Latest from the Blog:
IF WE were looking for a single number that would irrefutably indicate what is genuinely distinctive about the Irish Times now, the number would have to be 187. This refers to the number of in-depth and provocatively challenging articles I have written so far this year.
The diversity of subjects has ranged widely across such vital issues as Sandymount liberalism, the Brexit paradigm, Catholicism’s decline and why there’s a pair of them in it up in Stormont. These cultural markers are at the very core of contemporary Ireland as defined by its leading post-modern newspaper, the Irish Times.
Of course, there are times when I feel like Goliath in the land of Lilliput – surrounded on all sides by the bloated bubble of rampant capitalism. That is why it is so essential that Irish people embrace our neo-national identity as a profoundly pluralist society.
So who are we? We don’t know who we are any longer. Yet the sad truth is that, sadly, we are in sad decline. Fortunately, there is still one radical columnist – who has recently been awarded the prestigious Orwell Prize – and whose unrivalled mastery of turning out four-part articles of such extravagant, nay excessive length, laced it must be said with dependent clauses and sub-clauses of such prolixity… (That’s enough Tool – Ed.)
Tomorrow Part 189 – Have you heard about my Orwell?
Online Read parts 1 to 186 of the series at irishtimes.com/opinion
ENHANCED SOLUTIONS: Finance minister Paschal Donohoe has said the scheme will help various government bodies to work together and share vital information about Doherty
A SPECIAL identity card is to be issued immediately to the Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty.
A government spokesperson has said the main purpose of the card is to assist people in remembering who Doherty is.
The minister will be obliged to produce the card whenever she is challenged by a member of the public with such questions as: “Just who do you think you are?” and “Why do you keep confusing everyone?” or “didn’t you liquidate your company?”
The introduction of the card is also designed to warn innocent voters about what to expect from the minister during garbled interviews.
However, human rights activists have already condemned the proposed card, insisting that it was Ms Doherty’s right to remain completely anonymous.
One Fine Gael backbencher said: “If Ms Doherty doesn’t want the public to know anything about her private life – for example her former businesses and its dealings with the Revenue or with AIB – that’s totally up to her. And if you don’t like it, there’s a garda waiting at Dublin Airport for a quick chat with you.”
Those ID cards in full
|Doesn’t play during the summer||Doesn’t play during the summer|
|Courts publicity||Publicly in court|
|Troubles with taxman||Troubles with linesman|
|Has a hot girlfriend||Has a hot temper|
|Loves Monte Carlo||Hates County Carlow|
|Punches above his weight||Throws his weight around|
|Toppled Barcelona||Toppled Ciaran Brannigan|
|Wears heart on his sleeve||Wears blood on his sleeve|
Keano’s Keen on Kolkata
RECORD-SETTING Irish striker Robbie ‘Keano’ Keane has joined his boyhood heroes Atleticó de Kolkata (ATK) in the Indian Super League. “It’s always been my ambition to play for ATK, ever since I had my first chicken vindaloos in the back streets of Wolverhampton, Coventry, Milan, Leeds, Tottenham, West Ham, Glasgow, Liverpool, LA and, err, Tallaght,” said the much-travelled striker.
“Once the chairman, Mr Singh-Song, told me about the scale of the club’s bank account (surely ‘the scale of the club’s ambitions’? – Ed) I didn’t think twice about joining the club of my boyhood dreams. My wife Cloudnine and my sons Striker and D24 are really thrilled to be making the short move from LA to Indiana.”
‘Keano’, who has clocked up more air miles (Surely goals? – Ed) than any other striker, said: “It’s great to be playing at the Taj Mahal stadium, near that New Deli, past the Sacred Cow roundabout.”
Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather — Sky Box Office 12AM:
The most obnoxious men on earth not named Coveney and Varadkar battle to see who can do the most damage to the sport of boxing in the shortest space of time.
