Monday, October 31, 2005

Running to Stand Still

Congratulations to everyone who started today's Dublin City Marathon. I don't know how (or why) you do it.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

If Plan A doesn't work .....

(My boyfriend still hasn't recovered from his footie depression, so time for a little more blogotherapy)

Perhaps one of the most disappointing things about the Irish soccer team's recent World Cup Campaign, was the lack of alternative attack strategies. Of course, we never had an embarrassment of choice :-

Under Jack, it was "long ball over the top"
Under Mick, it was "down the channels and whip it in"
Under Brian, it seemed to be "Kick it over midfield and watch Robbie/Clinton/Gary concede a free kick".

There never really was a Plan B. It was a clear case of 'If Plan A does'nt work, keep trying Plan A'. So why expect the suits in Merrion Square to be any different. Their Plan A seems to be wait until someone who the media tipped as a future manager says "thanks but no thanks". If that doesn't work, then try waiting until someone who the media tips as a future manager says "thanks but no thanks".

Put us both out of our misery (Tony is miserable, ergo Paige is miserable), tell us what is Plan B?

Paige & Tony

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Courageous & Brave

Courageous & Brave

  • Children were being abused and raped by those in whom they had placed their trust.
  • Some reported this abuse ; Some blamed themselves ; Some kept it to themselves
  • Parents denied that priest could or would do such despicable acts
  • Grandparents denied it
  • Friends and family were found wanting
  • The few priests who were confronted denied it
  • Bishops in authority denied it and sought to cover it up.
  • The combined hierarchy of the Catholic Church dismissed it
  • Guards “investigating” refused to believe and failed to investigate
  • The public denied the claims and reacted angrily to those who spoke out
  • The media largely ignored the issue save for a few persistent and brave journalists
Many young men and women endured such horrific abuse and were treated contemptuously by a society that proclaims to care about them. That they survive to have their story told at last is a testament to their bravery. Only they know how courageous they have been.

And yet now that we are enlightened by the truth, do we applaud the bravery and courage of these young men and women? No, we talk about “a litany of shame” by the clergy. We focus on the evil and depraved acts. We wonder who can we convict of a criminal offence.

We still don’t see it from the perspective of the child.

Yes, lets condemn and denounce but is it not a climate of condemnation and denunciation that left these children vulnerable and helpless? We should commend and celebrate the bravery of our children from whom we can learn so much. Our society needs to have the courage to speak up and listen to those who strike a different note.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Gender Quotas

There has been talk in recent days about the need to improve the representation by women in the political process. Gender quotas - where there are separate competitions for women and men - are proposed as a possible solution. Some male commentators, presumably in a need to demonstrate their feminist credentials, claim that this is grossly insulting to women.

Well insult me if you like, because any change to the current political system that removes the inherent bias against women gets my vote time and again.

By its very nature, the political process attracts a certain type of character. Generally these individuals are passionate about making a difference and want to leave their mark on society. The very process of putting oneself forward for public evaluation will surely only appeal to those who are confident that they will withstand this scrutiny or else those who don't care about the outcome. I know that it is something of a sweeping generalisation but these characteristics tend to be alpha male linked. Even the phrase "fighting an election" speaks to a male perspective. I'd argue that most female candidates who stand for election do so as something of a last resort. Their preference would be for the issue to be addressed rather than have themselves elected . Cathy Sinnott + Autism Services is a case in point. But single issue candidates tend only to capture support from those people interested in that particular issue. (Of course this is probably a good thing for society.) Women tend to care less about getting the credit and more that the issue be addressed. So should we be surprised that male candidates predominate?

Now don't get me wrong, I imagine that there are many many men who take a similar view and hence self-select themselves out of the election process. So rather than have separate lists of male and female candidates, perhaps we should have a list of people who want to run for election and one of people who we'd like to try to persuade to represent us. Having 1/2 of our public representatives reluctantly serving the national good has to be better than having all of the Oireachtas so disposed.

It's just a thought.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Tabloid Republic

It is increasingly common place to bemoan the growing tabloidisation of the Irish media. We throw our hands up in horror that our society might be heading down the same road as that our our nearest neighbours. The current furore over the coverage of the death of the late Liam Lawlor demonstrates that when it comes to a media war, the race is very much to the bottom.

