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The road to Christmas is paved with good intentions

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Everything except temptation to be resisted this Christmas . . . . loads of food treats on offer at the Galway Christmas Market in Eyre Square. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

A very disturbing thought crept through my mind over recent weeks based on the notion that this year, I should contemplate enjoying Christmas, rather than embarking on my usual seasonal whine about the season of jollity, over-indulgence, shots of religion and trying to be nice to each other without really meaning it.

An unblemished record in failing to post a Christmas card for the past 25 years could come to an end as I will try to draw up a list of eight to ten people that could broadly come under the embracing as general friends. Even if I’m only 50% successful with this endeavour, at least it will mean four or five cards more than I’ve sent out over recent decades, and that will be progress.

A second key target during the first week of December will be the securing of the Christmas tree and its erection in the sitting room, without any moans, groans or temper tantrums.

Over the years, this moody piece of spruce has tended to create household carnage with buckets of soil leaving their mark on floors through the house before inevitably the tree topples over amid shrieks of terror from all the assembled masses.

This time around the tree will be purchased at least three days in advance of its unveiling date; I will smile my way through all the spillages and then, when the lights inevitably don’t work, every bulb and electrical connection will be checked with all the stoic patience of Job.

I’m also not going to moan about the rising cost of the tree from the local jobber in the heart of Tuam town and vow not to mortify any of my offspring with 10 minutes of haggling in an effort to get a fiver off the purchase price.

So that’ll be the great start to Christmas out of the way – at least five cards posted in good time with the tree in place and lit up without a cross word having crossed my lips. Already this is beginning to work out well.

My next key goal towards a happy Christmas is the unfulfilled ambition of recent decades to survive the season of goodwill without enduring as much as one hangover. True there will be the temptation of the office party, the local pub ‘do’, the Christmas Eve binge and the ringing-in of the New Year, but all of those occasions will be treated with an iron discipline based on the Puritan gospel of people like Oliver Cromwell and Martin Luther.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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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