Posted on 18th February 2023

On Thursday the Justice Minister Simon Harris grabbed my attention when he bluntly said in the Dail “ There is a direct link between snorting a line, taking a pill and murder, assault, criminality and misery”.  He was, of course, talking about drugs which are a scourge the length and breadth of the land.  He also said that “ We need to talk about the increasing prevalence of drug taking as part of a night out in Ireland”.  He is right and it is constructive for the Minister to highlight the issue.  However, earlier in the week Labour T.D. and former drugs Minister, Aodhan O ’Riordain, claimed that some politicians and members of the media were casual drug users.  That is no doubt true and I certainly smoked a lot of weed in my student days.  Fortunately, bar one occasion, I steered away from cocaine, thinking it far too dangerous and highly addictive.  Nowadays I stay away from it all, my drug-taking purely for medicinal use.  However, that does not mean it is not on my mind.  I have my grand-children to think about and reckon that the world they are growing up in is a lot more dangerous than it was in my youth.  In this context the Gardai and in particular the Criminal Assets Bureau are to be congratulated on the ongoing dismemberment of the Kinahan Crime Group,.  May their good work continue.  The way forward on drugs is complicated and at no stage must the lack of addiction services be ignored.  Telling the truth is a start.

Nothing displays the paranoia and yet the wealth of Vlad the Bad more than his mode of transport.  These days he likes to travel around Russia in a special armoured train and according to the Dossier Center investigative website he has had  secret tracks and stations built for his personal use.  It has a presidential carriage with a study and a bedroom together with another carriage with all the communications gear your modern day dictator should desire.  Apparently these special railways have been built to connect to 3 Putin residences.  He is highly secretive about his wealth but perhaps the most conspicuous of his dwellings is the Gelendzhik Palace on the Black Sea coast, worth 1.5 billion dollars and featuring a hookah smoking lounge with a pole dancing stage.  Just what a dictator wants.  Will it be from here that he unleashes his Spring Offensive ?  Putin is not just a political leader and a head of state but he is an avaricious head of a vast criminal organisation that has literally highjacked a nation.  Nothing illustrates this more dramatically than the conscripts he is now sending to their deaths.  It is a crime against humanity.

The view of Slane Castle from the hill