Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A universal story about pain, suffering and death

Below is this week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspaper column

Michael Commane 
It’s Holy Week and straight away to get it off my chest and it’s a real bugbear with me: this coming Saturday is Holy Saturday, not Easter Saturday, as it is now being called by many, especially by those in the selling business. The Saturday of Easter Week is Easter Saturday, Saturday week. Okay it’s a bugbear with me and I had to say it the week that’s in it.

This is the week Christians recall the suffering and death of Jesus Christ and then on Sunday, the most important feast in the Christian calendar, Christians celebrate their faith in the resurrection.

On Monday I visited four sick people. Sitting down with each of those people I found myself asking over and over what at all is life about. Maybe I was also asking where will I end up?

Some weeks ago there was a story across the media reporting the finding of the bones of Miguel de Cervantes, the famous Spanish writer of Don Quixote

Since the discovery of those bones I have been looking at pictures of them. They are mere bits and pieces and I have kept looking at them and wondering about resurrection

Is it all a mad idea? Do you ever wonder what it’s all about and what happens after death? Anything at all? Is it just oblivion?

I cannot abide those who try to give me a graphic picture of what happens after death. To be honest with you I am sick to death of the pious merchants, who peddle all sorts of things that simply make no sense to me at all. But on the other hand nor am I impressed with those who are adamant in proclaiming there is nothing after death.

I’m well into the second half of my life, indeed, due to get the travel pass next month, so I suppose it’s inevitable that my mind is beginning to focus on the subject of pain and yes, then death.

Last Sunday at Masses around the world people listened to the passion and death of Jesus as recorded in Mark’s Gospel and then this coming Friday in churches people will again hear about what happened to Jesus in the run-up to his crucifixion, this time it will be John’s account.

If you will not be in a church these days why not take out a Bible and read what Mark and John say about what happened. Mark, chapters 14 and 15; John, chapters 18 and 19.

Reading it this year it strikes me that in so many ways it is a universal story about life, pain, suffering and death. We see how the crowd sneer at Jesus. We read how he is betrayed. We read about all the things that happen to us through our lives.

My mind wanders and I’m thinking of all those people, so many youngsters, who were killed in the plane crash in the Alps last week. What must it be like for their families? One young German school girl spoke about losing her classmate. She kept thinking that she was going to turn up. She never did. 

They lit candles in honour of their dead classmates. What can one ever say about pain and suffering and death? I want to say ‘resurrection’

On Sunday we celebrate the Christian feast of the Resurrection. Yes, I stumblingly, falteringly believe in it. I gently say we are a resurrection people.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Dumping in Rathgar

This notice appears on the entrance to the Dublin City Bring Centre in Rathgar.

Surely it has a double meaning? No dumping offenders will be prosecuted. But presumably it has the opposite meaning. The importance of punctuation.

Religious students reported to have murdered blogger

Twenty seven-year-old blogger Washiqur Rhman was stabbed to death in Dhaka, the Bagladesh capital today.

The Guardian Online writes:

“It appeared Rahman used to write using a pen name, Kutshit Hasher Chhana [Ugly Duckling],” Imran Sarker, head of the Blogger and Online Activists Network in Bangladesh, said. “He was a progressive free thinker and was against religious fundamentalism.”

Police have arrested two men, reported to be religious students, for the murder, which comes just weeks after an American atheist blogger was also killed in Dhaka, in a crime that triggered international outrage.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Celebrating a centenarian

Lally Lawlor celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday. Mrs Lawlor was born on March 28, 1915. She spent her early years in Co Wicklow and is a past pupil of the Dominican School in  Wicklow.

Lally has been living in the Kingdom since her marriage to a Kerry man.

I have had the great privilege of knowing Mrs Lawlor for close to 20 years. A remarkable woman.

The birthday was marked with a party at Ocean View Nursing Home in Camp, Co. Kerry.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lubitz visited the area where germanwings Airbus crashed

German news this evening reported that Andreas Lubitz, with his parents, visited the area where the germanwings airbus crashed.

