independent

Saturday 17 August 2019

Let's be positive

YOU MAY be a bit surprised to see me re-appearing on these pages fourteen years on from my regular contributions as journalist and editor. Well a recent adverse health diagnosis means that my nationwide regional management duties are bit beyond my reach for the time being.

Instead I need to devote most of my energies to the tough battle that lies ahead for me personally. But my colleagues have suggested that I will still have time and space to return to surveying events in Wexford on a weekly basis which is how I find myself starting a new weekly column here.

One of the things which has struck me in recent weeks as people heard of my personal difficulties is the amount of good there is out there in the wider community. So many people have gone out of their way to offer support, practical help or just words of comfort. And the whole experience just got me thinking about how in all aspects of life there is so much more good than bad.

There was a time when good news was said not to be news at all and while that has changed considerably over the past twenty years it is a fact that negative features still hit the headlines more strongly than the positive stories.

There has, for example, been much talk about how children's allowance payments are squandered by some parents. It reached a peak recently when a number of supermarkets promoted alcohol specials for children's allowance Tuesday. The supermarkets were denounced for the promotion, and rightly so, but the fact is that there are parents who use this money for anything but the welfare of their children. Whether it's a bonanza carry-out from the off licence or a boozy day at the pub, the money certainly doesn't go on the children.

However, for every set of parents involved in this feckless spending, there are many multiples that go without so that their children can have a better chance in life. The good far outweighs the bad but often it is the activities of the rogue parents which grab the attention. Instead we should be focusing on a way of ensuring that all payments made for the support of children end up supporting them and not the local publican or off licence.

Then there is the raging debate over public servants and their pay. A popular image being painted of public service workers is of people who do very little work, get a lot of holidays, take plenty of sick leave and are generally overpaid. There is no doubt that there are some lazy, overpaid people in the public service, but that is true of the private sector as well.

The vast majority of public servants are decent hard working people who are paid modest wages. Unfortunately, public service unions have for years protected the lazy and incompetent public servants and in the process have done a great disservice to the public service as a whole. But this still does not take from the fact that a majority of public service workers are helpful, hard-working, people who do their best to deliver to the public.

Young people are another group who suffer from a negative perception. Of course there are drug-crazed young people who commit the most horrible, indeed unspeakable, crimes. Naturally these incidents regularly hit the headlines, but for every young thug, there are hundreds of young people involved in community and voluntary work. Indeed, looking at various communities around the county I think more young people are involved in really meaningful community work nowadays than at any time in the past.

Finally take the example of Wexford TD Brendan Howlin. I have heard such vicious criticism of the Minister from some locals in recent times that you would think he was personally robbing their homes, picking their pockets and stealing the lunch boxes of their children on the way to school. The common rant is along the line of a declaration that they will never vote for him again before going into a litany of abuse. One wonders what planet they live on if they thought that Brendan could try to rescue a bankrupt country without raising additional revenues through charges and taxes and imposing cuts.

The fact is that Howlin is the most influential Wexford politician since the foundation of the State and he is also the one who has delivered most to his native county. Even in times of very scarce resources he has managed to get Wexford to the top of the agenda and the benefit of that delivery will be there for future generations to enjoy.

Wouldn't it be a good idea if we all focused a little more on the positives, otherwise we are in danger of unnecessarily drowning in a sea of negativity while all the time the positive lifeboats are just an arm length away.

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