WHAT’S now referred to as Golfgate must feel like a dagger in the heart of Micheál Martin. Granted, Micheál’s heart these days has standing room only for daggers, what with Barry Cowen’s drink-driving thing and senior figures in his party saying publicly he doesn’t know his asarum from his elbow. And the cherry on top, his very own Tánaiste Leo Varadkar dropping critical comments as well. But the Golfgate thing has moved Micheál’s woes to a whole new level.
The DUP’s Peter Weir has the air of a slightly harassed headmaster. He also is closer to the liberal end of the DUP (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) rather than the raw-reactionary end. Unfortunately for him, he’s also the Minister for Education and so, after his u-turn on A-Levels, looks less like a headmaster and more like a man who’s kicked a hornet’s nest.
DOES the term ‘United Ireland’ drive some people temporarily mad? The painter Robert Ballagh figured that the term ‘United Ireland’ was one of these trigger phrases which set off an instinctive gut response, with Reason pulling on its coat and slipping out the back door.
I READ a newspaper column by Fintan O’Toole. In it he argued that the handling of the pandemic by the southern state had been a turning point. “If Covid-19 had struck the world even five years ago, one of the first questions on the minds of Irish officials would have been: what is Britain doing?”
Here, guess who said this: “We deny that it is a crime, or a wrong, or even a peccadillo to hold slaves, to buy slaves, to keep slaves to their work by flogging or other needful correction. We wish we had a good plantation well-stocked with healthy negroes in Alabama.”
I WAS talking to a former journalist the other day (of course it was a virtual conversation, Virginia) and he said he’d been out for a short walk, in the course of which a man had passed him, rolled his eyes and asked, “Don’t you miss Brexit?”
NO Sunday morning is ever complete without an extended browse through the (electronic) pages of my second-favourite Irish news organ, The Sindo. I always find something that encourages me to think further on a given topic; often (but not always) the pen of Eilis O’Hanlon or (more recently) Mairia Cahill will gently lead me towards more contemplative waters. Last Sunday, though, it was a front-page story of The Sindo which drilled to the core of my brain.
Sometimes you have to laugh. And often, I find, a fit of the giggles comes on just at those moments when it would be highly inappropriate to let them out. But this is not one of those occasions. This time, giggles and guffaws and near-painful belly-laughs are the only sane response.
Arlene Foster is a conflicted woman. I don’t mean that she isn’t interested in conflict – as leader of the DUP, Conflict is her middle name. Her predecessors took a similar line. Ian Paisley promoted conflict with the same zeal he brought to denouncing the Catholic faith; and who could forget Peter Robinson’s remarks about sending a Muslim to the corner store for milk? No, the conflict for Arlene is one of Arlene vs Arlene.