Saturday, June 29, 2013

Insulting the Germans step by step

On TV3 they spelled 'über' incorrectly and in today's Irish Times Fintan O'Toole writes ' Der Deutschlandlied'. It is a neuter noun so it should be 'Das Deutschlandlied'

Two seconds on Google would correct those errors.

It's embarrassing.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Trans gender issues discussed on RTE

Miriam O'Callaghan interviewed transgender people on her morning programme today.

One perrson who was born a man and is now a woman told the story how he first asked his wife if he could wear one of her dresses.

When the couple originally married they were man and wife. They are still together.

The honesty surrounding the interview was refreshing, especially when put in the context of all the secrecy, dishonesty and closet behaviour that one experiences.

A horrible insult to 50 million dead

Angela Merkel's comments on the 'Bankers' Tapes' are wise and thoughtful words.

Why can't these bankers be charged with fraud and deception? Can Drumm not be extradited?

Their loutish singing of that line from the nazi anthem is an insult to every person who died at the hands of the nazis.

People often wonder how did the nazis get so many people to do such wrong.

Listen to the 'Bankers' Tapes'.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Either irony or persecution complex

Independent Newspapers' accounting department when contacting me use an address which has the name 'Provincials'.


Away from the cameras foul language and vulgarity

Listening to the bad language of former CEO David Drumm is good enough reason for anyone to desist from using foul language.

Nobody in their right mind would want to be associated with anything to do with this gentleman.

And have you noticed their apparent style, their glamour, the sophistication?

All a sham. Away from the cameras it's foul language and vulgarity. And obviously lies too.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Little woman little man you have no chance

Below is this week's column in the INM Irish regional newspapers.

By Michael Commane
Do you ever get tired of battling against companies and providers who consider you a ‘cherished customer’?

Three weeks ago the TV, phone and broadband company UPC sent me an electronic version of my bill in place of a paper one. I had never asked for this facility, indeed, I think some time earlier I had explicitly requested that I be sent a paper bill every month.

When I called them I kept being told that this was a new automatic service. It took me sometime to explain I wanted a paper bill. Eventually they got the message. But really, one begins to feel powerless with these company juggernauts that come at you with extraordinary power.

Late in May I flew with Ryanair to Malaga. A work colleague invited me to officiate at her wedding in Nerja. Never been there before and it was great to head off into the sun.

Within a few minutes of sitting down at my window seat a member of cabin crew asks me if I would remove my bag from the overhead bin and put it under the seat in front of me. Split-second thinking had me saying in a calm way that no, I was leaving it there. She walked off and no hassle.

About three or four minutes later the Ryanair staff member comes back to me again and explains that she wants to place a bigger bag in the bin so would I be kind enough to put my bag under the seat.

Not wanting to be awkward, at least any more awkward than I usually am, I agreed and put the bag under the seat. And then another split-second thinking and ever conscious of the philosophy and ethos of Ryanair, I said that I would put my bag under the seat if Ryanair gave me a free cup of coffee during the flight. She agreed and a deal was done. Victory over Ryanair. Fantastic.

Bag under the seat and off we fly to the sun.

Up in the sky flying at 9,000 metres the cabin crew begin their hard sell routine. Trolley approaches my row, being steered by my friend. I ask for that free cup of coffee. She consults with another member of staff. The outcome of the consultation is that there is no free cup of coffee coming my way.

Imagine if I broke some rule on a Ryanair flight? They’d probably have the police waiting for me as the plane taxied on to the apron. Imagine if my carry-on luggage was one kilo over the specified weight what I would have to pay?

Full marks to Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who was interviewed on Morning Ireland two weeks ago when he pointed out that if Ryanair don’t claim to deal in return journeys why then do they ask people to click on the return journey box on their website.

But of course it’s not just Ryanair. Last week a woman told me a horrendous story about a battle she is having with her electricity supplier. She genuinely believes she has been overcharged. This woman is no chancer or scammer. She has simply been treated in an appalling manner by the company. As a last resort she plans to put all her bills and correspondence up on Facebook.

I have to admit I am growing weary of it all. But on the other hand there can be fun in battling with these companies, especially when you win. For example when I fly Ryanair I usually carry a bottle of water on to the plane and then ask for a free plastic cup for the water. I’m surprised I manage to get one.

