A wish for the coming year in Ireland
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A wish for the coming year in Ireland

‘May you live in interesting times’. 

Is this a blessing or is it a curse?  Having looked back over the year 2014 in Ireland, it’s clear that it was the most interesting of times but it was also a fraught and insecure time for Irish people.

It was especially fraught in politics. At the beginning of the year, Róisín Shorthall, Lucinda Creighton and others spoke of establishing new political movements and as we approach the end of the year, more people are joining their ranks.

During the local and European elections, many used their votes to convey their wish for a new political system in the form of independent parties.

They expressed their dissatisfaction with the status quo in other ways too.

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They were angry at TD Niall Collins who tried to exert influence on a court case. They were furious about medical cards being taken from people in need of them. And they were incensed at the way Fine Gael disrespected the political system when it tried to have Frank McNulty elected to the Seanad.

They took to the streets in protest. They protested against property taxes and water charges. Teachers went on strike. And talk of yet more strikes and protests fills the airwaves as I write.

Things were fraught at a social level too. Irish attitudes to homosexuality were brought into sharp focus following the Panti Bliss affair on RTÉ and the beginnings of a campaign for marriage equality.

There was controversy too over how Ireland treats its asylum seekers. Many of them wait for years on end for adjudication on their cases. During that time, they are not allowed to work or even to prepare food for themselves.

Even worse was the story of the young asylum seeker who was raped before she arrived in Ireland and wanted to abort the child who resulted from her attack. The Irish State treated her shamefully badly and in so doing, reignited the abortion debate.

It may not be obvious from what I’ve written but I feel strangely hopeful about Ireland. We are talking about our problems in an open way and trying to find solutions. We no longer rush to hide things under the carpet as we did so often in the past.

This is positive and if we continue to move in this direction, it’s inevitable that we’ll live through yet more interesting times.  But by the time they come to an end, we may arrive at a brighter and better Ireland. Here’s to more of that in 2015!

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enda-n It wasn't all smiles for Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2014 (Picture: Photocall Ireland)

As Gaeilge

‘An beannacht nó mallacht é an nath cainte’

go maire tú i dtréimhse spéisiúil?  Tar éis dom súil a chaitheamh siar ar 2014, is léir domsa gur tréimhse thar a bheith spéisiúil ab ea é i stair na h-Éireann.  Ach tréimhse corraitheach, neamh-chinnte ab ea é i saol na ndaoine.

B’fhíor san ó thaobh na polaitíochta.  Ag tús na bliana, bhí leithéidí Róisín Shorthall agus Lucinda Creighton ag caint mar gheall ar ghluaiseachtaí polaiticiúla nua a bhunú agus tá níos mó daoine ag caint faoi seo agus deireadh na bliana ag bualadh linn.

Le linn na toghcháin áitiúla agus Eorpacha, d’úsáid daoine a vóta chun a chur in iúil gur córas polaiticiúil nua a bhí uatha i bhfoirm na polaiteoirí neamhspleácha.

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Chur daoine a mhíshásamh in iúil i slite eile freisin.  Bhíodar ar buille faoin Teachta Dála Niall Collins a rinne iarracht cur isteach ar chás cúirte.  Bhí fearg orthu faoina cártaí leighis a baineadh ó dhaoine go raibh gá acu leo.

Agus bhí an ghubh orthu maidir leis an slí gur léirigh Fine Gael drochmheas ar an gcóras polaiticiúil le scéal Frank McNulty.

Rinneadar agóid dá bharr.  Rinneadar agóid in aghaidh an cháin mhaoine aitiúil agus na rátaí nua uisce.  Chuigh múinteoirí amach ar stailc.  Táthar ag caint anois faoi agóidí agus stailceanna eile.

Bhí go leor corraitheach ag an leibhéal sóisialta freisin.  Léiríodh meon na tíre maidir le homaighnéasaigh le scéal Panti Bliss agus tús an fheachtais chun cothromaíocht a bhaint amach maidir le pósadh.

Bhí go leor cainte faoi conas a chaitheann Éire le daoine ag lorg tearmainn.  Bíonn ar na daoine seo fanacht ar feadh blianta le freagra, gan aon chead acu dul amach ag obair nó fiú bia a ullamhú dóibh féin.

Níos measa fós ab ea scéal an bhean óg a éigníodh roimh di teacht go h-Éireann.  Theastaigh uaithi an leanbh a ghinmhilleadh ach bhain an Stát míúsáid náireach aisti, rud a thosnaigh an díospóireacht faoi ginmhilleadh in Éirinn arís.

Cé nach bhfuil sé soiléar ón méid atá ráite agam go dtí seo, is dóigh liom go bhfuil cúis dóchais ag Éire.  Táimid ag caint mar gheall ar fhadhbanna an sochaí go h-oscailte agus ag iarraidh dul i ngleic leo.  Níl cur i gcéill na staire le feiscint in Éirinn chomh minic san inniu.

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Má leanfaimid sa treo dearfach seo, is cinnte go mbeidh a thuilleadh tréimhsí spéisiúla i ndán dúinn.  Ach b’fhéidir go bhfeicfimid gur fiú iad i ndeireadh na dála.  Sé mo rún gur mar sin a bheidh againn i 2015.