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Irish collusion in rendition flights November 30, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, World Affairs.
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There has been extensive coverage of the contentious ‘Irish collusion in rendition flights’ issue in the media of late.  It’s one that is bound to cause a large amount of controversy and anger among those of us on this island who want nothing to do with war in Iraq, US or UK foreign policy or any of the provocative Western exertions in the troubled Middle East.

People the world over must be pissing themselves with laughter at our politicians who have their hands in pies on both sides of this argument – after all they can do no wrong, have never done wrong and will walk the next election.  Sure all it took was a few backhanders in a Manchester hotel for Bertie to become the most popular Taoiseach ever – Jaysis iddn’t it a great little country hah ?

The issue at hand is the use of Irish airports – primarily Shannon airport, in Co. Clare – by American planes who were then, or were at one point, involved in the process described as extraordinary rendition. It’s a phrase many people may have heard but not really thought too deeply about. We do, after all, become quite easily desensitised to the terrible daily occurrences the world over.

What this process means is that untried, unconvicted people who the US considers to be a threat to them are lifted – sometimes kidnapped illegally – from their country of origin and moved in these planes, to countries other than the US for internment and interrogation. For interrogation, read torture. Torture !  They couldn’t be brought to the US because they would be subject to certain treaties (e.g. Geneva) which prevent torture.

These planes land in Ireland to refuel and use our airports and airspace to safely get to their destination. The Irish government has an agreement with the American government that allows these planes to land in our airports. The moot point is whether any of these planes had one of these so-called suspects on board when it was in Ireland or whether the planes were empty. The Irish government, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern, trusts the word of the Americans and has assured the Irish people that there are indeed no prisoners on these planes when they land here.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and a recent draft (and leaked !) European Parliamentary report (Ireland’s Prionsias de Rossa was involved) does not accept the word of the Americans or at least says we should not accept them at face value. The report blacklists Ireland as one of a number of countries who are involved in the rendition process. The government are simply going mad about this and the top man himself (TMH) , Bertie, has now jumped on the bandwagon of assurance saying in today’s Irish Independent …  “We asked had they ever used Ireland as a base, as a hub, as a destination and the answer to that categorically was “No”. ”  That from the ultimate asses’ horse’s mouth, no less.

So those are the facts – planes do land. The US and Irish governments say there’s no prisoners on them and the rest of the world says “Yeah right! “. The thing is the Minister, speaking yesterday on Newstalk 106 radio, said that there was no problem with the Gardaí (aah, the wonderful Gardaí) inspecting planes if anyone has good reason to believe that there was a prisoner on it. Note how he didn’t mention “board the plane” ? It seems that when it comes to actually going onto the planes, they are prepared to accept the word of the Yankee doodle standing at the top of the steps. “No siree, we ain’t got no hoojahs on here!” “Grand so !” says PJ the beleaguered looking copper on the runway, loudspeaker in hand and arse itching off him with the want of sitting down.

In my opinion, even if a prisoner never landed at Shannon (oh and by the way it definetly happened on 11th June last but we let them away with it because they made a technical error!), the fact that planes landing in Shannon would eventually land in Morocco or Egypt or Iraq or somewhere to take these people away is still the same … we are still involved.  “Ah sure we don’t agree with this oul rendition lark at all – ’tis terrible !”  “But yes of course we’ll allow the Americans to land planes involved in the same process at our airports – its makes it all right because theres nobody on them, you see, that might be getting the oul torture !  Say nattin’ hah !”  An Irish attitude if ever there was one …

I’ll tell you what Bertie, George and Mad Mullah – you show me weapons of mass destruction and how all the killing and massacre going on in Iraq has anything to do with “freedom and democracy” and then I’ll believe you. Until then you are sullying the word democracy in both countries – I hope the world remembers you at the next ballot box and time writes nothing about you all but a pathetic paragraph of derision in the annals of history for that, sirs, is barely all you deserve !
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Phrase of the Day #64 November 30, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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” Sure, I’d love to help you out … now, which way did you come in ?”

Explanation : A nice little one for telling someone to foxtrot oscar if they are annoying you.

Fire & Ice November 29, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor.
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by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Phrase of the Day #63 November 29, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“Just out of curiosity, are your parents related ?”

Explanation : Nasty one this – use only in extreme circumstances.