Four days later I flew home with Aer Lingus. What a difference. I actually felt a ‘cherished customer’.

A lot of talk these days on cycling

There has been much written and much spoken in the last days about cycling in Ireland.

Great to see people out on bikes. But that arrogant class who have jumped from their 'flash cars' to two wheels are even more annoying to observe on thier new transport.

There is a man in Rathgar, well into his 90s, who cycles his bicycle and so gracefully too. A man of gentleness and peace.

An awful lot of talk and writing too from all those 'Johnny-come-latlelies' who have taken to the bike. Shur, let them at it.

I am going to say that, amn't I, in my 59th year of cycling- cycling day-in day-out, in rain, snow and wind to and from work.

But I still remember that magic moment my father was pushing me down the road on my little bike when suddenly I was on my own. I can feel the second and regularly think about that sensation of taking off and being almost airborne.

Those two despicable voices

To hear the laughing and bad language of Bowe and Fitzgerald is surely another reason never to trust the management class in organisations.

The voices of these two men, their bad language, their sneering at the Germans, says so much about their type and class in Ireland.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The dangers of organisation that think they know best

The latest revleations about the behaviour of the police in the murder investigation into Stephen Lawrence are devastating.

But is it simply not the story of all organisations that think they can do what they like.

The whislte blower, former policeman Peter Francis, tells the story of how the Met tried to smear the Lawrence family. Shcoking.

Is there a difference between what Peter Francis has done and what Bradey Manning and Edwar Snowden have done?

Priests, bishops and 'pagan' Ireland

Redemptorist priest Tony Flannery was interviewd on Morning Ireland today.

The topic of the interview was a survey carried out by the National Council of Priests of Ireland.

The argument is that Ireland is becoming a pagan nation. The bishops argue that it is becasue of the decline in religious practice and the advent of secularism that priestly vocations are in decline.

The NCPI argue that what is needed is open discussion on why we have so few priests.

Not sure it is a blame game. Not sure Ireland is becoming pagan.

But if the bishops blame the people for what is happening, well that sounds quite odd.

Imagine if BMW or Apple manufactured a product and it did not sell, it would be unlikely that the BMW or Apple managements would blame the flop on the customer, the people.

Nothing is simple but when things go wrong, it's normal practice that management are responsible.

Maybe that's what Ireland and the Roman Catholic Church have in common. There's always someone else to blame.

There is a perception among the people that the bishops have got it so wrong in the past how suddenly can they be so right on so many issues.

If they say they did not know the damage of child sex abuse then they really are either lying or showing how ignorant they were and are.

There is also a perception out there that the bishops give the impression that they own God in some sort of cosy and exclusive way.

Of course they don't.

Not sure about the pagan bit.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Different perspectives on the same day

For the Germans it's the second day of summer. For the Irish the days are getting shorter.

Maybe there is something to it. It is 24 degrees Celsius and sunny in Berlin. It is 15 in Dublin, rain and wind too

Pope Francis has words for his papal nuncios

Pope Francis talking to papal nuncios advised them to eschew a 'bourgeois' style of life and reject the pursuit of worldly goods.

When choosing candidates to be bishops he urged them to avoid priests who were overly ambitious or showed "a princely psychology".

Will papal nunicos listen to him? What sort of priests have been appointed as bishops?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Up go food prices down go earnings

Has anyone noticed how food prices have increased by so much in recent weeks?

A yogurt in Lidl which was 69 cent last week is now selling at 75 cent. Milk has increased as has a range of groceries.

Our wages/salaries have been cut, our pensions have in some cases been halved.

Has there been a whisper about the current food price increases?

Valley of Squinting Windows alive and well

Thinking Anew column in Saturay's Irish Times.
Today's Irish Times omitted the name of the writer of the Thinking Anew column.

By Michael Commane

Brinsley MacNamara’s novel ‘The Valley of the Squinting Windows’ tells of the power of gossip and public perception in a small Irish village. The book was published in 1918. The people in Delvin, Co Westmeath, realised that the characters in the novel were based on real people. They were not pleased and MacNamara suffered great opprobrium. His school teacher father, James Weldon, found himself without friends or pupils at his school. Dad emigrated and Brinsley never returned to Delvin.

That was another Ireland. Or was it? Do people change that easily or quickly?