That OCI Report (in full)
1. The 2016 Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, which is Brazil’s second-largest city.
2. Pat Hickey, an Irish sports administrator, was president of the Olympic Council of Ireland from 1988 until 2016.
3. The shawl-collar guest bathrobes at Rio’s Family Olympic Hotel are exceptionally luxurious.
4. Some questions were raised about ticketing irregularities, but that’s all in the past now and everyone has been vindicated.
5. Mr Hickey was held for some weeks in Bangu Prison, a basic detention facility, filled with inmates, but with kindly prison bosses.
6. The food there is of very poor quality – especially the grilled smoked magret with caramelised orange sauce.
7. Following an exhaustive investigation, we have concluded that while certain oversights may have occurred, no one was to blame in any way.
8. Er…That’s it.
The County General Hospital, Chicago. At the start of his visit to North America, Dr Varadkar gets a guided tour of the home of a famous TV medical drama.
Varadkar: So this is where they shot ER?
Guide: Yes, sir. All 331 episodes over 15 seasons. Longest running prime-time medical series in TV history.
Varadkar: But I always thought the hospital was fictional?
Guide: Yes it was, sir.
Varadkar: So how are we walking down this bustling corridor full of busy nurses and doctors, just like in the series?
Guide: I guess anything’s possible in America, sir.
A female tourist approaches, wide-eyed.
Female tourist (to Varadkar): Oh my God! It is you, isn’t it?
Varadkar (puzzled): Er, I think so…
Tourist: George Clooney! Or should I say Doctor Doug Ross?
Varadkar (embarrassed): Well, actually no – although I do get compared with Clooney lot.
The woman faints. He picks her up and carries her to a nearby trolley, where he administers first aid. Just then, a man in a white coat (but with a Blueshirt underneath) rushes in.
Government spin doctor (for it is one): Sorry to interrupt, Leo, but we have an emergency situation developing on social media. We need you now.
Varadkar: What is it?
Spin doctor: Remember that waitress last night who didn’t recognise you and gave you a crap table? Then when she found out who you were she was morto and asked you to pose for a selfie? Well, she’s posted the whole story on Twitter. It’s going viral.
Varadkar: What should we do?
Spin doctor: Everything – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. We think you’ll get some softball radio interviews out of it too. This could be big. You need to be all over it, like a rash.
Varadkar (to tour guide): Where’s the best Wifi here?
Guide: Funnily enough, it’s in the operating theatre.
The operating theatre, later.
Varadkar (applying the last key-strokes to his smartphone): All done, I think. What’s the prognosis?
Spin doctor (studying monitors): The vital signs are all pretty good. Nice touch spelling “gr8” like that, by the way. You’ve got 500 new Twitter followers in the last 30 seconds, mostly teenagers. And we’ve already had an interview request from Spin 103.8.
Varadkar: My fave! And how’s the patient?
Spin doctor: She’s doing well. Made a complete recovery from her embarrassment about not knowing who you were. Now The Late Late Show have booked her and she’s got job offers from 10 different restaurants in Chicago alone.
Varadkar: It’s the American Dream.
Spin doctor: And all because she mistook you for an average Joe.
Varadkar: But as I told her, it’s nice being treated like an ordinary person sometimes.
Spin doctor: Yes – except when you’re in an Irish hospital!
Varadkar: Ha ha. Totes hilaire, but true.
Spin doctor (checking watch): Anyway, enough of the bants. We need to get to the airport – we have a flight to Montreal to catch.
A day later. Dr Varadkar and a Canadian colleague, the renowned heart-throb specialist Justin Trudeau, march together in the Montreal pride parade. During a quiet moment, they fall to discussing the ethics of abortion referendums.
Varadkar: So that’s why I’d like to get it out of the way early next year, if possible.
Trudeau: While you’re still in your first trimester as hospital director? Yes, that would be best.
Varadkar: But it’s not an easy decision.
Trudeau: Of course not. Still, surely women’s health – mental as well as physical – is the paramount issue?
Varadkar: Well no. In Ireland, we also have to consider the health of others: the unborn baby, the Government and so on. And traditionally, abortion has been very detrimental to those.
Trudeau: But you’re the new guy, right? You’re young, smart, almost as good-looking as me. You can do anything you like, can’t you?
