Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Follow The Money

There is an end to the amount of money you can either take from people, or ask them to contribute. There is a bottom to the pit and in this Country at the moment I think that many people are reaching that place.

Excluding those at the top of the pile who will always have enough to fund extravagant lifestyles, the vast majority of people are now tightening their belts to the extent that it hurts - or are living quietly, fretting, becoming more anxious and desperate as the bills keep coming and there is nothing there to pay them.

This is happening to people who have worked all their lives and are now either earning less or have been made redundant; or their pension has been whacked out from under them a lá the Waterford Crystal workers; or self employed people who can't get cash flow or can't get paid and many are trying to live on little or no income and are becoming increasingly desperate not seeing where it will end or how they can get themselves out of this situation.

If you're trying to reach on a mortgage, loan repayments for say, a car, health insurance, home insurance, heating, phone, lighting - none of which are luxuries by any means.

Then you have to visit the Doctor (none of whom it seems to me have reduced their fees) or more expensively, the Emergency Room, or worse still, a Consultant and the school is looking for a contribution for running costs and the teenager needs a fortune just to keep ticking over, and the kids are growing out of their clothes, and the bins have to be paid for and the motor tax and the carbon tax and the.....well you get the idea.

Costs are not coming down across the board. Income is going down. That's never going to lead to a balanced situation. Many people are coming to the end of their tether and are clinging on by their fingernails often not seeing a way out for themselves or their families. Homes are being sold. Cars repossesed. Sick children going without that Doctors visit even.

People who have lots of money - aka our TD's and especially Ministers - will never understand how desperate people are becoming on this front. People falling behind on mortgage payments - most would do almost anything to ensure this doesn't happen but many at this stage just can't help it. After all shelter and food are our most basic needs.

There are a whole coterie of professionals who seem immune to cost reductions. And still the blasé attitude comes down from on-high. From those with a fortunes worth of money and the prospect of a further fortunes worth of pensions and lump sums insulating their backsides from the harsh realities most of us are dealing with day in and day out. Or giving payrises to those in the banking sector - particularly Anglo Irish Bank, for Gods sake!!!!

Then to add insult to injury they can't even do their jobs; they witter on about helicopters not flying in dark and clouds when that's a lie - and one that has been pointed out to them and yet they persist. Less is more they tell us! A 12 hour service will deliver more than a 24 hour service! This is actually what they're expecting us to swallow!

They deny us a University because maybe it mightn't go down well in ones own constituency; they fill the airwaves with so much drivel and noise that its hard after a while to decipher whats truth anymore. They can't, it seems, really do anything much at all except make an unmitigated mess of everything.

Their weapon of choice, is surely the boomerang!

A bit like the principle which says that there are less deaths when doctors are on strike I'm beginning to think that we'd all be better off without the lot of them!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Could Lack of Change Mean Lack of Talent in FF?

Coughlan to Education & Skills (including Training element of FAS); O'Cuiv to Dept of Social Protection; Hanafin to Tourism, Culture & Sport; O'Keeffe to Enterprise, Trade & Innovation (including 3rd level research funding); Carey to Community, Equality & Gaeltacht (including disability) and Killeen to Defence.

That's as far as I picked it up on first hearing - don't take it as gospel just yet but its there or thereabouts.

Sean Connick - FF TD for Wexford is to get a Junior Ministry although I didn't hear what yet to keep the 'geographical' balance I guess. Sean is a good guy and well informed. He should be good and I wish him well. Pity there is no-one in the City who was thought fit for a Junior Ministry and this does not augur well for the future - as the situation with opposition parties is similar on that front unfortunately.

So! What does it mean for Waterford? Well, we have the Minister for a University in eemmmmmm...... Letterkenny in Education now.

I'm also assuming that Minister Coughlan hasn't changed her opinion since last May when she argued on a visit to the City that despite her officials in the IDA advising her that a University was required in Waterford she "didn't necessarily agree with them".

One assumes that this is a demotion in a manner of speaking for Mary - without it wanting to be seen as such - after all education is not one of the 'economic' ministries. So, someone who didn't do a great job in her last posting has now been rewarded with Education? Ho hum. Says it all really.

As to the rest? Killeen...who? Carey.....quiet! The rest is just musical chairs. Incidentally Dempsey is still in Transport so there's no silver lining for the Search & Rescue service either.

