OUR mini-minister for Old Crocks, Jim Daly, is an outstanding hunter and gatherer of State funds and, so far, he’s managed to extract a whopping €16million from the most tight-fisted government in the world.
What’s more, he’s distributing the dosh around West Cork with delightful abandon – oops – that should read with remarkable discharge of his political responsibilities. In all, three West Cork hospitals, a library, a housing scheme, a seafood research scheme and Skibbereen’s world famous Ludgate project are the beneficiaries.
Indeed, the region stares in awe at the generosity of a new-found fairy-godfather, someone that Brendan Behan would have described as having such ‘capernosity and function’ that he outshines Santa Claus as a distributor of bounty, lavishness and good cheer.
So, here’s the breakdown of Jimbo’s generous jolliness (pardon the alliteration): First on the list is Bantry General Hospital which is to get a new endoscopy and rehabilitation unit, costing ten million smackers. He said: ‘Bantry General Hospital is the only remote rural General Hospital in the country and for this it deserves special status and special consideration … Construction is expected to begin in 2020.’
Great news but, as usual, up pop the begrudgers. ‘Hang on a minute. What year did Daly say?’ asked the critic in Dinty’s and, on being told, commented: ‘Listen, that’s a couple of years down the line and he could be well and truly out of office by that time. What he says should come with a health warning!’ he growled, spluttering into his pint.
But, as Jim Daly well knows, a political prophet always will have his gainsayers – namely, those dreadful people who flatly deny and contradict absolutely a bearer of good news.
Clon and Bandon
The fact of the matter is that, not only will Bantry General Hospital benefit, but so too will Clonakilty Community Hospital, which is in for a €5 million windfall. It will get an extension to facilitate 14 step-down care beds, 20 single-bed rooms, dining room, day room, visitors’ room and a ‘quiet’ room.
Also featured are four ‘specially tailored dementia rooms’ (probably designated for political commentators!)
And, of course, let’s not forget Jimbo’s lobbying work on behalf of the Bandon Community Hospital and its new extension which he described as ‘a modern state of the art facility.’ That too deserves a rousing manifestation of joy and plaudits galore.
And then there is the ‘Seniors’ Housing Scheme’ in Dunmanway – a cause close to the mini-minister’s heart, as was made clear last month when he announced that the town had been chosen for a national ‘demonstration site to develop a new-style housing project for the aged.’
Said Jim, ‘We must develop a new option for people to move to as they grow old, and all that means is a smaller house, a smaller garden, well designed to cater for all possibilities such as wheelchairs, aids, etc, and crucially that on-call support and assistance is available should any resident need to call on it for any reason.’
On top of that, there’s the €1.8 million he got for ‘Allihies Seafood’ under the ‘Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund’ (Disruptive???), about which we know absolutely nothing, other than that the cash is tied into a research project at Limerick University.
According to Jimbo, it’s all aimed at tackling ‘national and global challenges to secure the jobs of the future.’ Wow! That’s impressive but the narky gentleman in Dinty’s might well ask: does securing ‘jobs for the future’ include Jim’s seat in Dáil Éireann?
Oh, and there’s the €240,000 Leader grant for the Whiddy Island Development Association According to Jim, the cash was secured by his ministerial chum, Michael Ring, and it was ‘another example of the Government supporting rural communities.’
Nor should we forget the €2.1 million for ‘the development of a new library in Kinsale.’ It will be built in the Old Mill building, also known as the James O’Neill building, in Church Square. It will consist of a main library, a reading room, meeting rooms and a multi-functional events space.
And, natch, Jimbo didn’t forget Skibbereen! Two million euros for the Ludgate Hub, through the intercession of Minister Heather Humphreys. He praised Humphreys for her ‘listening ear to representations’ (his, of course!) and her ‘recognition of what can be achieved in rural Ireland with investment and infrastructure.’
Jim was confident the money would ‘deliver 390 new jobs within two years and facilitate and support a thousand indirect jobs.’ The Government, he said, was supporting ‘in deeds and actions the entrepreneurial spirit of the people.’
To which we say in awe: Wow! What a politician! What a mover and shaker! What all round capability, driving force, wizardry and skill he has!
And yet Jim Daly is stuck in a humble, steerage class, mini-ministerial position despite the fact that almightiness is sure to descend on his broad shoulders should he be elevated on high. He deserves promotion.
To overlook Our Jimbo’s special skills would be a fundamental error on the part of Vlad. The West Cork man’s achievements merit a senior ministerial position – never mind clamorous applause, universal acclaim, standing ovations, his name in lights and praise to the skies for all that he’s achieved.
But what are we saying? Cripes, our hero should get more than that: he deserves Vlad’s job! Yes! That’s it! Vlad’s job! And the sooner the better!
Powers of Mayors?
And now for something different: In May, the inhabitants of Cork city, along with Limerick, Galway and Waterford, will vote in a referendum for a directly-elected Mayor.
Problem is nobody can define the role a directly-elected Mayor will have – especially the powers the future Rt Hon will snatch from the Corpo’s chief executive. That’s already a bone of contention.
It is believed that one of the options favoured by the Government is for the Mayor to have executive powers, and that he would ‘sit above’ the Chief Executive. Critics say that not enough time has been allocated for the complex issues to be debated, while Cork people feel they’re having something pushed on them.
Boring boring Santa!
Because of the season that’s in it, here’s a bit of useless information we got from a Christmas cracker. The seventh worst film of all time is ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.’
Envious of the fun and games that Earth people enjoy, Martians kidnap Santa and take him to the red planet, but on discovering that he’s an intolerable bore they allow two typical American kids, Billy and Betty, rescue him.
And that’s it! Incredibly, it made several million dollars.