Lufthansa has announced that it is immediatley to give the families of those who were killed in the crash €50,000.

Why the crucifixion is a story of our times

Below is the Thinking Anew column in today's Irish Times. Because of the coverage of the Graham Dwyer guilty verdict, the column appears in the Weekender Review on page14.

Michael Commane
Across the world tomorrow the majority of Christian churches begin Holy Week ceremonies. Christian Orthodox churches follow a week later this year.

Tomorrow, Palm Sunday, we will read the account of the passion of Jesus as recorded by Mark.

A quick reading of the headings of chapters 14 and 15 of Mark's Gospel are a universal account or understanding of human suffering.

We read about betrayal, treachery, denial, arrest, sneering, crucifixion and burial.
In so many ways it's also a story of our times. 

Just last week there were newspaper headlines reporting that in 2012, 2.3 million prescriptions were written for people who experience anxiety and depression in their lives. An Irish Examiner investigation revealed that 330,000 public patients were prescribed drugs for depression and anxiety in 2012. That  figure is closer to 500,000 when private patients are taken into account.

In one sense, we read the Passion account and feel indignant about how someone is treated, especially in this case, when we believe the victim is Jesus, the Son of  God, the one who comes to save us. And in another sense, when reading it, we see how things never change. We continue to brutalise our fellow human beings.

Mark, the evangelist, gives a graphic description of how the crucified Jesus is mocked:  "The passers-by jeered at him; they shook their heads and said, 'Aha! So you would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days! Then save yourself: come down from the cross!' The chief priests and the scribes mocked him among themselves in the same way. 'He saved others,' they said 'he cannot save himself.' " (Mark 15: 29 - 31)

A nursery rhyme  tells us: "Sticks and stones will break my bones but insults will never hurt me". In another era it might have been something mothers would have said to their children when they complained of other children jeering at them.

Sneering and laughing at someone may well not break our bones but it certainly can have a terrible effect and leave us with awful scars.

It's far too easy to sneer and mock at people, especially when they are not in a position to respond. 

It is good to see the efforts that have been made in recent years to stamp out as far as possible all traces of bullying in the workplace. Schools too have made great progress in the war against bullying as has our society in general. Bullying, mocking, taunting, jeering and sneering all belong to the one family. It usually involves belittling or looking down on another person. Unfortunately, social media has become a place for bullying and usually anonymous too.

The bully or sneerer is saying:  “You are no good, I am better than you and all that you deserve is derision.”  It is also an attempt by the person, who bullies and sneers, to make themselves appear to be  'better' than the other person. Bullying always tries to create a 'them' versus 'us' environment.
As Christians we stress we are all children of God. It's one thing to say that, another matter when it comes to living it out in our daily lives.

Next week Christians look back at the suffering and death of Jesus. Tomorrow, and again on Good Friday we read about the suffering of the Son of God. We will see how people sneered at and mocked him in his weakest moments.

On Easter Sunday we believe he rises from the dead. He overcomes the sneering, mocking and bullying. In order for us to appreciate and live out resurrection we can never be part of the bullying and sneering brigade.

With the help of the risen Lord, we believe that every human being manifests the glory of God in a unique way.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Andreas L on German media

In the germanwings tragedy, German media is not publishing the name of the co-pilot, they are also not showing pictures of the man's face, which is in keeping with German law.

In the age smart phones and satellite television it all may seem 'quaint'.

Der Spiegel on line says Andreas L but just click on the Online Guardian and up pops Andreas Lubitz with his picture.

BBC's Fergal Keane's struggle for reason

BBC's Fergal Keane gave a lecture in University of Limerick last night titled "The Struggle for Reason".

Fergal started his journalism at The Limerick Leader where one of his first stories was the uncovering of racism in the city. In 1979 the Savoy Nite Club refused admittance to blacks.

