First week in Jan 7th 2020

7 Jan

Wow. I am officially retired or on a career break or something else Let’s just wait and see. Monday and Tuesday were a bit weird with. Everyone going back to work but I have been dying with a chest infection so feels more like I am not at work because I am sick. V. I have finished work

Focusing on taking control of bills. Switching all my plans like Sky. EIR. My Vodafone plan etc. It’s really scary every €10 per month is €120 per annum. I took €50 off the sky TV. And €40 off my mobile plan alone

Have gone for a long walk both days with Celine to get some fresh air about all I can take with the chest infection

Sad day / week. Larry Gogan died today and also Marian Finnucanne was buried When you add in poor old Gay Byrne things come in threes. (Rest in peace)

Can’t wait to get over this dose and start to do the things I want to do. Some time outside each day and also to get back running

So I have a few thoughts this week to share

1) the health system is melting down and the cheek of Simon Harris to defend the indefensible. He is not improving the situations and every year things get worse. I have total support for the health staff. Something has to give

2) I listened to radio about insurance. Where a hairdresser has 5 cases against him. One for a migraine because of the color. And the company wants to settle Not to say what’s after going on with child care

3) money and the government. I promise to increase the free GP to 16. I also will give away everything else to get voted in. But who pays. Well let’s hit the elderly with increase in pension age to 68. Also let’s reduce welfare for under 25s to 50%. Let’s also under-resource everything Less nurses. Basic wage for childcare and no holiday pay. And just look at everything else that we depend on. It’s a race to bottom. Expect everything pay nothing and buy votes. I am so sick of it. We are teetering on the edge while having highest growth in EU

4). House price. Average price 2.5 x wages and 20% deposit. So if average wage of €39,000. Then total amount is €97,500. And the other 20% deposit is about €20k. So single person average house price €120k. For a couple €240k. Average house price in Ireland €445k. How does this make sense.

Lastly. Donegal beat Monaghan on Sunday thank you GK. Shaun Patton

Chat next week



I’m getting married in less than 3 Months

16 Jan

So ….  what can I say – its not like I did not realise that the clock was ticking – I was the one who got down on bended knee and proposed, and after the shreik of nooooooooooo which was more a reaction to the proposal, I got the necessary YES WITH BELLS ON 🙂

And so were off … what has to be planned, this is a huge event for us and for our life, we will keep it smallish but invite our family and friends and of course our cousins and so we started.

At this stage let me go back to ensure the timeline is clear. The big day is the start of April, its now mid January and we got engaged last February.

We immediately nailed the basics, get the Venue, make sure it will work for our numbers CHECK, can do both civil ceremony and  reception CHECK, has a bar in same room as function CHECK, not on a main street where the guest could wander away CHECK, sufficient rooms CHECK, good quality and good Feedback from others CHECK and finally we went to a wedding there and were impressed. So hotel is booked for both ceremony and reception and we just need to nail down seating plans closer to the time.  Next was the band – got some referrals – and booked who we wanted (Can’t give the name away – but I can confirm that U2 and Take That were booked that night – but they were not on our list anyway)

Next up is the ceremony itself – we got a Solemnisier (sounds rude – in your mind replace the D [in your mind] with an L ) now its not rude – A Solemnisier is the person who performs the ceremony. We have a nice man – he is a humanist so we are having a humanist ceremony. CHECK

Finally we took a look at some none religious readings and nailed them down in terms of options, got someone to perform some music during the ceremony who my future betrothed knows (always wanted to use that word). At this stage it might be the day after the engagement (ok ok – might be a month after) but it was fast and we had so much done – WHAT IS ALL THE STRESS ABOUT – this getting married is easy ………

Now I have to be honest – My future in house ‘manager in charge’  (can’t keep saying the betrothed) is making it look easy – She rocked up to the bridal shop –  sorted out herself and the bridesmaids and got something for the flower girls too (I have to be careful in case the one person who reads this is attending …. so can’t say too much and give away the secrets). Also a 2016 activity that i nearly forgot was invites – I had agreed to take full responsibility and thought that i could design something on the computer, buy some nice card type paper, print from home and be done [ did I need a reality check ] the difference between gifted amateur and professional came out in spades – so we did the online design thing, got some proofs and then ordered after re reading them 1,000 times to be sure.  Again in the words of Roy Keane ‘All Praise to’ My soon to be MRS 🙂

