Sinn Fein is the new opposition

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If you haven’t noticed, some Fine Gael ministers, despite being largely incompetent, are having little difficulty in deflecting criticism from opposition Fianna Fail TD’s - all they need say, ‘That’s a bit rich coming from you Deputy Martin, seeing that it was your party got us into this mess’ - so there is little doubt that real opposition to this government is Sinn Fein. And as they start to leave the whiff of cordite behind a couple of their young lions from Donegal are emerging as stars of the party.

Last week Inishowen TD Padraig MacLochlainn was very impressive on a number of issues, particularly in regard to what’s happening the health services in Donegal. He did a bit of digging around and found that hospitals in Dublin on a par with the patient throughput at Letterkenny General Hospital had at least twice the budget, sometimes considerably more. Even Sligo General Hospital, ten places behind Letterkenny in patient numbers, not only has Regional Hospital status but it too has allocated far greater financial resources.

And I loved his go at how ‘spin’ has replaced language.

Let me quote his comments about ministers and senior management announcing cutbacks use expressions that are meaningless - “It’s always (claimed) they are making ‘efficiencies’, not that they are cutting back on vital services, that they are ‘doing more with less’, and that they are ‘optimising resources’. It’s mad stuff.”

And Pearse Doherty even got praised one morning on RTE radio by the An Bord Snip chief himself, economist Colm McCarthy, for his analysis of some complicated economic issue the details of which escape me now. The point is, of course, that Doherty is impressive and it would do Sinn Fein no harm at all if party leader Gerry Adams would bow out of matters financial and economic and leave them to the young Gweedore man who definitely has a much deeper knowledge of that particular portfolio.

Right now Enda and lads are having a free run but by 2014 things could be much, much different.

Unbelievable arrogance

Those living across the Border in Derry might not have been aware of it but there was a bit of a barney in Donegal last week about where the reception for the All Ireland GAA team should be held - Letterkenny or Donegal Town?

Have you got it yet?

Yip, there was a argument about the homecoming for the Donegal team in regard to an All Ireland final that has not yet been played and, obviously, the result is not known.

The whole debate was not only stupid and arrogant but also disrespectful of Mayo, something I’m sure their management will be more than willing to use to motive the team on September 23rd

Of course when this sort of idiocy is added to the fact that a couple of Donegal ‘fans’ gave RTE pundit, Pat Spillane, a ‘few belts’, to quote his own words, after the Cork game it sure as hell does nothing for the county’s reputation as the home of decent sporting fans.

Spillane is a bit of arrogant sod - his eight All-Ireland medals gives him some protection from the ridiculousness of some of his views - but it’s one thing to have a bit of good-humoured banter with someone you disagree with, it’s something entirely different to physically assault them.

Not for the faint hearted

As a person who ‘tholes’ - a word I learned from my late mother - flying and never enjoys it I’m sure as hell glad I was not on the Aer Lingus flight from Milan on Friday which hit turbulence and which, reports suggest, led four of their staff to seek medical assistance - one of whom, it is suspected, had a broken ankle.

I recall one flight to Alicante some years back when we caught the tail end of an electrical storm and when you looked around and saw the cabin crew looking more nervous than you it sure as hell doesn’t do anything for, ahem, the digestive system, as it were.

Keeping you informed

Just so we can all keep track of how the plain people of Ireland are getting seriously whacked on an ever grinding incremental basis here’s this week’s increases to add to the taxes, the levies, the charges etc already put in place - a million homeowners will be paying 1,200 euro annually for electrcity from now as a six per cent increase was announced on Friday. Gas prices are set to rise by the same.

Last week AIB sent a whole host of customers - about 900,000 - letters claiming they owe them fees because they recently changed the rules on current accounts, even though they didn’t alert anyone to those changes.

New - and more - bank charges are expected to come on stream in the coming months.

And the government keeps wonders what people are whingeing about......

Not keen on Keano

Last week the Daily Mirror announced that Roy Keane was the ‘Greatest Irish player ever’. Are they kidding?

Keane never delivered for this country, and on the one occasion he did make it to a World Cup he came home in a strop after deliberately engineering a spat with a manager who had no choice but to axe him.

Don’t tell me for a second a man of Keane’s experience didn’t know what he was doing when he called the manager, Mick McCarthy ....can’t repeat the words here a team meeting.

Put it like this, would he have used the same words to Sir Alex Ferguson. Nope, you are correct - he sure wouldn’t have.

In my humble opinion easily the best Irish player of all time is Paul McGrath. On the biggest stages in world soccer and in the really big games he was a colossus, a Rolls Royce of a footballer who delivered big time.

And not once did he act as he was more important than the team....

A legend

The late Con Houlihan was a legend of Irish journalism and while he wrote like an angel it was probably just as well because if you tried to understand his strong Kerry accent you would have discovered a major communication fault line.

It was said that his back page column in the old Dublin ‘Evening Press’ was the sole reason the paper outsold its rival, the ‘Evening Herald’. He was a true polymath, a man of learning and culture whose dress sense belied this in that he frequently looked like a farmer heading to a mart.

There was an absolutely lovely programme about him on Thursday night last.

Walking past the old Irish Press building where he had worked for many years but which is now abandoned, he stopped and quietly remarked, “I feel like Oisin returning from Tir- na nOg. .....he was still the same but all the Fianna were gone.”

From that remark alone you can see his brilliance for painting a picture with words

And finally

If anyone ever wonders if there is such a thing as propaganda and if it works check the USA......

In America to win the Republican primaries candidates have to go to the extreme right - calling for the execution of half the prison population, that Iran needs to be nuked, that women should be chained to the kitchen sink having baby after baby without recourse to contraception - and then to win the presidential race they have to tack back to the centre where they tell sob stories how they grew up in poverty and but for an inspirational mother/father/teacher they would never had made it to the top of the tree.

What is amazing is that the PR campaigns in the States are so slick and so powerful by the time it comes for the unwashed masses to vote in November what was once black is now white - and no one questions it.