Even though I am not a scientist, my gut reaction for quite a few years now is that we should be seriously considering nuclear power as a means of supplying this country with electricity.

Every passing day brings another dire warning of oil and gas shortages and with all the will in the world, wind, wave and bio-fuel energy is never going to service our current needs. Massive countries such as China and India are now becoming industrialized and when they come to the market seeking huge amounts of gas and oil, as they almost certainly will, the resources are going to get scarcer and much more expensive.

The fiercely independent French learned their lesson as far back as the 1974 oil crisis when their country was crippled. They immediately set about becoming self-sufficient through nuclear energy and, today, they have the cheapest electricity prices in Europe and don’t suffer palpitations every time an oil-shortage warning is issued. They generate 80% of their energy from nuclear power and earn a nice income from selling excess electricity to their neighbours.

The reason I mention this is because, only last week, the distinguished academic, Professor Edward Walsh, founding President of the University of Limerick, addressed the subject in a speech to Clonmel Chamber of Commerce. Basically, he said, nuclear power was the ‘last taboo subject’ in this country and it should not be so.

Professor Walsh pointed out that Ireland and Italy were now the only ‘significant’ countries in Europe without nuclear power. And he reminded his audience that, very often, when large companies upped sticks and left for other, less expensive countries, most of the talk was about higher wages. But, said Professor Walsh, it should not be forgotten that Proctor and Gamble closed in Nenagh because of too high energy costs and Coca Cola cancelled a €100m investment in Wexford for the same reasons.

“The multi-nationals are looking at Ireland and are wondering if they are going to be able to hang in here, not to mind setting up new plants here. They are looking at our energy policy that offers no hope”, said Professor Walsh.

Even one day
without a riot?

A row that evaporated into a puff of smoke in Wexford is worth recounting purely for its entertainment value. The Town’s First Citizen is Councillor George Lawlor and he recently stood accused of showing disrespect for the office of Mayor and for the accoutrements of the office.

It all started when a singer named Catherine Walsh appeared in ‘The Wicked Swan’ pub as a contestant in the Singing Pubs Competition which was a fringe event of the recent Wexford Opera Festival. She was photographed in The Echo newspaper seductively serenading a large election poster of Labour Party TD Brendan Howlin with a song entitled ‘Ode to Brendan’. Her performance was a bit hit and she won First Prize in the Comic category.

However, Ms. Walsh appeared to be wearing Mayor Lawlor’s ceremonial robes and historic gold chain and, as soon as the photograph appeared, protest letters were written to the newspapers and angry calls were made to the local radio station, South East Radio.

Mayor Lawlor said he received an avalanche of abuse from people who reminded him that the ceremonial chain was 155 years old and it was a disgrace that it and the robes were used in such an ignominious fashion at a singing pubs competition.

When everybody calmed down, it was established that the chain was, in fact, a prop from a recent Light Opera Society production. It was fashioned by the Society’s chairman, Nicky Kehoe, out of old washers and key-ring holders that were then sprayed with gold paint. The robe was run up by Nicky’s mother, Marie, out of a pair of old curtains although she might, subconsciously, have used the original Mayor’s robe as a template.

So, all’s well that ends well although The Echo felt compelled to quote the Mayor of Bart Simpson’s home town, Springfield, when he cried out in anguish: ‘Oh, dear God, can’t this town go one day without a riot!’

Was he, or wasn’t he,
a train driver?

Another Mayor embroiled in a row at present is the Mayor of Portalaoise, Councillor Rotimi Adebari, an asylum seeker who became the town’s first Black politician. Readers may recall that Councillor Adebari is a very popular man with the public in County Laois and with his colleagues on the Town Council who elected him Mayor during the summer.

However, a controversy that has been simmering for some weeks now, ever since a retired London Tube driver from Dundalk claimed he was a workmate of Mayor Adebari on the Underground in the English capital.

Mr. Patrick Clarke claims he is not a mischief-maker and insists he worked with Councillor Adebari in 1999 at both the Queen’s Park and Elephant and Castle depots in London, the year before the Mayor sought asylum in Ireland. He says the Councillor’s photograph and signature are on file with London Underground’s personnel department as they would have been used to issue him with his identity card and free-travel pass.

However, an upset Mayor Adebari strenuously denies Mr. Clarke’s allegation and says the whole affair is starting to wear him out. Reiterating the fact that he came to Ireland seeking asylum from religious persecution in Nigeria, he insists that he has never worked in London or anywhere else in Britain.

Baaa, Baaa,
the game is off!

Soccer enthusiasts will be interested to hear of an unusual row that is taking its toll on the smooth running of junior soccer games in County Kildare.

It is all to do with a directive issued to soccer referees that, for health and safety reasons, games cannot be played on pitches where animal droppings are present. The Kildare and District Football League play many of their games on the Curragh where, of course, there is a plentiful supply of sheep.

A spokesperson for the League, Michael Casey, said the onus was on each club to ensure that the pitches were in good condition, marked out, flagged correctly and clean. The problem was that different referees appeared to have different views on what was ‘clean’ from a sheep dropping point of view. Two games were cancelled last weekend because of safety concerns raised by referees.

However, another game was cancelled on a pitch in the morning that was deemed playable by a different referee in the afternoon. On another occasion, an inter-county Under-18 game between Kildare and Wicklow was called off for safety reasons even though sheep droppings had been removed and the areas in question sanded.

Clearly unhappy about the haphazardness of the situation, Mr. Casey pointed out that there were deer droppings all over the Phoenix Park yet between forty and fifty games were played there every weekend without any bother.

Geoff Cronin

Older readers may remember Geoff Cronin, a proud Waterford man who looked two decades younger than his 84 years when he bounded into The Munster Express offices last week. A well known bandleader and musician in his day, Geoff and his band were very popular in the city and county before fate took him away from his native city.

He was born at 12 John Street in the city centre, over the family’s baker’s shop, to Richard Cronin and his wife, the former Claire Spencer. Geoff went on to become a master wood-turner and, these days, he lives in Shankill, County Dublin. However, he has written a memoir entitled ‘The Colour of Life’ and it is set mainly in the Waterford and Woodstown of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. His book is an excellent and most enjoyable read and is available at The Book Centre, Waterford.

It’s back again, ‘A Season on Sundays’

For photography and sports fans everywhere, it’s that time of year again because the annual ‘A Seasons of Sundays’ is out again. Featuring magnificent photographs from the talented team at Sportsfile in Dublin, the book’s 168 pages of super GAA photographs is an absolute must!

‘A Season of Sundays’ was first published in 1997 and, ever since, the photographic collection has gone from strength to strength. This year’s edition features a wonderful collection of photographs (with captions by Tom Humphries of The Irish Times) that you will want to look at again and again. It’s a bit pricey at €34.95 but it really is a quality production.