World of Politics with Harry McGee – email@example.com
The U2 concert in Croke Park last weekend brought back a cascade of memories for me. I was obsessed with the band when I was a teenager and had seen them twice in Galway (Leisureland and Seapoint) when I was 15. I was too young to see the band’s first ever gig in Galway which was in the Claddagh Hall.
This was the early 1980s and band hadn’t broken anywhere yet outside a growing group of dedicated fans. Global stardom was still two or three years into the future. I think the Leisureland gig was the first.
It’s important to try to categorise it because that was really important to us as teenagers. Punk had come and gone. We were in the post-punk phase which was new wave. That was Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Clash and the Cure. Ska was also big at the time thanks to the Specials, the Selector, Bad Manners and the more poppy Madness.
U2 were definitely the Irish new wave band. They were really cool to my 15-year old eyes. The Edge wore monkey boots that had been spray painted racing green. In the Seapoint gig Bono wore a torn vest, with a homemade imprint of his hand on it. I had taken to wearing a Fedora hat. I bought it on a trip to Dublin in a man’s hat shop called Coyle’s on Aungier Street that is no longer there. We were so enthusiastic that we sneaked in in early afternoon for the sound check. Bono came down to us and asked us had we a copy of Hot Press (which we probably did). He then admired my hat and I promptly gave it to him. He wore it on stage that night which provided my microscopic sliver of narrative action in the life and times of Bono.
For us growing up then, there always seemed a political element to the music. It wasn’t the precise, articulate and deliberate anti-war messages of the 1960s, more of an energy and emotion, raging almost randomly against the machine.
Still, you felt that by following a certain kind of music, you were also invested in something wider, a statement about society, or rather against society. That had different degrees of articulation and extremity. At the most extreme end, there were the remnants of the punk bands such as Public Image Limited (PIL) with their message of anarchy and chaos.
In Britain, which provided us with our pop culture reference points, the messages (such as they were) were directed against Margaret Thatcher. The political background at the time was the widespread mining strikes that caused massive division in the UK. There were also the Greenham Common protests, led by women mainly, against nuclear power.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Covid lockdown returns for Kildare, Laois and Offaly
The Government has announced localised lockdowns for people living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, following a surge in Covid-19 cases over the past week.
People from outside of those counties have been asked not to travel their unless for work or essential travel.
The restrictions affect travel, pubs, restaurants, swimming pools and cinemas.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the clusters of new cases were of serious concern and described the restrictions as “limited”.
“Over the past 14 days 292 cases of Covid-19 have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. These represent almost half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time.
“These measures are being put in place to protect the vulnerable in these counties as well as to stop the spread of the virus.
They are in place for two weeks from midnight tonight (Friday) until midnight on Friday, August 20. The situation will then be reviewed,” the Taoiseach said.
Travel and transport
You can only travel within your county, other than for the following reasons:
- to travel to and from work where that work cannot be done from home
- to attend medical appointments, collect medicines and other health products
- for vital family reasons, like providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits
- for farming purposes, food production or care of animals
You should not travel into any of these counties, other than for the reasons above, and you need to travel through these counties to get somewhere else. You should not stop in Kildare, Laois or Offaly unless for essential purposes.
Public and private transport
You should not use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and where possible you should not share private vehicles with others from outside your household.
Education and childcare
The following services remain open with appropriate protective measures in place:
- education and childcare
- outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks
- Economic activity and work
- Anyone in these counties who can work from home should work from home.
Cafes and restaurants
- All cafes and restaurants, including bars operating as restaurants, should only offer takeaway or delivery, or outdoor dining (maximum 15 people with strict physical distancing).
- Hotels can remain open but must limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons. Existing guests can remain for the duration of their booking.
- All indoor gatherings should be restricted to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 3 households in total, while maintaining physical distancing.
- Outdoor gatherings should be limited to a maximum of 15 people, while maintaining physical distancing.
Cultural and religious
- All cinemas, theatres, casinos, betting shops, bingo halls, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, exercise and dance studios are required to close.
- Attendance at a funeral service and burial or cremation ceremony should be limited to 25 outdoors. Indoor events connected to the funeral are limited to a maximum of 6 people.
- Places of worship remain open for private prayer, while services are to be held online.
No sporting events or matches should take place, with the following exemptions:
- non-contact training outdoors in a maximum group of 15 people may continue
- professional and elite sports and horse-racing may continue behind closed doors
- inter-county training (max 15 people) and fixtures may continue behind closed doors
Residential and healthcare facilities
*Visiting in long-term residential care facilities, acute settings and prisons will generally be suspended in the first instance with the exception of the most critical and compassionate circumstances (for example end of life).
Relocation homebuyers head to the west
The Coronavirus pandemic has encouraged a new exodus of homebuyers to relocate to the west, with remote working now a viable option for many employees.
Galway’s busiest auctioneer has noticed increased interest in properties in the city and county from workers relocating from Dublin, its commuter belt and the Midlands.
The availability of high-speed broadband, which can facilitate working from home, is a determining factor in many homebuyers’ decisions to move to the West.
But the high cost of renting remains the single biggest incentive for people to get on the property ladder, according to Niall Browne, senior sales negotiator at O’Donnellan and Joyce Auctioneers.
“People are paying such high rent that it’s the equivalent to a mortgage repayment and that’s when you buy. That’s the biggest incentive to buy – you’re not giving away dead money,” Mr Browne said.
The property market locally had quietened in the initial months of the Covid-19 lockdown – but it has been buoyant in the past two months in particular, he said.
Mr Browne suggested there was an element of pent-up demand for housing that was now being realised as the Covid lockdown restrictions focused people’s minds on their desire to purchase a home.
“We typically try to get eight to ten sales per month by private treaty, and we had 28 or 29 last month. The previous month was six and the previous month was eight. This month (July) we’re up to 26, and that’s outside of our auction,” he said.
Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.
Nursing Homes shun student nurses over Covid fears
Student nurses in Galway are facing financial doom as part-time employers shun those currently on work placement in hospitals over fears they are at high-risk of contracting Covid-19.
First year nursing student at NUI Galway Ciarán Mac an tSaoir told the Connacht Tribune that this had become a particular issue for first and second year students who would traditionally take on healthcare assistant roles in nursing homes, where the fear of spreading the virus is at fever pitch.
“After semester one in first year, you are essentially qualified as a healthcare assistant and a lot of students would take that up as an option. Since Covid-19 came in, a lot of work places are fearful of cross-contamination and that’s not unjustified.
“It’s very understandable that a nursing home wouldn’t want a student who might be going between five or six clinical areas in an acute hospital to be then coming into work in the nursing home,” said Mr Mac an tSaoir.
Nursing students, for whom a large proportion of their university experience is spent on unpaid work placement, spend up to 35-hours a week in a clinical setting and so that could mean them travelling between a Covid-19-free setting of a nursing home to a respiratory word in a hospital such as UHG, he explained.
However, this wasn’t a HSE policy but rather the decision of individual care facilities who were doing their best to ensure coronavirus was kept out.