Leading Donegal columnist, Pat McArt, looks back on a very strange year

Pat McArt reflects on 2016

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Donegal columnist looks back on 'a very strange year'

David Bowie

Like every other newspaper columnist writing on the last day of the old year, I, too am trying to make sense of the past twelve months.

Some of people who were part of the furniture of my life - Terry Wogan, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen etc - have departed, while across the globe we have a clown elected to the White House, the British deciding they have had enough of Europe and Islamic extremists taken to using lorries to murder indiscriminately.

Even the weather seems to have changed.

I'm having trouble recalling a Christmas period where the temperature was regularly in double figures.

But seeing as I'm neither a fortune teller nor a psychologist, I think I'll just say it was a very, very strange year, one the like of which I don't think I have come across in my life time.

Two sides, one story

John Stalker was selected by the British government to investigate allegations that the RUC was engaging in a 'shoot to kill' policy back in the 1980's. He was known to be a honest cop, fearless in the pursuit of truth. State papers released at the weekend under the 30 year rule have indicated Stalker had amassed prima facia evidence of at least six murders by RUC personnel.

And then suddenly he was taken off the case, accused of consorting with 'known criminals' and his career all but ruined. He was subsequently cleared of all wrongdoing, but way too late for him to resume his career.

It's now as clear as day he was sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. There could only be one 'bad guys' in the conflict in the North. Stalker paid the price because he was not willing to play that game

Dirty little war, wasn't it?

Hard to beat

I suppose the sporting highlight of the year for me was Ireland beating the All Blacks in Chicago. Believe me there are very few things nicer in this world than sitting in a warm bar in the Highlands of Scotland on a cold winter's day - it had snowed earlier that day - and seeing Ireland beat the rugby world champions.

The other thing of note this past sporting year was the magnificent behaviour of both sets of Irish soccer fans in France at the Euro championships. They were united in creating a great image for us as a people - warm, sporting, out to enjoy the craic.

Some never learn

Over the Christmas period gardí arrested one driver who was said to be five times over the legal limit. This alleged offence took place in Kildare. What can you say about people like this? To get behind the wheel of a car pissed out of your skull is, basically, on a par with going out with a loaded weapon to kill. You might not mean to, but there is real potential that you will.

Good news

I just want to point out - one more time - that the National Geographic magazine has decided Donegal is the number one cool destination in the world for 2017.

Does it get any better than this?

Classic

Jackie Fullerton has been a big name in local sports in Northern Ireland for many years, first as an Irish League soccer player and later as a commentator and presenter with both UTV and BBC. He's a genuinely funny, nice man to boot.

On BBC's 'The Blame Game' the other night it was claimed he has been writing his autobiography for some time and when asked recently what was holding up publication he replied, 'The wife is still alive....'

Not surprising

I skimmed a newspaper report the other day where it said the HSE had organised a massive three-day event to promote Ireland as a place to pursue a great nursing career. Only a handful showed up. When you consider the stunt the last government pulled - cutting massively the wages of student nurses, people already badly paid - this is hardly a shock.

And finally...

I would like to thank 'Paula' who sent me brussels sprouts for Christmas. I would also like to thank those who mentioned brussels sprouts to me over the same period. There were quite a lot of you. As I stated on Mr Doherty's much listened to Highland Radio show prior to Christmas, I would rather eat dog poo than these little nuggets. And that's still the position despite numerous - 'wrap them in bacon, they are delicious' - alternative serving suggestions.

And on that note can I wish each and everyone of you and Happy New Year. I hope you all have great health and happiness in the months ahead.