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Our christmas poem composed in Berties honour:(& C.J.H. -Senior)

An old vulture named Hockey

Got exceedingly cocky,

While he feathered his lair near Kinsealy,

He proceeded to milk,

Ben Dunne and his ilk,

Did he do them some favours ?- not really.!

 

The Lesser -Beaked Bertie

Got exceedingly shirty

when accused of a like minded crime,

Some money was found-it was just a whipround,

and you all know he hadnt a dime.!"

With artful cunning

Performance quite stunning,

His soul he laid bare to the nation,

RTE said "Dont cry,

Take that tear from your eye,

For we know twas a bad situation.!"

 

Your wife and her shysters

Dined on champagne and oysters,

While you slept out rough in "St Lukes"

Thank God you avoided

The troubles outside it

Builders,and bankers, are far the worse crooks.!

 

But now your in clover,

Your trials are over,

Youve reaped the rewards of your toil:

Each mortgage, stamp duty,

Daily adds to your booty,

5 more years are assured with such guile.

Your vice is not Greed,

"Power" is all that you need,

Being called "Boss" at the end of each day.

But its hard to contain,

The avarice & Gain,

Of T.D.s as they frolic and play.

 

When you climb up a tree,

Find an errant T.D.,

Uncovered, by media hacks;

To the "Gene Pool" he goes,

Or to worser woes,

Arbour Hill, for evasion of tax.!

 

Their sworn testimony,

Is pure baloney,

With bluster, and lies, we contend,

But frozen sleet,

On a Moscow street,

Quickly brought that charade to an end.

Fergus Finlay was composing a Christmas essay ,at the same time:


12 December 2006 (Examiner newspaper)

What chance has a bright kid born where the streets have no name?

By Fergus Finlay
I WORK with a remarkable woman. I won’t tell you her name because it might help to reveal the identity of the boy she told us about at a function the other night.


She has spent her entire career working with boys like this. And she, like all her colleagues, never gives up on them.

This is Stephen’s story, as she told it. Stephen isn’t his real name, but his story is true in every other respect.

Stephen lives with his parents and older brothers in a council house on a sprawling estate.

The roads have no names and numbers have been removed from doors in order to confuse the police when they come in search of stolen cars.

Crime is high in the area with many of the neighbours serving prison sentences for drug-dealing, weapons possession and theft.

Stephen’s parents have never done time. But they’re young, unemployed and untrained. They live on social welfare, disability and child benefit.

Stephen’s dad has had a few jobs, but he never manages to hold them for long. When employers find out about his depression and dependence on street drugs, they change their minds about him.

There is a year’s rent arrears on the house, but the street drug dealers get priority when debts have to be paid. They always get paid first.

Every morning when Stephen arrives at playschool, his head is lowered and his eyes are fixed on the bowls of cereal, all ready on the table.

His body is rigid with tension. As soon as he reaches the table, he pours milk into a bowl until it overflows and then starts to eat rapidly with one hand while gathering cereal from other bowls with the other. He curses at anyone who comes near him or complains that he has taken their cereal. While he’s eating, he can lash out at anyone who comes too close.

Sometimes he complains of a pain in his tummy, but it usually subsides after he has eaten several bowls of cereal.

After breakfast he finds his favourite toys. He likes to have a grown-up near him while he plays, but they must use a soft voice because any loud noise makes him angry and agitated.

Stephen appears well dressed. His clothes fit and are warm enough for the cold spell. His hair is naturally curly and is kept short. It is only when one sits close to him that you can see the head lice moving on his scalp. He scratches constantly and is clearly annoyed that the scratching doesn’t stop the itch. Close up it is possible also to smell Stephen’s unclean clothes and skin. But gradually he responds to the story a grown-up is reading.

When he lifts his head you can see the dark circles under his eyes from late nights. He never smiles.

Stephen’s day improves after breakfast. He likes to play with the sand, driving trucks through sand castles.

He tolerates the company of grown-ups but as yet has no interest in the other children. He’s jealous of toys that any of the others show an interest in, and on his sadder days he’ll hit any child who steps close.

On better days, Stephen’s vivid imagination and advanced verbal skills are obvious. He sings, rhymes, listens to stories and makes up his own. Those days are rare, but wonderful.

Sometimes, Stephen tells stories from home. He tells a grown-up when he has seen his mum cry or his dad hitting her. He tells stories about his dad’s drinking and sleeping all day long. He confides, sometimes, about how scared he can be. But he always asks the grown-up not to tell his mum what he has said.

Through it all he loves his mum and dad. But that doesn’t stop him sometimes getting tearful when the bus goes up his road to bring him home.

At home, he spends most of the time in his room with his brothers because they have been bullied on the street, so they’re kept indoors.

They are all pale from lack of fresh air and nutritious food. They virtually live on cereal and bread, to the point where they find it hard to digest other food, and they’re often sick with vomiting and diarrhoea.

STEPHEN’S home is one of thousands. There are sweet shops and a pub within walking distance, and a field where stray dogs run.

There’s broken glass there, too, hundreds of empty beer and cider cans, and hypodermic syringes. Situated two miles from Stephen’s house is a large shopping centre. Among other things, it has a cinema and a MacDonald’s. Stephen has never been in either.

My colleague works with Stephen as often as she can. She will never give up trying to help, trying to give him the skills and the confidence to break out of the cycle of poverty and put his undoubted talents to use.

Just as Stephen is one of thousands of children who live in poverty in Ireland, my colleague is one of hundreds who work, day in and day out, with children like him.

My colleagues are part of what is sometimes sneeringly referred to as "the poverty industry". But they don’t mind that — the sneers are water off a duck’s back to them. The only thing they care about is breaking through the vicious circle and trying to help kids make it against the odds. The only time they get upset is if it proves to be impossible to reach what’s inside every one of those kids.

And of course the poverty industry is made up of a number of agencies, charities, non-governmental organisations — call them what you like — all of which have the same aim.

The aim is to ensure that this rich country doesn’t forever ignore and forget its most vulnerable citizens. They all deserve support, perhaps at this time of year more than any other.

Stephen and his family are citizens of Ireland. But they’re weighed down by the stress of trying to cope in a world that doesn’t understand them.

As my colleague put it, they are held under a blanket of poverty, unemployment, addiction, mental illness and lack of education and parenting skills. Stephen, too, is enfolded in this blanket.

He is a bright, creative, funny child whose sadness and anger overshadow his every gesture and every word.

The poverty of his home has damaged his innocence and his spirit. Although those who work with him are determined to ensure it doesn’t happen, that damage may be indelible.

I’m telling you this story, I suppose, because of the time of year it is. There’s a lot of Stephens out there, and a lot of organisations working with them. For many of them, Christmas Day will be just as bleak as any other day of the year.

In whatever way we can, we’re trying to ensure that isn’t so, just as all the other organisations, agencies and charities are also trying their best.

Stephen has lived a pretty full life already. He’s seen and experienced a lot. Enough to make him distrustful, cynical, angry. Enough, maybe, to cause long-term damage.

And Stephen, by the way, is five.