How on earth did a comparatively new country - an a republic to boot - like ours come to have such highly paid politicians? Out Taoiseach, for instance, is the highest paid in the EU except, I understand, Luxemburg. He gets paid much more than the PM of Britain and the hard-working and dynamic President Sarkosey of France. Isn't that a scandal, given that our population is so much smaller than either of these countries?
I have always believed that politicians should be paid well - after all we do want to have the best minds available to look after our welfare. I must have been wrong there because it doesn't seem to have worked out that way. Over recent years facts have been revealed in Tribunals that makes it obvious that to those that have wealth, more is desired. Extra 'perks' were received for voting this way or that in planning matters. Junior Ministries and Chairs of Committees are awarded, not as one would expect, to the person who is most deserving, i.e. working hard, but to increase votes in the next election. The result, I suspect, is the current shambles of the Exchequer and the stupidities of the recent cuts announced in the last Budget.
Had nobody at the cabinet table the sense to realise that announcing major cuts against the elderly and school children was asking for trouble? It seems not.
I am not a lover of reality shows or talent competitions. I have no desire to see what goes on in the bedroom at Big Brother, watch people eating insects on I'm a Celebrity - in fact I find both obscene. Talent Shows in general break my heart worrying about the contestants who don't win, annoy me when I see the likes of Sean Ban Breathneach making no attempt to even try, or ego filled people, sometimes celebrities, making fools of themselves tackling a genre which doesn't suit them.
But on Sunday night last there was a talent show on RTE seeking the best to represent the west of Ireland in an all Ireland show judged by Daithí Ó Shea (it's from the North next week, with Dana as judge). Some of the contestants were quite outstanding. There was a little girl who couldn't have been more than 7 who sang along to a tune on her Ipod. They asked her to come back in a year or two. Another little girl - the prettiest little thing you ever saw, who had to be disappointed too.
Then there was a young man with an electric fiddle that he had rigged up so that he could be a one-man-band. He played traditional tunes with such flair and expertise. New clothes for an old craft. Amazing. Last to show their paces were three young lads from the Aran Islands on too. Two of them played instruments and the third - a wee fellow - danced. Now they were fantastic, and so unspoiled too. The tears were rolling down my face with joy at their performance they were so good.
Both of these acts got through to the final which will be in Dublin I presume in four weeks time (they have to find people to represent the other provinces first). But in the main, this programme was presented very nicely, with no smart remarks or hurtful comments from the panel. In fact if it wasn't for the lurking figure of a Seoige - they're everywhere, aren't they? -constantly in the background I might have said that I enjoyed it utterly.