Fine Gael scores an own goal
It remains to be seen just what effect the Ballina Fine Gael mayoral shenanigans will have on the general election prospects of Michelle Mulherin.
All the honeyed words in the world can hardly conceal the yawning rift which has opened up in the Fine Gael foundations, adding to the master cracks which began to appear after Jarlath Munnelly lost out in the general election selection procedure.
Michele Mulherin (pictured with John O'Mahony)lost the internal mayoral battle, but may yet have won the war. She has kept her cool and – whatever might be happening behind party doors – Fine Gael has managed to present a united front facing into the battle to take a Dáil seat in Ballina.Fianna Fáil’s glee at having deprived Mulherin of such a high-profile boost as the Ballina mayorship, in election year, could be short-lived enough, depending on how Enda Kenny’s advisers play their cards in these months ahead.That said, it is a long time since Fianna Fáil in Mayo has shown itself as capable of pulling a master stroke as it believes it did at the annual meeting of the Ballina Town Council. Time was when the party took such activities as second nature; turning the tables on gullible opponents was an ingrained art of the soldiers of destiny.
Of late – and especially in relation to Mayo – shooting itself in the foot seemed to be the lot of the Fianna Fáil strategic plan. Leaving Castlebar without a local Fianna Fáil candidate was a mixture of ineptitude and carelessness, which will reap a bitter electoral harvest in the year ahead.
For now though the focus is back on Fine Gael to deliver a vital third seat when Mayo goes to the polls next June, or earlier. Much of its publicity resources at the moment are being devoted to JohnO’Mahony in the clear belief that he can emulate the achievement of Jim Higgins and complete a party treble in Mayo.
The theory seems right, but Ballina town and its hinterland may have other ideas.
Gay Byrne under pressure
The appalling spate of road deaths in the past two weeks has put the pressure on the Road Safety Authority to come up with some answers; the awful reality seems to be that there are no answers.
First in the firing line of frustration was Gay Byrne (below), who must by now be wondering what possessed him to agree to take on such a no-win assignment, as chairman of the Authority. His was a high profile media-hyped appointment, but three months down the road, he seems as bereft of answers as anybody else. All the hand wringing in the world and the pursed lip condemnation of driver stupidity is not going to make a bit of difference, and this is now a national crisis.
Gay Byrne’s predecessor cited the lack of political will as his reason for walking away from the job. Gay, himself, threatened to do the same if it became apparent to him that there was no real commitment to effecting change. It can’t be very long more, in that case, until he closes the door from the outside for the last time.
There is no single cause for the number and severity of road accidents, which have made driving such a hazardous exercise on Irish roads. Not least, however, must be the conditions and suitability of the roads themselves. Our road system seems totally inadequate for the volumes of traffic which it now must cope with and for the surge in the numbers of vehicles being added to the nation’s stock.
We have long complained of the neglect of the national principle route from Westport to Dublin, a third world thoroughfare with pretensions to being a National Road Artery. Every new stretch of improvement is celebrated with ministerial whistles and bells, when in reality, we should be loathe to draw attention to how long it really is.
But we are not done. This writer had forgotten until recently just how inferior, is that so-called national road from Galway to Shannon Airport, a journey thankfully less travelled since the development of our own airport at Knock. Miles of winding narrow, tortuous, bumpy roadway provides the first greeting for US tourists flying into Shannon to explore the delights of the west coast. One can only guess at how this impression squares with the nation’s standing as one of the most affluent, progressive, economically successful places on earth.
The EU passion for rules
Further confirmation, if such were needed, of the EU obsession with regulating every moment of our lives comes with the news of the experience of the Dorset market gardener who fell foul of the eagle-eyed eurocrats.
When a casual shopper came to his stall on market day to purchase a few homegrown onions, they were duly weighed by the owner’s son and charged out at so much per pound weight.
Half an hour later, the ‘shopper’ was back to announce that he was, in fact, an inspector from the Department of Trade, that his job was to see that a particular EU rule was being observed.(namely that onions were sold by the kilo, not by the pound), and that the stall holder was now liable for a fine of £1,000 for breaking the rule.
Needless to say the incident has caused outrage among the market gardening community, all the more so when it was learned that the stall holder had actually two sets of weighing scales (one imperial, one metric) in his stall at the time.
Meanwhile in Edinburgh, a ‘German’ pub has been fined for selling beer by the litre – apparently, it is against EU regulations to sell beer by the litre in Britain, it must be sold in pint measure!
‘A Rough Shot of Lipstick’
My old friend Tony Reidy has issued notice of the launch of his new CD at Matt Mulloy’s next Thursday night.
Titled ‘A Rough Shot of Lipstick’, the Aughagower born troubadour, who admits to being badly bitten by the songwriting bug, looks forward to welcoming all and sundry from the world of music and beyond for the occasion.
Tony’s previous two albums – ‘Will You Ever Get Sense’ and ‘Bertra Beach’ – were a credit to his sense of place and identity, his feel for the smaller things of life, his connection with parish and house and local community.
Seanie O’Dowd of ‘Dervish’ - a group which has actually recorded a number of Reidy compositions in the past - will be on hand to perform with Tony.
The actual launch will be done by Seán Staunton, formerly of this parish and whose valedictory ceremony I was unfortunate to miss at Knockranny Hotel two weeks ago.
No doubt the former editor will bring his noted eloquence to enhance this occasion and – who knows – might even oblige with a bar or two.
Irish culture at Attymass
Visitors to the county, especially in north Mayo, as well as locals, can enjoy the very best in Irish music and culture once again this year in Attymass.
The Father Peyton Centre plays host each Thursday night for July and August to the Mayo Seisiún, part of the Comhaltas Celoteoirí Éireann Seisiún Trail.
Much more than just an evening of music, Seisiún is a chance for old and young alike to share songs, stories, dances, poetry and recitation, as well as experiencing local hospitality and traditional entertainment.
Bofield CCB presents the two-part Seisiún – the first being the intimate surrounds of the theatre, where the formal presentation is staged. This is followed by the informal cupán tae at the Fr Peyton Centre, where patrons can enjoy ceol agus craic, take the floor for a jig or a reel and try their hands at the harp, flute or pipes.
The Fr Peyton Centre has a deserved reputation for hospitality and warmth, where a lovely friendly atmosphere pervades the evening. The scenes for the second part of this evening are reminiscent of the old Irish rambling house, with friends and neighbours happily enjoying the best of old Irish tradition.
Seisiún starts promptly each Thursday at 9pm and early arrival is advised.
Ballina Order of Malta reaches out
Top marks to Ballina Order of Malta unit which has just celebrated 65 years of its existence with yet a further expansion of its services to the community.
One of the largest established units of the organisation in the country, the Ballina unit has over the years played a major role in the life of the community. Apart altogether from its primary mission of providing first aid and ambulance services, it has proved its worth as a training ground for young people. Thousands of young citizens over the years have benefited from the discipline, character formation and comradeship which comes with membership of the Order of Malta.
Care of the elderly has been an important part of the unit’s work in recent times, so that the addition of a new mini bus and ambulance last week is bound to give a great boost to its on going work.
The mini bus will be used for the units CARE (Care and Respect for the Elderly) project, an initiative developed by a special committee of the unit to enhance the range of services offered to the elderly. Appropriately, the ceremonies to mark the formal acquisition of the vehicle, were attended by guests from local nursing homes, the ICA and the Ballina Active Retirement Association.
It can be confidently predicted that full use will be made of these new resources by the Ballina unit under the dedicated stewardship of Lt Sean Doherty and with the proved support of former officer in charge, Comdt Robbie Cawley, who is the new Regional Director for Connacht.