Friday 4 October 2013

Officially Dogs

Today my new adopted fellow countrymen all go to the polls to vote for or against the abolition of the Seanad (pronounced 'Shannad', this is the Senate or Upper House in the Parliament, equivalent to the House of Lords in the UK)  and to vote for or against the setting up of a new high level Court of Appeal just below the Supreme Court. I can only talk for myself here, being a recent 'blow in' and hearing only radio programmes, reading papers and talking to a few locals, but I get the impression that the Irish do not love their Seanad and see it as doing nothing but costing a great deal. The 'Keep it' camp would rather see it kept and possibly reformed but they must wonder why it has not already been reformed and wish that the work that it has presumably done had been better 'marketed'.

To my mind the abolitionists are more vociferous and 'out there' so may well win the day, the 'keep-its' seem to be quietly wringing their hands and anxiously awaiting how the lower house (The Dáil Éireann) and President would fare unchecked by the Seanad. Frightened too that once it is gone, there will be no bringing it back in new clothes, though it has been before, during De Valera's premiership (It was abolished in 1936 and reinstated in 1937). There is a ray of hope for them in that the current Government is not hugely popular after the economic crash and now austerity measures, and the campaign to abolish the Seanad is seen as a campaign sponsored by them. There may be an anti-Government lobby voting against abolition just to make their point. Liz has, of course, gone down to do her democratic duty. I. as a Brit, am not allowed to vote in such Constitutional Change matters (Referendums); I can only vote in local, general and Euro elections.

Closer to home, we have been getting all official with our dogs, and buying them licences. This is another piece of law that falls firmly into the slightly amusing 'Irish RM' school of Civil Disobedience. I had never heard of the licencing system (which I am sure the UK did away with when we were still in pounds, shillings and pence and it cost, if I recall, 37 and a half pee in new money!). Ask the man in the street about it and they give you a pitying look and say "Mmm Yeah... Right-Oh". You get the impression that not a lot of people are inclined to pay it. It is possibly up there with the requirements to pay Property Tax (Ireland's new, but very light, equivalent to the UK's Poll Tax), to Register your septic tank with the Water Board, to ear-tag your sheep and goats and submit movement paperwork to the Ministry, to have your car NCT'd (= MOT'd) or to declare it as Off-Road on the new official 'Statutory Off Road Notices' (SORNs) and to stop cutting turf in your local turf-bog. We asked a friend in the local Post Office whether people pay it and she said, with a wry smile that "some do and some don't". We are not, anyway, the only people paying. Our forms came from well down the pad and have numbers in the 2,347,000 range!

For our sins, we tend to pay these things, probably to a degree seen as ridiculously compliant by some. Our septic tank is registered, our dogs are licenced, we are trying to get both cars NCT'd as you'll know etc. Our luck has been the sort that, in the past, would have got us caught out straight away. We once bought a TV, 3 days from the end of the month and the local (UK) Post Office lady even recommended risking it for 3 days or we'd have to pay a full month for them. Liz argued her down and paid, walked home, came in the front door and put the new licence down on the shelf just inside the door, then walked back into the kitchen only to hear a knock on the door. Yep. TV Licence inspector man! We assume that Curry's, who sold us the TV, had to inform the licence people that we had now bought one, and their man had nothing else on that day, or it was some kind of amazing coincidence. Liz can remember saying  to him "You are not going to believe this, but..."

Meanwhile, in local news, John Deere Bob has killed his tractor. The power steering has given up the ghost, and the beast has had to be towed away as far as Ballintubber to be fixed. We are helping the old boy out for now with a bit of driving around and he has thanked us with a very generous bag of nice dry turf. We have been able to light some good fires in the Living Room much to the delight of the dogs who are basking in the heat. It's not actually that cold yet, so we do not need to light the range every day for the hot water and radiators. That is a lovely room and right below the main bedroom, so at the end of the evening we can retreat upstairs and still enjoy the heat, convecting up the stairwell and conducting through the floor.

I have already posted that I am now the Editor of the newsletter for the Cambria (Sailing Barge) Trust. I continue to be the Website Manager and blogger for these guys and as a result of that I get some nice barge films passed to me for review. Most recently this included a new film (Noble Life) by new film-maker (formerly some manner of Artistic Designer for TV adverts), Simon North. This is a good film and well worth the buying (£12.50) if you are at all interested in barges, being 1 hour 42 minutes long, as well as being the only DVD I know of with our girl on the picture! I have reviewed it on the website if you are interested - so for more detail go to

That's all for today.

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