Prince Albert of Monaco and his beautiful fiancee Charlene Wittstock are on a State visit to this country, if you haven't noticed already.
Our President has been pulling out all the stops to entertain the former playboy prince and his leggy bride-to-be Charlene Wittstock.
There isn't any expense being spared on this three-day love fest, for a minor monarch, from whom this country benefits very little.
As much as the people of Ireland admire the Prince's late mother Grace Kelly, I think the timing of his visit is inappropriate.
For, while pomp and ceremony may brighten up our gloomy political and economic landscape, it's something we can't afford at this time.
Here we are, a country on its knees and in receivership to the IMF and ECB, and we're facing another two State visits in the next month -- from Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama (inset).
The costs are going to be enormous and it will put a huge strain on the resources of the Justice Department and An Garda Siochana.
But we can justify the costs of the other two big visits.
Queen Elizabeth's will be historic and healing, the final glue to cement the Good Friday Agreement and a major act of reconciliation between our two nations.
The visit of the most powerful man on earth, President Obama, is of extraordinary importance, culturally and financially, and is likely to pay dividends.
I can't say the same about Prince Albert and his fiancee.
The closest Ireland benefits from Monaco is that it is home to expat millionaires who use the wealthy state as a tax haven, including Michael Smurfit.
Gardai deserve more than rap over knuckles for rape 'jokes'
I AM saddened and shocked at the latest controversy to dog my beloved An Garda Siochana.
A ferocious storm has broken out embroiling the gardai in what appears to be another PR disaster.
For anyone to joke about the rape of a woman is in itself disgusting. But for a young garda to do it is quite shocking.
This incident involved two young women protesters who became involved in what's become known as the Shell to Sea campaign.
Both young women were arrested for public order offences.
One of them, a young lady from Stillorgan in Dublin, was protesting on a tractor.
The other girl, an American, was videotaping their actions and the protest when they were arrested.
It is what is contained on this video camera that has caused consternation across the force.
There are some who will argue that the conversation between the gardai took place in private and that they were larking around.
Well, I'm sorry, but you do not and must not ever joke about the most heinous of acts that can perpetrated on a woman.
In this case both women were taken to Belmullet Garda Station and released without charge shortly afterwards.
Later they would hear the recording with the comments referring to rape - and themselves.
The gardai were totally unaware that they were being recorded, saying, "give me your name and address or I'll rape you".
Another garda is recorded as saying, "hold it there, give me your name and address or I'll rape you".
Many people will be deeply upset and shocked that such a frivolous and cavalier attitude displayed by the gardai to one of the most heinous, despicable crimes on the statute book and many will find such comments deeply offensive, unsettling and shocking.
But such comments in no way reflect the attitude of the vast majority of gardai to such a serious crime.
On the face of it, I accept that it was stupid and banal and childish banter by these gardai who were displaying macho canteen talk.
This unforgivable and quite shameful behaviour could in some way be excused as a form of coping mechanism of black humour in the worst possible taste by members who are in a dangerous and stressful job. I just want to say that having been a detective for 24 years, I can put my hand on my heart and say all of my colleagues that investigated the serious crime of rape treated it as one of the most disgusting, inhuman and sadistic acts.
We pursued rapists with a relentless determination on each and every case.
And I have to say we finished by putting 99pc of those sadistic psychopaths behind bars for their appalling crimes.
The stupid careless, insensitive, macho comments made by the gardai in this case, does not reflect in any way the attitude of the vast majority of the force to the truly terrifying and brutal crime of rape
The incident is being treated so seriously by the garda authorities that an intensive investigation is now being carried out by senior officer from outside the division. If these officers are found guilty of behaving in this outrageous manner as alleged, they will deserve more than a rap over the knuckles.