Thursday, April 23, 2009

Running of the Bulls in Ballinrobe, and random Irish Bull

Here is a still from a YouTube video clip , which is simply irresistable and hilarious! I wanted to share it with my blog readers as I have already posted it to my Facebook profile and it's on the sidebar of this blog.

Tonight's RTE news had this clip on its "...and finally..." slot. We have been inundated with bad news for so long that the sight of a bull on the loose in a Mayo supermarket was something to lift the heart of the nation. The parallels with Pamplona's famed Bull-Running San Fermin Festival are undeniable, particularly where the farmer is legging it out the supermarket door with the bull in hot pursuit.

I watch the news lately with trepidation as I know it will bring more budget cuts, health cuts, staffing cuts, redundancies, layoffs, "downsizing" and other euphemisms, with a few factory closures thrown in. I see my payslip diminishing every fortnight since the March pension levy came into force, and I know that this is only the start of the slippery slope, as we await further cuts and levies - read taxes - in our May payslips.

One of these levies is laughably called a Health Levy which is meant to go towards the public health service, and it was introduced ten or fifteen years ago as an interim measure. Interim is a term open to very loose interpretation and the levy is now firmly entrenched in our Social Insurance (like National Insurance in the UK), never to be rescinded. It has now been doubled from 2% of all income to 4%, and there is a doubling of the Income Levy as well. Don't ask, I have no idea what it's for either, but it sounds suitably ominous and necessary, doesn't it?

There was a government semi-putsch yesterday which nearly caused a palace revolution. Biffo (remember him?) did a cull of the Junior Ministers or Ministers of State, reducing their inflated numbers from 20 to 15, a somewhat token reduction but giving him scope to enhance cronyism with some new appointments in the reshuffle. The distressed displaced and dispatched former junior ministers sang like canaries of their displeasure; showing no stoic acceptance of the hand of Cowen, their party loyalty took a sabbatical, possibly permanent, as they considered their fate.

As I drove home from my Nurses' Union meeting in Waterford last night, I enjoyed listening to The Late Debate, where the hapless Conor "Kebabs" Lenihan (brother of Brian of Budget and Finance fame) who came out to bat for the government reshuffle was roundly hammered by Ruairi Quinn of Labour who wiped the floor with him.

Some of those who were cut off in their political prime had laid their public lives on the line with their constituents by attempting to uphold and defent the indefensible budget cuts on the elderly last October (Maire Hoctor from North Tipperary), while the deeply unpopular downgrading of services at some of the smaller general hospitals, like Sligo was opposed by Jimmy Devins of Sligo, a step tantamount to political suicide, where his demise was predictable. The most trenchantly vocal critic of the cull was victim John McGuinness from Kilkenny, whose ministerial demise was largely unanticipated by the media.

Some were no surprise, as they were seen as pretty ineffective in their given brief, and it never ceases to amaze me how skill or knowledge seems not to count when appointments are made in a particular area, e.g. the junior minister with responsibility for older people. These vague, woolly titles lead to total lack of achievement as there are no quantifiable targets set out, and junior ministries are seen by the cynics (i.e. everyone in opposition to the government) as a loyalty card for TDs, to keep them on side and toeing the party line. This gives the opposition unending fodder for satire, as immortalised by my earlier YouTube clip of Pat Rabbitte of Labour "eating his Greens", where he derides Trevor Sargent as the minister with responsibility for turnips and parsnips or some such vegetarian reference to his post as Minister for State in the Dept. of Agriculture.

So I hope you enjoy the video clip, and my update on the ever-changing political and economic home front.


Peggy said...

Hi Catherine the video is brilliant, I am laughing at 9.00am ,not a bad way to start the day! I agree with your political comments by the way,and is it true these demoted ministers are getting 52,000e golden handshakes?
Biffo has retracked on all the cuts to ministers but is holding firm on the cutabacks in the Christmas bonus.It now transpires that the e voting machines fiasco has cost us over 50 million!
I blame the opposition and the newspapers, this wasting of public funds should have been firmly on the front pages in the last few years not just coming out now when the money has disappeared, whatever happened to the Bertie bowl after what it cost the country?
The government and especially the HSE chiefs are sitting on the top cutting away at the services on the lower levels but cuts and reorganization on the upper levels would bring much more lucrative returns.
The gravy train continues with the first class carriage in front, we are in the carriages being cut loose!

