From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Local Papers Commentary
From the Western People - 8 Sep 2004
By The Jaundiced Eye
11, Sep 2004 - 12:45

‘Floating Church’ sinks off Connemara coast

Ireland’s first ‘floating church’, en route to Mayo last week, met its demise off the coast of Clifden. The 84-foot long trawler, a brainchild of Bishop Michael Cox, burst into flames and then sank, minutes after a rescue helicopter had swept its three crew members to safety. The Tridentine Bishop was of the belief that the abortion ship ‘Aurora’, which is run by the Woman on Waves group, was due on Irish waters again and the controversial cleric intended to stop it in its tracks. "I had consecrated the boat as a floating church and it was my plan to travel around the coast and challenge the ship, which offers abortions offshore to women.

What is it with these mad Irish priests? Bishop (using the word advisedly) Cox is the guy who ordained Sinead O’Conner in another bizarre stunt. This fire and water event happened almost the same week that the other ‘nutter’ Neil Horan, wearing just a Leprechaun outfit, grabbed the leading runner in the Olympics Marathon race, Vanderlei de Lima. I heard Cox being interviewed live on both RTE and Today FM simultaneously. I was waiting for some kind of bi-location miracle to occur on air. Philip Boucher Hayes was waiting for him to get off the phone with Matt Cooper not realising that he was talking to the opposition. PBH was killing time anxiously talking to a Cox sidekick, who had also escaped the conflagration, while waiting for the great man to give his own account. I flicked back and forward between the two stations fascinated - especially as it was coming right up against the Angelus deadline on RTE at 6pm – would PBH get to him on time and would Matt Cooper get full value out of his interview before the six o’clock news? In the end he did giving a second breathless account to the relieved PBH. The ship was heading to Ballycastle in North Mayo when it burst into flames – he had been kicked out of Fenit for being ‘too big’. Some wag pointed out that he was tempting fate because it is bad luck to rename a ship – remember the ill-fated, renamed, Cabin Fever ship aground on Tory Island? But I reckon the Lord himself had intervened – a quick bolt of lightening to send a wake-up message to the bould Bishop Cox telling him to cop himself on.

Relief all round as Orthopaedic Unit opens in Castlebar

RELIEF and joy greeted the long awaited opening of the Orthopaedic Unit at Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar. It was the culmination of over 10 years in which politicians and the people of Mayo have campaigned for such a unit. The unit was due to be fully operational from July 1 this year, but following a postponement announced in early June, fears began to grow as to whether the people of Mayo would ever see orthopaedic services in their county. Then, towards the end of June, it was announced that outpatients would be treated in Mayo General Hospital from July 1 and this service has been running since then. Last Wednesday saw two patients receiving treatment at the unit, and the hospital has said that it will be increasing the number of patients gradually each week.

So finally after all the marching and protesting the unit opens. Perhaps the wake-up call of the local elections is starting to have an effect? So if you are unlucky enough to for example break the tip of your finger in the car door (never mind broken limbs or collar bones) you will not now have to travel up and down to Galway for treatment once a week. It can be done right here in Castlebar. Excellent!

First day farewell

A hug is as good as a wink for four-year-old Kyle Maloney who is pictured with his mum Sharon as he entered Scoil Iosagain N.S., Ballina, for his first day at school last Wednesday.

The Western show a lovely photo of a child on her first day at school. Similarly on St. Pats had their by now regular photos of infants on their first day at school. This year it all has special poignancy though because of the Beslan massacre of the innocents. The accounts of the behaviour of the Chechen terrorists were absolutely horrific – not since Rwanda, Cambodia, or perhaps even Belsen have we heard such horror stories. The translation of the words of that 10-year old boy in the white shirt though was shattering stuff altogether. He himself was just incredibly lucky to escape when the bomb that had been right next to him exploded. That he could even recount the events in such clear and lucid detail is even more amazing. There were other survivors who couldn’t remember their names such was their trauma. There are an amazing number of Irish-Russian links nowadays. Irish people who had adopted Russian children from nearby villages, Irish people married to Russians and the large Russian community living here in Ireland - all these voices were heard on air all week and the whole topic was covered particularly well by Joe Duffy on Liveline. The attempts by Putin to tag the Beslan horror onto the tailcoats of GW Bush’s ‘war’ on terror is more than a bit disingenuous though. The past sins visited upon Chechnya by Russia are also truly appalling. Away from the limelight of modern TV coverage, pretty much the entire nation of Chechnya was deported to Siberia. And more recently Russia has pounded the living daylights out of rebellious Chechnyans in a couple of wars. It’s hardly necessary to go to the Middle East to find someone to want to visit the kind of awful terror that occurred in Beslan no matter how politically convenient the notion may seem. Of course all former communist states in the USSR were maltreated – whole generations were effectively orphaned in Bulgaria, for example, and Romania suffered even more at the hands of their own dictator, Ceaucescu, acting on behalf of his Russian masters. It’s time for a different tack. So what if Chechyna becomes a separate state? Just as pounding the living daylights out of the Palestinians hasn’t got the Israelis anywhere except deeper and deeper into the mire, Stalinist policies in the former Soviet Union simply don’t work anymore.

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