Maybe I’m an exception but I certainly am interested in what people think or say about me. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say most people are interested and concerned what people might think about them. Ofcourse very wise and holy people may be above such earthly thoughts. I’m certainly not such a person. And I’m also nervous when someone tells me that they are not interested in what others think about them.

It’s easy to say we don’t care what people think about us. As children when our parents were protecting us from the nasty words of other children we heard the saying “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me”.

It is also important that we see people for who they really are rather than for what they are. It’s always the person who counts and not all the accidents of life around her or him.

Come to think of it, it seems a lot of people are interested in what other people think and say. Just over two weeks ago the world learned that the US National Security Agency is spending much energy and money in finding out what other people are thinking, writing and saying. Whistleblower 29-year-old Edward Snowden, who worked for the NSA went public on how US security services are eavesdropping all over the world on what people are saying.

At the same time that Snowden told his story the trial is taking place in the US of Bradley Manning. He is the young US soldier who passed on US classified information to WikiLeaks.

Indeed, it might well be the case that we are all obsessed with what others think about us.

In tomorrow’s Gospel (Luke 9: 18 - 24) Jesus asks his disciples who people think he is. The disciples tell him that there are rumours about, that he is all sorts of people. But they know who he is and tell him.

Luke tells the reader that Jesus asked his disciples these questions just after he had spent some time in prayer.

We all like to have a good name. We want people to think well of us. Certainly we are never happy when people misunderstand us or get the wrong impression of who we actually are. But surely what’s most important is that people see us for who we are. If we are rogues, then let the world know. If we are good and honest people then we have a right to our good name. But what’s worst of all is when people say things about us that are not true, say things about us that make us out to be what we are not.

We are right to be concerned about what state security services do to garner information. What should and should not be done needs to be discussed in the public forum. That’s part of what the word ‘democracy’ means.

Jesus was always interested in the truth. If Brinsley MacNamara was telling the truth why should the villagers have taken offence?

One way or another, people are interested in what others think about them. So much damage and hatred is caused by people thinking badly of others. And how crazy it is when people take up hostile positions without considering the underlying facts, often facts which should arouse compassion and understanding.

Jesus loves us for who we are. God is interested in the real person. It makes sense to see people actually for who they are. It can be exciting too.

Pope Francis is living dangerously

The piece below is from yesterday's Frankfurter Allgemeine.

German readers will find this interesting. Apologies for no translation being available.
But what Pope Francis might do is beginning to become manifest.

What has gone on since the man from Krakau became pope might well be coming to an end.


Einst soll der Schriftsteller Arthur Schnitzler seinem älteren Dichterfreund Arthur Rimbaud geschrieben haben: „Du fragst mich, was soll ich tun? Und ich sage, lebe wild und gefährlich!“ Gut möglich, dass die Vorliebe des Argentiniers Jorge Bergoglio für deutsche Lyrik ihn auch auf die Spur dieses mittlerweile geflügelten Wortes geführt hat. Jedenfalls lebt der Jesuit, der es als junger Mann mit Militärdiktatoren zu tun hatte und der sich zuletzt immer wieder mit den lupenreinen Demokraten an der Spitze seines Landes anlegte, seit drei Monaten wilder und gefährlicher denn je.

Denn was sich in den ersten Tagen nach seiner Wahl am 13. März andeutete, ist mittlerweile zur Gewissheit geworden: Papst Franziskus ist für den vatikanischen Hofstaat ein einziger Albtraum und spätestens seit der vergangenen Woche für die vatikanische Sex-and-Crime-Szene ein unberechenbares Risiko.

Die erste Machtprobe mit der Kurie gewann Franziskus wenige Minuten nach seiner Wahl. In dem Ankleideraum neben der Sixtinischen Kapelle verweigerte er sich den Zumutungen, die die Erscheinung seines Vorgängers Benedikt XVI. zu einer Travestie de Luxe hatten verkommen lassen: Blech statt Gold, Stoff statt Pelz, Galoschen statt roten Leders. Am folgenden Tag: Bus statt Nobelkarosse. Bis auf weiteres: Gästehaus statt Palast, Speisesaal statt Tafel, Gottesdienst in Gemeinschaft statt privater Hokuspokus. Franziskus predigt nicht nur über die Agenda des Südens von A wie Armut bis Z wie Zuwendung, er lebt sie.

