27th January, 2000

Last Saturday night I met a reader who told me that he was born and bred in Donnybrook, and that he was not too happy with what was happening to Douglas. He told me that he and his friends used to catch trout in the Douglas rivers, they learnt to swim in the same rivers. He told me that now, nothing lives in the streams and rivers. The contents of washing machines (eg. the powders which clean the clothes) can be seen in the streams, the soapy foam wiping out any life in the stream. I remember last year I spoke to a resident in Hillcourt who told me that D.I.Y. people were connecting dishwashers and washing machine outlets to streams. Why should we be surprised? Our government is being taken to court by the E.U. becuase our drinking water is badly contaminated. Another reader from Rochestwon told me that we’re not fit to call ourselves a third world country. The reason? Our roads, which look as if stealth bombers paid us a visit, and at the National Car Test Centre, some guy will tell us, “You need to replace your shocks,” and like lambs we’ll say, “Thank you,” touch our forelocks and amble away to pothole paradise.
So, some of the larger building societies want the government to take action against the Credit Unions. They feel the playing pitch is not level and that the Credit Unions have an unfair advantage over the building societies. Finance minister Charlie McCreevy tried to make some changes a few years ago but quickly dropped his plans when it became obvious that Credit Union members didn’t like it. Now the financial institutions want the EU to set the rules for the Credit Union’s. If ever there was a ‘people orientated’ organisation, it’s the Credit Union. No secret shareholders, no overseas accounts, no hidden money, just an institution created by ordinary working people for themselves and their families. As a member of a Credit Union I feel I have a right to say to the financial institutions, “Keep your greedy fingers off OUR Credit Unions!”
A reader telephoned the office last Thursday afternoon with a complaint. She was driving through Douglas West at approx. 4.20pm, when she saw three teenage schoolgirls in school uniform eating chips. One of the girls finished the chips and threw the paper on the ground. The reader was horrified that this act was committed, not by a small child, but by a 15-16 year old. We suggested that the caller should telephone the school and voice her complaint. She declined and asked us to express her anger to the school principal. For once I didn’t bother. I’m sick and tired of writing about the problems of litter. Millions are spent on telling people it’s wrong. When some couragous people put up signs which say, “Welcome to Cork, excuse the litter”, we are horrified. We resent the implication that we’re a dirty race, we’re told things are getting better, litter fines are increased, we’re winning the battle. What a load of rubbish!!! A few years ago I met someone who spent his honeymoon in Thailand. Approaching his hotel he stamped out his cigarette on the footpath. A policeman walked over, told him he had committed an offence, asked him for his passport and returned it when the fine was paid at the police station. That’s enforcing the law!
My friend Ronnie tells me that in small towns in America the elect their own mayor, sheriff and local council. Also, all service charges and rates go to the town. So if somebody throws a chip-bag on the ground, they are insulting the whole town, and they just don’t do it. Here in Ireland our children are becoming educated to the highest standards, but are they being taught the important things, either at home or at school? If the parents don’t teach them then the teachers have a moral obligation to teach them civic pride. If only for half an hour a week, it would be a start. And to our local county councilors ... get the council to give us a full-time litter warden, The council takes 3,000,000 from Douglas every year, well I think it’s payback time. Last month I spoke to local council man Joe Lynch, who does such a great job at keeping Douglas clean. I asked Joe if he was appointed as a litter warden would he talk to children and teenagers in schools about the evil of litter. “No problem,” replied Joe. We have two county councilors living in Douglas who represent us, they are Peter Kelly and Deirdre Forde. I would like to make a suggestion to Peter and Deirdre ... At the next council meeting, ask the council to provide a litter warden for the Douglas area. 90% of litter is created by children and teenagers. The next time you take a walk, look at the wrappers, ice lolly papers, chip wrappings, and why? Because nobody is telling them its wrong. Its about time they were told.
Finally, to the man I mentioned at the beginning of the article, we spoke about the dramatic changes which have taken place in Douglas. Many years ago an American songwriter named Joe South wrote a song called “Don’t it make you wanna go home?”. Its a song about a young man who leaves his home town to work in the city and always dreams of returning home to his rural birthplace, which he finally does, and this is the final verse of the song ...

“But there’s a six lane highway down by the creek, Where I went skinny dipping as a child, And a drive-in show, Where the meadow used to grow. And the strawberries used to grow wild, There’s a drag-strip down by the riverside, Where my grandma’s cow used to graze. Now the grass don’t grow, And the river don’t flow, Like it did in my childhood days. All Gods children get weary when they roam, but don’t it make you wanna go home?”

That’s the price of progress, Jack, I’m afraid nothing stays the same!

Bye for now,
Michael O’Hanlon.






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