Even as somebody who has visited the EU headquarters in Brussels on many occasions and has some knowledge of the complex workings of the Commission, I shared the annoyance and frustration of many people last week after it was revealed that an estimated 45 tons of cod was dumped back into the sea off Dublin Bay.

It turned out that forty vessels fishing for prawns were each unintentionally catching four to six boxes of cod each day in their nets. Because of the harsh quota system being endured by Irish fishermen, a mountain of fresh, nutritious and valuable food was dumped back into the water because, if it was landed and sold, the fishermen would have been guilty of a criminal offence. Apart from the unfairness of the legal situation, surely there is something obscene about the disposal of food when so many families could do with it. Fresh cod is so expensive these days that it is beyond the reach of a great many families and individuals.

The Irish fishing industry is currently undergoing a radical overhaul but it is difficult not to agree with those who claim that the interests of Irish fishermen were not well served by the government during the early negotiations on joining the EU. The farmers were well looked after, and rightly so, but it seems the poor old fishermen had no powerful bodies watching their backs.

Enterprising full-licence holder

It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow somebody some luck and an enterprising woman in Killorglin, County Kerry, has turned the provisional drivers’ saga to her advantage. Marie Scott, who holds a full driving licence, is hiring herself out to provisional drivers and, for a small fee, she will sit in the passenger seat of their car thus making them legal within the law.

She has advertised locally and, already, her diary is filling up. Most of her clients are women who ask her to be their passenger when doing weekly shopping or collecting children from school. She has also been contacted by quite a few elderly people living in country areas who need her services to collect their pensions. She drives to their home and then accompanies them on their journey in their cars. It hasn’t been disclosed how much Marie charges other than it is a small fee but it must be very reasonable otherwise people wouldn’t be able to use her services.

Incinerator to become a reality

Construction work begins next month on the €130m Duleek incinerator in County Meath. There are about half a dozen other proposals for incinerators on the books in this country at present but the experts reckon we will end up with three or four at the most. I don’t think the odds would be too long on one being built in the South East.

Ireland’s first commercial incinerator will be built at Carranstown by an international consortium supported by an Irish construction company. Almost ten years since it was first proposed, the project will create employment for about 300 people during its two-and-a-half-year construction phase with 60 permanent jobs in place once operations commence in 2011.

The Indaver Ireland facility will process 200,000 tons of waste material each year. The incinerator project was the most controversial ever to come before Meath County Council and attracted more than 4000 individual objections to the original planning application. A petition against the plan was signed by 27,000 people.

However, planning permission was granted in 2001, An Bord Pleanala passed it in 2003, a licence to operate was granted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2005 and, last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the company following a lengthy legal battle.

Commenting on the situation last week, Indaver’s managing director, John Ahern, said the commencement of construction represented a seminal moment in the economic and energy debate as we were now entering a new period whereby our environment could realize the benefits of waste-to-energy.

Coca-Cola for  Wexford – at last!

Coca-Cola is to invest €190m in a new facility on the Business Park in the town

and an application for planning permission was lodged last week for a combined manufacturing and innovation facility on a 41-acre site that will eventually support 100 new jobs.

It is a case of third-time-lucky for Wexford as Coca Cola short-listed a site in the county ten years ago before eventually deciding on Ballina in County Mayo and, early last year, the company announced that it was shelving its plans for a new facility in the town which is the one now announced.

There is much celebrating locally at the imminent arrival of Coca Cola and congratulations to all concerned. But a spokesperson for the company was being very careful with her words. Ms. Crystal Warwell-Walker said the planning application was being submitted following an extensive due diligence and site selection process. “If this project receives planning approval and, if we should decide to proceed, we will make a formal announcement at an appropriate time”, she said.

Goodbye to Masie McDaniel

Many people in Waterford and the South East were saddened by the news past week that country singer Masie McDaniel had passed away. Masie had a lot of friends in this area as did her estranged husband, the virtuoso accordion player Fintan Stanley. She shot to fame in the 1960s and was a regular and familiar face on RTE television with Dermot O’Brien and The Clubmen.

Masie didn’t have an easy life as her career was all but halted by a serious road accident and she also battled illness for many years. But, according to reports, she was happy and contented in her final years living in her native Sligo. She gave a lot of pleasure to a great many people over the years and she was much loved by the dancehall and showband generation.

‘Hitler’s Irishmen’

Congratulations to former Tramore CBS pupil, Terence O’Reilly, who is the author of a new book, ‘Hitler’s Irishmen’, that is receiving excellent reviews. Terence, who now lives in Portlaoise, is a member of staff of the Defence Forces library specialising in military history. He is a former artilleryman who completed several tours of duty with the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

During the Second World War, two young Irishmen served in the armed forces of Nazi Germany, swearing the oath of the Waffen-SS, wearing the organisation’s uniform and even its distinctive blood group tattoo. James Brady from Roscommon and Frank Stringer from Leitrim were under the direct command of Otto Skorzeny, the man who rescued Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from a mountain-top prison, and they were involved in some of the most ferocious fighting of the war in the last days of the Third Reich.

Ironically these young men had originally joined an Irish regiment of the British army and, but for a twist of fate, would have ended up fighting against the Germans. Instead, the pair were recruited to the German special forces after they were captured on the island of Jersey. Terence’s book is based on new research from the two men’s own accounts and on State papers which have been recently released. Published in paperback by The Mercier Press, ‘Hitler’s Irishmen’ retails at €16.99

A nervous patient

A Dungarvan man had surgery at Waterford Regional Hospital last week and, despite assurances from family and staff, he was still worried that the surgeon might get it wrong. Even though he got odd looks from everybody else in the ward, he decided to stick little messages on various parts of his body pointing out to the theatre staff which was his left leg as opposed to his right leg. He also stuck on several other little notes to the surgeon reminding him to wash his hands, to take his time and not to talk to the other staff while he was working.

When he came out of the general anesthetic and was well enough to sit up, he felt something sticking into his stomach. He pulled up his gown and there was a note neatly taped to his abdomen signed by the surgeon. “Has anybody seen my wristwatch”, it asked.

And still on medical matters, a woman was in the kitchen cooking dinner and, to her grumpy husband’s puzzlement, she was singing, humming and giggling away to herself. Eventually he asked her why she was in such good humour. “I went to the doctor today and he said I have the face and breasts of a twenty year old”, she said happily.

The husband sniffed and said in a sarcastic tone: “And what did he say about your fifty year old arse?” The woman merely gave him a withering look before replying. “Nothing at all, your name didn’t come up during our conversation.”