Hoffnung auf eine Reform der Kirche
Doch was folgt daraus für die Arbeit in der Kurie und für den Lebenswandel von Kardinälen, für die immer ein Umschlag („busta“) mit üppigem Handgeld bereitlag, ganz zu schweigen vom Lebensstil deutscher Kirchenfürsten, die ihre Luxuslimousine samt Fahrer nach Rom entsenden, ehe sie dort dem Flugzeug entsteigen? Bis jetzt hat der Papst kleine, aber unübersehbare Zeichen gesetzt.

Den Kardinälen, die die Aufsicht über die Vatikanbank IOR führen sollten, hat Franziskus kurzerhand die Boni (!) gestrichen. Einem anderen Kardinal, dem sein engster Mitarbeiter zu Zeiten Benedikts nach guter vatikanischer Art durch eine Intrige anderer Kardinäle abhandenkam, überließ er die Auswahl des Nachfolgers.

Geschichten wie diese machen in der Kirche in Windeseile die Runde. Denn in die Erleichterung darüber, dass Franziskus Spitzenrochetts und hermelinbesetzte Schulterumhänge abgeschafft hat, mischt sich Hoffnung auf eine Reform der Kirche an Haupt und Gliedern. Auf allen Kontinenten weiß man seit den Tagen von Johannes Paul II. und Benedikt XVI. ein bitteres Lied davon zu singen, wie sich päpstliche Günstlingspolitik und kuriale Missachtung der Sorgen und Nöte der Kirchen am Ort auswirken - vor allem bei der Besetzung von Bischofssitzen.

Als Erzbischof von Buenos Aires hat Bergoglio das Treiben sinistrer Gestalten und Gremien im Vatikan oft mit angesehen. Als Bischof von Rom hat er es in der Hand, das auf dem II. Vatikanischen Konzil (1962-1965) rehabilitierte Prinzip der Kollegialität der Bischöfe mit Leben zu füllen. Dass es Franziskus ernst meint, hat er mit der Einberufung einer Kommission von acht Kardinälen aus allen Kontinenten bewiesen. Diese sollen ihm Vorschläge zur Reform der Kurie unterbreiten und ihn bei der Leitung der Kirche beraten. Sollte der Papst auch dem römischen Zentralismus den Garaus machen wollen, dann hätte er dazu zumal in Deutschland viel Gelegenheit: Spätestens im nächsten Jahr müssen die Domkapitel von Freiburg, Hamburg und Köln aus einer in Rom erstellten Dreierliste neue Bischöfe wählen.

Zuletzt waren die Kandidaten auf den Listen nur selten mit denen identisch, die die Kapitel oder auch der päpstliche Botschafter (Nuntius) in Kenntnis der Stärken und Schwächen der Kirchen am Ort zusammengestellt hatten. Das könnte sich ändern. Mehr noch: Es ist längst an der Zeit, dieses in Deutschland bewährte Wahlverfahren mit seinen Checks and Balances weltweit zur Regel zu machen, anstatt die Bischöfe „frei“ zu ernennen. Franziskus müsste nicht einmal das Kirchenrecht ändern. Nebenbei wäre ein großes Hindernis auf dem Weg zu mehr Gemeinschaft mit den Kirchen der Orthodoxie beseitigt.

Wie wild es der Papst wirklich treiben wird, ist nicht abzusehen. Sicher ist nur: Er lebt gefährlich. Gegenüber einer Delegation von Ordensleuten aus Lateinamerika hat er unumwunden eingestanden, dass Korruption und Seilschaften Homosexueller im Innersten des alles andere sind als krankhafte Ausgeburten sensationslüsterner Medien. Ebenso unumwunden gestand er ein, noch nicht zu wissen, wie mit diesen Kräften umzugehen sei. Doch gleich welche personellen und strukturellen Konsequenzen er wann ziehen wird, mit seinem Eingeständnis hat er sich die mächtigsten Dämonen zum Feind gemacht: Geld und Sex. Benedikt hatte einiges ins Werk gesetzt, um deren Macht einzudämmen. Am Ende hat er psychisch zermürbt („Vatileaks“) kapituliert. Sein Nachfolger spricht nicht nur vom Teufel. Er hat die Mächte des Bösen mit Namen genannt. Gebannt sind sie damit noch nicht.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Where are Irish Rail's Spanish coaches?

Where are Irish Rail's Spanish built Mark Four trains?

