Retired Priest’s Collection

Due to the Athea Utd schoolboys church gate collection this weekend, Fr. Duggan has decided to postpone the ‘Retired Priest’s’ collection which our Bishop, Brendan Leahy, needs to go ahead. Instead envelopes will be given out before all the masses at the weekend into which you can put your donation and bring back to the church the following weekend.


By Domhnall de Barra 

It is getting increasingly more difficult to be PC as time goes by. One has to be very careful when referring to race, creed, colour etc. to such an extent that it is almost impossible to call a spade a spade. Ethnic minorities deserve to be defended and respected but not everybody is perfect and every race is a mixture of the good, the bad and  the in between. Unfortunately we often tar them all with the same brush when the bad ones belong to a certain country or ethnic minority. We, in Ireland, are culpable in this regard. There are comments frequently aired describing all immigrants and asylum seekers as “spongers” and a burden on society. This invokes a fear in people’s minds and we see this manifested in the meetings whenever a town is earmarked for a direct provision centre. The worst offender though is Donald Trump. He described Mexicans as rapists and criminals and the sad thing is, this went down well with some of his backers in America. It is difficult to see how he could get away with such language but he seems to be able to say and do what he likes with impunity. Ordinary decent Americans must be cringing and I have no doubt that some of the Republican Party secretly wish he would vanish off the political landscape. At least he did not manage to get the wall built.

How can we blame others when the most powerful politician in the free world is capable of such vile comment?   Is it indicative of what the world is like at the moment? There has been an alarming rise in far right and far left parties through the democratic world which shows that there is support out there for extremist views. Politicians have to take a big part of the blame for this. Through housing and education policies they have left huge areas disenfranchised and ripe ground for anti–establishment agitators. We see this in the major cities where people have been removed from the centres and placed in large housing estates on the outskirts. These areas have very few facilities and are not properly serviced by public transport. Add to this the fact that there is little employment so you have a recipe for disaster. They have been let down by the establishment and resentment leads to anti-social sentiment. Young people grow up without any great hope and there is a tendency to become involved in petty criminality from an early age. This sometimes leads on to more major criminality, especially in the illegal drugs trade. The damage is done in some places but our housing policies do not give us any great hope for the future. It is time to get away from the idea of housing as many people as possible in urban areas. This only leads to traffic congestion and a concentration of people with few facilities or amenities. How did we get to this point?  At one time, not so long ago when there was far less money in the country than now, local authorities around the country built social houses for people in the country known as “cottages”.  They were intended, at the time, for people who had no land and mainly worked for local farmers. More often than not, the farmer donated the acre to an employee and the county council built the house on the property. They were well built and structurally sound and many is the big family was reared in them even though they consisted of a living area, two bedrooms and an attic. There was also a little larder called “the scullery”. This was so small you could not swing the proverbial cat in it but the houses were good as I can attest to having been born and raised in one myself.

At some stage, a decision was made to stop building one-off housing as it would be easier to service dwellings in towns and cities. There was also opposition to applications for building permission by people in organisations like An Taisce who consider any building in rural Ireland as a blight on the landscape. They seem to think that we would be better off leaving the countryside to the wild animals. The galling thing was that somebody from far away, who had no knowledge of the area concerned, could lodge an objection and be taken seriously. Along with this folly, the powers that be decided that the best way forward was to entrust the provision of housing to private enterprise. Now, it goes without saying, building contractors are there to make money and some housing estates left a lot to be desired due to shoddy work and corner cutting. Regulations, and their enforcement, have vastly improved since then but it is time we returned to the idea of building one-off houses in rural Ireland and avoid the congestion and social deprivation of sprawling housing estates in cities and towns.