Monday, December 17, 2007

County GAA Website of the year goes Deenside

Well done to the lads and lassies in Erin's Own GAA club, Castlecomer, who recently scooped the award for the best club GAA website in Kilkenny. The site is a nice, easy and attractive one to navigate. I particularly like the bilingual rollover buttons on the site. Bheadh sé deas nios mó Ghaeilge a fheiceáil ar na leathanaigh áfach. The match reports are comprehensive, and there's a great news section. The photo gallery is good too, although more pics of recent games would be great. Well done to all involved in what is a very progressive GAA club. Go neiri libh as seo amach.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Common Sense in 'Joysey'-Death Penalty goes in Springsteen Land

The news tonight that New Jersey has become the first US State in over thirty years to vote to outlaw the use of the death penalty, including Amnesty International, is a little bit of good news for all those who have struggled against this inhumane and pointless form of human punishment. The arguments have been well rehearsed for years: the racist element of the death penalty leading to disproportionate killing of black working class males in the US, its total failure to cause a drop in crime rates anywhere it exists-in other words it is simply not effective as a deterrent, and most convincingly in an Irish context, the fact that innocent people are executed for crimes of which they were wrongly convicted. Well done to the brave people of Jersey for acting decisively, and may they inspire those in the remaining states who retain this archaic law to follow their lead. Won't the 'Boss', their greatest musical ambassador and clearest voice of the old-fashioned democratic, centre-left values be a proud Jersey man tonight.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Disgraceful Double dealing and insulting decent people

I promised last night that I would come here today and give the reasons I was angry then. I hoped that my fury would have decreased by now but instead it's got ten times worse.

The front page of our local paper the Kilkenny People carries the story today, and the national papers will follow suit tomorrow with the fact that kilkenny Borough Council, my council and that of the 20,000 people of the city of Kilkenny, have failed to award the Freedom of Kilkenny to Séamus Pattison, the longest-serving parliamentarian in Europe, who retired in June of this year after forty six years continuous membership of Dáil Éireann. He also served for decades on our council and Kilkenny County Council, serving as mayor of Kilkenny and Chairperson of Kilkenny County Council.

His record as a public representative is utterly without blemish, and Séamus was famous for the service he gave to the ordinary people of this city, regardless of political persuasion, colour, class or creed. Even the most begrudging of opponents would admit this. How then could this most noble of honours this city can convey be refused him?

Put simply, the decision to bestow the freedom of the city is taken by the unanaimous vote of all twelve members of the council in secret ballot, after the Mayor of the day has been assured that such a vote will be unanimous. So it was this Monday that our Mayor was assured privately by all members that this would be the case. Between then and the vote a matter of hours later, a number of councillors broke their word!

The upshot is the public humiliation of the Mayor, my colleague Cllr. Joe Cody who proposed the motion in the first place, and of couse Séamus himself. I may be accused of bias because all of the above are my party colleagues, but I find it hard to work out which of these fine people deserves the humiliation least.

What it does mean however is the cheapening of the political process, and all for what? To score a cheap political point while hiding behind the denial and the cover of the secrecy of the ballot? One thing is for sure, those of us who believe in honesty and decency in how we deal with people will not take this one lying down. We will fight to have this process changed so that decent people like these can never again be humitiated in this fashion.

For me, my conscience is clear. My 'Tá' or Yes vote was seen by another councillor, and I would not have dreamed of doing anything else, either for Séamus, of for somebody in any other party whose service to Kilkenny came even close to his. Let my colleagues consciences be equally clear, or those responsible at least have the decency to be ashamed!!

Really angry but seeing the best in one who's passed on.

Tonight I am raving with anger about something really shitty that has happened to a number of decent people in this city, and about which I'll blog tomorrow when the news becomes public. It's at moments like this when you can lose faith in the most basic honesty and decency in people around you. But more anon....

My good friend 'An Fear Rua' however always has a way of making things better, and he sent me this magic Youtube video of the great Christie Hennessy from Tralee who passed on this morning. All of us from the Kingdom are really proud of what a so-called uneducated man from Tralee, forced to take the emigrant ship to London like most of his compatriots in the fifties and sixties, has achieved in writing some of the greatest songs of recent decades and having become 'A Star' so late in life. More than anything else that magical simplicity of Christy's 'Up de rock and down de square' Tralee attitude to life, and his pure niceness and gentleness should bring out the best in us.

This video sums it all up, and I'm off tomorrow to buy the album. For those who I'll write about tomorrow, they should look at Christie as the example of how life should be lived. Suaimhneas siorai agat Christie-rest in peace forever, and may the music shine on!