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Our common humanity is reason we should help Pakistanis

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Date Published: {J}

Some weeks are harder than others. I want to write about Pakistan because this is rapidly turning into the worst human catastrophe for decades. There is no possible way to repeat that too often – but what else is there to say? I have over five hundred words to fill here, I can’t just write it out like lines.

I suppose I do want to distance myself from the ranks of those pointing out how helping Pakistan is in the West’s own interests. Would we not try to help if it wasn’t? There has never been any suggestion of that. People all over the world gave generously to the victims of disaster in Indonesia, Haiti or Ethiopia often without knowing or asking the religion or politics of the victims. I won’t say I hope that people won’t give more because they want to outdo the Islamists, because in a situation like this the aid getting there at all is what matters and how or why it got there is immaterial right now. But it would be sad if some saw humanitarian aid as a bribe, or as public relations spending.

I would certainly hope that the opposite doesn’t occur though – holding back on aid to the people of Pakistan because of their government’s various questionable policies. Now is not the time to ask why a country like Pakistan has nuclear weapons. (Though I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad time to ask why a country like India has them.) Pakistan has problems which we do not normally take time to consider, so we’re not going to turn into experts on them overnight. But we may have some inkling that drawing a line on a map to divide two conflicting ethnicities is not always the fast track to effective government.

And frankly, the best government in the world would be struggling in the teeth of a disaster like this. Whose fault is it that a fifth of the country is under water? Perhaps it is us in the rich countries, with our cars and air conditioning and our electric kettles, destabilising the climate. Perhaps it is an angry God – though it is funny how God always seems to be angry about the same thing some man is angry about. We really cannot know for sure, and anyone who says they know is lying either to you or to themselves. Allotting blame is a simple human desire, but the real causes of

things are multiple and ferociously complex. As humans, no matter what precautions we take or who we pray to, we will always be victims of the unforeseen, of disaster, of the vast and unstoppable forces of the natural world. As humans, we recognise that we have this in common. We may come from countries and cultures and families that do things in different ways, that are richer or poorer, that have more or less power, but when you put things in their true perspective we are all very small and very vulnerable and we have to look out for each other.

We help people not to influence them, but because they need help. That’s not Christianity any more than it’s Communism. It’s just humanity. A person is drowning, you pull them out.

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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