A few things have come to my attention during the past week and compelled me to make
comment. The first is the storm Ophelia – what stupid people would dive into a raging
sea and try to tell us they knew what they were doing. What stupid people would try
to cycle or walk the promenade in Galway, Bray or anywhere else when winds were so
strong. Rightly there was an up-roar against these type of people as when they would
get into difficulty it is the volunteers and workers in the emergency services who
would have to put their lives at risk to rescue or assist those in trouble. There
were calls then to ‘fine’ or make it illegal to be out when there is a ‘Red Alert’.
That does not sound like a sensible suggestion or one that could be enforced.
However I want to add others to the stupidity list. Throughout the storm we had photographers,
journalists, presenters, cameramen, sound men, drivers, lightmen, etc etc from TV
stations, Radio stations, Newspapers, and independent freelancers racing about trying
to find the ‘bad news’, the ‘big story’, the ‘on-the-spot report’ direct from the
scene. All of these people were putting themselves at risk and thereby increasing
the possibility of the emergency services having to be called out.
Why were they doing this – ‘it is their job’ you might say. Well it is because we
sat in our comfortable chairs at home watching the TV or listening to the radio enthralled
by the images and reports of what was happening all round the country. So it was
for our titillation and entertainment that these people were expected to put their
lives and the lives of emergency personnel at risk. Instead Met Eireann could have
issued hourly bulletins or more to radio and TV stations to keep us informed of the
progress of the storm and the most dangerous areas and that should be enough information
for us. We really did not need to see footage of someone cycling along and under
the breaking waves at Salthill, sent to us by someone who is standing with a camera
on the same promenade. So I thought it ironic that TV and Radio station should criticise
the people who were taking risk and putting emergency staff in danger when their
own reporters etc were doing the same. There were calls too that no one should be
allowed out during a Red Alert and I am wondering would that include the reporters,
cameramen, sound men etc etc who are gathering the ‘big story’ for their employers?
The second issue for Comment is the way the Government is handling the unfair method
of giving pensions to those who stayed at home to rear families and then went to
work but did not amass sufficient ‘stamps’ to get full pension and also the manner
in which those who lost homes and thousands of euro, because of banks switching their
mortgage when they should not have done so, are not being compensated immediately.
We got a budget which gave a few pence to us and nobody made big gains as the small
amount of money available was spread thinly to give as many as possible a little
extra. However we now hear that the politicians will be giving themselves up to €35
per week without any problem or big announcement – nice and quietly and no one will
notice. Where is that money coming from? This of course also raises the value of
their already very generous and easily earned pensions after a few years in the job.
This country is beginning to stink again. We thought we had put those days behind
us and that politicians were open, accountable and dependable. Not so as they are
proving with their inaction on so many fronts and don’t start me on health as that
calls for a separate comment which will follow.