In my blog this week I discuss the Ulster Final, Fr. Michael Reuter and the Council of Europe

Ulster Final
There was palpable excitement all over Cavan in the week leading up to the Ulster Final.
Cavan has a glorious footballing past.
Support is incomparably strong and faithful on the best and worst of days.
All the talk was of tickets sold out stand tickets
no longer available and the time one needed to leave at to cope with crowds and parking.
Those who still believe in invoking Gods Blessings headed for evening mass,
There was great hope about the result and the real doubts were blocked out.
No one would even mention the prospect of not winning. To do so was to invite bad Luck was not loyal and such a naysayer or Jeremiah was to be shunned and not listened to,
We all blocked out the memory of it being potentially Donegal’s fifth title in Michael Murphy’s time and their eight final in the last nine years.
The mandatory blue and white flags flew high and woe betide the local politician or shopkeeper with a bare pole and window.
I had John Delamere from Milltown Pass visiting for the weekend. An avid GAA fan he has a photographic memory and could regale is with colourful and vivid descriptions of matches and finals of yesteryears.
Myself John and my son Eoghan who is a great fan of all sports sett out with our three Gerry Arthur Stand tickets. Eoghan made the obligatory sandwiches. Our spirits were high and both John and Eoghan are great company.
Their knowledge of the game and good tactical play was a big help to me who has big gaping holes in my overall detail.
We sampled the extraordinary atmosphere among the teeming throngs of people as we climbed the great hills that lead to St Tiarnachs Grounds. Hats scarves ribbons and rosettes were for sale everywhere. Young ones and those seeking to look young congregated outside bars getting liquid insulation and lubrication for the almost two hours to follow.
There are historic bonds between Cavan and Donegal so there was no bad temper or tension among fans.
When the game did get underway Cavan were a bit unsettled in the first half and the pressure from Donegal was intense. They had a great range of point scorers and a very strong defense. In the second half our heroes were less nervous and they showed how good they are. The two goals at the end displayed the never day die attitude they have.
On the way home we visited the Hideout where the talk was of a place in the Super 8s. There also a real pride in this young team and the
2-16 they had scored against potential All Ireland Finalists. It was a great day out and I was enthused by my sons infectious youthful enthusiasm and my friend John’s love of sport.
It was a great day out and I was regaling my two traveling companions of a legendary Cavan Manager who when after a particular game was approached by a player to say
If you had moved me to the middle of the field we would have won replied
You were damm lucky I didn’t move you to the middle of the next field.

Fr Michael Reuter

Virginia native and Parish Priest of
Bailieborough has been appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh. He is an extraordinary pastor with a charismatic presence and a deep but visible spirituality.
I attended a farewell evening for him last Friday.
There were about seven hundred present at a concelebrated mass. There was a huge community involvement in the organisation and running of the evening. The choirs and musicians were so beautiful and uplifting.
The homily by Fr Martin Gillchreest was very sincere and eloquent.
The atmosphere in the Chapel and outside was different to anything one normally experiences.
Local pride in one of our own going up and the deep heartfelt regard of the community for Fr Michael made for a great community spirit and togetherness.
The food was lovely and copious and people dallied until late. I’ve know Tony and Nora Reuter for many a year. We always have good humoured banter. The affection they are held in was visible as the crowd thronged around them to offer congratulations.
An extra highlight for me was meeting our former Parish Priest Fr John Murphy. He is a man of enormous scholarship piety and eloquence. Over many years he has impacted on so many lives for good.
The evening was one of those once off occasions that cannot be repeated. It was a great antidote to the mundane and depressing ones that do recur. Congratulations and Good Luck To Fr Michael.

Council Of Europe

This week I attended the Plenary of the Parliamentary Assembly Of The Council Of Europe in a swelteringly hot Strasbourg.
I lead our eighth member Irish Delegation Of Irish Parliamentarians to the Council. I am also Vice President of the Assembly.
This week we had a big debate on whether to readmit Russia after a long absence.
Those against reasonably cited aggression and civil rights issues. Those who thought otherwise included the Irish Delegation. We too strongly condemn wrongdoing but believe inclusive dialogue is at a premium. Without that there would be no Good Friday Agreement.
We also believe the millions of Russian Citizens cannot be denied the protection of the European Court Of Justice. You only make progress when you talk to people and challenge them with the truth face to face. The Assembly decided by more than sixty percent to readmit Russia.
We will challenge and monitor Russia within the Assembly and hope that through our efforts life will be better for some Russian citizens.
We had a very wide ranging debate on Mental Health Issues. I urged the Council Of Europe to insist on each member state upping the resources spent on mental health stressing its invisible quality and the continuing need to destigmatise it.
As Vice President I Chaired a Parliamentary Debate or Session. That is a great experience with representatives of forty seven states present. It is not a privilege or experience I would ever have imagined having when I walked two miles to school as a youngster.
I am grateful for that and conscious of the many special people who helped create the extraordinary experiences and opportunities I’ve had over the years.
The Irish Ambassador to the Council of Europe Mr Keith Mc Bean is moving to Norway. He has done an exemplary job on enhancing Ireland’s reputation. It is people like him who alongside elected people created the solidarity that Ireland experienced during The Brexit negotiations. We really do punch above our weight on the European Stage.

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website