So we wake up on new years day – with 14 weeks to go and

Ceremony not done, honeymoon not done, Stag and Hen not done, Invites not written, First song not picked and I am sure the rest

Update after two weeks – All invites are gone and we are managing responses, Honeymoon is booked and sounds fabulous (That why she got the new title of ‘Manager in Charge’) we have not even gone yet but thinking about it has me relaxed. First song picked, made contact with the band and now almost set to rock.  We have our hen and Stag on same night – just so we can compare 🙂

I am determined to enjoy every part of the preparation – I have not found it at all stressful, if anything it has been an easy partnership, which must mean I am marrying the right lady, I know its all the small things that have to be sorted but we have the rings – will buy the suits this weekend and once everyone comes to enjoy the day and celebrate our big day with us – then NOTHING CAN GO WRONG …… and did I tell you about the honeymoon





Business Trips are not cool

30 Jan

Though it might be good to share what a business trip is really like.  Not all the glamour everyone thinks

I will write as the day unfolds. Hopefully WordPress will work in flight mode

Wednesday morning. 6:10am

Woke at 6am as usual.  Read my emails and the independent. Then took a look at my paddy power account and put on a lucky 15.  Started this post.    

Not getting up this morning for a few more hours so back to sleep

So 8:30 up and into the shower. Then breakfast.  ( nice that Celine was not teaching till later and was here for breakfast )   Asked a friend to book me Garth Brook tickets as they go on sale Thursday morning and I might not have reached my destination 

On the road at 9:15 arrived at Q parking at 10.  Took the picture of my row number.  Nothing worse that walking around. Car park looking for the car when I get home Sunday morning

Time is 10:20. Have cleared security.  That was really fast.   Airport is half empty at this time of day

It’s a bit unreal that a US flight at 1pm has a boarding time of 11:15.   I actually was  refused a few years ago for being late and still an hour before departure

So bought some dollars. $400 cost me €311. Not bad actually.   

It’s 11am.  I cleared US immigration. Had to take off my shoes again lol and put my bags thru the scanner.  All done so now down to get some food €15 euros for coffee a water and a tuna melt sandwich.   Really expensive. Thank god for the expenses.

Reminds me on trip Celine and I took to New York 2 years ago – sitting in café at same table  

So while waiting and confirmed my frequent flyer miles. I  have over the amount required for an upgrade and so have requested an upgrade on the return leg of the flight on Saturday.  I’m on a wait list. ( this is common as they hold the seats back from upgrades in case they can sell them so fingers crossed )

I have a number of Peter James books on Audio downloaded. I think he is a fantastic author.   First up is a book called dead mans grip.  It’s part of the  Inspector Grace series. So I have my phone charging so that I can listen right they the flight and with a long layover in Chicago I will be able to recharge

First bout of boredom has set in.  It’s five to twelve.   First of many I would say.  An hour to departure. I could be arriving at airport now and still have loads of time to make the flight.  These silly ideas that the US. have

Time is 12:20.  In a que to get on the plane.  Bored lol

12:30  and I’m on board   Usual madness. You would think that we did not have preassigned seats    People are pushing and shoving to get to the seat that is already confirmed for them.  

Flight half empty. I have. Full row to myself. About to put phone on to airplane mode.   Game of thrones is available on flight 7 episodes. Might watch and see if it’s worth following.  

