We can be loyal and still broaden our sympathies
It is normal to refrain from interfering in other countries’ internal affairs, including elections and referendums. At the time of the Scottish independence referendum, we all observed a strict neutrality. However, the Brexit referendum is different in two respects.
First, if the Leave side wins, the result is likely to have a negative impact far outside the UK, not least on Ireland.
Secondly, the British government have explicitly and repeatedly urged us to make our concerns known. Realistically, those concerns have received little coverage in Britain, and except in so far as they are part of a wider pattern, will at best have only a marginal influence.
In your editorial of June 2, you express a negative view of the intervention of the Canadian ambassador Kevin Vickers in promptly removing a protester seeking to disrupt a State commemoration (at which I was present), in Grangegorman cemetery, remembering British soldiers buried there, some of them Irish, who died as a result of the Rising. While his action was certainly unorthodox, very few ambassadors would have had his police training. What is wrong is to disrupt the dignity of commemoration of the dead by shouting slogans. The disruption, in good part thanks to the ambassador, was minimal. One of your correspondents from New York (Eric Hafner, May 31) used the incident to criticise the ambassador’s intervention, his presence at the ceremony, and the ceremony itself by likening it to a German World War II veterans’ memorial in Israel. Nazi comparisons are almost invariably both offensive to the victims of Nazism as well as ridiculous, and should be banished from public discourse.
While commemoration, certainly from time to time, requires or invites careful reflection, it is easy to underestimate especially from a distance how much opinion is prepared to move on. This week saw two further commemorative events. The centenary of the only major naval surface battle of the Great War, the battle of Jutland, was marked at Alexandra Quay in Belfast by a commemoration of the Irish sailor, dedicated to those from the island of Ireland, who served at sea during the First World War, and the opening to the public of HMS Caroline, the only vessel from the battle still surviving. One of the first speakers, Marie McCarthy from Cork, spoke movingly of her grandfather David Fitzgerald, a stoker on HMS Tiger.
In France, the leaders of France and Germany were able to remember together the hundreds of thousands on both sides who perished at the battle of Verdun. Gestures of friendship and reconciliation between nations do not mean that France no longer honours its fallen of the First World War, any more than the Irish State’s ceremony at Grangegegorman means any lessening of regard for those who sacrificed themselves for an independent Irish State. This year’s 1916 commemoration has been about expressing our loyalty, while broadening our sympathies.
Here’s looking at you, Lebeau
Reading recently of the death of a beautiful French actress named Madeleine Lebeau, the last surviving cast member of the wonderful movie Casablanca, brought a tear to my eye. I just love this movie and it’s many, many wonderful scenes.
One particular scene with this beautiful actress, who plays Yvonne, and the owner of the famous cafe Rick (Humphrey Bogart) goes as follows;
“Where were you last night?” Yvonne asks Rick. “That’s so long ago,” he replies, “I don’t remember”.
“Will I see you tonight?” she persists. “I never make plans that far ahead”.
A small part for this lovely lady, but absolutely crucial to the story, as it revealed Bogart’s character as that of an embittered and lonely man.
May she rest in peace. But of course, along with all the rest of the great cast, she will live on in the classic Casablanca.
We must recognise Armenian genocide
On June 2, the German parliament voted overwhelmingly to recognise the massacre of up to one and a half million Armenian people by the Ottoman Turkish Government between 1915 and 1922 as genocide. More than 20 other countries have now done likewise but Ireland has yet to do so. Dáil Éireann and the Irish Government should now recognise the Armenian genocide.
Falling passenger numbers in Cork a big worry
It was disappointing to note the reporting of further declining passenger numbers utilising Cork Airport during 2015. This, together with the loss of the Cityjet route to London and the cancelled planned route to Menorca, is making Cork a less preferred destination during what should be peak tourist season.
This continues to effect our local economy and it is hard to see any improvement, short to medium term. I suggest politicians and Cork Airport personnel meet urgently to assist in turning this worrying trend around as soon as possible.
Michael Noonan obvious choice to meet The Donald
As our Taoiseach seems to have burned his bridges regarding The Donald and his impending visit to Ireland, it appears that Michael Noonan, our Finance Minister is the obvious choice to perform the meet and greet - he does have ‘’previous’’ in this regard, after all.
Wonderful rugby displays puts soccer to shame
Two wonderful occasions in sport was presented to us last week and the week before in the superb confrontations between, firstly Leinster v Ulster and then Leinster v Connaught.
In the pub, we watched the fearless physicality of these guys, though sometimes you might say excessive, but was a joy to watch as Connaught brought their first silver ware over the Shannon to write a most wonderful chapter in their rugby history.
Later someone switched to the so-called ‘Beautiful Game’, the Champoin’s League fina; between Madrid’s Aletico and Real and suddenly many of the audience repaired to the lounge where the rugby ceremony continued. And I watched as a crowd of spoilt millionaires, divas, and divers took something like 200 plus to demonstrate again what soccer has become — the pathetic game, a drivel of indecision and disregard for all rules and contemptuous of referees where abuse is tolerated and money, the spur.
How wise as always is Roy Keane, when he said this week in his criticism of our performance against Belarus, when he said of soccer, that it is a simple game, I felt he stopped short at the word “simpletons”. It’s a pity his namesake doesn’t take a page from his book. Soccer has become a comedy of errors and it brings to mind a comment by Oscar Wilde on his opinion of cricket, “organised loafing”
Going back to Connaught, a true competitor, a friend and neighbour, Dick Roche, the first Connaught man to play for Ireland. His first game was against England on February 12, 1955 and he went on to play against Wales and, I think, Scotland and a visiting South African combination. A little man, barely 10 stone, he was a Jack Russell of his day, bringing down guys a foot taller than himself. He told me, and will kill me for the saying of it, that at a provincial game, someone had shouted from the gallery — “hey, ref, please cut the grass, we can’t see the winger.”
De Róiste is hale and in good health for an 86-year-old and it would be very fitting should the warriors of Connaught think to honour him in this year of their immense success.
Roche paved the way for what we witnessed last week and many stopped to shake his hand in recognition of same. He lives here in the Crosshaven area and it is my pleasure and I speak for many others, to have a drink or a coffee with him every week.
Housing strategy on hold til after hols
Everybody agrees this country has a serious housing crisis. Unfortunately, it seems “holidays” are accorded greater “priority”. So dealing with the housing crisis is put on hold until September. Perhaps this is why the Health Service has so many problems— dealing with same continuously put on hold.
“Another fine mess you have got me into!!!!’”