I'd call for a General Election but really....what's the point.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Minister Dempsey NOT Well Briefed on Search & Rescue Issue

It seems that Minister Dempsey is not for turning. But I simply cannot let the evening go without challenging his, at best mis-informed and, at least mis-leading, comments on the reduced Search & Rescue helicopter service which he and his department intend introducing on the South & South East coastline in 2013 - the contracts for which are seemingly due to be signed in the next few weeks. He is so obviously parroting the(wrong)information that some suit in the Department is feeding him without having any real understanding of it himself.

The current helicopter service DOES fly at night and indeed, in clouds - contrary to what Minister Dempsey said on the Six One bulletin on RTE today. Where he got that one I'll never know - but it does back up my 'parroting' hypothesis.

It will NOT - according to my information - be 50% faster, but rather maybe closer to 15% faster to fly here from another base with the new helicopters. However, once an emergency is reported a crew from Dublin or Shannon will not scramble (wake, travel to base, be briefed, read maps and take off)any faster than before and regardless of the flying speed would not arrive as fast as a locally based helicopter - which, bear in mind, will also benefit from the faster speeds of a newer helicopter - arriving at an emergency even quicker than it does now.

Perhaps the Minister has been watching too many episodes of Star Trek and thinks they can be 'beamed' to the South coast?

So, imagine yourself in trouble on a trawler - perhaps after a fall, a heart-attack, a cap-sizing, a stroke - perhaps you are in the water...or clinging to the base of a cliff. Maybe you got caught in a rising tide. It's dark, you're cold and panic and perhaps hypothermia is starting to set in. You will now have to wait an EXTRA 30-40 minutes - potentially life saving or live taking minutes - on top of what it might take a local crew to reach you.

Those 30 - 40 minutes I have no doubt, will, some day, unfortunately cost someone their life. It could be your dad. Your husband. Your child. It could be all three as has happened before. Then it will be too late.

We must do everything we can to ensure that this decision is changed now, before the contract is signed. Especially as it seems to be based on entirely ridiculous information like that opined by the Minister above.

I wonder is there a record for how many incorrect facts you can state in a minute? If there is, then Minister Dempsey would surely have a fair shot at that title today.

If this is no big deal - then cut Dublin's service and see how a million people repay you. Are we being targeted because we have less population and currently - no political clout? Is it that parochial? Because short of seeing the justification and how a 30 minute EXTRA delay is a better service (according to the Minister!?!?) then I can see no other reason.

Please attend the Public Meeting on March 31st, 7.30pm in the Tower Hotel. We must unite and get organised across the entire South and South East coast to fight this move. Those who have lost loved ones deserve our commitment now. The brave men and women of the Search & Rescue service who, day in day out, go out to save lives - sometimes at great risk to their own - deserve it. We deserve it.

Could you halve a fire service, or an ambulance? Hell no. Then why this life-saving service? It just doesn't make any sense.

Are we to be condemned to a lesser service than any other coastal community in the Country? Yes if FF and the Greens have their way. This just simply can NOT be allowed to happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not EVER.

Millers Marsh Path Urgently Needs Widening

Sometimes you have to focus on the things you CAN change. (Isn't that part of a prayer?) And one of those things for me, hopefully, is the miserly path crossing Millers Marsh Bridge heading from Johns Street to Storm Cinema.

As you can see from the above picture, the path is barely wide enough to take my slim seven-year-old, not to mention the two year old who was also with us, or indeed myself.

I intend to make vigorous representations to the City Council to have the path widened as a matter of urgency. It really is simply too dangerous. This route has become very well used - in fairness, much more so than it used to be - since the cinema based there and something has to be done to make it safer for pedestrians very many of whom are children - who can be expected, such is the narrowness of the path, to step off of it or even fall off of it in its current condition.

I know the road here is narrow also - just about enough for two cars to pass, but even if it meant making the road one-way or re-organising the traffic at this pinch point, I believe that this is absolutely necessary.

As far as I'm aware there hasn't been a serious accident as yet here but surely that is just a matter of time.

Many of the issues I discuss here are not within my power to do anything about - however, this one is and I intend to pursue it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hands Off Our 24 hour Search & Rescue Helicopter!

Oh-ho they've done it now! They've just crossed the proverbial line in the sand. The people of Waterford - and beyond I'm sure - are hopping mad now. Hopping mad that the government has mis-managed this country so very badly that they now need to actually put peoples' lives at risk in order to save under a measly million euro a year. It is just incredible.

