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A Different View

Roots are where you grow from – not what tie you down

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

We live in strange times in Ireland, when Roma gypsies cannot have blond children and it’s newsworthy that a man accused of a serious crime is also in possession of a university degree.

There’s no need to rake over the ashes of the story of the two children who were taken from their parents because they didn’t look like them – and anyway the definitive analysis of that has to come from a full investigation.

But it will take some explaining as to why a comment on a journalist’s website could prompt such a dramatic response when issues of child welfare are long-fingered every day of the week.

Until a future generation finally conquers cloning, there is no onus on parents to have children in their own likeness – so why should those from impoverished backgrounds be treated any differently?

If a middle-class family adopts a child from a foreign country – a child that clearly doesn’t look like them – would they be subjected to a swoop on the streets as they go about their business?

Thankfully and rightfully, not in a million years – but the Roma are apparently fair game because they are so stereotyped that anyone who isn’t dark-eyed and dark-skinned must belong to someone else.

If the Gardaí came to our door looking for proof that our boys were ours, I’d have difficulty showing them anything more than photographs going back over the last 16 years in which they and us are all included in the same shot.

I certainly wouldn’t be in a position to lay hands on their birth certs, and I couldn’t remember their birth weight the week they were born, never mind a decade and a half later.

Obviously they are now old enough at 14 and 15 to tell any authorities that they are not being held against their will and that they don’t actually have biological parents in some other part of the world.

But I’d have had the same difficulties in proving my parentage when they were two and three as I would now – and yet funnily enough, I don’t think they’d have been removed from the family home in quite the same way.

Social stereotyping had already raised its head a week earlier when a man was charged with the murder of Elaine O’Hara – and the most noteworthy aspect of his description was that he was a graduate of an NUI University.

If the accused man was from Ballyfermot, would the media have diligently reported that he got three honours in his Junior Cert?

But because Graham Dwyer is ‘an architect businessman’, this became an integral part of the story – as though ‘architect businessmen’ are some superior form of life.

The tragedy here isn’t Mr Dwyer’s occupation – it’s that the O’Hara family have lost their daughter. It would make it any easier or more traumatic for them if the man accused of killing her was a doctor or a docker.

All of us – and most of all, in these cases, the Gardaí and the media – should be very careful about jumping to conclusions, just because of an individual’s socio-economic background.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

How to win elections with the promises you can keep

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The man who was already the world’s oldest prime minister stood for election again last weekend at the tender age of 97 – arguing quite legitimately that he was fully fit for high office on the basis that he was ‘still standing and talking’.

Mahathir Mohamad was already a Guinness World Record holder for being the world’s oldest current prime minister since he became premier of Malaysia for a second time in 2018.

Proving that age is no impediment to ambition, he put himself forward again last weekend – only this time he fulfilled that age-old observation of Enoch Powell, that most unctuous of Tories from times past, who once said that all political lives end in failure…even if it’s a relative thing and you could hardly be said to have been cut down early, at the age of 97.

Adding insult to injury, not alone did he finish fourth of five candidates in Langkawi, a resort island in Malaysia’s northwest, which he had won with a large majority in the previous poll in 2018 – he also lost his deposit.

It wasn’t even an ageist thing; his entire party failed to win a single seat.

And for comfort in his hour of need, he can still look to Laos where the Prime Minister Khamtai Siphandone is still going strong at just short of 99 – although the fact that he is the chairman of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party means you don’t have to actually come up with an election manifesto because, more specifically, you don’t have to stand for election.

But if you do – and accepting Mahathir Mohamad’s weekend disappointment – going before the electorate on a platform of boasting the ability to walk and talk is at least an honest one.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Getting locked away from all the rest can be no bad thing

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

We all got used to a level of confinement during Covid, and if we were honest, occasionally, it was as much of a blessing than a curse; nobody calling unexpectedly to bother you, no journeys you’d prefer to avoid – even if ultimately we were happy to emerge from our pandemic hibernation.

But imagine if you were trapped for days in a pub during a storm – or in Disneyland during a snap lockdown.

Because for the very lucky few, that happened too.

Visitors to Shanghai’s Disney Resort recently found themselves barred from leaving until they produced a negative Covid test after a snap lockdown.

And we can all remember last November with envy, when customers who went to see an Oasis tribute band called Noasis found themselves trapped for days in a pub in the Yorkshire Dales as a result of heavy snowfall during Storm Arwen.

In both cases, quite honestly, it must have been like a dream come true.

The Disney Resort shut its doors all of a sudden after ten cases of coronavirus were discovered in Shanghai itself, with all visitors locked in the theme park until they were given the all-clear.

And while you’d think the reaction would be to kick back and literally enjoy the ride, online videos showed many of the visitors rushing to the gate trying to avoid being stuck in the park.

Perhaps the Chinese have had enough of snap lockdowns and feared they’d literally be on the swings and roundabouts for days on end – because a day earlier, workers at Foxconn, the biggest iPhone maker in Zhengzhou city, were videoed climbing over fences to avoid a similar snap lockdown.

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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Connacht Tribune

Accent survey shows Brits still love the oul’ Blarney

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Those of a certain vintage here will remember the phenomenon of the Dagenham Yank – a fella who left Ireland to work, in this case at the Ford plant in Dagenham, and on his first visit home six months later, he would be chirruping like a native Cockney.

It was often the same process for those who moved to the land of actual Yanks, coming back after a short spell away talking like a native New Yorker.

Footballers who moved to play in the English League had their own hybrid accent – a sort of mix of Estuary English with whatever remained of their native Cork or Dublin. Think Dave O’Leary or Ronnie Whelan for reference points.

And yet they need never have worried a jot, because it turns out that there are few accents the Brits love more than what they diplomatically call the accent of ‘southern Ireland’.

Research, published by the Sutton Trust education charity had a serious point to make in that it established what it called an ‘accent bias’ against people from the North of England, which was proving a barrier to social mobility.

But part of Speaking Up: Accents and Social Mobility also ranks different accents in order of prestige – and we’re right up there towards the top.

It found that French-accented English, Scottish, American and southern Irish accents ranked highly in terms of prestige.

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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