The Curry Song November 28, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor.
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My cousint sent me this little ditty which cheered me up of a wet afternoon … to be sung to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody … shout out to whomever wrote it in the first place …

Naan, just killed a man
poppadom against his head
Had lime pickle now he’s dead.
Naan, dinner’s just begun
But now I’m gonna throw it all away.
Naan, ooh, ooh Didn’t mean to make you cry
If I’m not back from the loo by this time tomorrow
Curry on, curry on
Cause nothing really Madras .
Too late, my dinner’s gone
Sends shivers down my spine
Bottom aching all the time
Goodbye onion bhaji, I’ve got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and use the loo.
Naan, ooh, ooh
This dopiaza is so mild
I sometimes wish we’d never come here at all.

[ guitar solo]

I see a little chicken tikka on the side
Rogan Josh, Rogan Josh, pass the chutney made of mango
Vindaloo does nicely Very very spicy
Byriani (Byriani)
Byriani (Byriani)
Byriani and a naan
A vindaloo loo loo loo)
I’ve eaten balti, somebody help me
He’s eaten balti, get him to the lavatory
Stand you well back
‘Case the loo is quarantined…
Here it comes
There it goes
Technicolor yawn
I chunder
It’s coming up again
There he goes)
I chunder, it’s coming back again
( There he goes)
Coming back again
(up again)
Here it comes again.
( No no no no no no NO)
On my knees, I’m on my knees
On his knees, Oh, there he goes
This vindaloo
Is about to wreck my guts
Poor meee.. poor meeee…poor MEEEEEE!

So you think you can chunder and then feel alright?
So you try to eat curry and drink beer all night?
Oh maybe, but now you’ll puke like a baby
Just had to come out
It just had to come right out in here.

[guitar solo]

[slow bit]
Korma or dopiaza
bhaji, naan or saag
Nothing makes a difference
Nothing makes a difference
To meee….
(Any way the wind blows….shshshsh)

Phrase of the Day #62 November 28, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“She’s about as good looking as a cross between the Elephant Man and a Pitbull Terrier !”

No explanation needed …

OJ Simpson : a right cute hoor November 27, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in World Affairs.
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Have you ever heard the like of OJ Simpson and his new book purporting to explain how he would have “done it” if he had “done it”. The it, of course is the double murder of his estranged wife Nicole and her friend back in the 90s.

So OJ has decided to cash in on the murders by getting a ghost writer to pen a book entitled “If I did it” where he allegedly describes how he would’ve done the crime … my God what are we coming to and what is the American society coming to when people think there is a market for this sort of stuff ?

What next ? George Bush writes a book (stop laughing down the back) on “We haven’t invaded Iran, but here’s how we’d do it if we did !”  I know the publishers have now realised the amount of opposition to this book and are doing something about getting its circulation stopped or withdrawn but I mean, what kind of person would buy this book for someone as their Christmas pressie ?

According to BreakingNews.ie, “the Juice” acknowledges that monies he receives from this enterprise would be “blood money” and he has told his kids this and they are happy with it. “It’s no different than any of the other writers who did books on this case” says Simpson and that “we can’t have selective morality”, as if this distances him from the crimes. The difference is that you were involved (found liable for their deaths) in some way while the writers were not.

Please, Mr. Simpson, would you ever just f*ck off !

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The Errand November 26, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor.
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The Errand

By Seamus Heaney

‘On you go now! Run, son, like the devil
And tell your mother to try
To find me a bubble for the spirit level
And a new knot for this tie.’

But still he was glad, I know, when I stood my ground,
Putting it up to him
With a smile that trumped his smile and his fool’s errand,
Waiting for the next move in the game.

World News : A quick trip November 24, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in World Affairs.
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There’s loads of interest happening around the globe this dirty morning so here’s a quick snippet of a fraction of what’s going on … there’s so much happening on this planet (and off it) that we only hear minutiae …

– In Palestine, A 64 year old grandmother has become the latest suicide bomber in the Middle East, blowing herself up near some Israeli soldiers but not killing anyone only herself. Terrible story this as it’s a vicious circle of destruction in that troubled part of the world.

– In Russia, from January 1st 2007, there will be a country wide ban on importing meat from Europe. Apparently the Russians are concerned about the safety of some Bulgarian and Romanian meat and so are banning all EU imports of meat, just in case. It seems the ban might be a reaction to a veto on EU-Russia trade by Poland, which is causing a stir at the current EU-Russia summit in Finland.