Varadkar: I don’t know, Justin. My board of governors is still very conservative on this issue. And if we do go ahead with the, er, procedure, then whatever the outcome, it’s sure to be divisive. There’ll be a lot of healing needed afterwards.
Trudeau: Well, healing is our business, Leo. We’re not like Donald Trump. Have you invited him to Dublin yet?
Varadkar: No. Not sure I want to, either. It’s such a circus everywhere he goes.
Trudeau: And that’s the answer to your abortion problem; go ahead with the operation next spring or whenever. Then, straight after have Trump visit the hospital. He’s sure to do or say something stupid. Then everyone will be talking about that for a week. They’ll forget the other thing completely.
Varadkar (in deep thought): Hmmm. You know what? That sounds like a plan.
Growing faith in Murphy’s beard
By Patty O’Doors
HOUSING Minister Eoghan Murphy’s efforts to solve Ireland’s spiralling housing problems were boosted yesterday as a new poll revealed that nine out of 10 respondents believe his beard is “doing a good job”.
“The facial hair is putting in a great effort. It’s making him look more mature while, at the same time, shamelessly trendy,” said a shopkeeper’s mother in Arklow. “Unfortunately the rest of Murphy isn’t really up to scratch.”
In Waterford, a man homeless for five years also praised the féasóg. “He looks more like one of us now. I feel optimistic for the first time in years,” he smiled.
The poll also found that eight out of 10 people believed the beard alone was doing a better job than Murphy’s predecessor Simon Coveney.
That RTÉ Autumn Schedule in full
By our entertainment correspondent – Abe Solutcrap
In anticipation of being denied an increase in the licence fee, RTÉ has announced an autumn schedule that is guaranteed to generate public reaction at the quality of the programming.
Francis Brennan’s Grand
Lots of cameo performances from a supporting cast of the kind of attention-seeking wannabes you would end up stuck with on a holiday from hell in your worst nightmare.
Francis Brennan’s Grand Tour of his Bank Account
FB explains how to improve your bank balance by getting a cushy number in Montrose.
The Life of Brian
Amy Huberman’s one-woman show. A six-hour extravaganza about one woman’s grip on the imagination of the RTÉ Commissioning Director.
The Making of The Life of Brian
Amy Huberman interviews herself about the making of the one-woman, six-hour extravaganza about one woman’s grip on the imagination of the RTÉ Commissioning Director.
Donald Trump’s Favourites
Favourite song: Nights in White Satin, The Moody Blues
Favourite film: The Triumph of the Will
Favourite TV show: The Dukes of Hazzard
Favourite sport: Master race
Favourite poem: The White Man’s Burden
Favourite food: Crackers
Favourite latte/wife: White and skinny
Favourite insect: Wasp
Favourite holiday: Vichy
Favourite animal: Desert Fox
Presidential Race Hots Up
Who are they – the 2018 Áras front-runners?
The DUP leader has been reaching out over recent months – particularly to receive £1 billion in cash from the British PM – and she may now be interested in extending her considerable influence throughout the whole of Ireland.
Although North Korea’s colourful leader has a reputation for being a notorious megalomaniac, he believes passionately in a new kind of centralized non-leadership. Kim is also thought to have a more sensitive side and holds strong views on everything from travellers’ rights to Armageddon.
This multi-talented actress, writer and mother would transform the Áras. Any future career moves would depend on arranging time off from recording dozens of RTÉ
programmes, including Dancing With Amy, Strictly Come Huberman, Amy’s Secret Life Of Brian, Striding Out With Aims… (OK. We get the idea – Ed)
Nóirín O’Sullivan’s Europol Application
My careful handling of the whistleblower fiasco was a total success. Every possible precaution was taken to ensure that not only was justice done, but there was plenty of waffle so that it was seen to be done. Such an appropriate strategy surely qualifies me for a very senior post in the area of special operations at Europol.
In dealing cautiously over a four-year period with the sensitive matter of breath-test records, I have acted in the most attentive and vigilant manner. Suffice it to say that, under my watch, Garda crime detection statistics plummeted to a new high.