Clearly the media have a lot to answer for. But it has to be said that society generally gets the press that it deserves. Aggressive sales and marketing is the price to be paid for free DVD's, 50 cent cover prices and free newspaper supplements. The level of journalism published in Irish newspapers is fairly dire. Leave aside the gutter stories, the sports coverage and political analysis borders on the superficial at best.

Of course, this isn't something beyond our control. We can simply get the journalism we deserve by refusing to buy the lazy rubbish that is passed of as reportage and analysis.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Less Ranting More Raving

Less Ranting, More Raving
As you may know, I’m really something of a blog virgin. I’m just getting to grips with the whole concept.  When I started I thought this is just the medium for me, to get my articles published without going through my infuriating editor.

I know that I desperately want to write but I quickly realised that I didn’t really know what I wanted to write about!  In some respects, it was easy when the editor gave me a topic to research or a story to write.  So I did a quick bit of blog trawling to see the sort of topics that exercise my fellow bloggers and what items got a reaction.

It struck me that despite all the different interests and topics, a huge amount of blog space is created for personal rants from the blog author.  Now don’t get me wrong, some of this is brilliantly crafted and amusingly pitched.  But it made me think why does a broken heart inspire a poem or love song?  Why do we need to be downright angry to want to blog?

Why all the ranting when we could be raving?

I looked back through my own modest posts and saw the same trend.  The things that work me up get worked up ; the things that don’t make me smile inside.  Time to start raving me thinks!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Short Sighted Soccer

You'd have to wonder at an organisation like the Football Association of Ireland which claims to be interested in developing Irish soccer but seems to go out of its way to do the exact opposite.

Strategy 1 : Sack the incumbent manager and dismantle grass roots development structures within Ireland prefering instead to have Jack Charlton build his side from overseas players with fairly tenuous Irish connections. The FAI persisted with this policy when it wasn't immediately successful arguing that they were after a longer term, more strategic goal. Of course, it's reasonable to argue that Irish soccer under Jack wasn't really that successful. Certainly they climbed up the FIFA rankings by not getting beat by too many other countries. They played tediously dull kick 'n' run football which, though not exactly the best lesson to young soccer players, did at least fill Lansdowne Road. [IRFU says thanks]. But what did this long term strategy bring? 10 years later, the FAI had no stadium, no money, and no grass roots development.

Strategy 2 : Sack the incumbent manager and appoint a loyal servant of Irish football - a nice man who hasn't a lot of experience in management - as manager. Do nothing about developing Irish soccer at grass roots. Again taking the long term strategic view, the FAI give him some time to secure success with the senior team. After several unsuccessful (unlucky?) campaigns, Mick McCarthy eventually succeeds in bringing Ireland to within a penalty kick of the last 16 in the World Cup. This success was all the more remarkable given the constant FAI-led sniping at the manager and the unprofessional behaviour of Ireland's greatest ever soccer player.

Strategy 3 : Sack the incumbent manager and appoint a loyal servant of Irish football - a nice man who has lots of experience in management and understands the grass roots needs. Taking a strategic view, this manager nurtures indigenous Irish soccer, bloods new players and establishes a national plan for technical development. After years of no investment in Irish soccer, Brian Kerr, unsurprisingly is not immediately successful with the senior side. Ireland, despite rarely getting beaten Ireland falls down the FIFA rankings. Cue for the FAI to abandon their supposed strategic thinking.

Strategy 4 : Sack the incumbent and see Strategy 1.

Of course why should we be surprised by this absence of strategic vision and lack of professionalism from the FAI. They should take a look at the much derided GAA. An amateur organisation with a modern 80,000 seater stadium, exemplery grass roots development and the unnerving ability to do the right things.

Paige's boyfriend (a former Irish football supporter)

Monday, October 17, 2005

It will never be the same again

(My boyfriend still hasn't recovered from Ireland's failure to qualify for the world cup finals, so as a bit of blog-o-therapy, I've decided to try to capture some of his angst.)

Like your first kiss, your first car and your first offence, it never gets any better the second time around. The strange emotional disorientation, the sweaty palms, the feeling of sheer abandon, are never to be repeated. Second time around just doesn't cut it. So too with our world cup experiences.