– In a story that will be of big interest to the alcohol guzzling Irish, the European Court of Justice has ruled that Europeans cannot buy cheap alcohol and cigarettes on the internet in order to get round taxes and import duty in their own countries. The decision I’m sure, will come as a huge relief to both the politicians who make millions from import duty of alcohol here and the owners of off licenses and so on …

– In China, it appears they have just signed a 5 year trade deal with Pakistan, promising their new friends that they will aid in disputes with India and also help them in their development of nuclear technology. Watch this space …

– In Fiji, it looks like there might be another military coup – the 4th in the last 2 decades or so. Their military chief, Frank Bainimarama has it in for the Prime Minister and has threatened to take him out of office unless he drops several controversial pieces of legislation … which unsurprisingly include dropping an amnesty bill for earlier coup attemptees. Australia are keeping a close eye on things, saying they think the whole thing is about to go up !

– In Sri Lanka, it appears their undeclared civil war is escalating. How can a civil war be undeclared one asks – if only x amount of people get killed does that mean it’s a mere conflict ? The government forces are mobilising tanks and warplanes and sending them into Tamil Tiger held territory. This country has been at war for ages …

– In sport, congratulations to Wicklow’s Katie Taylor on becoming a world champion boxer.  She comprehensively beat her Argentinean opponent in India yesterday to claim gold at the Women’s World Championships. 

And finally,

– In New Zealand, they are no closer to figuring out what to do about building a new rugby stadium for the Rugby World Cup in NZ in 2011.  The plans which include revamping the old Eden Park or building a new spanking stadium on stilts near the waterfront, have yet to be fully decided on.  Let’s hope it gets sorted out in time so Ireland can give them a run for their money …

Phrase of the Day #61 November 24, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“I’m as cool as the drool on a hound dog’s tool !”

Explanation : One from my childhood that I hadn’t heard in ages. Oh how we laughed when this was the thing to say. It was swiftly replaced by “How’re they hangin’ laaaad ?”

I don’t understand the Pope November 23, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in World Affairs.
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In general, I don’t really understand the Pope and Popery in general. I mean, I know who the Pope is and that he’s head of the church and so on but some of the stuff that is official doctrine leaves me baffled.

Take condoms for instance – artificial birth control is out as far as Roman Catholicism goes. The church has been opposed to people having “relations” for reasons other than procreation for as far back as anyone cares to remember. Couple this with the fact that millions of people are infected with AIDs and HIV around the globe and a good lot of them are Catholics – their religion prevents them from using contraception. Therefore in prevents them from protecting their partners from infection. The Pope even announced last year at a conference in Africa, where millions are infected, that contraception was “responsible for breakdown in sexual morality” and that the only way to effectively control the spread of such STDs was through abstinence and marital fidelity.” So as long as you aren’t enjoying yourself having sex then they are happy enough.

But following a recent report commissioned by the Pope, it seems good sense has got the better of him. It now seems that the Papacy is considering “allowing” Catholics to use contraception – calling it “a lesser evil” when the people insist (the bastards !) on having sex that could lead to “widespread misery”. Well, your holiness, there has been “widespread misery” across the world for ages and ages because of the ravages of HIV and AIDs – one thinks that the minute you in your supposed kind and loving nature heard of such misery and copped on that your rule on contraception might be a cause of even a small bit of it, then you would have relaxed the rule earlier ? Why did it take until now for the subject of relaxing the rule to come up ?

And who gives you and men like you, who presumably have never had a sniff of “relations” and who abstain from it, the right to preach to others about it ? I think I’ll convert to Buddhism – at least then I’d love everyone …

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Phrase of the Day #60 November 22, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“She’s got more wrinkles than an elephant’s arse !”

Explanation : Everyone knows someone as shrivelled as an old prune.  Here’s one to really get on their goat !

Phrase of the Day #59 November 21, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“He was as confused as a hungry baby in a topless bar.”

Explanation : Any amount of scenarios to which this gem can be applied. A sporting analogy perhaps, when your favourite striker misses a sitter ?

Podge & Rodge doll anyone ? November 20, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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Not content with their show causing uproar amongst the older generation of this fair isle, that dastardly Ballydung duo, Podge & Rodge, have brought out their own doll for Christmas. Apparently the dolls, which looks almost like P & R have a cord that one can … em .. manipulate so that the dolls emit several rude, crude but much loved phrases from their show. I guess Podge and Rodge are like the Simpsons in some ways – they work on many levels – kids love them and adults get a kick out of them too. They did, after all appear first on children’s TV – well at least the scrawny, awkward one did …

So unless you want your kids to hear such beauties as “Ask the back of me sack !” or perhaps “Have I time for a tug ?”, be on your guard this Christmas. I’ve just checked on-line in my local Smyth’s toy store and they stock them. One wonders is there an age limit on toys the way there is on films for example ? And is it kept to ? I can envisage some classic scenes on Christmas morning when the children of unwitting parents come out with such finery as “I will in me hole !” when asked to eat their brussel sprouts !

