Wednesday, January 2, 2008

on passing by- again

So someone in the HSE has finally come to the rather belated conclusion that the PPARS computer system is a monumental joke and no further taxpayers money should be wasted on it. This system has now been around for three Ministers for Health and because the Government was rolling in it no one seemed to mind spending tens of millions after tens of millions on a system that was fatally flawed from the outset. From an original estimate of less than nine million euro the system up to early this year had consumed over one hundred and seventy six million. When the you know what started to hit the fan the government made a bold , innovative and strategic decision- bring in the consultants.
Over seventy million was spent on consultants alone, with the farcical situation at one point of having one set of consultants being paid to examine the work being done by other consultants, and yet at the end none of them were able to offer any real explanation of what was wrong. Until recently the head of the HSE, Brendan Drumm, was exhorting staff to “ realise the benefits “ of the technology. I queried his motives in the Bugle in February and wondered if this was his personal stance or if it was too close to an election to scrap the whole thing. Lo and behold, we get the election over and the decision is made.
So it looks like the black hole had finally been capped and the consultants gravy train has come to a halt. And the real sickener? I can almost guarantee that no one in government who had any hand act or part in the whole debacle, from the highest to the lowest, will be faced with the slightest official censure or ill comment. Once again, sure its only taxpayers money.

Rose mentioned last month that Dick Roche had been very comfortably re elected. From a position in the previous election of having over three thousand votes over the quota, to his position in this one of not getting elected until the fourth count would not be my idea of comfort, especially when there was a larger electoral base this time out.
I have long believed that Dick Roche was the kind of bloke who was so lucky that he could fall into a full slurry pit and come out wearing a new suit. Recently demoted from a full Ministry to Minister for State I have noticed that some of the papers are still calling him Minister, and just not having enough space for the “ for State “ bit.

Speaking of luck wasn’t Tom Parlon absolutely steeped in it. Out of a proper job after the election and what should land at his feet only a top position at the Construction Industry Federation. Very fortuitous. But then the spoilsports in the Labour Party had to get in on it. According to them Mr Parlons appointment smacks of a very definite conflict of interest.
Why?. Well in their opinion the problem is his previous role in Government in the Office of Public Works, which hands out lucrative contracts to construction companies.
A global anti corruption organisation has also raised questions about the appropriateness of the appointment. Transparency international has called for new regulation to prevent a situation where, as they put it, Ministers could be in a position to make decisions with one eye on their future employment prospects. Obviously they are totally unaware of how the system works over here. Its called jobs for the boys.

I recently visited the vintage car show in Terenure College and what a great day out it was. The slightly inclement weather ( o.k. it was a bit more than slightly) did little to dampen the day for what appeared to be thousands of visitors. Everyone seemed to have come well equipped for the weather and each shower saw hundreds of umbrellas going up. There were very impressive stands by Blessington club, the Kildare club and a group from Baltinglass. The love and attention so obviously expended on their vehicles was a delight to see and none of the owners gave a second thought to getting engaged in conversation with anyone who wanted to learn more about their vehicle. Some of the vehicles were up to one hundred years old but still in perfect working order. Vehicles which would have been common when I was growing up appeared in abundance and brought back some happy memories. Go see it next year.

Talk about getting it wrong. I ended last months piece by commenting on the improving weather and seem to have put a hex on the whole bloody thing. I don’t think we have had a decent dry day since and July is fast slipping away. The grass is rapidly taking on the appearance of the pampas. The only people who seem to be enjoying the it so far are the cinema and swimming pool owners. Summer ? Yea right!

All for now. Mike Edmonds.

Parents and teachers acknowledge huge input of retiring teacher
If Liam Lawler thought he was going to slip away quietly and gracefully retire from his teaching post in Scoil Mhuire this summer, then he was sadly misguided! Last week, parents organized a special presentation and get-together in Mick Murphy’s from pupils and parents alike with Liam once again on guitar, singing into the small wee hours – he may be retiring but he is not putting away the ol’ guitar just yet! Aine Murphy made a presentation to Liam on behalf of the choir and Mary Dooley representing the parents and the community of Ballymore Eustace. And the presents chosen went down really well – a gift voucher for Charles Camping in Blessington as the Lawlers are serious campers and a voucher for a music store seeing as Liam’s second best friend, his guitar (Geraldine being the first) is in need of a new cover!

