To kick off this week’s offering, here is an email which I despatched to Government Press Secretary Eoghan O’Neachtain on Thursday last regarding the ‘Nude Taoiseach’ portrait farce.
“Dear Mr O’Neachtain, that RTE were clearly forced to apologise for a story that was (a) undeniably, genuinely in the public interest and (b) in my view humorous and not particularly offensive, was flabbergasting.
“The last time I checked, we lived in a Republic, where free speech and fair comment is a right and not a privilege.
“I, as a ‘right minded citizen’ didn’t feel abhorred or disgusted by the report. I watched the report, admittedly had a little giggle about it, but had forgotten about it pretty quickly.
“I would have thought that anyone within the employment of our Government, given all the fires that need putting out right now, would have done likewise and got on with dealing with matters that really need to be addressed.
“You were, as is the right of any citizen of this State, entitled to make a complaint with RTE over the broadcast, but do you feel any sort of embarrassment given that the Gardaí have now become involved in this ‘controversy’?
“To have officers pursuing emails from a not particularly talented, publicity seeking artist when they ought to be dealing with actual criminal/subversive activity is nothing short of a disgrace.
“And do you not recognise that what was, initially, an incredibly minor incident has been magnified and blown out of all proportions through your actions?
“I have the greatest of respect for the office of An Taoiseach and, as a journalist, but more importantly as a citizen, I do not feel that (the March 23rd) report disrespected either the office or the office holder.
“If we as a nation lose our sense of humour in a similar vein to how we’ve been losing jobs in recent times, then what shall we be left with?”
At the time of writing, Mr O’Neachtain hadn’t got back to me, nor do I expect him to.
Twenty-four hours before the latest spin-doctored storm in a teacup was whipped up (surely a tad too early for Government tastes ahead of the Budget), something of genuine consequence materialised in our midst.
Waterford Crystal workers voted to retain 176 jobs for the next six months following negotiations between KPS Capital Partners, Unite and receiver David Carson.
The vote brought the workers’ sit-in to an end, much to the regret of Ian Paul, who has proven such an articulate, informative and passionate spokesman at Kilbarry since January 30th.
Sitting in Ian’s sitting room last week, the beautiful pieces of locally made crystal produced by those who viewed their profession as a vocation, made a stunning impression.
It immediately brought the impromptu tour of the Waterford Crystal gallery afforded me by retired blower Henry Moloney on February 1st to mind.
Unlike the body language demonstrated by some of politicians since the economic crisis mushroomed, Ian and Henry were ambassadors for positive thinking, the love of their craft and workplace pervasive.
This, despite the fact that they were pretty much powerless to prevent what has subsequently and unfortunately transpired, speaks volumes of the quality of character both possess.
Compare their words and their evident passion with the floundering incantations of a Government sailing aboard the good ship ‘Incompetent’.
After all, these are the men and women who can make an actual difference to each and every one of our lives, the same men and women who are being given the run-around by too clever by half bank bosses.
If it’s looked like they don’t know which way to turn of late, well, that’s no great surprise, because no one in office has yet to suggest through any confident action that they know what they’re doing.
Waterford Crystal, as we have known and loved it, is gone. A locally-inspired phoenix may yet spring from the flames, a point made by Ian Paul during our conversation last week.
Let’s hope that proves the case, and what a legacy that would be to the late Nicky Fewer, who was such a wonderful champion of our city and county.
Yet should this transpire, it will have been achieved without any meaningful Government intervention – to its infinite and disgraceful shame.
That its press secretary got his knickers knotted over a few silly, skittish paintings while a national treasure was going down the tubes merely compounds the state of our State.