Gerry O'Carroll: We have work-shy people, but we've a lot more who are simply out of a job
FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan, speaking in reference to unemployment figures last week, said that "we all know there will be people who will never work, who are allergic to work".
Since then his remarks have been condemned by many as insulting and offensive to the unemployed. They claim he labelled them, en masse, as work-shy.
Jimmy Kelly of the Unite union, called his remarks "outrageous". Fianna Fail spokesman on Jobs Dara Calleary described them as an insult.
But were Mr Noonan's remarks wide of the mark?
Well, first things first: we all know certain individuals who can be described as work-shy.
In every town and city across the country there is a hard-core cohort of citizens who live entirely on state benefits and are, in fact, totally unemployable.
Even at the height of our Celtic Tiger success there were still around 150,000 people who were on the dole.
Some of these people are incapable of holding down a permanent job because of physical and mental issues.
There are also those unemployed who live on the margins of our society, who are uneducated, social outcasts born into generations of dependency.
But there is a hard-core group of scroungers - who the minister spoke of - who wouldn't scratch themselves and who prefer loitering around the bookies and the pubs rather than do a day's work.
But they do not represent the whole story.
Mr Noonan has replied to critics of his comments, saying the offending quotes were being taken out of context.
Be that as it may, there is no doubt that many men and women in this country who have no work through no fault of their own considered the remarks demeaning, insulting and grossly unfair.
Since the beginning of the last recession - the most severe in the history of our country - hundreds and thousands of our citizens have emigrated rather than rely on the State for benefit and welfare.
This goes to show that the majority of our citizens who find themselves unemployed would give an arm or a leg for a chance to work. Very often those who did not emigrate could not do so for a variety of reasons.
For many of the unemployed, especially those out for more than a year, the experience has been devastating for their morale and self-esteem, especially those made redundant in middle age.
It will leave a mark on them for the rest of their lives.
For many it will be something that they will never recover from. For many long-term unemployed it is a personal tragedy that has robbed them of their dignity and pride.
I believe Mr Noonan should clarify the comments made and issue an apology to the decent men and women who are un- employed and trying to find work.
Ireland has its share of work-shy people, but it also has many more who are simply trying to find a job.
These vile killers are testing their convictions - and the public's patience
With only hours left to file the papers, Graham Dwyer this week lodged his appeal against his conviction for the murder of Elaine O'Hara.
The sex killer is expected to base his action on a number of issues. One of his grounds will be phone evidence, it's speculated. Another will be the decision to allow a witness, Darci Day, to give evidence via video link.
Of course, Dwyer has every right to lodge this appeal. He may be a depraved sex killer who murdered an innocent woman and caused huge pain for her family, and tried to cover it up afterwards - but he's still entitled to due process.
If he fails, I have no doubt that he, like that other convicted murderer Joe O' Reilly, may follow with other appeals, possibly on technical points of law.
O'Reilly is a man in need of a serious dose of reality. Last Monday he lost his third appeal action against his conviction for murdering his wife Rachel Callaly.
He was convicted in July 2007 of murdering Rachel at their home in October 2004. Since then he has spent eight years lodging a series of appeals.
But I suspect this week's one, which didn't even make it to a full hearing, may be the last. Hopefully it will be, and this will hopefully bring some closure to Rachel's family.
It's clear to me that Dwyer and O'Reilly, like many other serious criminals, lodge an appeal as a matter of course.
Do they really believe they will be freed?
Instead of wasting court time and, indeed, taxpayers' money, such criminals should pay heed to an old mantra: "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime."
End of story.
Louis still has X Factor, even if he hasn't got the job
IS he gone or isn't he? In recent days speculation has mounted that X Factor boss Simon Cowell has dispensed with the services of Louis Walsh.
Louis' friends have been rallying around to dismiss these rumours, of course. On the grapevine his supporters are saying that he and Simon are still as thick as thieves.
Mind you, Louis (above) himself added to the speculation in a recent interview on TV3 when he suggested that Cowell wanted new faces on the show.
I'll admit to watching The X Factor on occasion - and it's clear to me that Louis is a well-liked and respected judge on the show.
Personally, I think this canny and shrewd Mayo man will feature on The X Factor for a few seasons yet.
But one way or another, I doubt if it would worry him if he got the shove - Louis always seems to have another project on the go.
THere's been criticism of RTE and The Saturday Night Show host Brendan O'Connor for asking junior minister Aodhan O Riordain to take a 'Yes Equality' pin off during an interview. I don't see the problem - O'Connor's a pro and he did the right thing. Balance is vital on this important issue, particularly at RTE. This was the correct call.
The damning report on standards at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise shocked us all - especially the details of how parents were treated after their babies' deaths. Investigator Prof Martin Turner stated that the HSE was more poorly organised than services in war-torn Iraq and Serbia. What a shocking indictment.