We are fortunate in this country that our annual Council charges or taxes are among the lowest in Europe and especially so compared to Britain. Hopefully, that situation will continue but there are ominous signs that new charges might be on the way.

I have to put my hand up straight away and declare that I have no evidence of information that either Waterford City Council or County Council have any such plans in the pipeline but, usually, when the dam is breached in one part of the country it doesn’t take long for other local authorities to follow suit or to attempt to do so.

Local authority managers all over the country are keeping their eyes on Kerry County Council at present where a new ‘Quality of Life’ charge was supported and passed by the councillors last week. The matter must now go in a submission to the Commission on Taxation for approval but the general feeling is that the hard part was getting it past the elected representatives.

Specific details are vague but it is estimated the new charge will be in the region of €200 per household and it would raise about €8m which would be ring-fenced for expenditure on ‘Quality of Life’ projects such as improvements in recreational and cultural facilities, community centres, libraries, parks and playgrounds. Very interesting and we shall see what we shall see.


Goodbye and good riddance to Dustin’s Eurovision misadventure


And so, to mix my metaphors, the Eurovision chickens have come home to roost and the Turkey laid the egg that everybody with any sense knew he would. Booed at the end of his performance (a Eurovision first) and failing to advance to the final, Dustin’s reign as Ireland’s Eurovision representative came to a sorry end.

The amazing thing is that those responsible for selecting and sending Dustin to the contest are still brazening it out and will not concede that they made a bad decision that was considered insulting by a great many people both at home and abroad. Apart at all from the awful content of the song and the out of tune singing, did anybody even consider that a tiny, hand-glove puppet, taken out of the comfort of full-screen close-ups in his own studio, would be totally lost in the middle of a huge stage set?

I’m pretty sure readers are fed up with the subject by now but I’ll just say that, having made similar comments long before the contest, I agree completely with the views expressed in the aftermath of the debacle by such prominent and knowledgeable people as Johnny Logan, Dana and Frank McNamara.

There was a time when RTE understood and ‘got’ Eurovision and that was why we were so good at it. Sadly, that is no longer the case. Speaking on radio last week, the three times Eurovision winner, Johnny Logan, said he was ashamed following Dustin’s failure to qualify for the competition proper and in an astonishing attack on Eurovision organisers in Ireland, he claimed they should be ‘strung up by their short and curlies’.

“The people in RTE should be held accountable because Dustin should never have been allowed to take part in the national song contest but the fact that the puppet did take part and won the song contest shows a terrible arrogance on behalf of the people who voted for it. To think that what is funny to us, us making a joke of the Eurovision and sending a children’s puppet like Dustin to the competition, that every body else would share with our joke.”

Obviously, Johnny is a bit over the top but he is entitled to be angry and I believe there is a huge amount of public opinion out there that agrees with him.

Incidentally, there are those who still insist that the entire content of the competition is a load of old codswallop but, in my humble opinion, they are suffering from closed minds and a large dose of good, old-fashioned artistic snobbery. Of course, there was some poor fare on offer this year but there were also some excellent songs and really good singers complemented by superb arrangements and state-of-the-art production.

Ryanair knows all about supply and demand!

Our friends in Kerry don’t know whether to be annoyed or flattered at a decision by Ryanair to rack up prices for Kerry-Dublin flights on the day of the All Ireland Football final in September.

Nobody likes being taken advantage of but, on the other hand, Ryanair has given a huge vote of confidence to Kerry football by introducing a massive price increase on fares to the capital on Sunday, September 21st., the day of the football final.

It’s all about supply and demand. Two weeks ago, the on-line return fare for two people from Kerry to Dublin on September 21st. was €309, a 240 per cent increase on the same flights for Sundays on either side of the big day. However, business was brisk, so much so that the fare suddenly rose to €600 for two people even though the Ryanair fare for two people from Cork to Dublin on the same day was only €93.

The Cork attitude to the discrepancy hasn’t been recorded but I’d say the lads on Leeside will have snapped up all the tickets anyway and could yet have the last laugh!


Sunday Game and the Starship Enterprise

The new series of The Sunday Game is currently running on RTE television and the programme’s many fans are delighted that the series is up and running again. However, our regional newspaper colleague, Brendan Lawrence who writes for The Carlow Nationalist, has spotted something that most of the rest of us missed.

Brendan says he could hardly believe his eyes when he saw the new studio set because, as far as he is concerned, it is almost an exact replica of the bridge on the Starship Enterprise. Pat Spillane sits in the captain’s chair adopting the same stance as Captain Jean-Luc Picard while Tony Davis is positioned in almost exactly the same place as Data the Robot in the television series. The comparison is completed by the positioning, relative to Pat, of Tommy Lyons and Anthony Tohill who occupy the places on the bridge held by Geordi La Forge and the tough but lovalable Klingon warrior, Worf.

On the Enterprise, the bridge crew was complemented and graced by the presence of the exotic Deanna Troi and, lo and behold, there in her place sits the equally glamorous Joanna Cantwell.

The only piece missing from the starship reconstruction, believes Brendan Lawrence, is somebody to sit in Captain William Riker’s place and, in his opinion, there is only one man who could fill that role adequately, even if he doesn’t have a beard, and that is the talented Mr. Marty Morrissey.


Adam and the monkeys

A little girl asked her mother: “Mammy, how did the human race appear.” Her mother smiled lovingly and answered: “God made Adam and Eve and they had children and then all mankind was made.” Two days later the girl asked her father the same question. Her father answered: “Many years ago there were monkeys from which the human race evolved.”

The confused girl returned to her mother and said: “Mammy, how is it possible that you told me the human race was created by God and Daddy said we developed from monkeys.”

Her grim faced mother answered: “Mary, dear, it’s very simple. I told you about my side of the family and your father told you about his.”