Time we spoke up

The Cast Stone

ACCOUNTABILITY NEEDED Mayo County Council offices, Castlebar.

The Cast Stone
Michael Gallagher

We really are a bit soft aren’t we! Official Ireland can dump anything they want on us and we’ll do nothing about it. We might bitch and moan for a while in the comfort of our own homes, at a pub counter, in the back of a taxi or even in our workplace, but we’ll actually end up doing nothing about it. Move on lads – nothing to see here!
Mayo people are on the whole, extremely forgiving and have a well-honed propensity to forget wrongs foisted upon them. Mayo people get angry and upset but rarely do much about it.
Our hospital has been in a shambolic state for years – the long-promised new Emergency Department hasn’t even had the drawings done yet – but we do nothing about it.
The road between Castlebar and Bellacorick is arguably little more than a dirt-track – but we do nothing about it. Parts of the road between Ballina and Swinford resemble a 1950s avenue – but we do nothing about it.
The list could go on and on and on, but what’s the point – we will do nothing about it.
Take the recent funding debacle where Mayo County Council was shamed locally and nationally and had to give back more than €1 million in funding. What did we do? Nothing! We were/are mad about it. We bitched and moaned and complained in homes, in pubs, in taxis, buses and trains and it was the topic of conversation in numerous workplaces.
But we did nothing.
“Leave it to someone else… I wouldn’t want to get involved in that… There are people to deal with that type of thing… Say nothing.”
Is there anything more galling than moral cowardice? How is it that the great people of Mayo are hugely impacted by the inability to actually do something about injustice and wrongdoing? How is it that we consistently accept ineptitude and being fobbed off? It’s almost like the European invaders giving beads to the Native Americans to keep them quiet when the landed on American shores – whenever there’s a hint of anger in Mayo, whatever government is in power will construct a few promises and send weasel words west.
They don’t even have to come and deliver the empty promises themselves – an email will do.“Tell them we might give them a road or two and if they’re not happy with that, tell them we’ll do something with the hospital. That’ll keep them happy for a while.”
One can almost hear the officials discussing us over their Frappe Lattes or their state-funded beef bourguignon. They know we’ll do nothing about whatever it is that angers us – well most of us won’t.
The Mica Action Group have the cojones to do something about their crumbling homes. They have the courage to stand and fight. They have the stomach for a battle and they will win, despite the state fobbing them off at every turn. Why can’t we be like them?
Ciaran Fitzgerald, a famous son of Mayo, once stood in the middle of Lansdowne Road, shook his fist at the rest of the Irish rugby team and asked them, “Where’s your f*****g pride.” That was a seminal moment in the transition of Ireland from being whipping boys to consistent contenders.
Today, I’m shaking my fist at the people of Mayo and asking the same question. Where is our pride? When are we going to ask what the hell has happened our money?
Why can officials say there was a ‘systems failure’ and we just nod our heads like good boys and girls and go about our business? How can the Government continually bypass us with funding now, and why do we just shake our heads and go about our business? Why do we accept these things and do nothing about them?
Cllr Christy Hyland told a recent meeting of Mayo County Council that when Michael Ring was a minister he sent ball after ball (of funding) into the Mayo (County Council) full-forward line, and they kicked wide after wide after wide. I’d have to slightly disagree with Christy there – Ring sent ball after ball into the full-forward line, but Mayo County Council didn’t send the ball wide – they actually burst the ball.
Now, once again, we have received nothing in the recent announcements of State funding. The county has been cast aside as punishment for our county council’s behaviour – and because they know we’ll do nothing about it.
As Ciaran Fitzgerald once said – ‘Where’s our f*****g pride?’