Colette Fitzpatrick: Like we can take any more shame, along comes this fool
I DON'T think I can take any more national embarrassment this week.
It was one thing for international newspapers to get wind of our illustrious leader's lacklustre performance and report it worldwide -- and that on the back of braying mobs falling over themselves outside Eason's being broadcast to the world.
Now this. Two words. Neil Horan. And yes, he's at it again.
Horan plans to protest at Westminster Cathedral and Hyde Park this weekend when Pope Benedict visits, embarrassing himself, his native Co Kerry and our entire country.
A former priest, he was de-frocked by Rome and thinks the Pope is an antichrist yet still calls himself "Father".
He has a habit of doing a jig at sporting events in a red kilt, green knee-high socks, a green waistcoat, green Tam o'Shanter and crazy placards on his back. One of the most shameful episodes was at the 2004 Athens Olympics when he knocked Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima for six with less than four miles to go in the marathon, Vanderlei was 40 seconds ahead of the next runner.
In 2003 Horan ran across the track at the British Grand Prix waving a banner which stated: "Read the Bible. The Bible is always right.''
Several drivers had to swerve to avoid him.
More's the pity.
Even Father Ted never had a character like this.
Neil, our image is vitally important right now. Our reputation already under serious threat.
Ridiculing us more by dancing an Irish dance, in an Irish costume, wearing the Irish colours, is sheer lunacy.
Horan says he's not a disgrace to Ireland.
Now that, if you'll forgive me, is 'a bit Irish...'
Mary Byrne is the real deal - how refreshing
X Factor sensation Mary Byrne is one of the most authentic, 24 carat, bona fide women I've ever met.
Speaking to her on Midweek, everything about this woman says: 'I'm a survivor. I've got the scars to prove that I'm a real woman who's lived a real life and right now I'm in a place where I can finally learn to look at myself.'
When Mary sang I Who Have Nothing by Tom Jones in front of Simon, Louis and Cheryl you knew she understood those lyrics because she lived them. She was thinking about a man, she told me, that 'she couldn't have'.
The hairs stood on the back of my neck when she belted out the words 'I must watch you, go dancing by, wrapped in the arms of someone else, when darling it's I who loves you.'
The 50-year-old was also so giving in her interview with me that she spoke frankly about her self-confidence. It didn't cross her mind to give singing a go until about five years ago because of low self-esteem. She also laid it on the line about 'the change of life'. 'I'm having a hot flush right now', she laughed. Just like that. On live television.
If ever a woman was made for the phrase 'what you see is what you get', it's Mary Byrne from Ballyfermot. Her lack of deception or bogus personality meant she was comfortable telling viewers that she takes anti-depressants every day.
She's been taking them for three years and said she couldn't have done the X Factor without them.
"When you are going through the change of life, your brain starts to think different things, they look distorted, the smallest problem looks huge.
"It's natural, so the anti-depressant tablet helps me, and I would never say to anybody don't take anything like that. Get help. Look after yourself. I feel fantastic. I would not have gone for X Factor if I hadn't had my doctor to help me out with that."
Ironic that a woman who is so unadulterated and so genuine could be about to be catapulted to worldwide fame on a show synonymous with shiny, glossy, manufactured and sometimes bogus talent. (Sorry, TV3!)
It's called showbusiness, not show friends but maybe we're all sick of stick-thin, young ones singing songs, the lyrics of which they couldn't possibly understand at the ripe old age of 18. Maybe we're ready for a woman, a mother, a daughter and a woman who's nothing if she's not even better than the real thing.
If she makes it past bootcamp, and onto the live shows, there's no way Mary will forget Peggy and all the gang in Tesco in Ballyfermot.
She's made of sound stuff and knows her roots and her people and what they mean to her. For Mary, life, it seems, life is about to begin at 45 ... ...