The editor at the time, Halligan, supported him and the story ran in spite of it not being popular with many of the paper's readers, advertisers, supporters and some of the newspapers own staff.

He stressed that it is the job of the journalist to establish the facts.

"Right now there is a battle for control of public thought. We need outsiders and we need mavericks," he said.

"If you're wrong say it and no human being, no institution is free of bias and the first thing a journalist must always do is challenge her or his bias. 

"Social media hoaxers are so successful becasue they say what people want to hear and believe.

"What better alibi than to have God on your side."

The award winning journalist stressed the importance of the primacy of facts.

"The only thing a journalist can be an activist about is the truth."

He said that these days nobody takes Fox News seriously but that there is a special niche for angry white men.

The head of Journalism at UL, Mary Dundon chaired the event, which was held in the lecture theatre of the Computer Department.

The Cork man spoke to a full house.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Perfect people"

Yesterday morning on Deutschlandfunk an expert talking on the germanwings crash said that the aircraft was maintained by Lufthansa Technik and that "the people there were perfect".

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Usually anonymous murals

Graffiti on a wall at Dodder Bridge, where the Dublin Postal District changes from six to 14.

What makes/tempts/inspires people to 'do graffiti?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nasty aspects

Below is an extract from the right wing blog Rorate Caeli.

Is the Catholic Church as nasty and dysfunctional as would seem to suggest from this material?
The palpable hatred within sections of the church tells its own story. And that phenomenon/aspect seems to be in the ascendancy right across the organisation.

Poor Pope Francis.

"Marx's comments "belong in the village pub": Cardinal Josef Cordes' letter to Tagespost publicly rebuking German Bishops' Chairman
Poverty and Humility: Cardinal Marx some years ago in Fulda enjoying 
one of his great pleasures: Church Tax-funded luxury cigars
The German-language Catholic news website Kath.net provided a few days ago an authorized summary of the letter sent by Cardinal Cordes to Tagespost on Cardinal Marx's most recent controversial statements, in effect declaring the independence of the German Church. Translation by reader "K":

Vatican City. Authorised summary of a letter to the editor of the “Tagespost” from March 7, 2015, in which Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes, former president of the papal work COR UNUM, publicly refutes some statements made by Reinhard Cardinal Marx and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück at the plenary meeting of the German bishops in Hildesheim. 

At the last plenary meeting of the German bishops, statements of their president were made public which were neither officially published nor denied by the conference’s secretariat. Since words of the most prominent representative of German Catholics give directions and [since these statements] furthermore caused a stir in the media, it makes sense to publicly contradict some of the positions expressed, also in order to limit the confusion they have caused in several places. 

In these statements, the president [Marx] noted that in the universal Church ‘certain expectations’ are directed towards Germany. This is astonishing. A poll of the ‘Bertelsmann foundation’ showed that only 16.2 percent of the West-German Catholics believe in almighty God as a person they can encounter, all other Catholics equate ‘God’ with a faceless providence, anonymous fate, or a primordial power – or they simply deny His existence. Therefore we have little reason to boast against churches in other countries about our faith. 

Moreover, it is not only astonishing that the German Church supposedly enjoys such great respect within Catholicism. More irritating still are the theological blurs and statements, in which the President of the Bishops’ Conference plainly declared that “We are no local branches of Rome. Each Conference is responsible for the pastoral care in its cultural environment and, as it most proper task, has to proclaim the Gospel in its own way.” As a social ethicist Cardinal Marx may know much about the dependency of branches of large corporations. In an ecclesiastical context, such statements should rather be rather left to the village pub.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Idols are imposters of God"

Gordon Linney in his 'Thinking Anew' column in Saturday's Irish Times quoted the American writer Jim Wallis.

"Idols perpetuate themselves by erecting self-justifying ideologies and informational systems with the ability to turn falsehood into seeming truth by the distortion of language itself.

