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Bono has the answer Ð we should all go Dutch

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Date Published: {J}

How comforting it was in this time of crisis to bear witness to an apparition from our very own rock god – otherwise known as Bono – at the top table for our recent Global Irish Economic Forum, dropping pearls of his infinite wisdom onto the great unwashed.

The great man said he would gladly go out and promote the country on specific missions – but reminded delegates that they had to do more than just play the ’Irish card’ to succeed.

“I’m torn on the diaspora thing because it is really significant but in the end things have to be great not just Irish. The tunes have to be great to get on the radio,” said the U2 singer, who entertained delegates by impersonating Clinton while they waited for the former President.

There appears to be no end to the man’s talent and at least he was honest enough to admit his discomfort at playing ‘the Irish card’ – probably on the basis that he pays his own taxes in Holland.

That said, he’s not a man to let a mere detail like that get in the way of his efforts to tell the rest of us what to do – it’s hard for a prophet to make a profit in his own land.

The U2 singer told Forum delegates that he was willing to work for the country in whatever role was asked of him – once, presumably, it wasn’t the same role as the rest of us which is to pay our tax, take our wage cuts or redundancies and swallow bitter pills in the belief it’s for the ‘greater good’.

Bono said the most important thing to take from the forum was that it is "within us to make this country ours again so we’re not beholden to these financial institutions." Which indeed he’s not, given that his financial institutions are, quite literally, a different country.

Of course if you rounded up the rest of the non-resident Irish who attended the Global Forum and asked them to live here and pay tax here like the rest of us, you’d probably have raised enough to satisfy the troika and have enough left over to send the entire country to the European Championships if Ireland manage to make it to Poland.

But the old teaching maxim – ‘do as I say, not as I do’ – also holds for our wealthiest ex-pats. And to be honest, if the rest of us had a way of having our salaries paid into a Dutch bank, we’d probably avail of the facility as well.

And in fairness to some of those who pay their tax in other countries – albeit considerably less of it than they’d pay if they stayed here – they do contribute to worthy causes, from Limerick hurling to Trappatoni’s wages.

But Bono is a different kettle of fish, because he proclaims his Irishness like he was in the GPO in 1916 and yet he – and his band-mates – steer their dosh through the Dutch books.

U2 were happy to avail of our tax breaks for artists here until the goalposts were moved in 2006 and a cap was placed on these breaks.

At the time, politicians and the public branded U2’s move a cynical ploy, leading to accusations that, while the band were urging the Government to give more money to relieve poverty, they were denying it the funds to do so.

U2’s manager, Paul McGuinness – another happy to help out at our Dublin Castle think-in – defended that, claiming “U2 is a global business and pays taxes globally… at least 95 per cent of U2’s business takes place outside of Ireland and as a result the band pays many different kinds of taxes all over the world.”

Bono himself has been strangely reluctant to explain their tax strategy, but the Edge admitted: “Of course we want to be tax-efficient – who doesn’t?”

U2 were the highest-earning musicians in the world last year, raking in around £80 million – which, in fairness, has to be good news for the Dutch.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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