Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Through a happy mix of diggers and petrol bombs, Donogh O'Malley Park is becoming a rural landscape again as houses fall one row at a time.
The estate is still an abject sight of ruin and isolation. But there are shoots of ideas and creation under all that rubble.
Mattie Gardiner, who's lived in the estate since the 1970s, has spent the last three years tending to an allotment on land cleared after a row of houses was demolished.
He has strawberries, tomatoes, spuds, lettuce and carrots. He has dedication, ideas and pride.
His nephew Robert is running for the local elections, and is calling for more allotments to be provided for by the City Council in the space cleared by housing knocked for Regeneration.
Electioneering aside, it is clear that this land has to be used for something. It isn't sceptical to say that Regeneration won't get the money to build anything for at least a decade.
That's a bitter shame but it's a fact.
No doubt this idea will be dismissed by the local authority as too high an expense for a medium-term measure. But anything that would add any tint of character to an estate being drained of life cannot be dismissed.
It may be an unrealistic idea, but it is an idea nonetheless. Too much of our time and thought and energy has been lost to complaints and cynicism these days.
Fresh thinking should be celebrated in a city that seems bereft of it.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
A fairly poorly kept secret will be revealed to the world at Heathrow tomorrow lunchtime when British and Irish Lions tour manager Gerald Davies sits down, strokes his perma-tache and announces that Paul O'Connell will lead the 2009 tour side into the South African bear pit.
For the first time since the Battle of Actium, our Irish sense of collective grievance will be silenced. As many as eleven of our countrymen will be selected in Ian McGeechan's 35, with Munster likely to be the best represented club side in the touring party.
Joy, Huzzah! and all that.
Some people say Paul O'Connell is a man of the people here in Limerick city. I don't think so.
Too many men, from Rush Limbaugh to Jacob Zuma, have labelled themselves as men of the people. The term has become another back scratcher for the egos of fools.
Paul O'Connell is too modest, too ordinary and too brilliant to be called such a thing. It is far more suitable to consider him a man for the people.
Do men best follow words or actions? Would we rather admire the self-importance of superstars or the understatement of nobler men? The Irish people have invested a lot of money and affection in the flashy and the indulgent over the past ten years, and look where that has gotten us.
At a time when we are looking inward for the kind of nation we want to be, we are lucky that men like Paul O'Connell are setting such a visible example.
As a person he is imposing, studious, decent and respectful. As a professional he is inspiring, dominant, aggressive and composed. From a rugby perspective, he is the Willie John McBride of our generation. He is an animal within those four white lines, and a gentleman outside them.
Tomorrow will be an intensely proud day for the O'Connell family and all the underage swimming, golfing and rugby coaches who each played their part in moulding this extraordinary talent in his youth. It will also be a proud day for Young Munster RFC, for Munster rugby, and for the supporters who have lent so much affection and respect to Paul O'Connell over these past eight years.
But perhaps more importantly it will allow us all a moment of reflection, a chance to see what can be achieved through diligence, hard work, commitment and character.
Friday, April 17, 2009
"There is a disturbing familiarity to the brutal and heartless murder of Roy Collins in the city last Thursday. Just like Shane Geoghegan and Brian Fitzgerald before him, Roy Collins was an innocent man killed because of the murderous whims of criminals who care nothing for the shared laws and values of our society.
Once again, the people of Limerick are united in grief over a crime that has left two young girls without a father. Once again, we are confused and frustrated and angry. Once again, the Government have promised to give gardai the resources and legislation they require to secure convictions for the senior criminals who are squeezing the air from the lungs of civil society.
But there cannot be any more watersheds. We, as law abiding citizens, must use the tragic murder of Roy Collins to make unequivocal demands of our Government and of ourselves.
Gardai believe that Roy Collins was most likely murdered because four years ago, two members of his family had the bravery to testify against Wayne Dundon, the leader of the Dundon-McCarthy gang and one of the most dangerous criminals Limerick city has ever produced. This week, only days after his beloved son was taken from him, Steve Collins said with heart-wrenching conviction that if his family were presented with the choice again today, they would still step forward and testify against Mr Dundon.
However the frailties of our justice system have been exposed once more. The testimony of a witness remains central to any conviction of a senior gangland figure - a weakness that is easily exploited by powerful criminals with so much to lose.
Legislation that will allow gardai to build a case against criminals based entirely on covert surveillance is imminent. The Government made a commitment to provide this after Shane Geoghegan’s murder in November, and it is a welcome development. However it is not enough for the Government to simply legislate and walk away.
Gardai in Limerick must be provided with the equipment, resources and training to cripple organised crime in our city. The case may be made that the resources of the State must be diverted elsewhere in a time of recession.
This is not acceptable.
But the key challenge that Roy Collins’ murder has presented is one that we must face individually as citizens. These criminals have done more than end one life - they have launched an attack on the rule of law that binds our society. They have set their will and their bullets against the values we live by, in particular the respect for human life.
How do we meet that challenge?
There have been calls for emergency powers for gardai, armed uniforms on the streets and even internment without trial for those belonging to a criminal gang. This would be counter-productive. Due process, lest we forget, exists to protect the overwhelming majority of us who abide by the law, not the tiny minority who do not.
The murder of Roy Collins and this latest assault on civil society demands a severe response. But this must take place within the boundaries of the norms and laws that we all hold dear. Organised crime must be fought. But it should be fought on our terms, not theirs."
Pic: Sean Curtin/Press 22
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The recession is taking our jobs and our sanity, but what of it. That's nothing a natural disaster or a Thatcher government hasn't done with equal abandon in days past.
But when it goes after the funding for the biggest free food extravaganza in the city, a line in the sand has been crossed. Truly, Riverfest without the BBQ is not Riverfest at all.
What do we do? The Board suggests a flash mob on Charlotte's Quay. Everyone bring a quart of vodka, my mate Mickey (the broker on the mall) will revisit the endless supply of steaks he somehow "found" in college, and I'll bring the fire.
We shall overcome.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
"Without the power of the Industrial Union behind it, Democracy can only enter the State as the victim enters the gullet of the Serpent" - James Connolly
It's the ninetieth anniversary of the Limerick Soviet next week. If you don't know about it, you should. For ten days, a mass co-ordinated strike saw the Limerick Trades and Labour Council effectively seize control of the city in protest at martial law.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
A general willingness to give Mr Obama the benefit of the doubt was palpable even among the exuberant anti-capitalist demonstrators jamming the streets of London’s financial district—a minority of whom turned violent and clashed with police as they attacked a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland. “He’s got good morals,” conceded a graffiti artist called Monkey, while helping his friend scale a traffic light and drape a banner: it depicted a grim reaper clutching fistfuls of banknotes.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Croke Park on Saturday was akin to queuing for The Ripsaw at Alton Towers as an eleven-year-old. Wide-eyed expectation was crushed into the pithy dust of cynicism. It was cold, it was boring, it was annoying. It was torment.
The Board left at half time.
At least the rugby gives you value for money. Even a boring game of rugby has collisions and set pieces - little moments of unpredictable excitement that warrant more than a passing glance. At least your eyes are kept on the pitch, and not on the five drunk ginger cretins from the north who arrive 20 minutes late, put their tongues in each other's ears and ask every 14 seconds what the score is.
Never again will I pay to watch Robbie Keane run away from the ball and attempt his reverse-twist, fat-man shots on goal.
That is all.