"Idols are imposters of God. They may be things, ideas, persons or institutions exalted and worshipped as gods."
                           - Jim Wallis

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A stunning Sunday morning on banks of the Dodder

A stunning morning in Dublin. And the last Sunday and week ahead of Winter Time. Next Sunday at 02.00 all of Europe moves to Daylight Saving Time. The Russian Federation no longer changes its clocks.

Tess on the banks of the Dodder at 07.04.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Clerics Keith O'Brien and Robert Finn suffer losses

Yesterday Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the "rights and privileges" of Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

Two years ago the then cardinal in Edinburgh said he would not be attending the conclave in Rome in the wake of media allegations of sexual harassment of four priests by him in the 1980s.

Cardinal O'Brien was noted for his right wing views.

A sexual abuse lobbyist yesterday said he would be far more impressed if the Vatican were to take action against Kansas bishop Robert Finn, who  has been convicted of failing to report a paedophile priest subsequently sentenced to 50 years in prison for producing child pornography.

Two weeks ago Bishop Finn called on the priests and religious in his diocese to join him to demonstrate in favour of the construction of a faith-based dormitory in Kansas City. He asked the priests and religious to turn up to the demonstration wearing their clerical attire.

Last Tuesday Kansas City Plan Commission unanimously voted against the construction.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ducks 'going forward' out of water at Dodder Park

It seems sportspeople these days can seldom make a sentence without inserting the word 'look'.

It may all have started with legendary horse trainer Aidan O'Brien, who has the propensity to say 'look' in almost every sentence he says.

Then last night on the panel discussion on the Barcelona Manchester City game, pundit Liam Brady said: "Barcelona played a mesmerising game going forward".

And that regular howler "... 1970's", which is so annoying.

Ducks 'going forward' in Dodder Park at 06.30

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The early morning

Bright at 06.07 in south Dublin today, certainly more than a hint. Birds singing. But cold, 0.6 C. The fishing season began on the River Dodder yesterday.

And did you know that the US moved to Daylight Saving Time on Sunday? So, only four hours difference between Dublin and New York.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In praise of Pope Francis

Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan was interviewed on RTE's Sean O'Rourke Show this morning.

His laugh during the segment on victims of clerical child sex abuse in the US was anything but funny.

How come that so many bishops and cardinals are these days praising the present pope for his 'ordinariness' and 'openness'? Are these the same men who were out every day talking of the wonder and greatness of Pope John Paul ll and Pope Benedict?

Cardinal Dolan spoke how Pope Francis is rejuvenating the church.

It gets confusing. Or is that why they are bishops and cardinals?

The Holy Spirit?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Print media spotlight on Sinn Féin and Catholic Church

Anyone who took time out and mulled over the weekend newspapers can't have missed the coverage that Sinn Féin and the Irish Catholic Church received.

Sinn Féin supporters/followers will say that the media has an anti- Sinn Féin bias. And some church supporters/folowers will say the media has an anti-church bias.

Ronan Fanning in his piece in the Sunday Independent quoted from Gerry Adams' speech at the party's Ard Fheis in Derry:

"The Shinner I know is not the one depicted in Independent Newspapers."

Sarah Caden in her article on comments made by Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran writes:

"Gay or disabled may be at odds with God's plan, says the Bishop of Elphin, but who made him God?"

It all adds up to an interesting weekend read.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The woman who called Hillary Clinton "a monster"

"I think I'm more idealistic now than I was when writing a column for Time magazine or teaching my students or writing my books. In the old days I had to hope somebody would read my books, and now I can go right to the big boss and make my case.

"I haven't changed my objectives. I am exactly the same person. I'm just advocating within a very influential large organisation."

- Samantha Power US permanent representative to the United Nations.

