POLISHING up the knocker on the big front door might have seemed a good idea for Cork burghers in expectation of the visit last June by Prince Charles and the missus – only for the fact that the Royals came at a cost. And, boy, what a cost: a whopping €203,761 for a one-day stay!
City Hall released details last month, and the Leeside capital is still reeling from the shock. Here are some of the juicier bits from the bill to tart up the gaff for the royal social call:
Polishing door handles….€5,936
Replacement of foyer light…€6,222
Banners in the English Market…€9,332
English Market signs…€4,336
Munchies in the Crawford….€19,770
Cleaning of offices……€11,112
And it goes on and on. For insane squandering of public money, it broke records – oops, except for the €300,000 recently forked out for a logo that uncannily reminded citizens of other well-known logos!
In these straitened times we, the punters, ask what’s going on in the rarefied atmosphere of that prestigious centre of local government?
What was the justification for spending so much money on an event that wasn’t even a State visit?
To make matters even more depressing, the City Fathers forked out €13,000 on hiring barriers to cordon off the entire South Mall – and nobody turned up! Leesiders just weren’t interested in gawking at the future king of England and his wife.
Boredom with the Royals, particularly the future monarch, might be a sign of something stirring in the undergrowth: namely that, in spite of what the Indo-Sindo and our home-grown West Brits would like us to be, we’re not so pro-monarch after all.
And if there’s a sliver of truth in such an assertion, then Mickey Martin and his FF crew might want to tread warily. In November, the Soldier of Destiny confirmed on a radio programme that, if his party had electoral success in the Six Counties, Northern F&Fers would take their seats in Westminster and swear allegiance to the British Queen.
How’s dat for a ‘republican’ party’?
Copper versus copper
And now for something different: Last October, over 30 Gardaí from the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation raided a Limerick garda station, searching it as part of an investigation into an alleged use of bogus insurance certificates.
Sixteen homes also were searched. Documents, phones and computers were seized.
A garda source stated at the time that the investigation was very ‘sensitive.’ Indeed so sensitive was it that the tale of copper versus copper made no impact whatsoever on the Irish media. The story died a mysterious death!
For that matter, neither did an unrelated account of the Defence Forces springing a leak arouse public interest. Much to the embarrassment of Mini-Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe, an internal military report that was highly critical of his department’s 2019 Budget allocation to Defence seeped into the public domain.
The key point was that military spending, as a percentage of GDP, would be lower in 2019 – information that was grist to the mill of FF critics who described Kehoe as the ‘Scrooge’ of the government.
Said Kehoe: ‘It’s quite worrying that this internal document leaked out of the Defence Forces, presumably meant to be one of the most secure places in the country.’
According to the Sat Nav company Tom-Tom, Cork is now the 28th worst city for traffic congestion in Europe and 68th worst in the world. Dublin ranks 20th in the world and fifth in Europe.
And now, private bus companies have turned Patrick’s Quay in Cork into what is being called Dublin Airport’s third terminal.
With the DAA’s downgrade of Cork Airport when it comes to adding new routes, thousands of travellers and tourists are obliged to board buses from the Cork quay to head to Dublin for flights. With Patrick’s Quay essentially acting as an extra terminal for Dublin, the traffic chaos that results has to be seen to be believed.
PR advice for Pope
An outfit called the Irish Academy of Public Relations sent us an intriguing document entitled ‘Pope Francis’ Visit to Ireland – what the PR professionals think.’ Although interesting as a curiously written observation on the recent Papal visit, the document’s value resides in the way it raises questions about the linguistic skills of PR professionals.
Some of the comments fell into the category of linguistic howlers: The question was asked, for instance, if the Pope would have done better ‘if participants felt there was room for improvement.’
‘Could have done better’…. ‘room for improvement.’ Weird!
Then there was this: ‘The church (small ‘c’) failed to apply established crisis management techniques.’ Crisis management techniques!
As far as the PR Academy was concerned the Pope’s visit had been a flop but the disaster could have been avoided by smarter ‘PR techniques.’
With regard to clerical abuse, the Pope should have ‘taken ownership and proposed changes,’ the writer said. The papal visit failed to follow well established PR structures. Crisis PR training, said the writer, ‘focuses on identifying the wrong, apologising and putting preventative measures in place.’
Much has been written about the proper use of written English which, sadly, seems to have passed over the heads of this particular collection of PR ‘experts.’
Writing, as Sir Ernest Gowers said in his famous publication ‘Plain Words’ is an instrument for conveying ideas from one mind to another; the writer’s job is to make the reader apprehend his meaning readily and precisely.
Perhaps in the case of the Irish Academy of Public Relations, ‘which focuses exclusively on teaching communications skills,’ there was an over-confidence in its ability to assess the significance of the Pope’s visit, combined with a cockiness that saw nothing wrong in idiosyncratic syntax, nor in displaying an insensitivity to the nuances of language.
But then, the primary function of Public Relations is not necessarily the promotion of coherent English; rather it is the manipulation of public opinion to suit a specific objective.
And, if that sort of news is depressing, there’s worse.
A group of 18 prominent US Republicans, led by an Indiana representative with the endearing name of Luke Messer, has written to the Norwegian Nobel Committee advising that the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to Donald Trump for bringing North Korea to the negotiating table!