Minister Ruairi Quinn has not yet finalised his (ambitious) plans for school patronage, but the usual suspects have, for some time already, been banging a drum on behalf schools owned by the Catholic Church and/or professing a Catholic 'ethos'.
The recent furore over the closure of closure of the Irish Embassy to the Vatican drowned out any discussion over the withdrawal of other embassies, including that in Tehran last month. Almost unnoticed, Iran has been lumped in with Timor Leste as one of two other Irish diplomatic missions that is surplus to requirements. Ireland now has no resident diplomat in any country in a straight line from Cyprus to India.
The crisis that has brought us to the dire economic situation we face today is not one caused by a few rogue bankers or reckless policy decisions made by successive finance ministers.
The elephant in the room that most media commentators and virtually all politicians choose to ignore is ideology. The austerity measures laid down by the troika continue in the vein laid out under the neoliberal revival of the 1980s and 1990s.
From the moment you cross the border at Rafah you realise that there is something particularly striking about Gaza. It isn't the bombed out shells of what used to be peoples homes and places of work that struck you the hardest. It isn't even the sounds of the fighter jets flying overhead, or the Israeli gunfire in the bay preventing Palestinian fishermen from making a living in their own waters. It isn't the bullet holes that riddled the cities or the man made poverty and squalor that people were forced to live in. It isn't the hum of the spy drones overhead.
We are bombarded with warnings that if the Household Charge of €100 isn’t paid by 31 March 31 the penalties will kick in – but what are the penalties? Delay until 30 June and it’s 10%, that’s €10; delay until 31 December and it’s 20%, that’s €20; delay beyond that and it’s 30% and 1% per month. So, I ask: what’s the panic? If you pay now your money is gone; if you don’t want to pay and you aren’t yet certain about making a stand, why not hold off for a few months? Yes, you're risking €10 – it might turn out to be the best tenner you (n)ever spent.
The Irish Times headline on Saturday 17 March: “Emigrants ‘leaving by choice’” is probably one of the most misleading I have read in some time.
The contents of the article do not support the headline - we find that the Irish Times/MRBI poll on which the piece is based establishes that in fact a substantial 41% of those surveyed felt that they were forced to emigrate.
Great fanfare was made of the recent visit to these shores of Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping. China has undoubtedly been the economic star of the 21st century thus far, and Mr Jinping’s visit was no doubt arranged in the hope that he would sprinkle some much needed economic fairy dust over little ol’ Ireland, and in doing so resuscitate a comatose economy. However, with Ireland is in the throes of economic conflagration, what the country needs is not so much a sprinkling of fairy dust as a fleet of fire engines.
In John Patrick Shanley's excellent play, "Doubt" (filmed with Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in 2008), Sister Aloysius uses a lie to extract a tacit admission of his paedophile tendencies from Fr. Father Flynn.
Had he not had a history of molestation on his conscience, he would have steadfastly protested his innocence against the lie. Although the nun has no real proof, she takes his resignation as an admission of guilt.
Poor old Michael Fish. When the sad day eventually arrives and the erstwhile BBC weatherman is whisked away to the great big spirit in the sky, passing through all those clouds, whose formations he spent so many long hours analysing, our Mick will be instantly recalled as 'the weatherman who couldn't even see a hurricane coming'. Fish's failure, in 1987, to foresee what would be the worst storm to hit Britain for nearly 300 years will forever taint the thousands upon thousands of reasonably accurate predictions he made before and after his infamous faux pas.
Two hundred years after his birth, it is an opportune time to reflect on how someone like Charles Dickens would look upon the current economic and social malaises in Irish society. Interestingly, Ireland featured very little in Dickens’s works during his lifetime, beyond the occasional stereotypical depictions in his works of stock Irish characters of the era. This is not to say that he held anti-Irish prejudices, but rather that he was a creature of his era and his attention was focused mainly on the plight of the urban poor in the growing industrial centres of England.