Some weeks back I was in Sligo when I got into conversation - I get into a lot of conversations! - with a young woman who happened to be a teacher. We got talking about the then pending strike action. She had no hesitation in telling me her wages, and that she was earning nearly €7,000 more than a colleague straight out of college who had joined the staff in September.
"It's totally unfair", she remarked, "that someone doing the same job as I'm doing should have no rights, and that he should be getting so much less."
She had, she informed me, voted for industrial action because she felt so strongly about the issue, even though it didn't actually affect her at all. Zero hour type contracts and lesser pay were, she observed, 'grossly unfair'
Of all the things introduced during our austerity period I thought pay inequality was the most insidious, the most hateful. Suddenly we had nurses and teachers etc on a two tier pay scale, people doing equal work but not getting equal pay. It goes against the grain totally.
And the failure of the government to clarify whether this two tier status is, as was originally claimed, a 'temporary measure' or a permanent plan is fueling the anger of the teachers. Little wonder.
I have a suggestion for Education Minister Bruton: introduce two-tier pay packets for TD's and see how that goes down.
There are 85 vacant IDA premises across the country, all outside the Dublin area. Do you remember all that guff from the government at the last election about 'bringing the recovery to the regions' well that's all it was, guff.
An Informer's life
Last week the body of Raymond Gilmour was found in a flat in Kent. You might not know of Mr. Gilmour but for about three years he played a big part in my life.
Raymond Gilmour was an IRA man from the Creggan who 'turned' for British Intelligence. He gave 'evidence' leading to the arrests of almost 30 people in Derry.
I was editor of the Derry Journal at the time and there was outrage across the city, claims that Gilmour was a 'paid perjurer' willing to finger people he knew nothing about. There were widespread arrests with people held in jail for up to three years without any evidence ever being produced.
Anyway, he died alone, an alcoholic, apparently suffering from serious mental health problems. It's thought he could have been dead for at least a week before his body was found. I suppose it would be charitable to describe him as another victim of the Troubles, but I doubt if too many people in his home city will see it that way.
A touch of class
I was watching the Ulster-Munster rugby game on Friday night and the former were leading up until the last minute when they lost by a drop goal. It was not a pleasant way to lose a big game, but instead of huffing about it they covered themselves in glory when they took beers and other drinks to the Munster team's dressing room to have a jar in memory of Axel Foley, the Munster coach and former Ireland star who died just a few weeks ago.
Now that is class....
The queues are back
Last Saturday I thought the British army was back because when I hit Coshquin, just inside the border on the main Buncrana-Derry road, there was a queue literally miles long of motorists heading into the city. I hadn't seen anything like it in years. It is self evident the fall of sterling is already having a massive affect on shops on the southern side of the Border.
Ludicrous ain't the word
When I learned that Saudi Arabia had retained it's place on the UN's Human Rights Council I nearly wet myself. How ludicrous is this world getting? Saudi Arabia? This is the country that executes people - a lot of people - by public beheading. They have a place called 'chop chop square' where public amputations of 'criminals' - a crime can be very loosely defined in Saudi - takes place, a country where floggings of people who criticise the goverment are commonplace. And they were voted on to the Human Rights Council?
J.P. Fitzgerald started out as caddie with Rory McIlroy when he was ranked 250 in the world. About a month ago the young golfer won the Fed Ex cup and $13.1m. in prize money. He then did an amazingly generous thing - he gave, as apparently he always does, ten per cent to Fitzgerald. That is €1.4m.
As McIlroy's wealth has grown so has Fitzgerald's. He is now one of the richest 'sports people' in Ireland.