The hysteria that followed qualification for Italia 90 was something to behold. Coming as it did after years of social and economic depression, it was just the boost that we needed. A national love-in ensued that embraced everyone - the football fanatic and non-believer alike. Women became to see the game as the artform that it is. Grown men hugged each other unashamedly without fear of being branded gay (*). Children grew up with confidence and hope. Ireland had a swagger like never before. The post-coital moment lasted 10 years and sustained us over many less successful matches.

It was always going to be difficult for Jack Charlton's successor to top those feelings. It just could never be the first time again. So despite qualifying for the world cup and, in the process, playing positive attractive football, Mick McCarthy was never going to get much thanks. In reality, the Charlton years were full of heart in the mouth 0-0 victories and the occasional scrambled goal from our top scorer, Rick O'Shea. We never every beat anyone convincingly. Our records in competition finals was occasionally Played 3; Won 1 ; Drew 1; Lost 1 performances but more often Played 3 ; Drew 3 ; Scored 1. But we could boast "You'll never beat the Irish".

Under Mick McCarthy's stewardship, Ireland got within minutes of a quarter-final that would match the highlight of the Charlton era. (Of course, we never actually won a match and we'd a both Robbie & Damian's goals should have been claimed by the vetern Rick O'Shea). But if, as we deserved, we'd beaten Spain into a cocked hat. If we'd stormed into a semi-final playing total football. If Rick had claimed the golden boot. It wouldn't have matter. It just wouldn't have been like the first time.

As so, not content with slow steady progress as a footballing nation, we hounded a decent man and good football manager out of his job because he didn't make it like it was the first time. The Saipan soap opera doesn't really matter. Forget that our most gifted player threw his rattle out of the pram. Even if Roy had delivered the masterful world cup performance that his career deserved. Even if he'd scored a goal on a par with Maradonna's second against England. Even if Ian Harte had scored a Zico-esque hat-trick. It just wouldn't be like it was.

Now, we look to hound another good coach and decent man out of his job. Rubbish is being spouted about not beating any of the top 80 teams in a competitive match.... when did beating anyone ever come in to it? Even as we hound him out of office, it just doesn't feel the same as the first time we hounded a man from office. Dunphy hasn't got the vitrol. Bill O'Herlihy seems half-hearted in his questions. Even a Prime Time special can't hid the fact it's not the first time and so it's just not the same.

Suppose the FAI stood up for Irish football and told the media to find some new story to tabloidise, now that'd be a first. Imagine a vote of confidence that actually meant something. Can you just it. Instead of trotting out Kinnear, Robson, Dalglish, Toshack and Brady as possible contenders, why not try something new and give the man a chance? we just might gget that crazy feeling again. We'd have something worth talking about in the pub. Women might come to see the romance in football again. Men might even be moved to back-slap each other or possibly even hug. Children would face the future with confidence and hope. It would be just like the start of some strange NEW adventure. And it would be the first time again .....

(As I said, the boyfriend needs some blog-o-therapy. He hasn't shown so much naked emotion since the time at Julia's wedding when he was both naked and emotional.)


(*) : In those dark days, being gay was considered quite offensive and did not correlate with better clothes, better sex and better taste.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

10 People that we could blame for PPARs other than Mary Harney

When you look at it, it is interesting to see the sort of things that exercises us these days. We're only too delighted to have a monumental cock-up to sink our teeth into. And it doesn't matter if the problem isn't a particularly big one in the grand scheme of things. The slightest hint of trouble and we're off into mindless hyperbola.

Now don't get me wrong, we should be rightly concerned about corruption by state officials, abuse of children & the vulnerable members of our society, natural disasters, carnage on our roads. But sometimes you can't help thinking that as a society were aren't able to keep things in proper perspective. Have we lost the ability to differentiate something infuriating from a tragedy or crisis?

