The air is fresh, bluebells abound and butterflies appear as soon as I open my front door. The sun is shining and it is good to be alive. I savour these days and feel warm and thankful to those who have cared for me when I have been unwell, especially the staff in St. James’s Hospital. However much this wonderful weather can induce a sense of optimism, which it does, there is no question that there is a sense of disquiet, if uneasiness, amongst people. Everybody knows that change is coming but many, particularly those of us who have memories and lived through the Troubles, still feel uneasy with the prospect of Sinn Féin coming to power. Hence, I thought the news significant that Michael Fitzmaurice, the Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, was calling for the formation of a new political party to represent farmers and rural Ireland. Then when it transpired that several other Independent TDs were also exploring their options, it became clear that an alternative to Sinn Féin might emerge. For this to gain critical mass you need a leader. Michael Fitzmaurice has already stated that he isn’t interested in the role. He has developed into a skilled politician. I would describe him as authentic and a man who speaks the truth. When the Progressive Democrats emerged in the ’80s both the leadership and personae of Dessie O’Malley were critical to their success. If someone were to emerge from rural Ireland capable of tapping into the wide discontent and fear about the future, you could have a political earthquake. Crazy, isn’t it, with corporate tax revenue flowing into the State’s coffers, that we still have such overwhelming problems in housing and health? Fine Gael’s golden boy, in the form of Leo the Leak, who promised to lift his party’s electoral fortunes, now appears decidedly jaded. Micheál Martin, viewed by many as a decent man, now looks somewhat distracted. Most ironic of all, with his credentials burnished by the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, Bertie is back. Next thing he will be running for the Presidency. Ah, people will say, you have to hand it to him, and before you know it he’s in Áras an Uachtaráin. This is definitely a country of possibilities. After all the Monk is now free, clean-shaven and with a new haircut.
Elsewhere, in an extraordinary development in the land of Vlad the Bad, an elderly woman was convicted of “discrediting the Russian Armed Forces” because she described Volodymyr Zelensky as being both handsome and funny. She was fined approximately €400 in a Moscow Court. Vlad is, of course, neither handsome or funny and will hopefully have that grimace of a grin wiped off his face when Ukraine retakes Crimea.
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