Sunday, June 24, 2007

on passing by- again

How absolutely brilliant to see some real forward momentum in Northern Ireland. After so many decades of total mayhem by terrorists on all sides it really looks as if we can consign all the savagery to the past.
I have never been a particular fan of Ian Paisley, mainly because of his constant outbursts of naked bigoted sectarianism. No matter what solution was put forward he was always able to spot a fly in the ointment. To what extent this was pandering to his electoral base we will probably never know but his conduct over the last number of months has been a real eye opener. To be quite honest I am unable to think of another politician in the North who could have delivered the peace we now appear to have. Paisleys long view ensured that whatever agreement was ultimately achieved was one which would have the greatest chance of success. Having seen the backsliding and infighting among unionist parties over the years, when their only aim seemed to be the prolongation of the status quo, it was exceptional to see Paisley quell the dissent in his own party and move forward. His insistence that Sinn Fein come to the table without their panoply of terrorist baggage was perhaps the log that broke the jam.
Praise must also go to others who have spent long years endeavouring to bring about the circumstances where such an agreement was possible. People like John Hume, Albert Reynolds, John Major and David Trimble. We must also thank Gerry Adams, our own Bertie and Tony Blair. Without the constant efforts by both the British and Irish governments, pulling when pulling was needed and pushing when pulling wasn’t enough I don’t think we would be looking forward to the future we all wanted to see.
I don’t expect everything to go without a hitch and I am sure we will see some right old ding dongs but at least this time the slings and arrows will only be verbal.

As someone who has to pass through the Red Cow roundabout every weekday I am slowly coming to the conclusion that there is absolutely no joined up thinking in the National Roads Authority. What class of cretin could decree that on a Monday morning traffic on the M50 had to come up the off ramp, through a Luas car park, go across the Naas Road and then go back down the other ramp to continue their journey. As if this operation of idiocy was not enough, they decided that one lane of traffic would be sufficient to enable the traffic to flow. At one point the tailback from the Red Cow was all the way back to Rathcoole on our side, and all the way back to Christ Church in Dublin. What makes it all the more galling is that this situation was allowed to occur just months after Martin Cullen, the minister for imbecility, assured us that traffic hold ups were a thing of the past. Well I am sorry minister but I think its about time you came back down and joined the rest of us in the real world.

Whilst on the subject of ministers I was astounded at the speed at which Dick Roches posters appeared after Berties breakfast rush to Aras an Uachtarain. It was almost as if Dick somehow had prior knowledge of the event, but of course we know that couldn’t be true. Whatever about knowledge Dick does seem to have the biggest budget for posters. Not for him the squalid little yokes up on lamp posts, but the large solid ones displaying his noble visage. There can hardly be a crossroads or junction in Wicklow which has not been accosted by his publicity machine.
Whilst there has always been talk of ministers favouring their own back yards before the national interest I think this is the first time I have seen a minister admit to it so blatantly. Dick Roche, working for Wicklow, he proudly proclaims. Or should it be Dick Roche, working for Dick Roche?.
So as not to appear biased, there are some other ministers who could do with a spoonful of reality. Some weeks ago Seamus Brennan informed us that auction politics was a sure fire way to stir inflation and damage the remarkable progress Fianna Fail has enabled us all to enjoy, and that Fianna Fail was not going to be drawn into that kind of behaviour. What happens?. A few weeks later, following bad poll results, Bertie announces dozens of goody packages at the Ard Fheis. Surely that’s a u turn Seamus.
For weeks we were treated to Brian Cowen, on radio television and in any newspaper that was interested, telling us ad nauseam that Fianna Fail was going to do absolutely nothing about stamp duty. If any changes were to be made they would be done only when his party was back in government, and they would be done quickly and without notice. To do otherwise, he sternly informed us, would be a serious blow to the building sector upon which so much of our present good fortune appears to rest.
What happens?. After Bertie decides the other parties are stealing a march with their stamp duty plans Minister Cowen has a damascene conversion and proudly tells us that Fianna Fail does after all intend to make stamp duty fairer. Then again, the minister probably has another word for u turn.

Whilst I have the greatest of sympathy for the predicament the country’s nurses now find themselves in I wonder if they are perhaps looking for just a little bit too much. Considering the trojan work they undertake day in and day out I am absolutely sure that no one would begrudge them a fair reward for their efforts but their present campaign would see them gain a huge amount, way and above what other sections of the workforce can only dream about.
Their claim for a thirty five hour week would seem somewhat reasonable in light of the hours worked by other health service personnel. You will have to make allowances for the following arithmetic, off the back of an envelope, but this reduction in hours, for the same pay, would in itself equate to an eleven per cent pay rise. A further pay rise of ten per cent would give an overall rise in wages of almost twenty two per cent. If as seems likely, the same nurses will have to work overtime to make up for the reduction to thirty five hours then for working the thirty nine hours they currently work they will have gained an increase of almost thirty per cent. Even with all the billions being thrown at the health services this level of an increase does seem just a little bit extravagant.
All for now. Mike Edmonds.

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