They came into service a number of years ago and were orignially planned for the Dublin Cork service.

Within two or three years the coaches were gradually taken out of service so that a bogey problem could be corrected.

They were the work horse of Irish Rail's premier service. But now they are seldom seen on the rails and most of them have been replaced by the Korea built ICRs.

It is now rumoured that Irish Rail's decision to haul the trains with older GM locos does not suit the design.

The trains were originally designed to have a built-in driving cab plus power unit at each end. Irish Rail does not operate the train as was per the original design.

In the meantime, where are the trains?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Anti-Semitism alleged in German seminary

The Tablet reports a story about anti-Semitism in the diocesan seminary in Würzburg.

Diocesan bishop Friedhelm Hofmann has appointed an external commission to look into allegations that seminarians tried to spread anti-Semitic views and celebrated Hitler's birthday on April 20.

There have also been allegations that the students trivialised the systematic annihilation of Jews in nazi Germany.

Important to note they are allegations. But if true it is awful.

Of course nazi talk is a step too far but is there anyone asking what at all is happening in the preparation of young men for priesthood?

Maybe it is that the church is the natural home for right wing ideologues?

Newspapers, bishops and children

The Sunday after the demonstration on Saturday, June 8 in opposition to the upcoming legislation The Sunday Independent did not carry a report on the large demonstration.

Surely poor journalism?

In a statement by the Catholic bishops of Ireland on the same legislation the opening paragraph runs: "On Saturday last, tens of thousands of women, men and children gathered in Dublin to express their support for the equal right to life of mothers and their unborn children."

Do the bishops see nothing wrong in using the demonstration of children to support their argument?

Might the bishops need better PR advice?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sixtieth anniversary of uprising in Berlin

Sixty years ago today the people of the former German Democratic Republic demonstrated on the streets of East Berlin and other cities throughout the GDR in protest against harsh economic conditions and a in opposition to Communist rule.

Hence the strret in Tiergarten called, Straße des 17en Juni - Street of the 17th of June.

Sylvia Gordon seems not to hear Obama

Whatever one's views on the politics of the US, one has to admit that the Obamas, Michelle and Barack double act is quite spectacular.

He told young people in Belfast's Waterfront that they were inheritors of a just and hard earned peace.

He quoted Seamus Heaney but he did get the pronounciation of the name wrong.

Clenched fists giving way to outstretched hands.

When peace was achieved here it gave hope to the whole world.

You helped us transcend our differences.

But there is much work to do. People who have not reaped the rewards of peace. Still wounds not healed. Walls that still stand. Still many miles to go.
"Peace comes dropping slow" WBY.

This pease is good not only for you, this island, the UK, Ireland, the world. You set an example for those who seek peace.

You are the proof of what is possible.

I admire the NI Executive and all they have done for building a united community.

When I was a boy several cities had separate eating places. In certain US states the marriage of my parents would have been illegal.

Young people help to push and protest.

Each successive generation creates a new space fo peace and fairness.

It's up to you if you are a good neighbour to someone of past battles.

The fate of peace is up to each of us. This peace has been tested and will be tested again.

Whenever your peace is attacked you will have to choose whether to keep going forwards of backwards.

We will keep workng closley with leaders in Belfast, Dublin and London. Jobs are essential to peace so we will continue to work closely in areas of economics.

In his speech he referred to Sylvia Gordon, thinking she was in the audience but it seems she was not there.

He quoted Colm McCann: "Peace is harder than war."

You young people must remind us again and again of hope and peace despite hardship and tragedy.

I have confidence you will choose that path. I promise you we will support you every step of the way, a wind at your back.
This little island has the best days ahead.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Most inappropriate caption

The current issue of The Irish Catholic features a picture on its cover page with an unfortunate and inappropriate caption.

The picture shows five young Legionaries of Christ playing saxaphones.

The seminarians are togged out in clerical frocks.

The caption runs: ' Sax appeal'.

This referring to an organisation mired in sexual deviance and every sort of clerical humbug is not at all acceptable. It is shocking.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Consular office of Russian Federation closes

On June 9 this blog reported cleaning activity taking place at the embassy of the Russian Federation in Dublin.

Since then more work has been done and a notice has now been placed on the front pedestrian gate informing the public that the consular office will be closed on June 17, 18, 19 and 20.