All texts to love ones done  so phone goes to airplane mode.  Time is 12:47

We finally got off the ground at 1;24pm.  Back to being bored again. On the positive side no one behind me so I can drop my chair back. On the negative side baby sitting in front of me but she is not crying

Time check. It’s 3:30pm. 2 hours into flight.   I decided against games of thrones and watched a film called the iceman. Excellent film. True story. Would recommend

Then came the delights of airline cuisine.  Got chicken tika   Actually was not that bad

Time check it is  5:15 irish time   4 hours to destination.  Bored out of my tree.    Watching some silly film called pacific rim.   Don’t ever watch it – have decided to power up computer and get some work completed – if I was to explain what I was working on I would put you to sleep so won’t bore you

It’s 7:15 irish time.  That’s 1:15 Chicago time.  At this point my ass has turned numb the baby in front of me won’t shut up and I’m hungry.   And people think that business trips are fun.  I’m on to movie number 3.  It’s called reds2.  Better than the last film but not much better.   A guy keeps walking up and down the aisle and bumping into me.  I’m going to say something shortly. Air rage could kick in.   

About 2 hours to destination. 

Down to 1 hour to arrival.  Also the walking guy has moved to the other side of the plane so no fight. Lol.   Bum is still numb lol.   I’m so bored now

We’re coming into land    Over Lake Michigan beside Chicago. It looks froze solid.   Looks like it’s going to be cold.  Time is 9:12 pm irish time.  And 3:13pm local.   I have a 5 hour lay over. Just great …..

Will be on the ground in minutes and can then send out some texts.   I’m getting dirty looks from cabin crew. Lol. Better put phone away

Touchdown.  Chicago is in a blanket of snow.    Glad I have my coat with me

Frustration level rising.   I just went thru security in terminal 1.  I was an hr and 20mins in the que. Horrific. And only 1 machine working. But if you pay 100 you get a quick security check.  Seriously pissed. Hungry and tired. Almost 11pm at home. 

Frustrated right now …..,

I have finally eaten.  Now I feel like sleeping.  Went to Chillys.  Had the buffalo wings. Could not feel my lips followed by burger and chips.  I can’t have a beer as the flight is only 4 hours and I have to drive when I arrive 

Going to pay the check and go for a walk thru some of the Shops on the concourse

It’s now 1am irish time.   I’m totally wiped out.   40 mins till boarding and 90 mins to departure.  If it was not for the audio book I would crack up.  Will sleep on next leg of flight however have to make  sure that I don’t sleep to much as I will be arriving at midnight and need to sleep when I arrive

Now we have a flight delay. Based on the incoming flight being delayed.   Also just to make the journey even nicer I am in a centre seat. So …….  Will have to fight it out for control of the arm rest.  Time is now 2am irish time

2:30 am irish time. And still not boarded   Who thinks this is fun. 

Time is now 7:15am irish time   Were now descending into Portland Oregon 

I slept on and off the whole way thru the flight.  Feel knackered legs have cramps. Eyes are sore and this day is not over yet

So I get out at 11:40 local time.  7:40 irish time and get my rental car.  I put key in ignition  and put power on southeast the sat nav machine lights up. I enter the complex address and say find and it does. And then I start the car and it goes blank and asks for address.  Lol.  I know I tired …….

Drive to hotel in about 35 mins and get checked in.   Now for a proper sleep

Reached hotel without incident – crawled into bed – sent texts to Celine, and the kids telling them I arrived safely –   Mum rang – phone gone to silent and Im off to sleep

Time Check its 8:30am irish time – Im just getting to bed– a full day later …..  do you now think its glamorous  

Group Think

20 Jan

I wanted to highlight a major affliction affecting people in Ireland – its called ‘One Sidedness’  The clinical definition of this affliction is considering or favouring only one side of a matter, problem, etc,  having all the advantage on one side ……………….

At this stage I’m sure you’re asking what am I on about ….  Well,  I went to watch Meath play DCU in the O’Byrne Cup Semi final and sitting behind me was a group of extremely versed GAA pundits who having done it all, no doubt Won, Club and inter-county level spent the full seventy minutes and the little bit of extra time explaining to themselves and to the referee (Did I say they were sitting behind me – so telling the referee was serious screaming)  what the rules were and what the tactics should be.    At this point don’t be fooled into thinking I am talking about a group of pensioner age men,  No No  I am talking about a group of ladies in their early twenty’s – and to be fair they were not always wrong (but then even a broken clock is right twice a day)  ok scratch the last comment – a bit harsh

But….. what got me…….. was the constant – Ref – did ya see that tackle – god, ref he nearly killed him,  Referee that was off the ground , that was over , can’t see how they did not give that…..

