Trevor Laffan: Why the Irish Mammy would be a perfect EU Commissioner...

Who should fill Big Phil's shoes as EU commissioner? Trevor Laffan has an idea...
Trevor Laffan: Why the Irish Mammy would be a perfect EU Commissioner...

FALL FROM GRACE: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with her former EU commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan

IT’S not too long ago that I was feeling sorry for my late mother because she couldn’t get her head around the Internet.

The whole thing overwhelmed her. She was a worrier and didn’t like taking chances or trying new things. The thought of making a mistake terrified her.

She had a tablet but was afraid to experiment with it in case she did something wrong, and it didn’t matter how often we told her not to worry, it made no difference.

When she came to a point where she wasn’t sure what the next step was, she would just put it to one side and leave it rather than trouble someone for assistance.

She loved her crosswords and was a big reader, so we bought her a Kindle. She used it until she ran out of books that I had loaded onto it and then went back to her crosswords. The thought of trying to upload new material was a step too far.

She wouldn’t ask us for help because that would be wasting our time. In her mind, she would be bothering us.

It drove me nuts and there were many times when I found myself getting frustrated with her, but it was her way and she wasn’t going to change.

She fell down the stairs at 5am one morning and ended up in a heap in the hallway, bleeding from a head wound. I got there soon after she rang and when I saw her, I called an ambulance.

She spent the next hour apologising to me and the ambulance personnel for the inconvenience she caused by having us out at that ungodly hour. While she was being put onto the stretcher, she asked one of the crew members to put a towel on their pillow so she wouldn’t get blood on it.

She never returned home after that and came to live with me when she was released from hospital. She fell because she was seriously ill with cancer and she kept quiet about that too. She died a couple of months later in my house.

During the time she was with us, I only heard her complain a couple of times and that was when the doctor called after 9pm. She told him he had enough to be doing without visiting her at that hour of the night and he should be at home with his feet up. That gives you some idea of the kind of woman we were dealing with.

She would have struggled with Covid-19. She would have been stressed to the last, not for herself but for the rest of us.

She would have worried herself to death that maybe she could become a victim and a burden to those charged with minding her. If she contracted it, she would probably have kept that to herself as well.

She’s not alone because, as far as I can see, that’s typical of the Irish mammy. They’re a tough bunch and they have been through the mill in the past and survived.

They are a resilient generation and you can always count on them to do the right thing. They will follow the HSE guidelines and maintain social distancing, wash their hands and wear their masks because they care. They care about their family, friends and neighbours and they want to beat the virus.

Covid-19 is a ruthless opponent and I’m glad my mother has been spared the experience.

As a nation, we did really well for the first wave of the virus. We locked ourselves down and did as we were told, but as soon as we dropped our guard, it snuck back into our lives to torment us again.

It hasn’t been easy by any means and it has been particularly difficult for those who lost friends and family. They watched funerals from a distance and some never even got a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones.

Many family members couldn’t travel home for funerals and had to follow proceedings on the internet.

That’s what my mother would have done if she was still with us. She would have followed the advice and abided by the guidelines. She wouldn’t have wanted to pass the disease to anyone else because she was responsible.

My daughter was due to get married in April but when the virus struck, she cancelled it and postponed it until August. When the restrictions weren’t lifted by then, she decided to postpone it until next year. She took it on the chin like many others and did what was right.

Then Golfgate happened. The very people pleading for adherence to the guidelines went for a game of golf and a meal. Eighty-one of them.

They gave the middle finger to the rest of us and went for a day out in contravention of the very rules we were asked to comply with.

Phil Hogan, Jerry Buttimer and Dara Calleary showed an astounding degree of arrogance with their total disregard for the guidelines and, as a consequence, put a serious dent in the morale of the nation.

Some are now questioning why we should obey the rules when those who should know better are doing their own thing.

Those same people are now telling us it’s vital for Phil Hogan’s position to be filled by a strong candidate. Apparently, we need another Big Phil type character to look out for our interests in the run up to the Brexit negotiations. An experienced politician.

I disagree. What we really need is someone who will lead by example and put the country’s interest before their own. If my mother was alive, I’d nominate her, but as that’s not possible, I propose any other Irish mammy for the position.

Then we’d have someone to follow.

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