EVERYBODY, sometime, will be remembered for something: Prince Albert, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, who was accused of being Jack the Ripper, for his his … well … ripping exploits in Whitechapel. Then there’s the onetime King of Cork, Jack Lynch, for his political promises and, more recently, Simon Coveney for his prediction that in a distant future the multi-million Cork Events Centre will be built.
Simon is a nice guy (met him at a wedding) but let’s not forget that he, and his then head honcho – Fine Gael’s Big Cheese, Dame Enda – turned the sod on the old Beamish and Crawford site to celebrate the first day of construction of a mighty project, the Cork Events Centre.
But the Cork Events Centre, with its theatres and sport facilities, is still awaiting the strains of symphonic music, the basketball whoops of delight, the sweaty dancers, the pantomimes, the Cork Fleischmann Symphony Orchestra and the moments of exaggerated self-display in Strindberg-style dramas that have been learned by thousands of Everyman thespians.
Point is, that in a Fine Gael controlled Cork nothing has happened in relation to the Events Centre. Absolutely nothing! It’s a dead duck and Coveney and his chums have some explaining to do.
Not a brick has been laid and the Centre remains as remote as Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s stately pleasure dome, a fragment of the Leeside imagination.
But, and let’s get something straight, Leesiders don’t like being made eejits of! (Please, dear reader, excuse our ending the sentence with a preposition but our collective blood is boiling at the way Big Business runs rings around the muggins who represent our city. As Winston Churchill once famously spluttered before he slid under the table: ‘That is the sort of thing with which we will not put.’
Worse, Coveney is getting somewhat edgy at the barrel-loads of ‘criticism’ currently being dumped on his patrician head.
This is what he said last March: ‘The easy thing for me to have done years ago, when this got difficult and obstacles were being put in the way, would be to simply leave it to somebody else. I haven’t done that and the government hasn’t done that, and we are determined to make this happen.
‘So are BAM, and so are Live Nation … What we’re trying to do is establish how the State puts €30 million into this project in a way that’s legally consistent with the original tendering process.’
‘Wow!’ we exclaim. Thirty million and absolutely nothing to show for it!
To which came this response from the gargler who sits near the jukebox in the Cork Arms on McCurtain Street and who would put our politicos to shame.: ‘Lookit,’ he said, ‘them’s are Coveney’s, the Corpo’s and the Fine Gael Government’s problems. Their pals, BAM, gave us a commitment. Coveney gave us a commitment. The Corpo gave us a commitment.
‘Yet the cost to the Corpo and the State has tripled and there’s nothing to show for it except the hole Coveney dug in the ground. What in the name of the Sweet, Divine … you know who … is going on? We’re not dopes. We’re Corkmen, born and bred and, by Jasus, we want answers!’
MEPs seeking seats
That’s bad enough but, dear God, what about Fine Gael’a MEP Seán Kelly getting his knickers in a knot over the fact that his running mate, Deirdre Clune, snaffled one third more delegate votes than he did at the selection conference. The triumphant lady is justifiably delighted that she’s ahead in the popularity stakes.
And then there’s the rather unrepublican Liadh Ní Riada who has yet to say something coherent about Six Counties Unionist fascism. Has she ever been up there, one wonders?
As for the Soldiers of Destiny, well, they’ll have no trouble re-asserting their claim to Brian Crowley’s seat (For the record, let’s not forget the Greens’ Grace O’Sullivan; who she?).
Our Mickey (Martin) recently said something sensible. He wants the May vote on whether or not Cork City should have its first ever directly elected mayor delayed. And, within Cork Fianna Fáil, that’s radical!
At stake is a cushy number worth a whopping €130,000 a year. We refer to the election of a new-style Rt Hon Lord Mayor, about which there’s an extraordinary dearth of information relating to the precise nature of the role such a person will have.
Although Mickey is in favour of a directly-elected mayor, worrying him is the fact that there is confusion as to the respective roles of the mayor and the chief executive officer.
Quite rightly, he wants the plebiscite to be run like a referendum with objective information and campaigns on what the role of a directly elected mayor will entail. To which we say that’s okay, so long as there’s no change to the gigantic piss-up in the mayoral office following the election.
Cripes, can we ever forget the last one! We’re still recovering!
A Northern spark
Here’s a good one: According to a Belfast newspaper, which is our breakfast reading as we chomp the toast, ‘Northern Ireland’s electricity grid can now be operated from an Irish government-owned control room in Dublin.’ In other words, there is now a single electricity market on the island of Ireland and Dublin electrically controls the North.
And that (excuse the pun) is shocking! Because, say our Unionist chums, ‘the history of electricity in Northern Ireland is politically sensitive. In 1974, electricity workers at Ballylumford power station cut electricity supplies as part of the Ulster Workers’ Council strike and it was the threat to turn off electricity entirely which saw Stormont’s power-sharing Sunningdale Agreement administration collapse.’
And yes, we really are in the 21st century , and yes, the Dublin government has spent years foolishly trying to reach an accommodation with that prehistoric race of people up there – those who live in the caves, dens and holes and who are terrified of turning on republican lights!
Years ago, when Queen Victoria visited Cork, The Cork Examiner committed a type-setting error that has gone down in journalistic history. It described how the populace greeted their monarch with gladness and acclaim as she ‘pissed’ over St Patrick’s Bridge; the unfortunate typesetter in the heat of the moment transposing the ‘a’ in ‘passed’ to an ‘i.’
The incident was brought up to date earlier this month when, in the wake of ceremonies marking the multi-million refurbishment of the bridge, Cllr Chris O’Leary, a former Lord Mayor of Cork discovered that someone had defecated on the St Patrick’s bridge.
‘I couldn’t believe that someone could have a crap on our newly restored bridge,’ said the outraged councillor.
Which led to this comment up from an old timer up Barrack Street: ‘Yerra, boy, years ago, out by the Airport, there was the Snotty Bridge. Now, Cork has … wait for it … the Shi**ty Bridge!’