Pat’s Patch

Rats and sinking ships

Here’s a question for you....why do all the Fianna Fail bigwigs who are retiring try to spin it to the media that they are doing the decent thing, making way for new blood.

Bertie Ahern, who called time on his political career last week, will enjoy a pension of 152,000 euro - and a one-off lump sum of 160k euro plus what are described as ‘termination’ payments of 80k. over the first year of retirment. Add that all up and it makes a tidy sum. He’s 60.

Dermot Ahern, the Justice Minister, who is also bowing out, will get a pension of 129,000 euro per annum plus much the same package in benefits as his namesake. And Transport minister, Noel Dempsey, will, I presume, have a broadly similar fund on which to spend his days in the sun. Both these men are in their late 50’s.

Now to go back to the question at the start - Fine Gael Michael Noonan is 67, Sean Barrett is just a year younger, while Labour’s Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte are both over 60 so why are they - all older than any of the Fianna Fail retirees - going forward to fight the next election? So why are they not retiring?

I’ll leave it with you to figure it out....

If you are sick....

I loved the headline in Derry’s ‘Sunday Journal’ at the weekend - ‘Don’t visit hospital if you are sick’.

It’s a bit like the classic ‘he got shot up the Shankill’ or ‘ I was sitting in the middle of me dinner when the bomb went off.’

Democracy how are ye?

Last week former Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky had his jail term extended until 2017 after being convicted of theft and money laundering by a Moscow court. Considering that Russia is one of the most corrupt countries on earth you would wonder how one tycoon has been singled out for this kind of punishment, and then you learn that Khodorkovsky funded parties opposed to former President Putin, the man who is still believed to pull all the strings there.

Most observers accept that the former tycoon is the victim of a political decision, not a criminal one.

And then we had, according to papers released at the end of the year, former Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, suggesting totalitarian rule was acceptable in China as it was, he opined, impossible to face one billion people in the same direction to achieve economic progress.

Sounds fair enough until you learn of the huge abuses of human rights, corruption, abuse of state power and arbitary decisions by the few against the many.

As Winston Churchill once famously said - democracy is the least worst form of government.

McCourt - the ‘Derry Pele’

Derry footballer, Paddy McCourt is, according to a BBC Scotland programme I watched on New Year’s eve, known as the ‘Derry Pele’. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Glasgow Celtic player has reputation for being a bit injury prone the programme, a comedy, suggesting he was out for two weeks after hurting himself signing an autograph.

While we are on the subject of soccer, I read in one of the papers recently that the Argentine striker, Carlos Tevez is on £280,000 a week at Manchester City. Isn’t that crazy? And don’t you feel sorry for our own Shay Given who, apparently, has to struggle by on a measly £140,000 a week. Chickenfeed, I’d say.

Ferguson - the Irish history buff

I missed it myself but I’m told RTE’s Colm Murray’s wide ranging interview with Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, broadcast last week was absolutely fascinating. Apparently rather than confining itself to the usual sporting cliches - “I started playing with two jumpers for goalposts in the middle of the Gorbals’ or whatever - it actually teased out what type of man the most successful soccer manager in history - he has won more than 40 trophies - was. Totally playing against the expected stereotype it turns out that the former Rangers star is a keen students of Irish history and really knows his stuff. For instance, he suggested Eamon deValera decision not to attend the Treaty talks in 1921 was motivated by political opportunism, sending Michael Collins to London to negotiate with the British knowing he couldn’t get a settlement that would be acceptable to many - if not most - Irish people.

Remarked Ferguson: “Why did he not go? Think about it. I’m going to sign Eric Cantona and I send Michael Phelan (his Asst Manager at Utd) to do the deal?”

A very bright man indeed.

And finally..

Maybe in 2011 the world should really make a determined effort to reign in the blood lust of our western leaders. When Bush and Blair went into Iraq they gave what have turned out to be bullshit reasons for doing so, weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist being the main one. Now a reliable British organisation has suggested that up to 108,000 people have died there since the 2003 invasion.

That’s a lot of, mainly innocent, lives lost. It’s something we shouldn’t forget.