While working on the Obama campaign in 2008 in an off-the-record remark to a journalist from the Scotsman she referred to Hillary Clinton as "a monster". She retired from the campaign

Saturday, March 14, 2015

New archbishop in Hamburg

Stefan Heße was installed today as Hamburg's third archbishop.
Introductory greetings were given by Munich's Carindal Reinhard Marx, Protestant Bishop Gerhard Ulrich, Hamburg's Mayor Olaf Scholz and Christine Roschlaub, representing the pastoral committee of the Archdiocese of Hamburg.

The 48-year-old priest from Cologne obtained his doctorate in 2001, which is a study of the theology of vocation as outlined by Hans Urs von Balthasar.

J Bergoglio, E Coghlan, D Ferriter and F O'Toole

Eamonn Coghlan was interviewed on RTE Radio 1 this morning talking about the upcoming referendum on marriage. He spoke about his gay son.

In today's Irish Times Diarmaid Ferriter and Fintan O'Toole in their pieces refer to the Catholic Church.

Fintan O'Toole compares aspects of IRA/Sinn Féin with the Catholic Church and Diarmaid Ferriter quotes from Archbishop Charles McQuaid, referring to himself as 'the ogre in his den'.

Fintan O'Toole's article is titled: "Republicans mimic church response to abuse claims". Diarmaid Ferriter's piece runs: "More bishops say about marriage the better for Yes vote".

"Catholics are driven away by distant, over-clerical priests who preach bad sermons." And that's a quote, which also appears in today's Irish Times. Who said it? Pope Francis, aka Jorge Bergoglio

Friday, March 13, 2015

US lawyer says terror is not new to black Americans

US lawyer, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 today.

He has gained national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system.

In the BBC interview today he spoke about the irony of the US talking about its fight against terrorism.

"I as a black man grew up with terrorism. This is not America's first time to be confronted with terrorism.

"Do you know that it is likely that one in three black children born now will spend time in prison."

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has compared Bryan Stevenson to the United State's Neslon Mandela.

In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents about 4.4 per cent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Stephen Fry topic

The piece below is in the current issue of 'Spirituality', which appears every two months. It is published by Dominican Publications.

Michael Commane
Ten-year-old Maurice is a great little footballer, indeed he’s on the squad of his county under-12 soccer team.

Some weeks ago while I was chatting with his mother he came to the phone and asked me if I believed in God. He had read or heard something I had written in a newspaper column about resurrection. Last Christmas was his first time not to receive a gift from Santa so he was now wondering about God.

I baptised this little boy and am friendly with his family so there was no question of speaking anything but the truth. I was caught on the hop and on the phone too.

There was a moment’s silence and then I said that the time I feel strongest in my faith is when I visit the grave of my parents. I told him that when I look down at that soil I always say out loud that my parents have not been destroyed. Somehow or other I believe that they are with God in heaven. 
He was listening and then we went on to talk about something else.

Resurrection is a big word. Stephen Fry was all over social media after his comments to Gay Byrne on the RTE programme ‘The Meaning of Life’. Fry expressed in strong words his disbelief in God and any idea of a life after death.

It so happens that I was born into a Christian community so that’s a strong reason why I believe in a resurrection. Those particular circumstances gave me the first gentle push to set off on the journey.
There is an adventure, an excitement in believing in a God, who in some miraculous way, calls us to a life beyond the grave. Wishful thinking?

It’s part of my DNA to believe in resurrection. The world is made up of all sorts and types of people, people who believe, people who don’t, people who are adamant for or against resurrection. There are those who just don’t know.

But every time we see or experience something good and true is it not a pointer to a reality far beyond us, is it in some way or other a hint of resurrection?

That may all sound terribly weak, even evasive. But maybe in the times in which we live we too easily dismiss the effectiveness of hints and signs. We are tempted to look for immediate answers and results. Surely there has to be place for wonder and mystery. 

And there are indeed many hints and signs in the world about us to allow me say, yes, I believe in resurrection. But please don’t ask me to describe it. Our descriptions fall far too short of what it must be about. And maybe the descriptions are implausible.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dublin Bus signage

A sign at the entrance door on some of the Dublin Bus fleet. It takes a few moments to work it out.
Good design?

