Many people may remember that, following the last general election, Kerry politician, Jackie Healy Rae, did a secret deal with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern that captured his vote for the government for the duration of the parliament. The deal has been described in some quarters as a ‘covenant between two cute hoors’.
Nobody has ever seen the famous document but, last week, The Kerryman newspaper reported that it had been given a tantalising glimpse of the famous document outlining the secret deal the brave Jackie did with Bertie as the government was being formed.
Apparently, the agreement runs to eight pages and it contains a list of priority projects for Kerry valued at hundreds of millions of euro and the projects do not only refer to Jackie’s home base of South Kerry but to the county in general.
The deal was signed by Jackie and Bertie but the Taoiseach signed as President of Fianna Fail which means the document cannot be seen under a Freedom of Information inquiry. The Kilgarvan TD has access to all government ministers and department buildings and he meets two of the Taoiseach’s advisors every Tuesday at 3pm in what is, effectively, a special clinic for South Kerry.
Part of the agreement suggests that Deputy Healy Rae has as much clout as some government ministers although there appears to be no specific time-frame is attached to many of the demands in the document. You have to hand it to the Kerry TD, he has up there for thinking and down there for dancing and the people who voted for him are more than happy!
Bogus dads and passport scams
To be honest, I haven’t heard of it happening in the Waterford area but, apparently, men in other parts of the country are being offered thousands of euro to falsely claim they are the biological fathers of babies born to foreign nationals.
One man, who lives in an east coast town, was approached and was originally offered €2000 but, when he declined, the offer went up in stages all the way to €10,000. A second man claimed a Dublin firm of solicitors was involved in the scam and he actually attended a meeting in their offices. He said he knew of at least four other men from his immediate area that had been offered money to say they had fathered children and he was told at his Dublin meeting that there were plenty of women out there looking for bogus Irish fathers for their children.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that a baby would be given Irish citizenship if its father was an Irish national. Changes to the regulations mean that, since January 1st., 2005, a baby born here is not entitled to citizenship unless their parent has, during the four years immediately preceding the birth, been resident on the island for a period of not less than three years.
Scarcity of ash opens up foreign opportunities
Trees in general and, ash trees in particular, were prominent in news stories last week.
The report by Jamie O’Keeffe in this newspaper certainly opened a lot of eyes. Senator Ann Ormonde, who is Dublin based but a native of Kilmacthomas, said she was extremely concerned about the lack of native ash to make hurleys and was encouraging farmers to avail of a new Forestry Environmental Protection Scheme that, she believed, would go a long way towards solving the problem as well as creating a good income for the land owners.
Jamie reminded our readers that the demand for hurleys has soared since the mid-90s and, at present, approximately 200,000 adults and children are playing the game. The making of hurleys was once a cottage-type industry but not any more and about 90 per cent of the ash used to make hurleys is now grown abroad. The situation is such that the Kilkenny hurley maker, Jack Carey, brother of the famous DJ, transferred his operation to Eastern Europe and now sends back finished hurleys from Slovakia made from ash he sourced on the banks of the Danube river.
Ash is being imported from the Ukraine for the manufacture of Tesco hurleys while the Belfast based Setanta Hurls imports ash from Romania and the Taoiseach was presented with a Polish made hurley earlier this week during his European tour.
Incidentally, such is the scarcity of ash in this country that thieves are targeting forests and farms in the dead of night for mature trees which are becoming very valuable.
Hurlers angry at ESB
Meanwhile, the ESB appears to be in trouble with a GAA club in the New Ross area over the cutting of trees.
Members of the Rathgarogue-Cushinstown GAA Club are said to be extremely angry at the ESB which cut down ash trees worth €500,000 on the club’s grounds, allegedly without permission.
The 580 trees in question were grant-aided and were sown twenty years ago with the intention of providing hurleys for club members in the future. Club Secretary, Marianne Argue, pointed out that everybody was enraged at what she termed the ‘desecration of private property’ and said the matter was now in the hands of the club’s solicitors.
A spokesperson for the ESB said a club committee member had been informed about the situation and revealed the trees were cut down because they were a danger to overhead lines and, if contact was made, the power supply could be interrupted.
Fianna Fail TD, Sean Connick, said he was ‘shocked an appalled’ at the situation and couldn’t understand why the ESB didn’t merely top the trees. He said people in any part of the country that owned trees in the vicinity of power cables should take note of the New Ross incident.
An auld wan causing havoc!
In court, lawyers should never ask elderly, testy women leading questions if they aren’t prepared for the answer as was demonstrated at Waterford Courthouse recently.
A distinguished barrister called his first witness, an elderly country-woman, to the stand and his first question was: “Mrs. Murphy, do you know me?” She looked at him as if he was something unpleasant she had discovered on the sole of her shoe.
“Of course I know you, boy, I’ve known you since you were a child and, frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you’ve acquired a fancy, false accent and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you will never amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Oh yes, I know you all right.”
The lawyer was stunned but he carried on gamely and, pointing across the room in dramatic fashion, he asked: “Mrs. Murphy, do you know that Garda standing there?” Mrs. Murphy sniffed in distain before replying: “Indeed I do, I’ve known that big lump for more years than I care to remember and I can tell you he is lazy and bigoted and he has a drinking problem. He is also a love rat and I know for certain he not only cheats on his wife but he is carrying on behind his girlfriend’s back as well. Oh yes, I know him all right.”
There was consternation in the court and, as the elderly woman sniffed happily and looked out at the public with a contented look on her face, the Judge had to bang his gavel several times to restore order. He then asked the defence and prosecuting counsel to approach his bench and in a quiet voice that contained not a little hint of panic, he hissed. “If either one of you feckers asks her if she knows me, I’ll send you to jail for a month for contempt.”