At the end of school term, the staff and Board of Management at Scoil Mhuire also organized a tribute night held in the Ardenode Hotel.
“We had a really good night with Liam and his family, Geraldine, his daughters Deirdre and Ciara, sons Cormac and Garvan - his dad, Denis; members of the current Scoil Mhuire staff and some former teaching staff. (Eileen Conway, Shirley Fox, Zara Green, Jennifer Fanning, Anne Geddes. Teresa Nowlan wished to attend but were unable due to on that particular date).” said school principal, Mairead O’Flynn.

“Also in attendance were members of the Board of Management and some representatives of the parents' association committee and the recent fundraising committee. A retirement gift was presented to Liam to thank him for his dedication and service to the young people of Ballymore Eustace. He was commended for his patience, understanding, empathy and good-humour with the children – and indeed, fellow teaching staff - over the years.”

Liam’s good humour is something many of his pupils will remember him for -perhaps it’s the music in his soul… Geraldine, Liam and young Cormac arrived in Ballymore Eustace in 1979 to Barrack Street and Deirdre soon followed. If Ballymore was intended as a mere ‘stop over’ for the young couple that changed very quickly as Liam became immersed in his teaching role and Geraldine in community matters (Geraldine was editor of The Echo, predecessor to The Bugle). Along came Ciara and by now, Liam and Geraldine were actively involved in church matters with Liam looking after the school choir for years, giving up many a weekend to accompany the children at mass and special occasions.
Garvan arrived to complete the family and even though Liam and Geraldine made a break and moved to Geraldine’s family home in Dublin, the Lilywhite Lure had taken hold and back they arrived again with major plans to rebuild a solar-energy, eco friendly abode on Barrack Street. The feline population did well out of the Lawler’s too – if ever anyone had kittens to offload, it was always the same: “Did you try Geraldine Lawler or Grainne Glancy…”

I’d say twenty eight years teaching at Scoil Mhuire is proof enough that Liam had finally set down roots here. During his career, Liam taught every age-group from Infants to the senior classes. He was also a ‘super school rep.’ having acted as safety rep., I.N.T.O. teachers' rep., Board of management rep., and was instrumental in the formation of the parents association. He prepared classes for First Holy Communion and Confirmation and stepped in as Acting Principal during '04/'05 when Mairead was on a career-break.

At the June tribute night, Liam was presented with books of memories, some in pictorial format, from all the pupils outlining their good memories of him. Their attention to detail and humorous recollections of his kindness were much appreciated. Geraldine was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a presentation of photographs was made into a photo-story which played as a backdrop in the restaurant. Liam thanked everyone in attendance for their kindness and good wishes and although he is moving on to a new phase in his life, said he enjoyed all his working days at Scoil Mhuire.

If you’ve ever been to any of sessions at the Ballymore Singing Festival, then you will have heard Liam in action - along with Denis, Percy, CJ and others, they could give ‘Il Divo’ a run for their money (albeit with a bit of hair replacement, fake tan, clean shave and swap the checked shirts for dress suits).
But they’re good; make no mistake, lovely harmony. Liam is a golfer, longstanding member of Ballymore Golf Society and also Craddockstown and always brings “Ernie” along for social events…(A handy head to have at a table quiz too). In all the years I’ve known the Lawlers, they went on camping holidays and toured so the present from the parents association will be well used . (I didn’t say Liam was ‘camp’, just an avid camper, big difference). Apparently, when Liam and Gerladine got engaged, they couldn’t afford a ring, just a tent for two so off they went camping – much better value from the tent, I’d say! I wonder did he have a ring at the altar on the wedding day or was it “With this tent I thee wed?”

Liam, enjoy your retirement; you are not the type of person to be idle, that’s for sure so enjoy whatever past-times you pursue. Thank you for the humour, level headedness and the music you brought to our children….. and, if you need an agent to act for “An Divos Chill Dara”, I will give it a go….

- Rose
Settlin’ In.