I am consoling myself by thinking that surely when someone (outside the Department of Finance) looks again at the facts here that they will realise the blunder they are about to make and make a more 'enligthened' decision. If they do, we will all rejoice.

I have been doing some digging and seemingly the rescue service based at Waterford Regional Airport were out more than 110 times last year with about 10% of those calls at night. Around 49 people were assisted with 9 of those rescued at night. It is surely acceptable to assume that at least some of those rescues prevented fatalities.

I would like to ask why Waterford was chosen? What is the difference between the Waterford service and that provided in other parts of Ireland. I understand that 2009 was the local services busiest year so far and that they were busier than other bases - although I don't have official confirmation of that. So did they just stick a pin in the map?

If you check out the 'Save 24hr Search & Rescue Helicopter Cover in South-East' Page on Facebook which was only started up yesterday, it currently has over 5,500 members - most with real people posting under their own names. Membership is going up at a rate of knots, to put it mildly.

I have written to the Mayor asking him to organise a cross-party open public meeting with Mayors and Chairs from across the South and South East where a campaign can be put together to save our 24 hour Search & Rescue Service. There aren't too many, but I do believe that this issue will garner regional support.

Most people who know me know that my husband works at sea on a tallship and manys the time he has been assisted in emergencies by air sea rescue services around the globe. What if he were to have an emergency in his home port night? If this is allowed to happen it is unconscionable.

I haven't seen an issue take hold like it for quite some time - this is what people are talking about in cafés, shops and workplaces right now.

To save a million euro (less from what I hear) a year???? My God has it really come to this?

Maybe this is the straw that will finally break the camels back; where the people of the south east will finally say NO MORE and get up and work together to save this service.

May it be the first of many such actions if that is so!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Should Cardinal Brady Resign?

Should Cardinal Brady resign? Yes is the short answer. I am sure that he probably feels he is being hounded by a blood-thirsty press pack. And to some extent he is right.

However, as far as I am concerned he only has one question to ask and answer for himself: could I have done something to prevent the rape and abuse of boys and girls? The answer is yes. Ergo he should go. How can his own conscience allow anything else? How can he sleep at night with the stories of what happened going round in his head - knowing that he could have stopped such an evil man as Brendan Smith.

Young children were raped....has that word lost some its power even in all of the obfuscataion thats been so prevalent in recent months...Young children were RAPED and BUGGERED and ABUSED for almost a further 20 years after he as a 36 year old priest - a Canon Lawyer, not some uneducated, unwordlywise novice - knew about it AND WAS IN A POSITION TO MAKE SURE IT NEVER HAPPENED AGAIN.

He wasn't the only one, to be sure but if he accepts the principle that the Bishops who have already resigned as a a result of their sins of ommission (at the very least) then he too must go.

How many children and even lives could have been saved if he had only spoken up? Does he need to ask himself anything else? I don't think so.

Nobody is saying that he was an abuser - but he did nothing to ensure that an abuser was stopped. Not good enough. Enough said.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bishops Have No Place To Hide

I watched open-mouthed last night as Vincent Brown replayed on his TV3 programme last night, yesterdays press conference which took place after the Bishops Spring conference/meeting.

They seem to be thoroughly fed-up with the spot light and blame which is being put upon them in the wake of the Murphy Report which detailed the cover-up of extensive sexual abuse cases and the - as Vincent called it - complicity of the Bishops in not stopping and even allowing those abuses to continue.

Perhaps, with no escape, no one accepting their side, no-one caring how much this catharsis is hurting (some of) them and nowhere to hide the Bishops will finally get some tiny little inkling of how those children felt when the church failed to stop their abusers when they, as small, innocent children, in the care of (or at the mercy of) the 'Church' had nowhere to hide from their abusers and no-one would stop it or even listen to them.

Still no atonement obvious from the Church. Indeed they seem to be going backwards. Some of them just don't seem to get it at all. It's all about them. It's a terrible terrible shame - and those Bishops yesterday should be ashamed of themselves.

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Womens Day - Does It Mean Anything?

Today, March 8th is International Women's Day and I suppose its a fair question to ask: what does it mean? Why do we have it? Is it needed? Well in my opinion, it is probably more needed now than ever. Why? Because I think we've gone way overboard with what we tolerate as acceptable for our daughters (and sons - but in the spirit of the day I'll stick to girls today).

