Posted on 25th February 2023

There should be a spring in my step.  The sun has been shining, daffodils are appearing and the buds of our rhododendrons are poised to burst through in a blaze of colour.  Even the presence of several semi-crazed black sheep are adding to the lifting of the atmosphere.  Then the news breaks on Thursday of the senseless shooting of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell in a sports complex in Omagh.  It makes me feel sick to my stomach.  How many generations have to experience this senseless sort of violence before we can eliminate it from our society.  The shooting took place in front of a number of young people including his son.  It was as described by Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill  “reprehensible”.  As we move towards celebrating the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, I pray there is no more of such behaviour.  We are trying to escape our past and those that seek to bring back those dark black days in pursuit of some warped ideal must be firmly rejected.  Our future must be a different path.

One of the more bizarre events this week took place in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.  It was a concert designed to celebrate the anniversary of the war in Ukraine which I think you still have to call “ a Special Military Operation” or face imprisonment.  About 100,000 flag waving Russians attended.  As the temperature was minus 15 centigrade, Vlad the Bad kept his speech short, saying “ I just heard from the top military leadership of our country that the battle is ongoing right now for our historical lands, for our people”.  All part of the big lie.  As far as Vlad is concerned, Ukraine as a nation state does not exist.  Stars for this illustrious event were a bit thin on the ground.  I think it would be fair to say that most of them have left the country.  The substitute was a rapping soldier, First Lieutenant Nikolai Romanenko who appeared on stage adorned with medals and coming out with the memorable words “ I’m not afraid if my hands were covered in blood to the elbows/ This is a war and  we were not the ones to start it”.  Out there again with the big lie.

So where are we one year on with a war that is imposing added strain on many countries, including our own.  Most important for all, is there really an end in sight ?.  Ukraine is now getting the tanks it needs, together with additional artillery and other weaponry.  There is, as yet, no sign of fighter jets but even in the States there are those who are calling for the training of pilots to commence.  Still I would hope that the Ukrainians will shortly have sufficient resources to enable them to embark on a series of strikes against a demoralised enemy.  Yevgenny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Mercenary Group is complaining of difficulties getting ammunition and is criticizing the leadership.  Compare this to an upbeat hardened and disciplined force with, dare I say it, God on their side.  The Ukrainians must prevail.

The view of Slane Castle from the hill