On the other side and in equal measure was – sure he did’nt touch ya,  its physical game get up, that was shoulder to shoulder, and the ball was bouncing – that was harsh.

It didn’t matter that Meath had 4 goals and sixteen points to DCU   three goals and six points – and that DCU got two goals at the death of the game – these pundits were totally blinkered to only one side. 

This is not the first time – Last year in Mc Hale park in Castlebar during the league, I had two men sitting behind me who should have been commentating for Connaught radio – they never stopped talking …  and again in their eyes Donegal was dirty and negative and Mayo were clean open expansive footballers – and no matter what happened – their version was slanted to the Mayo side.  That day was comical and we laughed all the way home at what we heard.

So what made yesterday different for me – and why did I decide to blog about this ….

Let me be clear – this was not about women v men talking – both were just as silly and one sided, it was not that anything they said was bad – it was not – and the same situation could be transferred to multiple other sports or any other part of life where there is competition.  What struck me was the level of group think … how everyone around aligned with comments – regardless of whether it was right or wrong.  It was like the real version of events was changed to suit what everyone believed – and this highlighted for me as a parent the responsibility I have to be fair and think independently and that I need my kids to have a broader view point

Think about the situations in real life where people who are different can be bullied or harassed just because they are different – and then add group think – where the reality is changed to suit the groups perceptions.  All three of my kids are still in school – and I would like to think when they see a situation that is wrong – they have the courage and conviction to say what they see not what the group think is …..    this I feel is so important

So yesterday – in the middle of Páirc Tailteann in Navan  – I supported Meath  and their win, but I also gave my honest opinion of what I saw – made the comments like ‘that was a terrible tackle’  the ref should be consistent – that should have been a black card – and gave praise to few of the points that DCU scored that were really good. 

I know its little and small but I think that’s its important that the next generation that are so tech savy and have all the twitter and facebook comments hitting them continually – that they can also think for themselves

Thanks Barry

IF ………

9 Jan

exploring englishFirst week back at work – its been a tough week (work wise I mean), and not helped by the fact that I have blood infection in my foot (I obviously stood on something over Christmas) and it became infected.  So after two weeks off and no more sleeping in and my sore foot and Donegal lost to Tyrone in the first round of the mc Kenna cup – Its been a long week. And while I’m at it (bitching and moaning) – United have lost again in the League and again in the Cup, the broadband has been down for a few days and Eircom say it’s a general outage will take a few more days, Vodafone reception in the house is non-existent and I have no water in the windscreen wiper of the car (its all a disaster ) J  On the Plus side – Meath have won two games in a row in the O’Byrne cup so good start there

I had to sign some documentation at work with the 2014 date … I always find it strange at the start of a new year and I usually start by saying oh my god can I be this old – and then start to count backwards the years.

One of the Christmas presents I received was a copy of ‘Exploring English 1&3’ (who else remembers them !!!!!! ) (Thank you – wonderful of you to remember me mentioning them  J) and with the passing years, the new year the old English books my thoughts began to remember all those boring horrible days is school that you could not wait to get away from – and now, as you look back and fondly remember nostalgically the good old days (as a friend once said ……………. these trying times, soon to be known as the good old days….)   Well I was thinking about some of the most beautiful poetry that I really did not pay attention to while at school and now draws me so close and I find wonderful, enlighten just by reading

So – for your reading pleasure – here is one of my favourite’s its by Rudyard Kipling  and called ‘IF’    and YES YOU DO KNOW IT …  read it      s l o w l y

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Well ???????  Did you enjoy –  my god if I could be back in school now debating some of the lines within this poem – what an opportunity –  lines like walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch or what about dream—and not make dreams your master  the ability to have dreams and strive towards them – but to retain realism not be over powered.  Today I get to read with joy a poem like this and with Celine (my Soul mate) I can talk and debate parts of it (and that is really wonderful) –  but what I would give to go back – with the enthusiasm of youth in a class room devoted to dissecting the meaning of the poem, examples of what was mean’t how to interrupt. 

