Personally, I was very much in favour of The Lisbon Treaty the last time out and will definitely be voting ‘Yes’ this summer. Like many people, I believe our best future lies in that direction and the way to achieve a majority ‘Yes’ vote is to win over the electorate with convincing argument and debate.

Unfortunately, some very important people advocating a ‘Yes’ vote appear to favour the stick as opposed to the carrot.

Some readers will recall that, about two years ago, the German Ambassador to Ireland, Christian Pauls, created a certain amount of controversy when he addressed a group of German industrialists in Dublin and made, what were regarded by many as offensive, cutting remarks about this country. Last week, he made some hard-hitting comments in Tralee that, according to reports, were greeted by a stunned and stony silence from guests.

In his Dublin speech, Ambassador Pauls poured scorn on this country’s new-found affluence and referred to the Irish people as being coarse, avaricious and obsessed with money. It is probably true to say that such is the way with part of the population of any country, but he didn’t expand on that theme and appeared to tar everybody with the same brush.

In Tralee, he was addressing a cultural partnership meeting between the Rose of Tralee and Frankfurt’s Schlossfest festivals and, according to some of those attending, he used the occasion to issue a thinly veiled threat about the economic consequences of a second Irish ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty.

Mr. Pauls told the meeting that Ireland had a double standard when it came to Europe and said this country could not adopt an ‘a-la-carte approach’ picking and choosing what it liked. He said the Irish regularly complained about other nations fishing in their waters but they forgot who paid their milk subsidies.

Recalling that many rural areas, in particular, had returned a high ‘No’ vote at the last referendum, Ambassador Pauls said a second ‘No’ vote would result in Ireland throwing away its future. Any member state that did not act in the interests of the European Community should not expect aid to be forthcoming from other members in times of financial difficulty, he told his stunned audience.

If the Ambassador really wants to help with a ‘yes’ vote he might consider restricting his role to that of the mythical television ambassador who charms and spoils his guests by handing out the Ferraro Roche chocolates.

Two questions about Brendan Bowyer

Recently I was asked two question about Brendan Bowyer by a regular reader. Where was he born and where did he make his first public appearance? The answer to the first question is easy because it is well known that Brendan was born in William Street, Waterford.

It took a bit of detective work to secure an answer to the second query but I have it on good authority that the following is correct. When Brendan Bowyer was aged 10, his family was living in Limerick where his father, Stanley, was resident organist at the Savoy Cinema.

At the instigation of his teacher, Michael Tuohy, the young Brendan appeared on stage at a charity performance in the Savoy. He was dressed as an old man, complete with cotton-wool moustache, and he sang ‘Skibereen’. His father is said to have told Mr Tuohy that it would be a great idea to get his son on stage but he wasn’t sure whether he would actually do anything when he got there as he was very shy. If only they knew!

A worrying trend


Following a lull of sorts, the incidence of teenage pregnancy has started to rise again and a worrying report compiled by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency suggests that, overall, the age at which young women have their first sexual experience has fallen in this country and the younger they are, the less likely it is that they use contraception of any kind.

According to the same research, only 56 per cent of women and 31 per cent of men understood or knew when a woman was most likely to conceive. Twenty per cent of those under the age of 25 years said alcohol or drug taking had contributed to them having unprotected sex. A massive 96 per cent had heard of the ‘morning after pill’ but only 21 per cent of men and 42 per cent of women knew the correct time limit for its use.

Lots of little Americans

Speaking about births, authorities in the United States are said to be surprised at the record number of babies born there in 2007. Official statistics released last week show that 4.3 million children were born two years ago and that figure is higher than the previous peak which occurred in the 1950s.

Teenage pregnancies are on the rise in the US as well after declining for 15 years. Unmarried mothers accounted for 40 per cent of the births but 75 per cent of them were over 20 years of age. One statistic that won’t cheer is that the rate of Caesarean births in the US has risen by 50 per cent in ten years and now accounts for almost one-third of all births.

An Atheist in the Woods


An atheist was walking through the woods. “What majestic trees, what powerful rivers, what beautiful animals”, he thought to himself.

As he was walked along the bank of a river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him and, when he turned to look, he saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charging towards him.

He ran as fast as he could but, looking over his shoulder, he saw that the bear was closing in on him. He looked over his shoulder again and the bear was even closer. Then he tripped and fell to the ground.

He rolled over but he wasn’t quick enough and, suddenly, the bear was right on top of him. He could see the white of the huge animal’s eyes as the bear raised its left paw to strike him. At that instant, the Atheist cried out: “God help me”.

Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Then a bright light shone upon the unfortunate man and a booming voice came out of the sky. “You have denied My existence for all these years. You tell others I don’t exist and you even credit My wondrous creations to cosmic accident. Do you now expect Me to help you out of this predicament? Am I now to count you as a believer”, asked God.

A great calm came over the atheist and he looked directly into the light of God. “It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as a Christian just because I’m in trouble but, perhaps, you could make the bear a Christian”, he said.

“Very well”, said God. The bright light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. The bear, a strange look in his eyes, lowered his raised left paw. He then brought both paws together as in prayer and, lifting his eyes to heaven, he said: “Bless us O Lord and this Thy gift which of Thy bounty I am about to receive, Amen.”