In cooperating fully with the Charleton Tribunal, I have made it perfectly clear that I can carefully avoid giving direct answers over a long period of exhaustive questioning – which is why I needed a good five-week holiday away from it all.
Those Rose of Tralee Contestants
Regina (Prickly Rose)
Regina has lots of thorny sides but isn’t really a rose so much as a wallflower, being very, very shy when there even a scent of someone digging up the dirt from the past. “Mention one word about not coming up smelling of roses and I’ll call the guards before you even check in at departures,” she blushes.
Frances (Nothing arose)
Frances loves children and travel and says her current job allows her to enjoy both. “I work with big babies all week and it’s my job to think up enterprising and innovative ways to save them from getting bullied by everyone”, she beams. “And I get to put bigger distances between me and a woman called Nóirín, which is great, because she never talked to me about anything even if she did.”
Frances (Leftover Rose)
Mary is a new type of ‘super rose’ and has been given a special place in this year’s line-up, even if some begrudging people say something doesn’t smell right. Mary works in education and believes her future is very promising. “Whether I win or lose, I am going to carry on promising and promising and promising stuff,” she says. “I can promise you that – just wait and see.”
Staying On (A new poem)
When first I took the job in hand
I whispered to Sabina
Seven years only, have I planned
For this Phoenix Park arena
But bad things happen like a curse
– Like Hickey and Shane Ross
And Trump and Brexit… but there’s worse
Th ere’s Bertie as the boss!
He wants to run and without subtlety
He swears he’ll get no scorn
Circumstances have changed, changed utterly:
A terrible thought is born.
Michael Twee (President)
Brits want Coveney left as he is
By Con Jugal
BREXIT negotiations hit a new stumbling block last night as the British and Irish governments differed wildly on what kind of Simon Coveney should exist.
Said one British government official, “Frankly, a hard Simon Coveney is a ludicrous concept, old boy. It’s delusional. Simon Coveney has always been bordering on non-existent and we want him kept that way so we can get round Éire as we please in the negotiations.”
However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar remains insistent that only a hard Simon Coveney is acceptable. “Simon is the last man between Europe and Britain, and is authorised to fire real questions at anyone trying to sneak round the back of him while he’s straightening his tie or any of the other things he does best at these negotiations.”
CONCERNED NOISES are emanating from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), the only entity in the southern establishment that has clocked the political... Read more »
UCD REVOLT OVER NEWMAN BOYCOTT
UCD’S CRASS decision to boycott the canonisation of its... Read more »
How embarrassing that the first greyhound to be traced under the Irish Greyhound Board’s (IGB) ...
IT HAS been hard to avoid Sinéad O’Connor (aka Shuhada’ Davitt) recently and her media ...
A SPEECH last year by then TD Mick Wallace and a short paragraph in the ...
THE Newsbrands Journalism Awards judging process has proceeded with the usual behind-the-scenes bickering and lobbying ...
“I REALISED I had a problem in my relationship with the media and that I ...
COLLINS, DOOLEY: FF FALL-OUT
THE POLITICAL hit on frontbenchers Timmy Dooley and Niall... Read more »
SINN FÉIN GONE TO THE DOGS
Sinn Féin’s business spokesperson, Imelda Munster, certainly reveals an... Read more »
INM’S BELGIAN BEER INTERVIEWS
SUNDAY INDEPENDENT editor Cormac Bourke’s “new role” as editor... Read more »
JOURNO AWARDS EGO FEST
DIGITAL-SAVVY hacks got into the Newsbrands Journalism Awards website... Read more »
‘IRISH TIMES’ CLIMATE ISSUE
The ubiquitous ‘energy security’ bogeyman was enlisted for a... Read more »
McGREGOR SPLITS MEDIA AWARDS
THE Newsbrands Journalism Awards judging process has proceeded with... Read more »
WILLIAM JONES VS JOHN MAGNIER
SPARE A thought for Goldhawk’s favourite ex-employee of John... Read more »