Russian President Vladimir Putin coming to town?

Irish education chooses Paris over Berlin

Yesterday 10,000 students sat the Junior Certificate exam in German.

On Wednesday 35,000 students took Wednesday's French exam.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Up up and away into the skies of France

The Airbus A350 made its inaugual test flight today, taking off from Toulouse.

Airbus is a joint European project and is in head-to-head competition with US giant Boeing.

The woes of women in many countries, elsewhere too

Today on an RTE news programme Channel 4's Jon Snow reported from the Iranian capital on the elections taking place in the country today.

In his informative report he made an aside as to the relative equality women exerienced in the Islamic republic and he pointed out how Iranian woman fared better than women in many other Islamic countries.

It would be intersting to know how many Catholics tuned into RTE Radio One would have considered themselves allied with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and many other Islamic countries.

Pat Kenny gets it ever so wrong

In a short quiz section on the Pat Kenny Show this morning Pat asked who was German Chancellor when JFK visited Berlin.

The contestant did not know the answer and Pat Kenny supplied the answer - Willy Brandt.

When Kennedy visited Berlin Konrad Adenauer was Chancellor of Federal Germany and Willy Brandt, who would later become German Chancellor was at the time Mayor of Berlin.

And then later when Kenny makes the correction he tells his listeners that Erhard was Chancellor.

Pat, wrong again. Ludwig Erhard was Adenauer's famous Fiance Minister, who succeeded Adenauer, but never won the hearts of the Germans as he did when he was Finance Minister. He was the man associated with the great German Wirtschaftswunder.

And all those misakes on the day of the State exams in German.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interesting words from Pope Francis

According to a report in the National Catholic Reporter of June 11 Pope Francis has downplayed threats of Vatican scrutiny of religious orders.

It is reported that Pope Francis said: "They (Vatican visitators) will make mistakes, they will make a blunder, this will pass! Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such a thing. ..... But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move on."

In the article, written by Alessandro Speciale, Pope Francis also reportedly admitted the existence of a 'gay lobby' within the Vatican and confessed he is 'disorganised' when it comes to administrative matters such as reforming the Vatican Curia.

If this reporting is accurate it's time to shout from the hilltops, Alleluia.

Alleluia. At last.

But hasn't it been ever so evident for many years.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Walter Jens dies in Tübingen

The death was announced today of Walter Jens, who died yesterday in Tübingen.

Jens was one of Germany's most important 20th century writers.

He was a supporter of the SPD, especially during the time when WIlly Brandt was Mayor of Berlin and then later German Chancellor.

The case of Snowden and the NSA

The Edward Snowden affair so soon after the beginning of the Manning trial is an eye opener for us as to the power of the secret service agencies of the major powers.

The Guardian paints a noble picture of 29-year-old Snowden, who believes that democracy is being damaged by the behaviour of the US's National Security Agency.

Snowden is currently living in a hotel room in Hong Kong.

When he released his information to the Guardian he was well aware of the consequences that could and would befall him.

Platzek hand-in hand with Merkel in Wittenberge

As the Elbe continues to break new flood records all rail traffic between Frankfurt-am Main and Hannover and Berlin has had to be rerouted.

SPD Minister President of Brandenburg Mattheus Platzek accompanied German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she visited stricken Wittenberge this afternoon.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Elbe inundates German cities

The Elbe has reached new levels of flooding today. Many of the dams have been breached.

Over 20,000 people in Magdeburg have been evacuated from their homes.

Rail bridges over the Elbe have been closeed. ICEs to and from Berlin have been cancelled. Rail traffic in and out of Leipzig, Magdeburg and Halle has been greatly restricted.

11,000 troops of the Bundeswehr are supporting the police and local authorities.

Clean up at Dublin embassy of Russian Federation

Great cleaning and tidying up taking place at the embassy of the Russian Federation in Dublin today Sunday. New brass plates with the Russian symbol are being placed on the pillars.

Might it be that Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay a quick visit to the embassy while he is in Fermanagh?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Outspoken US priest and author dies

US author and priest Andrew M Greeley died on May 29.

The Irish American priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago was a prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction.

Many of his novels were best sellers.

Greeley feuded with Cardinal Cody of Chicago, whom he called a monster, crazy and "one of the most truly evil men I have ever known".