But the reality is that beauty like this can often times be lost on youth (the need to have a real world view or lived thru events is often times needed to bring poetry like this into focus) and I encourage my friends of a similar age to not look back dismissively at those old poems or prose and just say not for me – but go back and   s l o w l y     r e a d   back thru them – and I hope it rekindles in you some joy

My fondest line – and this is my own interpretation is     If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,  And treat those two impostors just the same:.   I love this line because it discusses how close the line is between success and failure and to be honest neither one is as important in its own right – what’s more important is how one handles the situation. Winning loads of money, if called success has not always brought happiness and sometimes the silver lining behind a bad event can often times end up being the best thing ever – so the event itself is often times an imposter for what is really happening

Regards Barry

2014 Blogging again

5 Jan

After a year away from blogging – i’m back – but do not expect this to be daily like 2012 – that nearly killed me –  I intend to blog once a week – no set day – and hopefully the setting are still in place that this will automatically load to facebook

Just home from mass – and have to be on the road by 1:30 to watch Meath in the first round of the O’Beirn cup – they are playing DIT – so will be a short blog.

Christmas was lovely (eat and drank way too much – Roll on Monday and the Gym)  – and yet without the snow and the mild weather – it did not feel like Christmas – I was not complaining as I had to drive to Donegal twice – and it was easy weather for travelling – but snow does make Christmas – never actually thought about it before – and maybe it was the last few Christmas’s where we had loads of snow and it looked lovely.

Highlights for Christmas – I suppose Mum being in great form – taking her racing and her staying for the week.  She is in excellent health and feeling good about herself. next up is Congrats to my cousin for getting engaged and finally time spent with loved ones – it was nice

Had a big win on the horses over the Christmas – and so I started 2014 with 1,000 in my Paddy Power Account –  I will be hoping to retain my grand by end of year – and I will keep you informed. As of today i am sitting at  934.32 (a number of unsuccessful lucky 15’s)

Next up is I need to commit to the world my 2014 new year resolutions

1) Run 10k – might do the ladies Mini Marathon in drag for charity – but the key is a 10k run

2) I plan to climb Croke Patrick  (Am I the only Irish person who has not)  this will also be a charity do, so Roy, Celine – be prepared to join in

3) Go back blogging – see I have started 

4) I have two more but they are personal and I’m not sharing

Finally – and the serious point – that i had never considered until it was said to me recently and i looked into it

Holy Communion …………………   Now your saying – what is he talking about

OK – In the pub one night it was said that the thing that Mother Teresa regretted most about the world, was not famine or disease – but she simply said – receiving holy communion in the hand. At this stage i was kinda sneering – but my debater was serious and continued to say it was never sanctioned by the vatican. Now how could you take these comments seriously – and why or what is wrong with receiving the host in the hand.

so here is the research I have completed

Firstly why in the hand is wrong – this is not a piece of bread (if you really believe) this is part of the body of Christ ..  there is a ritual of washing hands etc  and then up we trot putting out our hands that we have been scratching ourselves with all thru mass – It is in fact a step backwards in reverence to god – it gone from being a very spiritual and divine piece of got to something that anyone can touch.  the other piece that also disappeared at the same time was the alter rails – because in fact we should all kneel as you would do in front of any king …  so this step which by itself may seem harmless of receiving the host in the hand – taken in light of other changes begins to lessen the respect we have for the host

so how did this happen – well a number of archbishops in France started to give the host on the hand and the sought a special dispensation from the vatican – the pope at the time was not in favor – but there was a real chance that they were going to attempt a breakaway from the Roman Catholic church – so the Pope agreed that where receiving the host is already common practise then it can continue – but it was never intended to be a wholesale change – however as Vatican 2 was wrapping up about the same time this got rolled out under the guise of Vatican 2 even thought it had nothing to do with it. Some say this was arranged as a way of lessening the Catholic church and its teaching – and maybe they are right – there was talk that an Archbishop in charge of Vatican 2 Annable Bollini was demoted (and that is true) but I find it hard to believe that the Masons are at work and intending to undermine the catholic church

Interesting bit of trivia that I bet few people ever contemplated 


good to be back blogging – expecting loads of comments 

happy new year 





My last blog of 2012

31 Dec

This is my last blog –  It has been an interesting experiment – and as I look back I think everyone has to agree I am without doubt stubborn enough to just keep going.  Mr Consistency  J

I think looking back now I am glad I am proud of the achievement – some days I was basically reblogging just to mark a card – but I did actually blog on certain days, my own opinion on certain events – and I feel good about them.

