Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Two Nights Before Christmas

'Tis two nights before Christmas and all thru the land
We're all realising 'twas all built on sand

The TD's have run for the country like hares
The bankers all hope we'll forget their affairs

The Churchmen are cowering in the corner in fright
Like that proverbial rabbit, caught in the light

The judges are sitting on top of their loot
Consultants are too - they don't give hoot

About those down the ladder - perhaps the first rung
Who are scrimping and scraping, not having much fun

But hurrah say the lads in their nice pin-striped jackets
Why are those poor making such a big racket?

We're okay with our bonuses which we rightly deserve
And the poor pointing at us have got quite a nerve

To those men and those women as rich as Croesus
Might be worth remembering the words of one Jesus

As you rich men barter or rich women wheedle
Ponder if you will, the eye of a needle

Can a camel pass thru it in a year or say, seven?
That's how easy it is for you to get to heaven

Perhaps as we think on this cold Christmas season
Our country will come back from the brink into reason

And to try figure out as a new decade dawns
If life's about bathrooms and holiday homes?

On a hushed Christmas night as we look at the stars
And ask ourselves exactly who it is that we are

Look around you and see, in the light from above
That the message of Christmas is all about love

For ourselves and our families, our neighbours and friends
And even for those who drive us round the bend

And maybe next year we'll see more in our community
Than a consumer or a sponger or a selling opportunity.

Merry Christmas to all my family, friends, supporters and readers. My humblest apologies for this bad poetry offering. But every now and then there's nothing I like more than a bit of ould rhymin' Call it my Christmas indulgence! Hope your Christmas is peaceful and fun and that 2010 brings everything good for you and yours. God bless. Mary.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What a Week

A sexual abuser in Listowel is lionised by some of his local community; a Waterford family are turfed out of their home by a sub-prime lender; four Bishops still won't do the right thing; the poor are being made to pay to bail out the banks; a priest child abuser gets just 2 years in jail..... What kind of a twisted country are we living in at all?

How many of Mr Foley's supporters down in Kerry have been the victim of a rape? Including the parish priest who said he was always respectful of women?

Which banker (imagine Stepstone is partly owned by Lehman Brothers and KBC) has lost their home in the weeks before Christmas with a 17 year old special needs child, in the same week that they lost that glorious and brave 4.1% off their carers allowance and job seekers allowance, in the same year that they lost their jobs and their pension scheme were found to be insolvent leaving them with nothing?

Who, among the international cheerleaders for our Finance minister Brian Lenihan for his 'courage' in taking the right decisions by cutting 4.1% from the poorest and lowest paid, is living on €200 a week?

What planet is the judge who convicted a priest of abusing a child and sentencing him to 2 years in jail (plus one year suspended) living on, that he thinks this is a fair punishment?

This country has got its' priorities all mixed up. The bankers should be in jail; the poor should be protected; the rich should pay their fare share; the abusers should go to hell and we should all get our act together. Right is not right anymore: wrong is right and its okay for rich people sitting in their penthouse apartments to spit on the little people. Not the way things should be I'm afraid.

At a time when we need Christian principles more than ever - where are they? With the Catholic Church, in the grave I'm afraid.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Century of Trade & Enterprise in Waterford

An uncle of mine, Bill Irish and his colleague Andrew Kelly kindly asked me to launch a book for them last Saturday entitled 'A Century of Trade & Enterprise in Waterford'.

The book is a photographic essay of work and workers in Waterford City & County from the 1880's through to the 1980's and there are some fantastic images of industrial life in the city.

From the opening of the first motor garage in Ireland in 1906 on Catherine Street (Chapter 1) to the first ever scheduled Ryanair passenger flight (page 26) in 1985 - many people forget that Ryanair started in Waterford! - and even including a photograph of a Grand-uncle of mine, one Paddy Roche who was a foreman in the Foundry (page 94) who is pictured next to the first Rayburn cooker made there in the 1950's - there is sure to be much in this book to amuse and intrigue anyone with even a passing interest in Waterford.
For those of us who love Waterford it is a veritable treasure trove to be poured over. I particularly like the photographs of The Quays, with the sailing ships berthed along her entire length as well as the ones of the faces of those good citizens who have gone before us going about their everyday business. You have to check out the women selling apples in The Applemarket (where else) on page 72 with their 'dudeens'! There are stories in those faces.
I've always been a fan of WLR fms resident 'On This Day' historian Julian Walton and I always remember him saying that he was of the opinion that people shouldn't be able to collect their pensions until they wrote down their life stories! He was jesting of course but he had a point. Every day we lose people, and their history and story goes with them. How great it would be to have a record of the lives and struggles of those who went before us and who, essentially, made us what we are. This book certainly tells part of those stories.
Anyway, Bill and Andys' book is now launched and is on sale in the Granary, the Book Centre, Ardkeen Stores, and Supervalu Tramore (great photo's of the cockle women and more from Tramore) for a mere €15. It would make a lovely gift for Waterford people at home an away.
Thanks to the Waterford Civic Trust (Chairman Padraig O'Griofa pictured above on the right with myself and the two authors) for their support in publishing the book. And the best of luck to Bill and Andy with this project and the many more I know they will produce in time.