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Phrase of the Day #58 November 20, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“Sure that idea is about as useless as a jam sandwich to a drowning rabbit.”

Explanation : There are degrees of usefulness and this has to be up there among the most useless – unless the rabbit grabbed hold of the sambo and floated to safety on it ?

A lovely poem about New Zealand November 18, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, Poetry & Humor.

(South Island, N.Z.) by Anthony O’Neill
Summer evening at November’s End
We sit apart, still warm and close

On either side, wonderous willows
Weep their fronds to stony ground

Across the water, a hidden sun
Rose-fingered – Tinges snowy peaks

Close-by a couple eating sandwiches
Conjures a horde of ducks and gulls

Under a sky of deep deep blue
The lake murmurs, over and over

Time is flowing
Days left are few

The lovely poem above was dropped to our house by a complete stranger (Anthony O’Neill) – a charming elderly gentleman who happened to call one evening collecting for charity. We were in the throes of getting ready to go to New Zealand on holiday and he chatted about how wonderful he found it there – especially Lake Wanaka as described in his poem. Reading this poem we decided we had to go and see it and we weren’t disappointed – it is such a beautiful place – to blog about it here would not do justice to its rugged beauty and explosive serenity. I long to return.

Phrase of the Day #57 November 18, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“He’s as baffled as Adam on Mother’s Day.”

Explanation : If ever you need a ditty to question the parentage of someone …

Phrase of the Day #56 November 17, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“She’s got a face like a squeezed tea bag !”

Explanation : Another useful ditty to throw at someone a little affected.

Foreign names in foreign games November 16, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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Is it just me or has anyone noticed the change in Irish TV news presenter’s elocution recently ? There seems to have been a sudden poshing up in delivery from the likes of the lovely Sharon Ní Bheoláin – and don’t talk to me about the sports presenters on TV3. Whatever pronunciation Trevor and the lads have seems to be infectious but at the end of the day is just plain wrong.

The fetching Sharon – bless her cotton socks – appears to me like she has caught a boulster of whatever Moira Stewart, ex the BBC had. When reading the news, it sounds like all her words are melting into one string of coherent, articulate but yet fuzzy and intonated groups of words. It almost sounds as if she is reading more through her throat the way Moira Stewart did – she had a really peculiar way of pronunciation but yet it aided her in her delivery and clarity. Does that make sense ?

On a less straight faced note, it could be argued that the sports lads in TV3 – Trevor Welch et al. – are as well known for their characters in Après Match as they are for the sports news readings themselves. In other words, they have a touch of the Johnny Giles about them – sometimes it just doesn’t come out right ! The bould Johnny referred to Ireland’s opponents yesterday as “San Muriñho”, after Chelsea’s revered boss – but has anyone ever heard Trevor and the lads who commentate on TV3 pronounce a Spanish name ?

Names ending in “es” or “ez” in Spanish and even sounds like “his” in English come out more like “heees” or “Fernandays“. Jaysis Chrisht lads, the name is not “Fernandays” – you don’t speak Spanish like you were from the lower end of Gortnahoo !

So how should a mucker from Ireland (yours truly included) attempt to articulate a bit of the old Spanish then ? Well Jaysis certainly not as if you were from Gortnahoo ! The Spaniards would think you had gone stone cracked. In my humble and semi-qualified opinion, in lieu of perfect Spanish pronunciation, the names should be uttered with a hard “ez” at the end e.g. FernandEZ, not FernanDAYS. That’s just silly. So come on Trev, take a leaf out of Sharon’s book and polish up. You never know who might be listening.

Just me being a grump again … but it gives me ire. Just like people who when waiting for a lift, press the down button when they mean to go up … but that’s for another day.

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Phrase of the Day #54 November 16, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“He’s the kind of fella that’s the blueprint for building an idiot !”

Explanation : Can’t you just see it – those blue plans out on the table … “We’ll make him good at talking shite but bad at directions …”

Ireland v San Marino November 15, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Sports.
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Tonight will see the last football match in Lansdowne Road for quite some time and the mighty San Marino – postmen, plumbers and painters all – provide the opposition.

