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The ‘pretend budget’ from Govt clowns means the joke is on us

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Date Published: {J}

Cowen says the EU and IMF want to ‘build on Fianna Fáil policy’. He doesn’t say exactly what they want to build, but I’m thinking it’s an enormous concrete shield like they put over the smoking ruins of Chernobyl.

That’s what this ‘bailout package’ is, when you think about it; here less to help us than to protect neighbouring countries. And like that other coffer, it seems to be crumbling already. Stuffing €85 billion into the system is a bit like trying to scare away an attacker by mooning them. A risky strategy.

 

If there was money to be made bringing down our banks before, now the prize is even higher. The markets smell blood. And if Ireland goes, then surely it will just be the first. For the money vultures, breaking up the euro would be like smashing the world’s biggest Piñata. Indeed that would be a pretty good way to visualise the markets in action – as blindfolded children with sticks.

 

Our banks are already doomed, there’s no saving them now, so all this money is really to defend the euro. We’re borrowing money therefore to prop up the economies of larger countries. How did that happen?

And to make it even more bizarre, we apparently expect the poorest to pay. This ‘pretend Budget’ will immediately reduce both the lowest wages and welfare rates. Yes we have – or had – one of the highest minimum wages in Europe. We also have some of the highest prices for the necessities of life. Which, thanks to a VAT rise, are going to go up again. Meanwhile we barely scratch the paint on the luxurious first-class carriage of our economy.

I call it a ‘pretend Budget’ because of course they can’t guarantee to pass any of this. They certainly won’t be in power for the bulk of it. With any luck, they won’t even be here for the first instalment. The country wants shot of this crowd of lying incompetents. We would be free already, had they not illegally delayed three by-elections.

Meanwhile they have failed more spectacularly than we knew a party could fail. They stood guard while the country was robbed by its own banks. They refused to take action over the runaway property boom until it was years too late.

They refused to seek help from the IMF until the EU forced them. And yet they have the audacity, the effrontery, to claim they have the right to negotiate a long term commitment on our behalf.

And not just any commitment, but one that, quite incredibly, continues to give sweetheart treatment to their wealthy friends and backers. Cuts to school funding, cuts to children’s allowance, new fees for public education, cuts to welfare, €1.4 billion off health, charges for water, and tax increases for people on the lowest pay.

But for the richest, for the sort of people who, to just take a random example, ran our banks, merely a reduction in a ridiculous benefit we were giving them (which will also affect people on quite moderate incomes) and a tax on building sites of – wait for it – €200.

This is a joke, isn’t it?

 

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Galway have lot to ponder in poor show

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

SLIGO 0-9

GALWAY 1-4

FRANK FARRAGHER IN ENNISCRONE

GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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