The late John O'Gorman, a member of the Dominican Order, had read all Andrew Greeley's novels and many of his non-fiction works. John often commented how true they were to the 'real story'.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Surely kindness wins over 'theology' every time

In this coming Sunday's Gospel we see how Jesus at Naim had pity on the widow who had lost her son.

Reading the Gospel it might well be easy to head off into some sort of esoteric theology about life and death. Talk about the power of Jesus. Well and good.

But might the real wonder of the Gospel be how Jesus was so kind to the dead man's mother.

Being kind to one another, especially to people who are grieving and fragile can never be underestimated.

I recently attended a funeral Mass where the behaviour of the priest was simply appalling. Once the prayers had been said at the grave he ran away to his car. His sermon was a paraphrase of the introduction to the liturgyof a funeral Mass. The man wore running shoes at the funeral Mass.

He used the word God many times, the word resurrection too. But kindess, any sort of emapthy, sympathy? That ordinary, normal behaviour seemed so absent.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A response to newspaper column

A letter received in response to this week's INM column.

Dear Fr Commane,
I noted your recent article in The Kerryman regarding the influence and involvement of the tobacco industry.
I just wanted to thank you for publicising this important issue.
Very best wishes,
John Crown.
Independent Senator John Crown
Seanad Éireannn,
Leinster House,
Kildare St.,
Dublin 2.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Free sheet Alive insults famous Irish actor

In the June issue of the free sheet 'Alive' there is a report on Colm Tóibín's play which showed on Broadway.

The last paragraph runs: "A naked Fiona Shaw on stage might have caused a stir 45 years ago, but today? Tóibín needs to catch up."

Murdoch's 'News of the World' at its most vicious would not be up to such writing.

It is a nasty, ugly comment. It is also another sign of how misogynist 'Alive' is.

On a personal level, I studied at UCC with Fifi Wilson, AKA Fiona Shaw. We have been friends many years.

'Alive' gives a publishing address of the Dominicans in Tallaght, which immediately associates the free sheet with the Dominicans. While there is a disclaimer in small print on the front page, it is far too easy to link the free sheet with the Dominicans.

As a Dominican, I am greatly ashamed that this free sheet has any links whatsoever with the Irish province of the Dominican Order.

Anglican priest's Right and Reason column well worth reading

Yesterday's Irish Times carried an interesting article written by Anglican priest Stephen Neill.

The Right and Reason piece is well worth reading.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Should Ministers talk to tobacco industry?

O'Herlihy Communications works with ITMAC.
Below is this week's INM Irish regional newspaper column.

Michael Commane
Friends invited me to their home for dinner in late May. Despite cold winds coming from the north we did manage to have the meal in the back garden.

The woman sitting beside me smoked a few cigarettes. I noticed the horrific things it says on the packet, telling the smoker that cigarettes kill and cause infertility.

There was also a gruesome graphic showing in no uncertain terms what smoking does to the body. Obviously it had no effect on my table neighbour.

Later we were talking about how difficult it is to give up smoking and she did say she was going to do something about it. She is a young woman, sails, cycles and hill walks. I was surprised to think that someone so interested in outdoor pursuits would be a smoker.

When I was 11 I took my first and last drag of a fag. Fortunately my mother arrived on the scene and that was almost the end of my love affair with tobacco.

And then later as a theology student when we were given permission to smoke in the 1970s I tried a pipe and this time I could not manage it.

My late mother was a smoker as was her father before her. They both developed cancer of the larynx. Anyone who knows the terror of cancer of the oesophagus or larynx will appreciate what I am talking about.

My mother had a successful laryngectomy but never spoke again. And that for a woman who loved talking was a cruel sentence. My mother was 67 when she was diagnosed with cancer. She spent the rest of her life until she died at 78 with a hole in her neck.

All her food had to be liquidised. I still find bits of paper around the house on which she had written notes. It so happened that I could manage to lip read what she was saying in some sort of a fashion but Dad had great difficulty trying to understand her. It was shocking.

In mid May the Taoiseach and Finance and Justice Ministers received a deputation from the tobacco industry Well-known oncologist, Senator John Crown expressed his great annoyance that the Taoiseach and some of his Ministers would talk to anyone from the tobacco trade. The Government tried to explain that the meeting concerned itself with cigarette smuggling and how to fight it.

