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Daffodils rather than snow this Christmas

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Daffodils in full bloom in the run-up to Christmas as we enjoy an exceptionally mild winter.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

‘‘I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils.”

Well, as you might observe, what an unseasonal verse for the week before Christmas from one William Wordsworth, but such as been the mildness of our weather this Winter, that the daffodils in many parts of Ireland and the UK are coming into full bloom.

There is also talk of insects not tuning into their hibernation cycle and the ‘weather worriers’ are predicting all kinds of doom to follow through the Spring. “We’re going to pay for this later,” is one of the usual lines trotted out, but while weather does tend to even itself out over the course of a year or maybe even a couple of years, just because we’re now enjoying mild conditions doesn’t mean that we’ll endure a big freeze in a couple of months time.

Temperatures through December have been two to three degrees up on average and on the Wednesday night of the 16th, as I travelled to and from the local village, the thermometer in the car for recording external temperatures was reading a positively balmy 14˚ Celsius.

The only problem for us here in Ireland, as distinct from the Barcelonas of this world, is that our above average temperatures come with a barrage of wind and rain. So while we mightn’t need the gloves and scarves on, the oil skins and cap are an absolute essential if any outdoor chores are to be undertaken.

There’s also a temptation to jump on the bandwagon of climate change and global warming being the sole reason for this December hot spell – it may be a long term contributory factor but other forces are at play here, one of them being that weather phenomenon called El Nino.

So what really is El Nino? For a start, El Nino is the Spanish word for the Christ Child and that name is linked to this slightly mysterious weather event, because it usually tends to appear around the mid-Winter, Christmas period.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), El Nino is a naturally occurring weather episode during which the waters of the eastern/central Pacific warm up in line with the equatorial region of South America. When the waters warm up they expand, and trigger off a whole series of secondary events such as droughts, wildfires, flooding in different regions of the world.

Here in Ireland, the UK and Western Europe, we tend to get sucked into a warm south-westerly airflow that blows in a series of Atlantic weather system, and this year the warming impact of El Nino will be two degrees above the normal, according to the WMO.

Bradley Bytes

Expensive Future of Media report gathers dust on Taoiseach’s desk

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Bradley Bytes, a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Back when they weren’t bosom buddies, Fine Gael tried to dig up dirt on Fianna Fáil.

Fine Gael found that Micheál Martin, now leader of Fianna Fáil, had spent more than €30 million on 115 reports while he was Minister for Health.

The figure was likely to be even more than that because Martin had actually initiated 145 reports, according to his immediate predecessor, Mary Harney.

And FG ran to the Irish Times with the information, to cause maximum embarrassment to FF.

The Cork politician earned a reputation as someone who would rather commission a report than make an unpopular decision.

Opponents painted him as someone who hid behind reports, or who used them to delay decision-making, rather than someone who took decisive action.

When he did act, Martin used the cover of reports to lay the blame elsewhere, they argued.

Though exaggerated, there was some truth to it.

And he’s still at it. Just look at his unwillingness to take action on the Future of Media Commission Report.

The Future of Media Commission was set up in 2020 during a period of turmoil in the broadcast and print media in Ireland (and globally). A group of experts was engaged to examine what the future held for media in Ireland.

These experts looked at Ireland’s public service broadcasters, commercial broadcasters (radio and TV) as well as print and online media organisations. The Commission considered challenges faced by media, such as sustainable funding sources, changing audience habits and technology advances.

It produced a report with recommendations on how a free media, which is fundamental to democracy, could overcome the challenges.

But it’s sitting on a desk in Micheál Martin’s office, gathering dust for months now.

Bradley Bytes submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request (to the Department of Media, which was transferred to the Department of An Taoiseach) for the report to be released and made public. Officials in Martin’s office refused. They said granting the request, and publishing the report, “would be contrary to the public interest”.

How the publication of a report about a serious topic of utmost importance to the public, such as the future of media, could be deemed ‘contrary to the public interest’ is anyone’s guess.

Officials did grant part of the request about how much public money the Commission spent to produce the report. The answer was €721,127.

It includes €264,329 for “payroll”; €431,418 for incidental expenses and training and development (including Irish language and sign language translation services and website costs); and €24,714 on office equipment and supplies, including software licences and design of publications.

So that’s an outlay of almost three-quarters of a million euro on a report that has remained private, save for the bits that were deliberately leaked to national media to suit someone’s agenda.

Another case of Martin dithers, as media burns.

(Photo by Gavan Reilly. Media Minister Catherine Martin and An Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaking to media on Monday. The Future of Media report they commissioned, at a cost of €750,000, is gathering dust on the Taoiseach’s desk.)

This is a shortened preview version of this article. For more Bradley Bytes, see the July 1 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Remembering the rough and tumble of open-air festivals

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

One of those public relations puff pieces – admittedly sent out on behalf of a mattress manufacturer who might just have a vested interest in sleep – offered a series of suggestions by which those attending outdoor music festivals this summer might be assured of a restful night.

That conveniently overlooks the fact that no one ever went to a weekend music festival in search of a good night’s sleep; indeed, for some any form of shuteye qualifies as proof that things didn’t go as well as you might have hoped.

Which means that the suggestions of these ‘sleep experts’ might have to be taken with a small pinch of salt – after a shot of Tequila at sunrise if you’re a real music head, of course.

But for what they’re worth, the experts suggest you bring an eye mask, use ear plugs so you can tune into a relaxing podcast, and take a nap during the day.

Alternatively, you could always stay at home because the rough and tumble of a weekend in a tent on a boggy field might not be for you. Instead pull up a comfy chair and watch Glastonbury on the BBC.

Even as it is, those festival-goers who think they’re roughing it don’t know the meaning of the word; unless you were in Lisdoonvarna in the eighties, you have no idea what getting back to basics is all about.

Equally the modern outdoor music festival involves a field or a park in the middle of a city, to which you can take the LUAS and your picnic basket, secure in the knowledge that the concert licence means you’ll be on your way towards home by around half ten.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

The only thing Boris Johnson actually believes in is himself

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Boris Johnson...clinging on despite all the odds.

World of Politics with Harry McGee

This is a column that is a little bit about a political question – and a lot about how political leaders manage to cling on to power. The political question is the Northern Protocol, and the leader clinging on – despite all the odds – is, who else, but Boris Johnson.

How he has managed to stay in 10 Downing Street defies all precedent. Many of his predecessors have fallen on their swords for much, much less.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Johnson has careered from crisis to crisis, disaster to disaster. When it was agreed by the EU and the UK, he hailed the Northern Ireland Protocol as a triumph.

As the Prime Minister he ousted, Theresa May, reminded him in the Commons this week when she was speaking of his low stock among international leaders: “Actually, I suspect they are saying to themselves why should they negotiate in detail with a government that shows itself willing to sign an agreement, claim it as a victory, and then try and tear it apart in three years’ time?”

That’s a good question. Johnson is now trying to destroy something he partly created. And the litany of other contradictions run deep. He spent weeks going around the place joking about Covid, shaking hands, and downplaying its seriousness. Then he caught it and almost died from it.

The number of deaths in Britain from Covid were among the highest, pro rata, anywhere. It would have downed another leader. But not Johnson.

In fairness, the British were the first to come out with mass vaccinations even though the decision to extend the time period before the first and second jab was not a great one in retrospect.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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