Take this whole PPAR's yoke. (Now, I'll be the first to admit that I know precious little about computer systems, but my boyfriend has explained the pertinent points sufficiently well for me to make some assessment.) A mess is discovered in a huge amorphous IT project run by the civil service within one of the most complex organisations we've ever created. It is managed by an unaccountable committee, most of which don't have experience of installing enterprise wide IT systems. The project “fails” leading to cost overruns, expensive consultant fees and we end up with a system that doesn't work. Now this is hardly a surprise. Most businesses that have tried to introduce such enterprise wide solutions have failed abysmally. Why should we be surprised that it also failed in DOH&C?

Instead of rigorous analysis, we blame the Minister for Health & Children and ignore the fact that she took on a portfolio that no-one wanted and has spent the last year diffusing landmines which, if they didn't plant, her predecessors at least helped to bury. We seem quick to blame and if we can pin all the blame on one individual, so much the better. Why this rush to find someone to be ultimate responsibility? Do we blame the teacher for every mistake that one of his pupils makes? Or the doctor for the patient not taking her medicine? It seems we are unable to separate individual and collective responsibilities.

Well here are 10 other individuals and organisations that we might have blamed for this mess.
  1. SAP - The international IT firm who have developed a system that no-one can understand and that seems can only be modified by certain South African software engineers. (Is it not strange how these guys haven't taken any flak?)
  2. Deloitte & Touche - Management consultants extraordinaire who borrow your watch to tell you the time - and charge extortionate rates for the privilege.
  3. The many other IT & Management Consultancies who took numerous contracts (and lots of our cash) without giving us anything useful in return.
  4. All the former ministers for Health - under whose watch this disaster had been initiated and who did nothing to address the problem.
  5. Senior Civil Servants - Who, still smarting after the kicking they received on nursing homes debacle, decide to "bury the minister with reports and memos". (Why not show some self respect and take responsibility for your (in)-actions?)
  6. The Chief Executives of the now (thankfully) defunct health boards that got paid to manage but clearly didn't bother engaging in the issues to any detail.
  7. The senior managers within the health service who rather than listen to informed criticism by front line staff decided to bully staff instead.
  8. The various health service unions (nurses organisations, hospital consultants, administrators etc) who rather than embrace new technology saw its introduction as an opportunity to get into some pay bargaining.
  9. The Oireachtas joint committee on health (These guys tell us that TD's do a lot of good committee work. But I didn't hear them once assess this ongoing project. Sounds like the buck could have stopped here.)
  10. You and me for beating up on the guys least to blame for the shambles and not focusing our attention on 1-9.

I don't remember in her promise to overhaul the health service, Mary Harney pledging she'd ensure that all IT projects ongoing would be delivered on time. I'm sure if we sat down to analyse her performance, there is a lot of things we could say that Mary could have/should have or maybe just might have done differently but PPARs ain't one of them. Don't get me started!!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Public Opinion

I'll come clean - I'm a woman on the edge. Every day my less-than-organised editor sends me all over Dublin chasing some story that doesn't really exist or if it does, no-one is interested in it. He asks me for 350 words by 3pm and pleads that it is "original stuff, not some rubbish that you've found on google."

Now I'm the first to admit that I could do with a sub-editor to catch all my mistakes - It's just that the ideas come blurting out so fast. But just 'cos I don't know my 'Complement' from my 'Compliment', or why anyone would want to split an infinitive, does'nt make me stupid.

Then my boyfriend suggested that I start my own weblog. He reckons that I'd be able to write and publish all the stories, editorials and comments that I want - free from Ed's cruel red pen. And what's best, I can do it at work and he ends up paying for it!

All I need to do is decide what my public wants. Give me a subject (politics, religion, business, art, music....) or a topic for discussion and I'll have 350 words for you by 3pm.


Friday, October 07, 2005

Introducing Paige

Thanks for all the suggested topics for discussion and keep them coming.
The list currently includes :-

  • Another angle on P-PARS (

  • Is Eamonn Dunphy really the Son of Satan?

  • George Lee wont be happy until he has talked us into a recession

  • Best pubs in Dublin to meet blokes

  • Are Medical Doctors really that stupid

  • Post Marital Sex

  • Best Split Infinitives of Our Time

  • All Talk and No Action

  • Cappuccino Republic

  • Irish Nobel Peace Prize Candidates

  • Social Dumping & Bethann Kilfoyle

  • Are journalists the spawn of Satan?

  • Do Taxi drivers know the rules of the road?