Unknown said...

Hi Catherine

Thanks for your bull video....I love it!!

Oh! and by the way, if you ever come to Pamplona make sure to get in touch with us here in Pamplona for tips, guides, Accommodation & Balcony rentals....or anything else that you might need to enjoy the running of the bulls in Pamplona 2009.

Should you have any questions or experience any problems, please get in touch with us at +34 669866650, +34 948 210 540, Skype:jude1965

¡Viva! San Fermin!

Michael Murphy

Catherine said...

Thanks for the comments folks and glad it gave you a laugh in these dark days!

MICHAEL - I didn't expect to get a reply from Pamplona! Must check out those links and your blog. I have never been to either Ballinrobe or
Pamplona for San Fermin or any other festival, not sure the bull-running would be my cup of tea, but I do love Spain - my eldest son lives there on the Costa Maresme/Brava so why wouldn't I!

Catherine said...

PEGGY - glad to give you a good start to the day and yes it is hilarious, just the job. As for the politics, yes the Golden Handshake is indeed €52,000 per junior minister though McGuinness says he will use his to pay his staff who now face the dole - that would be his civilian driver and two office admins. I mean what sort of country are we that junior ministers need drivers, no wonder their egos get over-inflated. Even in the UK they car-pool the ministerial fleet. But we gotta go one better than the Brits and get the ministerial mercs out, and then ensure that every former Taoiseach has a car and garda driver for LIFE! Oh yes do we value our former leaders!
As for the E-voting machines, that is indeed €51 million since their brief moment in the spotlight when Nora Owen famously burst into tears at the loss of her seat in an instant. Never mind that they cost about a million a year to keep in storage, and the storers are nearly all cronies of ministers or sons of election returning officers in one instance. Martin Cullen has some pal in Waterford with a big shed minding a number for a hefty fee. What they don't seem to realise is that they are probably gonna have to pay compo to these people as they all have 25 year storage contracts and they can sue for breach of same! So it is a disaster.
As for opposition, I don't doubt that opposition have some questions to answer and as I am a Labour member I won't defend Fine Gael and I can't abide the Shinners and what they represent, so I can only say that Labour have been shouting about standards in public office for years, but the media esp. the Sunday Independent and the Independent hate the Left with a vengeance and will do anything to blacken their name. I have boycotted it for years now, and even online it just makes me mad to see the way they twist words out of context. I mean any paper that gives Kevin Myers free rein after the Irish Times got rid of him has to be rabidly rightwing.
The Labour Party has been screaming against hospital co-location, privatisation of our public services like health and education and the slashing in social services. I already ranted on about the withdrawal of the security pendant alarm for older people as mean spirited and dangerous. Our INO conference next month will highlight the risks inherent in all these cutbacks to the vulnerable. Mary Harney is so pro-privatisation and market driven for-profit health care that nothing will stop her bar resignation, firing or losing her seat. Fat chance (sorry, unintended pun) of any of that happening till a gen. election happens.
Thankfully the Bertie Bowl got cut off at the pass but the new Landsdowne Road will have a hard time breaking even despite their 10yr sell-out of the name to an insurance corp., more marketeering and selling our identities to the highest bidder.

So I can empathise with your frustration but the media are often led by friends of gov. that they don't give space to their critics. Look at how RTE is always slated for being anti-government? Look at the way that crooked Michael Lowry was feted in Nenagh last week? Fintan O'Toole wrote an excellent piece on it this tuesday in the Times. Here it is with some of the Letters responding to it.
Some media still have ethics and morals thankfully.
Must drop by your blog and reply to your comment on my previous post, I am way late catching up!