Since I last wrote changes have taken place both at home and abroad. Across the pond Tony has exchanged the business suit for sandals and Bedouin gear and is heading for the Middle East; there to straighten things out, and put the whole area on the road to peace and prosperity! Ironic that, seeing as how he and his pal in the Whitehouse set the whole place in turmoil by invading Iraq a short few years ago. Nevertheless he vacated his role as Labour and leader of the government with acclaim and plaudits coming from all quarters. Bertie got in on the act and said his ‘two bits’ worth. When I was a gossoon the ‘special position of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland’ was often referred to; that seems to be on the sidelines at the moment and in Bertie’s book it was Tony’s ‘special position in the Peace Process’ that turned the tide. So be it. A word of advice Tony as you head east; you recently paid a visit to the Pope, may I suggest a visit to the head of Islam; be like the Kerry man wearing the two condoms just to be sure to be sure. Check with Bertie, an expert in the field of how to keep all corners covered and all avenues open. Gordon Brown you’ve a hard act to follow
Back here on the ranch we have change and no change. A lot of the same old faces just shuffled around like the deck chairs on the Titanic, and a few extra ‘special positions’ found, just to keep everyone happy. Like the bride going to her wedding it’s a case of something old, something new, something borrowed (independents) and something green. Bertie must be cock a hoop with himself. Just imagine someone anxious to hold on to Health! Tough bird is Mary of the Trolleys. With Mary in Health and John in Environment, two ministries that will occupy the headlines for the next five years gives Bertie lashings of time to chase around addressing various parliaments the world over. He could start in the Middle East and give his pal Tony a dig out.
Mary we know can throw punches with the best of them, so all eyes will be on John who probably had no choice but to take that poisoned chalice Environment. Yes, we know Minister Roche pulled a fast one before leaving office, (where’s he gone?) vis-a-vie Tara and the motorway, but there are some would say that the decision is not yet written in stone. And what about waste management and incineration? Enough to give anyone indigestion! And that’s not all. We had someone on TV t’other night telling us that in spite of all the rain that falls in this country we’re facing a water shortage in the near future. No longer do we carry the tag the ‘dirty Irish’; what with bedrooms en-suite, the lawn to be watered, and the car washed religiously and more new houses going up be the new time. I mind the time when a sup a water to make a cup a tay kept everyone happy. Are water charges on the way John? We’ll all be keeping a close watch on Environment.
And what about Bev from Castlebar? Will the Flynn Dynasty rise again? Mutterings and hintments from the Chief have given rise to rumour and speculation. What did he say or not say; your guess is as good as mine! As the song goes, ‘the answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind’. Blowing with the wind is more to the point if we ask ourselves what sort of deal Bertie cut with the three Musketeers in order to copper fasten their allegiance. Loadsamoney to be thrown around the Kingdom if we are to believe Jackie from Kerry, but he was keeping his cards close to his chest. Same applies to the man from Tipp, and not a squeak from the man from the city. I’m sure the voters who made these Independents into pole toppers, are delighted with themselves, but it sinks democracy to a new low and makes a mockery of the word Independent when covert deals are done in order to hold onto power, and to get into power. What happened to transparency of information, the very essence of democracy? Shouldn’t it be a collective decision of government as to how monies are best spent for the overall good of the country and not into separate little fiefdoms? Hundreds of millions of taxpayers monies channelled into the Independents pet projects without a by your leave to the rest of us, makes the Freedom of Information Act a sick joke. As the man said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”!
But it would appear, that we as a nation have turned into a collection of smug self-satisfied people and are happy with the status quo. ‘I’m all right Jack’ and to hell with the begrudgers seems to be the new thinking that has been spawned by our Celtic Tiger; the bitching and complaining can be left to the little people. And so, as we head into another possible five years of ‘nudge, wink, and whatever you’re havin’ yerself ‘ government, take heart, and remember the words of Churchill, “Democracy is a damn bad form of government, until you try something else”! Bye for now, and here’s a couple of questions: what shade of Green will the Big Top be, at the Galway Races this year, and question no 2, should Bertie adopt the tune ‘Wrap the Green Flag round me Boys’ as a signature tune? Those who send in the correct answers will be promised a Junior Ministry in the bye an’ bye! Yrs Jeffers.

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