Will Hitler’s secrets be revealed?

Historians, and especially those who specialise in World War II, are holding their collective breath in anticipation of the publication of a memoir written by a man names Fritz Darges who died recently aged 96.

Darges was the last surviving member of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle and it is known that he wrote his memoirs many years ago but inserted a legal clause that they should not be published until after his death. A fully-fledged member of Hitler’s inner circle, he was present at all major conferences, social engagements and policy announcements involving his leader for four years of the war.

Historian believe it is inconceivable that Hitler did not issue verbal instructions about the mass killings in the concentration camps but books and memoirs by other high ranking nazis contain no such reference. However, up to the very end, Fritz Darges regarded Hitler as ‘the greatest man who ever lived’ and was totally unrepentant about all the terrible things that occurred. Historians are hoping that his arrogance prompted him to tell all in his memoir but they also fear that, as a last gesture to his leader, his story will be nothing more than his offensive spin on Hitler’s ‘greatness’. We shall wait and see.

World Cup qualifier had most viewers

Ireland’s controversial defeat to France in Paris last week attracted the highest television audience of the year to date and the highest audience for any sporting event since 1995.

A phenomenal 2.06 million people, representing 50% of the Irish population, tuned in at some point over the course of the game to see the Irish team battle for a place in the 2010 World Cup.

It’s the first time since 1995 that any sports event on any channel available in Ireland has achieved such a high audience. The second most watched programme of the year to date was Ireland’s defeat of Wales to win the Grand Slam while Ryan Tubridy’s debut on The Late Late Show took the third spot.

Government action on Christmas bonus very harsh

The argument surrounding the government’s withdrawal of a Christmas Bonus payment to social welfare recipients continues but it doesn’t look like there will be a retraction on the part of the government. It’s a pity, not only for the recipients for whom the money was a huge boost, but also for shopkeepers and retail outlets because all that money was immediately spent on goods in local shops. The recession will undoubtedly make its mark on this year’s festive spend but, before they start at all, retailers know that millions have been already taken out of the economy because of the absence of the Christmas bonus. Of all the cuts being spoken about, this seems very harsh especially when the government would have got a large portion of the cash back in taxes.

Shopping in Northern Ireland

Speaking about shopping, last week, The Carlow Nationalist newspaper took a long hard look at the practice of travelling to Northern Ireland. Apparently, shoppers representing 250,000 households from this State are crossing the border on a regular basis to spend their money in a wide range of supermarkets and shops.

Reporter Joe Barrett and his wife, Sheila, made the long trek north from Carlow and decided to spend a day in Enniskillen. The Barretts changed their euro into sterling in their local bank getting 90 pence per euro and the 240-mile round-trip cost them €24 in diesel. The reported seeing scores of cars over the border with registration numbers from South East counties, including Waterford and Kilkenny.

They gave the prices for a large number of items they purchased in different outlets and said some of the differences were considerable. For instance, they purchased a computer game for £27 that would cost €50 down here and saw another item that they were interested in, but didn’t purchase, at £200 compared to €439 in the Republic. They had a late pub-lunch that cost £5.50 for a big-helping main course plus a glass of wine or a pint of their choice.

Many of the shops were willing to haggle over prices on specific items and, overall, said Joe and Sheila Barrett, staffs and managements were working really hard to make sure their visitors went away with the impression that they were very welcome indeed.

Personally, I try to spend whatever money I have at home and I would respectfully urge others to support local jobs by also spending at home if at all possible. But, that said, it would appear that some of our retailers could learn a lesson or two from their northern counterparts.

Give up painting that unicorn

It has turned out that it will cost Kerry County Council €5,000 to restore a landmark statue vandalised by Cork football fans before the All Ireland final.

The story concerns the statue of a unicorn that towers over the road on the Kingdom side of the Cork-Kerry border. Sometime before the final, a Cork wag, or wags, painted the statue so that the unicorn was seen wearing a Cork jersey with white nicks and a red tail.

Councillor Marie Moloney asked that the statue be restored and was informed this week by council management that the clean-up job would commence shortly and would cost at least €5,000. Councillor Moloney, who is not amused, has now dryly suggested to Cork fans that, if they want to have a bit of fun at Kerry’s expense in the future, they should consider fitting the unicorn with a jersey instead of a coat of paint. Quite right too.

Crucifix ban won’t affect Ireland

Irish MEPs have moved to reassure their constituents this week that a controversial ruling banning crucifixes from Italian state schools cannot be implemented in Ireland. It follows concern that the judgement earlier this month by the European Court of Human Rights could prompt a Europe-wide review of the use of religious symbols in government-run schools.

But Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell has insisted that the decision has nothing to do with the EU and does not have the power to enforce or change Irish law. “The European Court of Human Rights is not an institution of the European Union, it is an international judicial body set up to monitor respect for human rights”, he said.

His Munster colleague MEP Sean Kelly said he was confident the ‘outrageous’ ruling would be successfully overturned in the appeals process being taken by the Italian government. “I am of the firm hope that commonsense will prevail. The history, culture and civilisation of Italy is a deeply, profoundly Christian one, as is that of Ireland. The crucifix is a cherished symbol of our shared faith and history”, he declared.

Mr Kelly added that the four Irish Fine Gael MEPs belong to the largest political grouping in the European Parliament, the Christian Democrats. “We are the driving political force of Europe and the EU profoundly respects our Christian tradition”, insisted the former GAA President.

Further tales from the Confessional

The priest we referred to last week was back hearing confessions on Saturday last when an elderly man made his way into the box and, after much huffing and puffing, began to speak.

“Good day to you Father, I am 92 years old and I have been married to a wonderful woman of 70 years. We have five children, twenty grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. But, yesterday, I was seduced by a loose woman who lives around the corner from me and I allowed her to take me to a hotel where we spent the afternoon having sex.”

“I see”, said the priest, “are you now sorry for your sins?” “What sins”, replied the man in an incredulous tone of voice.

”Isn’t it plain to see what sins we are talking about, what kind of Catholic are you?”, replied the priest indignantly.

“But”, said the elderly man, “I’m not a Catholic at all, I’m an atheist.”

“Then why are you in my confession box telling me about your shameful exploits”, said the priest angrily.

“Father”, said the man, “I told you, I’m 92 years of age, I’m telling everybody!”