What do I mean? Well, for example I was on the school run this morning listening to the radio (BEAT fm) when Rihannas (pictured above in a still taken from the video) latest song 'Rude Boy' came on. Now don't get me wrong I like Rihanna. I think she's beautiful, talented, smart and sexy. All good things. Now sexy is an objective thing and I was 16 myself once (yes, can you believe it?) but I have to say that I thought the lyrics of 'Rude Boy' were just way over the top. Listen for yourself I won't go into them here. The video is also quite sexualised with her looking down a guys trousers - among other bits of wriggling and overtly sexual movements.

So what's the relevance to Women's Day? Well it is this: women are once again - with their full knowledge and complicitness, it seems - being dragged down the 'you're only valuable if you're sexy, doing it, half naked and have a boyfriend who is 'big enough' (according to this particular song anyway). What are we doing to our younger women - Rihannas major target market? They are exposed every minute almost, it seems to these images in magazines, music videos, song lyrics - all the things that they enjoy - and those things are becoming baser and baser and more rude and lewd pratically by the minute.

Take a half an hour and watch your daughters favourite music video channel - I think you might be surprised by what you see - and she sees on practically every video: half naked women - each it seems competing with the next to see who can wear the least (or at least the most provocative), foul language, VERY suggestive movements. It's fairly unbelievable to be honest - and I can assure you I'm no prude.

But it does seem to me that we are losing ground here. Women - and mere girls - are once again being lauded not for their singing or song-writing talent, but for their bodies and the more suggestive the lyrics the better! The treatment of men in the same videos is almost entirely different (with some exceptions in fairness).

Am I being unreasonable? Is it okay for 8 year olds to be wearing Playboy clothes? Is is okay for young girls to be stripped half naked and simulating sex on TV - because make no bones about it but that's where we have gotten to? I say it is not - and I am beginning to agree seriously with the British researcher who called last week for certain music videos to be only allowed after the nine o'clock watershed. I would add to that that songs with overtly sexual lyrics should also only be allowed on radio after the 9 o'clock watershed! Next time it comes on I will certainly be switching it off if my seven year old son is in the car. But should I be turning it off when the 16 year old is in the car? Probably not. She is, after all, old enough to understand and put in context this type of sexualised song.....or is she?????

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I listened with interest as Mr John Herlihy of Google Ireland (left above I think) spoke to Mary Wilson on Mondays 5-7 Live on RTE Radio 1. He was lamenting the fact that first class degrees in Ireland are being devalued (in his opinion) because too many of them are being handed out by Universities.

When Mary asked him where Google recruit from he said, more or less, that they pretty much stop after the seven Universities! I nearly crashed the car!! Now aside from the fact that computing degrees from WIT are MOST sought after in the workplace and that WIT is the top college in the Country (including the Universities) for graduate employment I found Mr Herlihys words both disingenuous and dangerous - giving, as they seemed to do, the impression that degrees which were not received at University were not as valuable as those that were. What a load of old cobblers! Did I hear him right? Surely I was dreaming??

But it does bring into sharp focus the need - as if we need to be reminded - for WIT to be designated as a University. If the rumours about Martin Cullen handing over his Ministerial portfolio are true - and if we revert back to type, whereby places in Ireland that do not have a voice at the Cabinet table regardless of the veracity of their case, get nothing - then that indeed will have made the fight all the more difficult.

On the Martin Cullen issue - if he is to resign for health reasons I for one wish him all the very best. He has been a good servant to Waterford and has delivered for this constituency. We would like to have gotten more and I am quite sure he would like to have delivered more. Party politics aside, on a personal note, Martin Cullen, in my opinion was always a decent man and a very very able politician - who was given the wrong end of the stick by a Dublin-centric and biased media who seemed to hate him without either knowing him, knowing why, or caring too much either way.

But back to the University issue - perhaps as a parting gift the Government might reward Martin if he is to go in a honourable fashion - and not in the usual cloud of ignominia that has become the trend of late - with that University designation tucked under his arm? After all, it would tick many boxes for the Government, underlining as it would their commitment to building a better Ireland an allowing us in the South East and our children to help them in that process. Is it too much to hope for? Probably. But it's not going away and is needed now more than ever.