herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

We're buying houses like in the boom and Blair's back... Is it 2006 again?

In a week which saw some of the worst echoes of the Celtic Tiger roll around again like some recurring nightmare, as people queued for days to buy a house out in Swords, there were at least one or two things to divert the attention.

As regards the Swords scenario it was difficult to gauge whether we were witnessing a new manifestation of the boom madness or were watching a housing equivalent of the kind of people who'd invariably spend a week in the cold waiting for the annual sale of cheap holidays in Budget Travel back in the day.

Man of the Week for me was definitely Cork trader Michael O'Herlihy.

The bould Mick managed to get up the noses of his fellow stall-holders in the English Market for the truly outrageous practice of buying some of his stock from Lidl and then flogging it at a mark-up to his customers.

artisan

Now we've all heard tales of unscrupulous vendors buying up veg from the likes of Lidl and Aldi, rubbing a bit of muck here and there and flogging them to unsuspecting hipsters at 'artisan' markets for three times the cost price - but that wasn't the case here.

O'Herlihy says he never tried to hide where the goods came from but that still didn't stem the tide of outrage from people who felt that this 'goes against the culture of the market'.

Ah yes, indignant outrage - you can't beat it, especially when uttered in a Cork accent.

But streaking clear at the top of the 'you must be joking' category was GQ magazine's decision to award Tony Blair a gong as 'philanthropist of the year'.

Now, while this isn't quite on a par with Henry Kissinger being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize it's still pretty rich.

Let's not forget that Blair, alongside fellow war criminal George W Bush, is directly responsible for the destruction of Iraq and destabilising every one of its neighbours.

His reward, of course, was to be made some sort of Special Envoy to the Middle East and, as we've seen from recent events, good ol' Tone is doing a bang-up job on that particular front.

Which brings us neatly to our good friends the Muslims.

This week Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Clonskeagh made a statement calling for a "revolution of inclusivity" in Irish schools.

Couched in PR-speak Dr Selim expressed concern about how the sensitivities of Islamist students are being overlooked in State-run schools.

Among the topics raised were the provision of female PE teachers, separating male and female students at times, the thorny matter of sex education and morality and how some Islamic children have problems with music and drama classes.

Now, quite apart from the fact that he'd probably be lucky to find a PE teacher of any gender in most schools this smacks of trying to impose a Muslim agenda over and above the native culture that is already in place.

One thing about his comments which did make me smile was the line about music and drama classes.

offensive

Dr Selim pointed out that the playing of music was offensive to many Muslims.

Now, I'm sure that fans of Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate and the amazing Tinariwen among others will be scratching their heads at that one but he did qualify his claim by stating: "If music is performed using non-tuneable percussion instruments such as drums, most Muslims will have no problem".

What an inclusive gent.

I do see a compromise on this one though : let's ban accordions, bodhrans and bagpipes.

That'll surely do ye, won't it?

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