An Bord Pleanala and those Out-Of-Town Developments

In light of recent issues and decisions facing Waterford City Council, I note with interest a number of refusals from An Bord Pleanala in recent months which clearly underpin Waterfords' strategy of ensuring the primacy of the city centre core shopping area.

The first is the recent decision taken by ABP to refuse a large retail proposal on the old Mart site outside Kilkenny on the basis (amongst other things) that it could adversely affect the vitality and vibrancy on the core retail area of the town centre! Interestingly, the initial application had also been refused by Kilkenny Borough Council - although merely on the basis of traffic impact.

Along the same lines in another decision - last July - the Bord also refused permission for a large extension to The Crescent Shopping Centre outside Limerick city - which was being built in part to accommodate and new Marks & Spencer (ring any bells?). The reason for the refusal was similar - the threat to the core shopping centre of Limerick city.

These two decisions set out clearly that national policy is now being strictly implemented and that An Bord Pleanala is insisting that Councils follow the Regional Planning Guidelines for Shopping which are strongly in favour of protecting and developing core City Centre shopping.

One can only hope that these recent decisions will inform the elected members and those in the planning departments of our neighbouring authorities who are doing everything in their power to undermine the retail core our our city for their own benefit, with no regard to the impact of those decisions on Waterfords' core shopping area. (Perhaps the enormous, still empty shopping centre on the outskirts of the city in Ferrybank will be lesson enough.)

This is a clear message to those who have been lobbying hard to try and get Waterford City Council to contravene this policy. Wasting any more time on this strategy is merely that - a waste. I would now urge and encourage those companies to look again at city centre developments which can and will cater to their requirements. That way, we are all winners. We sincerely want as much retail development as possible in the heart of Waterford - the Zara's, the HMV's, the M&S's - you name it. But it is essential that they locate in the city centre.

It is now obvious that this policy has national backing so roll on the new developments!

I also note and welcome that the Lismore Residents Association have withdrawn their objection to the further development of WITs' Cork Road Campus.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Church Response to Murphy Report

I wrote here a few days ago about the Murphy report and finished on a note about atonement. It now appears that 'the church' as an institution has no intention of atoning for the terrible sins it vested on the faithful and their children. I am not even talking in this instance about the actual abuse itself. I am talking about the church, at best ignoring and at worst, facilitating that child abuse through the actions of the Bishops.

We have all known about the abuse for some time now, and not to lessen that at all but the Murphy report was more about the Churches role both in not stopping child abusers and in allowing those abusers continue to abuse by moving them on from parish to parish with their reputations intact, directly causing the abuse of many many more children.

The Church is going to have to make a fundamental change in its governance and transparency and it is, quite simply going to have to carry out a purge of those who allowed - and may still carry the culture of denial of child abuse with them in their current roles.

The institutional church - the higher it goes, the more it has left everyone down. The culture of the Bishops closing ranks - and even daring to suggest a witch hunt against them - is very disappointing. The total silence of the Vatican is unbelievable.

Perhaps it is time that the real church - the lay people demanded and took (for it seems they will not be given) ownership of their church from those Bishops - who feel, let us be under no illusions that it is okay to lie to us - or as they call it 'mental reservation'!

I say all this in the context of acknowledging the many members of the church, the many priests, brothers and Bishops who are sickened by all of this and who are flabbergasted by the silence that is emanating from their superiors.

Unless there is real visible change in the institutional church then no good will have come from this whole exercise. I'm afraid throwing your hands in the air and crying mea culpa just doesn't cut it any more. Words are too easy. Actions are what is needed. Personal responsibility is what is needed. Change is what is demanded.

Otherwise what is left of the flock will soon bypass the Roman Catholic institution and channel their Christian faith through their own personal routes. Maybe that would be the best thing at this stage?