I think it’s time to nail my colours firmly to the mast and jump off the slowly sinking good ship FAI before it’s too late. I have to say that whatever the result and whether or not we qualify for the European Championships, that Staunton is just not the right man for the job. In my opinion, the manager of our international team must have personality, not be verging on boorish and flippant with the press, make sensible decisions based on the players available, not be rigid in his outlook (4 year plan me arse) and inspire overall confidence in his players and their fans. Even Mick Jaysis McCarthy had most of the above qualities. Sorry, but to me Staunton just comes across as a plain eejit. And his sidekick Bobby Robson just makes matters worse. Does anyone actually know what it is Robson does ? The whole thing just smacks of honorable defeatism and dropping world rankings … we’ll soon be in the same seeding group as San bleedin’ Marino !

So we may give San Marino “a right good bash” tonight and some of the players may acquit themselves well over the next few games but to me, the Irish football team has been lost. Lost to a self serving management committee who couldn’t deliver the top class manager they promised and instead turned one of our best and well liked former players into a figure of derision and makes us increasingly the laughing stock of European football.  Tis true for me !
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Phrase of the Day #53 November 15, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“Jaysis that fella has a head like a hen.  He’d pick up anythin’ !”

Explanation : Useful in all sorts of situations, not the least of which is when your kid repeats something rather embarrassing …

Global warming, how are ya ? November 14, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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The mother in law (MIL), God Bless ‘er, has just returned to Sweden after a few days of visiting, cooking, cleaning and all round caring for her daughter, her tired husband and her wonderful new grandaughter. In Sweden, they are even more obsessed with the weather than we are here in Ireland, if that’s possible. What the temperature is, seems to be the most important piece of information to ascertain for the Swedes, whereas in Ireland it’s probably more along the lines of “Is it going to rain ?”, if it isn’t already milderin’ (as they say around these parts).

So, whenever talking on the phone to the MIL, the subject of the temperature usually comes up and usually we haven’t a clue because we don’t care – it’s cold and probably wet and we wish we lived somewhere sunnier. In order to right this wrong and provide the good people of Sigtuna, Sweden with the correct temperature in Ireland, the MIL kindly bought us a super cool, digital, internal and external thermometer to stick on the wall – and do you know what, I’m already obsessed  !  I can’t pass the top of the stairs without commenting to myself “Ooh 12.4 outside, 21.7 inside” …

Today as I took her to the bus at the ungodly hour of 5.30am, we both commented on how unusually mild it was for the middle of the night in November. 14.3 degrees to be exact. This was confirmed by no need of a coat and by the dashboard of my car. So I dropped her on her merry way and returned home for an extra hour’s kip before having to tend to the child again … and lo and behold, at 8am this morning it was colder that it was in the middle of the night ! 9 degrees this time.

Surely this mismatch of temperatures and muddled warmth must not only have a detrimental effect on us humans but also on the likes of the birds who, in their birdlike wisdom (sic), might think that November in Ireland was more akin to July and start their journey south, only to drop dead from the cold in the middle of the day over St. George’s Channel and cause all sorts of ruination and troubles for their species … no wonder George Bush gets so darn confused by it all …

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Phrase of the Day #52 November 14, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“She’s about as useful as a concrete canoe !”

Explanation : Jaysis and I suppose if she fell out of said canoe she wouldn’t hit water hah ?

Day 1 for the Garda Reserve November 13, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery, Ireland & the Irish.
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Today is D-Day for the Garda Reserve. The first Garda reservist starts work today at a station in Cork, with more of his colleagues taking to the beat around the country in the next 48 hours.

Here’s what I just don’t get about the whole thing. At first the Minister was the only one who was all happy clappy about the reserve and it was met with across the board derision among the ranks of the Gardaí. The GRA (Garda Representative Association) was initially opposed to the creation of the reserve force and that’s putting it mildly. At one point not so long ago we were imagining reserve Gardaí be abandoned by the regular force and all hell potentially breaking loose on the streets. So what does the Minister do ? Offer the GRA more cash of course. Pay them to co-operate and they’ll quickly change their tune.

Under the social partnership agreement and as part of a broader deal, the new reserve will now apparently be “tolerated” in return for more money. But to add further madness to a potential nasty situation, the GRA has not specifically instructed their members on how to work with or co-operate with the new recruits. Co-operation they say is necessary (and now obligatory under the new pay deal) but sure, we’ll not tell them exactly how to treat the new reserves. God knows what might happen and the next few weeks across the country will prove interesting to say the least. Especially next Friday and Saturday night when the reservists are called upon to break up the fights and drunken scuffles that happen nationwide, once the pubs close.

The mad Minister on the other hand has called the project a great success and a wonderful boost to policing in Ireland, has ticked the “Garda Reserve” box on his 5 year plan and is seemingly willing to see how things go …

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