I also like the fact that I found a unique ‘Thought for the day’ and kept that up thru the year too.

So what about last years New Year resolutions – how would I grade them  mmmm C+  J

1) I MUST go to the gym 4 days a week (could do better)

2) I plan to blog – not every day but most days …. (Without Fail – an A student)

3) I want to utilize my skills for charity – I work in finance, I have leadership and management capabilities – I could surely use these skills to help someone else.  (I got money for Laura Lynn, I got substantial money for Athboy Meals on Wheels, worked with Athboy Tidy Towns – but not in Management   – B )

4) I was not going out to the pub in January, for lent or in November – giving myself a little break a few times a year – That’s an F – I failed completly

5) I want to read 6 books – thats only 1 every 2 months  –  I read 2 books all year – Terrible D

Thank you all (Eight of you) for following me – the experiment is over  – I will blog from time to time, but without the pressure of having to do it daily –  Your comments were really appreciated

Thought for the day

Go out and make a difference – your the only person holding yourself back

Exploiting the Audience

30 Dec


Google and Facebook are two of the four US technology giants – Apple and Amazon being the others – that dominate the consumer internet. All want to realise the full commercial potential of their products. And they have employed a variety of business models to do so. Google uses its free search engine facility to maximise revenue by attracting advertising. Facebook, via its social networking site that millions access, is, however, struggling to match Google’s success.

All four companies have faced legal and regulatory challenges to their activities, and frequent claims that they abuse their dominant market position. In the latest row Instagram, a company that Facebook owns, operates a free photo-sharing social app that has 100 million users. Instagram has, unexpectedly, changed its operating rules to favour itself at the expense of its customers, and their legal rights. From January, under new terms and conditions that Instagram proposes, it can sell to third parties and for profit the photos that users have posted to the social app. And it can do so without either seeking the owners’ approval, paying them for their photos or even telling them of the sale. Following an internet storm of disapproval the company distanced itself from suggestions it was exploiting photos in some forms of advertising.

Free social networks, like Instagram, can, if successful, initially attract a huge user base. The challenge they face is how to set up a revenue model for their service that will turn millions of users into cash-paying customers. Instagram’s crude efforts to do so, by changing terms and conditions of the service they offer, after they have established it, is unacceptable.

In doing so, the company, it would appear, is infringing privacy rights of users and breaching their copyright, by failing to secure their consent to sell their photos, or to inform them they have done so. What Instagram is now attempting will increase public concern and again raise questions about how social media sites use personal material for profit

Thought for the day

“In all things it is better to hope than to despair.”

Martina Devlin: For the record – it’s possible to be pro-choice and in favour of life

30 Dec


I believe that Abortion is wrong – but I also believe that all views should be listened to – this is a well written piece – hope you enjoy

SO, a cardinal and three archbishops have ridden out in unison to defend unborn babies. They deserve a respectful hearing: all voices should be heard in this important debate. Now let’s listen to what female archbishops have to say about it.

What, there aren’t any? Then let some female Catholic bishops step forward. That’s a blow, there don’t appear to be any of them. In which case, female priests will have to do. My goodness, none of them in the Catholic Church either. Something of a pattern emerging.

Remind me again why anyone should be guided by this irredeemably male-only institution on the subject of women’s health? I see, habit. Fortunately, habits can be broken, especially bad ones such as too tight a relationship between church and state.

Any other reason to be led by those four churchmen regarding the Government’s intention to respect the wishes of the majority, and introduce limited abortion rights?

Faith, perhaps – a church steers its flock on matters of conscience. The Catholic congregation includes members of the Government, vulnerable to pressure.

