

BBC gives extensive coverage to Hall case

The BBC has given detailed coverage in its evening news about its former employee Stuart Hall. Hall was in Court today and has admitted indecently assaulting 13 girls.

Hall is 83, articulate and urbane, with an apparent aura of gravitas. The profile is familiar.

It would be interesting to study in detail how the BBC has reacted to Hall, who was a prominent employee of the Corporation, and how the Catholic Church makes public comment on its priests, who have been found guilty or who have admitted indecently assaulting minors.

It is also worth noting that back in the 1960s and '70s the BBC was an environment that was male dominated.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Breaking rules with ads and grammar

Story in today's Irish Independent tells of how Aer Lingus breached code wirh misleading ads.

And in that same newspaper in a story about TD posters the following sentence appears: "Government TDs have being targeted......"

The piece is attributed to Fiach Kelly and Fionnan Sheahan.