Clerical 'distancing'

On Monday an Irish bishop talking on Newstalk on the upcoming marriage referendum said: "When you change the meaning of marriage you change the relationship of parents".

In that interview he said Irish bishops give leadership to Catholics.

On Tuesday two Irish archbishops appeared on the evening RTE One news distancing themselves from what the bishop said on Monday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

RT versus RTE

Below is this week's INM Irish regional newspaper column

Michael Commane
Do you ever tune in to RT, Russian Television? It is a service offered in English via satellite.

It looks as if RT these days is actually surpassing itself in its own nonsense. It is now non-stop propaganda. Indeed, it is relentless in its attack of the west and in praise of the Kremlin. For the first few minutes it can be fun but if one persists in watching it really gets annoying.

On the Keiser Report last week, show hosts Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert were commenting on the British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. It was one long rant mixed with accompanying sneering and alleging that he was snorting coke. The programme was preceded by the news, which featured an item on the funeral of Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov. And again RT painted a different picture than the western media.

Are we being fed a similar propaganda in the west but simply don’t spot it because we are so immune to listening to and hearing our own propaganda? If the Russians believe RT, or the equivalent transmitted across the Russian Federation, then how do we know we are not subjected to a similar propaganda, this time with a western flavour?

It certainly raises interesting questions. Don’t we all support our ‘own side’? Isn’t that part of the reason why whistle blowers are so often and easily despised? And I don’t use the word ‘despised’ easily. There are those who use the word ‘rat’ for those who ‘squeal’ on their own people.

We all want to be part of a team and once we are accepted on the team we will do our utmost to support and protect it, come hell or high water. And what at all happens to those who are no longer considered ‘part of the team?

It is one of the great plusses of democracy that people are free to say and write what they like. Of course there are limits. We can never damage the reputation of another person and there are also rules of basic decency, to which we should adhere. There will always be discussion and controversy about what’s ‘decent’. But in an open and true democracy it’s unlikely that RT could survive a month without being lampooned out of existence.

And all the time, whether or not we live in an open democracy, there is the tendency to believe we are the best and we do things the best way possible. Anyone who objects can be treated as ‘enemy’.

That might sound a little harsh. But it’s seldom if ever that an organisation freely and willingly will turn itself upside down in order to do what is right, truthful and correct.

There is always need for some sort of outside agency or independent assessment checking us. No matter how good we are, no matter how honest and upright we may think we are we all need to be checked.

Has that not been the problem with the churches, with the Garda? Indeed, it is and always will be an issue with all organisations and professions.

Democracy has many failings, it is far from perfect, but the checks and balances placed on it, make it less likely for a dictatorship to raise its ugly head and then survive. It’s more difficult for dictators and tyrants to survive in democracies. But even in democracies they can manage to weasel their way to positions of power.

RTE may be far from perfect but it certainly is light years ahead of RT. Or is it simply that it is ‘our team’ and on ‘our side’?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Paul Drury dies

Leading Irish journalist Paul Drury has died.

Mr Drury, who was 57, spent over 30 years in journalism. He served as editor of The Evening Herald, The Irish Daily Star, Ireland on Sunday, Irish Daily Mail and Amarach.

President Michael D Higgins described him as "a highly respected journalist and commentator," saying his death "will be a loss to the profession he served with distinction for over 30 years."
His father, Dr Con Drury, a renowned pyschiatrist, had a life-long friendship with the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Gabriel critical of Saudi

German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel, on a visit to Saudi Arabia, has spoken about human rights in the country.

He specifically criticised the authorities for its harsh treatment of blogger Raif Badawi, who has been imprisoned for 10 years for "insulting Islam".

German news agency DPA quoted Gabriel as saying: "the harshness of this sentence, especially the corporal punishment, is something unimaginable for us, and of course it weighs on our relations."

What would Jesus say?