Faith is a wonderful gift, and people with religious convictions are entitled to lead their lives according to those beliefs. But it’s unreasonable to impose their ethical framework on everybody, including anyone who doesn’t happen to share it. Isn’t it enough for those who believe abortion to be wrong, under every set of conditions, to refuse to have a termination? Why must everybody be bound by their rules?

Still, the debate matters greatly, and all of us – from prince of the church to pauper – share the right to advance opposing views. Preferably without using highly emotive language, such as suggesting that defining strictly-controlled circumstances for abortion is choosing to “licence the direct and intentional killing of the innocent baby in the womb”.

That comes from the three archbishops and Cardinal Sean Brady, by the way.

Archbishops and bishops alike have mobilised swiftly, and the indications are that this debate will be a rancorous one. No holds barred. Bishop of Kilmore Leo O’Reilly, one of the rapid response team, was on ‘Morning Ireland’ yesterday quoting the Pope’s “culture of death” description of abortion.

The Catholic hierarchy may not have the legions of shock troops it once commanded, but it is never to be underestimated. Christmas sermons will have many a TD shifting uncomfortably in his or her pew. The threat of suicide grounds included in the proposed legislation bothers some backbenchers, and leaves them vulnerable to crozier pressure to examine their consciences – code for time to jump overboard.

Clergy are acting entirely properly in urging an abortion veto on their parishioners. But they overstep their prerogative when they attempt to thwart the Government’s decision to legislate.

After all, abortion isn’t going to become mandatory for pregnant women. The Catholic Church can continue using pulpit and pamphlet to promote its code of conduct with believers.

But it has no legitimacy to hinder the democratic process.

And appeals to TDs’ consciences only serve as a reminder of how highly selective is the Catholic hierarchy’s interpretation of morality – especially in circumstances relating to protection of church interests.

Do they imagine we have forgotten about the doctrine of mental reservation already? That was Cardinal Connell’s explanation for his misleading answers about the use of diocesan funds to compensate clerical abuse victims.

Clerical abusers formed a tiny percentage of priests. But the cover-up was systemic. It is not irrelevant to mention the Catholic Church’s abysmal and morally repugnant record on this issue, because it goes to the heart of its credibility.

Listening to any prince of the church pontificate here is like taking a lecture on pension restraint from a recently retired government minister, or having a senior banker wag his finger about financial prudence.

Since Savita Halappanavar’s death, Fine Gael backbench TDs have been on the receiving end of an intensive pro-life campaign with formatted postcards, letters and voicemail messages directed to their offices. It is now likely to be accelerated.

BUT I have learned about a dirty tricks element involving identity theft. Cork Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer discovered that not all of the postcards he received were genuine.

“In a few cases where we got postcards and replied to them, one or two people came back saying they didn’t write to me in the first place,” said Mr Buttimer, chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, due to begin hearings on abortion early next month.

“They said: ‘I never posted you one of those cards’ and they hadn’t given consent for their names and addresses to be used.” He urged a “calm and dignified” debate.

But the signs so far don’t look promising, with inflammatory suggestions from pro-lifers that the unborn are being deliberately targeted. For the record, it is possible to be both pro-choice and in favour of life.

As for the Catholic Church, in the vanguard of the pro-life campaign, if its views on anything are to be given consideration, including abortion, it needs to stop relying solely on that unrepresentative corps of elderly male prelates.

Wasting the talents of bright, able women by confining them to tea-making duties leaves it looking ridiculous. It only has itself to blame when increasing numbers of people fail to listen to its message.  

Thought for the day

“Do you know the difference between education and experience?  Education is when you read the fine print;  experience is what you get when you don’t.”

UK exit from EU would take big toll on Border area

29 Dec

John Brutton   IRISH TIMES

The Irish diplomatic service should brief British MPs on the heavy political and human cost of leaving the EU

It is increasingly likely that in the next British general election campaign, both Labour and the Conservatives will promise a referendum on the EU.

The parties are being driven to make this promise by the threat posed to their positions by the UK Independence Party.Ukip voters are primarily concerned about immigration and, only secondarily, do they want Britain out of the EU.