John Crown pointed out that the best he has ever been able to do to get an interview with a Government Minister after two years in the Oireachtas was a 20-minute meeting with the Minister for Health James Reilly.

It has also transpired that TV presenter Bill O’Herlihy was at the meeting. The Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee’s smuggling campaign is managed by Bill’s company, O'Herlihy Communications.

I find it difficult to understand how someone who is so linked to sporting coverage on RTE should also be associated with the ITMAC? O’Herlihy Communications has also done PR work for the Government in the past. Is that not a conflict of interest?

John Crown points out that 50 people die every day in Ireland through smoking-related illnesses.

Cigarettes kill and put extreme pressure on our health system so can anyone explain to me why members of our Government would meet representatives of an organisation whose product kills people?

There is a total ban on cigarette advertising, there is a blanket prohibition on smoking in public premises, cigarette packets carry the most gruesome information possible and the Government can entertain the spokespeople of the industry.

It really is another great example of an Irish solution to an Irish problem, a problem that kills people, helped kill my mother.

And you know what, I never once heard a word of apology from the tobacco industry for the role they played in helping to kill my mother. I think the Government has some questions to answer.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Great views from Maulin

Tess on top of Maulin today.

A perfect day to be in the Wiclow Hills. One of those days when there are clear views of south Dublin

Maulin is 570 metres.

Europe's great rivers break their banks

Tonight, June 3, the Danube is at its highest since 1503.

All along the Elbe people are being evacuated from their homes.

Passau, Dresden, Chemnitz, Prague and cities all over Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany are experiencing the worst flooding in years.

The Czech, Asutrian and German armies have been called out to help

Rights of priests have been greatly infringed

The rights of the individual Catholic priest in Ireland are greatly limited, at least they have been in the past.

When I began teaching in 1980 the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland prohibited priests from joining their union. The considered priests part of management.

The Irish State treated priest teachers as self-employed and therefore were not entitled to pay the full PRSI rate. This meant they were not allowed claim unemployment benefit or contribute towards a contributory pension.

And the Dominicans made no effort at all to suggest their priest teachers should contribute to the State pension offered to teachers.

It really is a scandal and shcoking. Not much has changed.

The State is forever stressing that it treats all its citizens equally and the church in holy tones about being on the side of the marginalised.

Hard to take. The moral of the story is that all organisations, church and State, have a default attitude that always suggests that the organisation must be protected at all costs.

Maybe that's simply the way of the world.

German Rail apologises for the first time

Fifteen years ago today the terrible rail crash happened at Eschede.

At the place of the accident today the CEO of German Rail apologised for what happened. It was the first time since the accident that German Rail apologised for what happened their ICE.

Michael Murphy publishes book of poetry

RTE newsreader Michael Murphy was interviewed on the John Murray Show this morning to mark the publication of his new book of poetry.

Michael attended Newbridge College and spent some time as a novice in the Dominicans. He is a nephew of the late Fr Charlie O'Beirne.

Along with working for RTE, Michael is also a psychoanalyst.

On the programme he quoted a sentiment from Pope Emeritus Benedict concerning homosexuality. The famous line on the 'inherent evil....'

He spoke about the physical abuse he received from his late father.

"Silence is the oxygen in which abuse thrives." He went on to talk about how we see maintaining a dignified silence as something good and noble.

Michael read a poem on the damage caused by 'maintaining a dignified silence'.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Another side to priesthood

What a pleasure it was on Friday to walk into a sacristy in Frigiliana near Malaga in Spain.

The parish priest so friendly, so normal. No nonsense, no crazy vestments in any of the presses. No meaningless books to sign. A relatively young man, probably in his late 30s. Nor did he ask for my fingerprints. No pretention, no sneering, no nastiness at all. No smart aleck questions or statements. Just niceness. How refreshing and pleasant. Real too.

What a breath of fresh air.

What's wrong at all in Ireland? Huston we have a problem and it seems to be getting worse by the day.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

An old quote which may well apply today

"In a time of great danger, all types of people move into leadership poistions.

"Look at the times we have been through: first the war, then the difficulties of post war life, inflation und terrible poverty. Add to all that unemployment.

"When people are engulfed in a horrible existence and see the future as a grey and impossible, then they will listen to the promises of people they know nothing about".

That is a quote from the father of the Scholl siblings, who were involved in distributing leaflets in Munich in 1942 opposed to the Nazis.

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