In today's Gospel Jesus gets angry with the money changers in the Temple.

What are the issues that would make him angry today?

Today is Internatinal Woman's Day.

One hundred million girls are in child labour, 39 million girls worldwide are not enrolled in school and do not avail of secondary school.

11.4 million women and girls are trafficked every year.

A few reasons for anyone to get angry.

Educate a man and you educate a man. Educate a woman and you educate a family.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Wicklow Way in spring

Tess left the car park at Glendalough at 11.48, leaving Brockagh Mountain to our west and then heading for Scarr Mountain where we went east towards Ballinafunshoge. Lough Dan to our west and Vartry Reservoir to the east.

Looking at Vartry Reservoir on such a beautiful spring day it's difficult to think about what's going on in the Central Criminal Court.

En route we met a Christian Brother, walking in the opposite direction, who taught me in Synge Street Primary School in second and fourth class. An inspiring man.

Close to the end  of the walk, Kippure was visible off in the distant north.

Saw a kestrel.

We arrived at our destination, with Djouce looking down on us, at 16.25.

A stunning spring day in Wicklow.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Rowan Williams on RTE

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was interviewed on  RTE  One's 'The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne' show last Sunday.

Dr Williams came across as an inspiring, humble and intelligent man.

At the end of the show Gay Byrne always askes his guest what he would say to God when he arrives at 'the Pearly Gates'. Williams reply was: "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen."

He made great sense. A believing man too.

Highly recommended and it can be viewed on the RTE Player.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Vincent Browne speaks out against O'Donnells

Congratulations and well done to Vincent Browne on his remarks on RTE Radio 1 this morning. He was commenting on the behaviour of the O'Donnells and the self-styled Land League.

Yesterday the journalist went out to the O'Donnells' mansion in Killiney.

The Irish Courts have made a judgement and now the O'Donnells, with debts of €71.5 million, are trespassing at the mansion.

The behaviour of the self-styled Land League is difficult to fathom.

Is there now an opening in the market to set up a group to protest against the protesters protesting?

We seem to have moved to the laughable zone.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Russian Television is relentless in telling its story

Anyone who watches RT, Russian Television, English service, is quickly made aware that it is a one-sided story that is constantly being aired.

It's non-stop propaganda. Last evening the Keiser Report surpassed itself in being ridiculous.

Of course we all carry our prejudices and biases but any media that constantly is in praise of its 'own people' while being relentless in its criticism of the 'other crowd' must be flawed.

Indeed, any organisation that only ever tells a good story about itself, cannot be telling the whole truth.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mix of poor road signage and panic leads to disaster

Below is this week's INM Irish regional newspaper column.

Michael Comamne
What do you do when you are frazzled or when you panic?

Last Monday week was cold and windy but it was also a showery day, at least in Dublin.

I was asked to visit an elderly sick man and his wife in Raheny. It meant travelling across the city, beginning in Rathgar.

I decided to go on the motorbike. The wind had calmed down and the showers were infrequent. Spent about five minutes gearing up for the bike and just as I wheeled the machine out of the garage the heavens opened. After 10 seconds I decided it would be mad to drive a bike in that weather. So off in the car.

With minor irritations and one or two long waits I got to Raheny. I was going to a place called Bettyglen, spent 30 minutes looking for the apartment.  No good. Yes, I did call the mobile number but that too was no good.

Eventually I discovered that there was another Bettyglen in Raheny.  Where else but Ireland could that happen? So off I drive to the second Bettyglen. No success there either. Eventually I get through on the number to discover that they live in the first Bettyglen. At last I am there.

The confusion and irritation faded quickly as I was received like a long lost son. They were a delightful couple.

But I’m watching the clock as I don’t want to get caught in rush-hour traffic on the way home. So after 30 minutes I’m off. This time I decide to use the East-Link bridge. It would mean that I could avoid the city centre. Clever idea. Or was it?

