Last Orders TV show not last word on Church
I just watched, with bewilderment, the TV show Last Orders, presented by Gay Byrne.
Educational as it was, I was struck more by what was omitted than what was included in this 200-year look at the evolution of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
There was no mention of how Catholics in the Republic showed little or no support for their counterparts in the North, when the Protestant elite treated them as second-class citizens in housing, education, and employment.
One would have thought that the highlight for Catholics born since 1922 would have been the visit here, in 1979, of Pope John Paul, but it was not mentioned.
Likewise, that Pope’s call to those in the IRA to turn away from violence and how the Catholic provos ignored it, a sign that Rome’s influence was weakening. This was not mentioned either.
No mention, ironically, of the attempts by Byrne, which were blocked by the right, to discuss the 1983 abortion referendum on the Late Late Show.
Likewise, Garret Fitzgerald’s constitutional crusade to bring in divorce in 1986 and how the Church rebelled against that initiative, which was rejected by the electorate. That wasn’t mentioned, either.
Nor was the ‘Kerry Babies’ scandal that shocked the nation in 1984, and which had all the hallmarks of Catholic teaching and the so-called ‘shame’ of having a child outside marriage!
But the most extraordinary omission was the revelation that the Bishop of Galway, Eamon Casey, fathered a child in 1974, while, in the interim, priests, and their religious superiors, lectured us against the very “immoral” practices which they themselves engaged in privately.
That, and the subsequent hypocritical revelations, turned moderate Catholics against those who practiced ‘Do as I say and not as I do’.
As educational attainment has increased in Ireland, religious belief has weakened, but Last Orders didn’t mention that, either.
Maybe I expected more from a programme that seemed to focus disproportionately on the Christian Brothers than the legacy, good, bad or otherwise, of a Church that, for all its faults, has moulded us into one of the most generous of countries.
Foreign forces rule in place since 1937
Contrary to the message conveyed in your editorial of August 9, the prohibition of foreign, armed forces in the Irish jurisdiction has not been “in place since the Second World War”. It was just two years prior, in July, 1937, that the people voted those provisions into the Constitution. The requirements go back to the Young Irelanders, and have to do with national resilience in maintaining our own sovereignty.
That senior government officials have reneged on this policy proves how necessary it is.
Neither are demands new for pursuit of terrorists by foreign forces into our territory.
In the 1970s, the Defence Forces were ordered not to approach within a half mile of the Border, so as to allow the British to conduct operations there. Aside from the illegality of this policy, the utter madness of it quickly became apparent.
Residents in Louth and Monaghan were regularly confronting hostile British military incursions near their homes, and so that policy was abandoned.
And, yet, the incursions continued with impunity, necessitating additional powers of arrest being granted to the Defence Forces, and any foreign forces that were captured were brought before the courts.
Should the crew of an RAF Tornado have occasion to land in our territory, while operating under the Memorandum of Understanding you reported on yesterday, or even while dropping over here for the weekend afterwards, in civvies, or subsequently as a member of the Red Arrows display team, every Irish citizen would have the right and duty to arrest them for the felony they had committed.
Opening dialogue with Europe
Improved language teaching and learning are vital to our European future, but the civil service also has a vital role to play.
Making a B2 ability on the Common European Framework in two EU languages (including Irish and/or English) an entry requirement, and three EU languages necessary for graduate level posts, would not only better align us with EU equivalent job requirements, but also ensure a more rounded, open, cosmopolitan, culturally sensitive and tolerant government.
Don’t spend more than you earn
Back in the day, our beloved parents drilled into us that you cannot spend more than you earn. They instilled in us that it is not good to borrow money to buy things you don’t need. And yet our very smart politicians keep doing this, in contradiction of basic economic principles.
To think that a productive nation could be so mismanaged by its elected political leaders boggles the mind.
And yet, we have a political class that cannot obey the simplest rules of economics, and continues to resist every attempt to right the wrongs of past political behaviour.
That is why this great chasm exists between ordinary people and their political leaders, and the chasm has grown increasingly wider over the decades. The political question is: where does that pent-up public anger go? Judging by the last election, it goes into the ballot box. Politicians must come down from Mount Olympus, and take a reality check, instead of that hefty monthly wage cheque, plus expenses. That blindfolds them, and insulates them from the little guy on the street.
Dublin City right to reduce speeding
Congratulations to Dublin City Council for its courageous, visionary decision to extend the 30kph speed limit throughout the city and suburbs.
This is in line with many of the more enlightened cities of Europe, where reduced speed limits in urban and residential zones are normal and beneficial to health and safety.
Traffic-flow is improved as a result, reducing accidents and eliminating the boot-and-brake mentality, while, at the same time, reducing fuel consumption, congestion, noise, and pollution.
Most significantly of all, the new speed limit byelaws will protect the more vulnerable road-users, such as pedestrians, cyclists, the elderly and children, and will improve the living environment for communities subjugated for many years to the constant dangers of speeding traffic.
Sadly, the same, visionary thought process is absent in the southern capital, Cork, where the authorities are, to say the least, ambivalent about speeding in the city and suburbs.
A case in point is Wilton, where speed surveys carried out by the council in 2011 and 2014 have clearly demonstrated that in excess of a staggering 1.5m vehicles break the 50kph speed limit annually, equivalent to 4,100 per day, with maximum speeds of up to 140kph regularly recorded.
Remarkably, despite these stark statistics, Cork City Council, the Road Safety Authority, the Department of Transport, the National Transport Authority and, regrettably, An Garda Siochána, continue to turn a blind eye and have failed to take any corrective action, resulting in numerous avoidable accidents, many serious, over the last decade or so.
Thankfully, Dublin City Council are showing the way and shunning the narrow group-think attitude that unregulated, rapid traffic flow must always hold sway over the safety and welfare of local communities.
Letters page is a type of therapy
After writing my first letter to a newspaper editor about five years ago, and having written many more since, be they published or not, they have been a great source of comfort in helping to purge any demons I might have, be they past or present. This is pure catharsis.
The letters page is a big asset to any newspaper, and, for many readers, it’s the first page to which they turn. A very enjoyable facility in which to air our views. Long may it continue.
Returning expats drive me mad
What’s with those Irish expats arriving back into Ireland on short vacations with personalised number plates that aren’t quite ‘personalised?’
You know the ones: numbers double up as letters and even letters do double duty as other letters?
All it tells me is that the owners couldn’t quite afford the thousands needed to obviate the need for guesswork in deciphering the letters and numbers.
It’s all a far cry from the day, 50 odd years ago, when a Rolls Royce was spotted coming off a ship in Rosslare harbour, from the UK, bearing the registration number ‘FU 2’.