The Conservative plan is to try to renegotiate the terms of UK membership of the EU, and then put the terms to a referendum. It looks as if Labour may now adopt a similar policy.

Such a renegotiation, whether conducted by Labour or the Conservatives, is unlikely to satisfy British popular expectations. If so, the UK electorate may choose in a referendum to leave the EU, in protest against the failure to get a good enough “deal” for Britain.

British popular opinion sees “Europe” as a foreign country, with which Britain has a sort of treaty, and not as something of which the UK is a participating member with a vote on every decision.

The role in EU decisions of British MEPs, British ministers, and a British commissioner is ignored. All decisions are presented as emanating from an “unelected” bureaucracy, and the role of “elected” British MEPs and “elected” British ministers in the whole process is passed over.

The renegotiation is likely to be a disappointment in Britain because expectations are unrealistic. It will not be a negotiation with bureaucrats in “Brussels”, but with all 26 other members of a club of which the UK has been a full member over 40 years.

The renegotiation for Britain would have to satisfy every one of those other 26 states. Britain may want to pay less, but other countries may want it to pay more. Many other EU countries see the very things British negotiators would most like to be rid of, like the working time directive, as part of what they gained, in return for their opening up to the single market . Exempting Britain from the Common Agricultural Policy, another possible British demand, will get nowhere.

As the British election approaches, there will be talk of new “red lines” from both parties, and this will make the negotiation even more difficult. In the latest poll, 49 per cent of UK citizens say they would vote to leave the EU, and only 32 per cent that they would vote to stay in. No matter how good the pro-EU arguments in the campaign might be, that gap of 17 points may simply be too big.

Referendums can deliver surprising results. Extraneous issues, anger and complacency can lead people to vote contrary to their own objective interests. And there is unlikely to be a second referendum.

The effect of Britain leaving the EU could weaken fragile compromise in Northern Ireland and this is being completely ignored in the debate taking place both in Britain and in Brussels, where the impatience with the British is palpable, and where there is little disposition to accommodate what are seen as unreasonable British demands put forward when the EU has more important things on its mind.

Obviously if the UK leaves the EU, it would negotiate some sort of new relationship with it. All sides will agree on that because half of British exports go to the euro zone.

But what sort of relationship? One of the big drivers of anti-EU sentiment in Britain is immigration of EU citizens from central and eastern European countries, like Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltics. Gordon Brown famously encountered this sentiment during the last British general election.

If the UK left the EU, it would indeed be free to bar immigration from particular EU countries. But, as a continuing member of the EU, the Republic could not do the same.

So if the UK wanted to prevent these EU immigrants entering the UK through the Republic, it would have to introduce passport controls at Newry, Aughnacloy, Strabane and on all other roads by which they could cross the Border from the Republic into the UK.

If the UK was outside the EU, tariffs would also have to be collected on UK exports entering this state. Average EU tariffs are quite low, but some tariffs, on items such as dairy products and clothing, are quite high.

Customs posts would have to be placed on Border roads to ensure collection of these tariffs. Smuggling, with all its potential as a funding source for other forms of illegality, would become very profitable again.

But the human and political cost in the Border counties would be the worst aspect of it. Nationalist communities would again feel cut off from the Republic by the inconvenience of passport controls, and the efforts to market Ireland as a single tourist destination would be set at naught.

Some might say that these risks could be mitigated if the UK negotiated a deal with the EU like those of Norway or Switzerland, including free trade and free movement of people .

Apart from the fact that this would not satisfy British anti-immigration sentiment, to have duty-free access to EU markets for its goods and services Britain would have to continue to apply EU rules, as now, but without having had any say in them.

This is what Switzerland and Norway have to do. Britain would also have to continue to contribute to the EU budget, as Norway does. That would be even more annoying to British Eurosceptics than the present situation. Complete UK exit is therefore a real possibility.

The Irish diplomatic service should intensively brief all British MPs well in advance of the next UK election on the dangers of setting off a train of events that could lead to an exit of Northern Ireland, along with the UK, from the European Union.

Thought for the day

“You cannot make your candle glow brighter by blowing out the other guys’.”