I had used the toll bridge before. Alas, this time I ended up at the entrance to the port tunnel, heading in the direction of the airport. Okay, I may not be the cleverest motorist on the road but I can see and read. The signage which should be clear and visible to direct one to the East-Link bridge is simply not to be seen.

Has it ever dawned on you how poor road signage is in Ireland? It’s worse than shocking. Or is it that county councils, the NRA and RSA have all been away ahead of their times and always knew that eventually GPSs would be available to show people how to get from A to B. Indeed, there’s an idea.

Do you remember the time they gave us all a millennium tree and candle or the time they gave us the iodine tablets in case of nuclear fallout?  Why not give everyone in the country a GPS? But they too are not infallible.

One of the funniest and really most meaningless signs is that infamous ‘All Other Routes/Gach Treo Eile’.

I eventually arrive home. The expedition began at approximately 13.30 and was completed at 17.20. How do people spend so much time in traffic jams? How do motorists grow accustomed to infuriating signage? What do people not familiar with areas do, who don’t have GPSs?

I’ve been thinking about my cross-city expedition. In future, whatever the weather, I’ll be leaving the car at home. Public transport or the motorbike.

But maybe there’s more to it than that. There is too. At some stage on that journey I began to panic. It’s taken me a long time to learn that panic makes me moribund, irritable and close to stupid as well.

The signage might be bad but like everything in life, there was more to it than that. ‘A bad worker always blames his/her tools.’ Still, Irish road signage is appalling.

Daylight 'jumping forward'

No need for a torch in Dublin's Dodder Park at 06.33 today. Daylight is 'jumping forward' every day now. Miss one morning and it's so noticeable the following day.

And it's going to get better and better. Bask in it.

Monday, March 2, 2015

An opinion on Putin

A colleague and friend of the late Boris Nemtsov commented on radio today that Vladimir Putin will allow no 'bad boys' in his coterie. He went on to say that Putin surrounds himself with 'yes men', who become powerful.

According to the colleague, no disagreement, no different opinions are tolerated.

Interesting and an interesting lesson for all to hear.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Putin opponent Nemtsov speaks his mind for last time

Below are extracts from Boris Nemtsov's last interview before he was shot dead in Moscow on Friday evening. Taken from today's Sunday Independent.
THE political demands [for our Moscow opposition march] are key: a quick end to the war with Ukraine. You know that Putin began aggression a year ago against Ukraine? Why do I say a year ago? Because on February 27 last year you know that armed men seized the parliament building of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Then 47 deputies without a quorum, under the gaze of automatic weapons, voted for the referendum...
Everything is known now. At first Putin lied, said there were no troops in Crimea. Then he said there were troops there.
Today I posted a video of the seizure of the building - just a video - of the Supreme Soviet of Crimea before deputies arrived and began the so-called free vote for the referendum.
The video shows how the special forces enter - there are GRU [Russian military intelligence] and so on. It's impossible to hide this...
We think that to create order in Russia and overcome the crisis, it is essential to have an important political transformation and in particular: it is essential to have honest elections with the participation, of course, of the opposition and the scrapping of censorship; and end this absolutely wretched, false propaganda that has simply upturned and consumed the brains of Russian people...
Crisis is a multi-faceted thing. The most important reason for the crisis is aggression, followed by sanctions, followed by isolation and Russia being deprived of modern technology... I want to stress that it's not just about money. Russia has been deprived of really important technology.
For example... Russia cannot develop shale oil and gas, although we have the biggest reserves of shale gas in the world - Russia is number one - precisely because Russia is forbidden to import technology. It's a big blow for the country. There's no investment, $150bn fled the country and that's all a consequence of this madness called 'aggression against Ukraine'. The reason for the crisis is, of course, war...
Of course we need political reform in the country. Of course, when power is concentrated in the hands of one person and this person is in charge forever - then everything will end in complete catastrophe, complete.

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The editorial in the current issue of Kerry's Eye.