You probably don’t get the Evening Herald in New York, not on a regular basis anyway, so it’s unlikely you’ll have seen the full page advertisement that caught the eye in Monday’s edition announcing the winners of a silly competition called “Your Country Your Call.”

This farcical contest has been ongoing for some months now and is designed to get the country up and running again in the wake of the disgraceful neglect of our economy by those idiots the nation voted into power.

The prime mover behind the Your Country Your Call campaign is a man by the name of Martin McAleese, a man who has been happily living under the taxpayer’s roof as the president’s husband for the past number of years.

A dentist by profession, Martin dragged himself away from a string of public engagements as the man at the president’s side for long enough to bring his idea to fruition.

His ideal is a simple one -- to find “two major projects that, when implemented, will transform our economy or significant elements of it by creating jobs and opportunity.”

It’s quite a noble thought until you realize that the politicians elected to government are supposed to be transforming our economy anyway, having done their level best to ruin it over the last five years.

It’s also quite funny that Martin’s wife was in the news on the very day that the Herald informed me that three men by the name of MacFhlannacahada (try putting that on the back of a Man Utd jersey), Clancy and Leyden had won the inaugural “Your Country Your Call” competition with technology based ideas.

Now I’ve no doubt that Martin’s missus, who endorsed the whole concept anyway, has congratulated these three wise men for their Data Island Strategy and their Global Media Hub idea, the ideas that are going to transform our economy apparently.

On Monday, though, she was more interested in congratulating the brilliant boxer Katie Taylor for her third consecutive gold medal at the World Boxing Championships, this time in Barbados.
“I warmly congratulate Katie Taylor on her outstanding achievement in winning the Women’s World Boxing Championships for the third successive time,” read the first paragraph of Mary’s press release, and I found myself nodding in agreement.

The next paragraph made me laugh, though, as I read on. “This is a remarkable sporting feat, of which we can all be immensely proud. All of Ireland was willing Katie on this evening and I join them in sending warmest best wishes to Katie,” added Mrs. McAleese.

So what made me laugh? The bit where she said that we can all be immensely proud of Katie’s achievements, that bit.

Mary McAleese and the political system she is at the helm of can feel some pride in Katie Taylor’s achievements -- but only a little.

The government she holds ultimate power over has done some good things for Katie and every other promising athlete in this godforsaken country of ours, but not enough.

That’s why watching the likes of Mary McAleese and that other bluffer Brian Cowen jump onto the Taylor bandwagon this week has been infuriating.

If our government is really proud of Katie Taylor, how come her father had to threaten to go and work for the Brits in the build-up to the 2012 London Olympics in a dispute over funding?

If we value Katie Taylor so much, how come the businessman Denis O’Brien had to jump in this week with a three-year sponsorship deal that will allow her to prepare for London free of any financial concerns?

Mary McAleese, Martin McAleese, Brian Cowen and their likes make me sick.

They are quick to jump on the sports bandwagon when real Irish heroes like Katie Taylor bring glory to this country.

They are quick to fill their padded seats when it comes to the All-Ireland football final at Croke Park or the national ploughing championships in Athy, the two biggest sporting events in the country this past week.

But ask the politicians to come up with real policies and real finance that can encourage the next generation of Katie Taylors or Robbie Keanes or Brian O’Driscolls and where will you find them? Sorting out concepts like Your Country Your Call, which may or may not improve the economy but will definitely cost the taxpayer even more money.

The best thing Mary McAleese could do for Katie Taylor right now is build a high performance training center in the grounds of the Aras, her presidential residence, and let some good come out of the presidential home for once.

In the meantime, someone really should ask Martin McAleese what he and his wife were doing flying the government jet to Moscow on their recent state visit to Russia.

What was wrong with travelling on a scheduled airline like everyone else and saving the taxpayer some of the money we need to save the economy, never mind transform it as he says he wants to?

I hate these politico types. The sooner the presidential and Dail (Parliament) elections are called and we can kick them all into touch, to use a sporting phrase they might understand, the better.

Sideline Views

GOLF: Aside from making a shambles of running the country and sounding like a drunk on an RTE radio interview, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen really should apologize to golfer Philip Walton for mimicking him during Fianna Fail’s infamous drink-in in Galway last week. Taking off the likes of a very public figure like Michael O Muircheartaigh is fine, even for the leader of the country as Cowen did last week. Taking the mickey out of a man who has suffered from a neurological condition since birth called dyshphonia -- one which affects his voice and speech -- is nothing short of a disgrace, however.

Ryder Cup hero Walton is angry and rightly so. Cowen really should know better. For the taoiseach to treat a man’s disability as a matter of fun is a resigning matter but one which seems to have been swept under the carpet in the midst of all the other Galway furor, but it should not be forgotten.

SOCCER: Great story in Togo where the assistant manager of the national team has been suspended for sending a team of imposters to play a match as the national team -- for a second time! Tchanile Bana brought a team pretending to be Togo to Bahrain for a friendly game which they lost 3-0 last September. Unfortunately for Bana, his “Togo” team were so bad suspicions were raised and justifiably so as it now transpires.

Togo’s national team has been beset by problems in recent months.

In January while competing in the African Nations Cup in Angola, the team’s bus was attacked by gunmen who killed the driver, the assistant manager and a media officer and injured several others. Incredibly Bana did the same thing for a game in Egypt last June and was caught then as well.

HURLING: Former Cork boss Donal O’Grady is the new manager of the Limerick senior hurling team, and a good appointment it is too. Donal may be succeeding another Leeside in Justin McCarthy, but he has no baggage from the recent traumatic rows in Limerick hurling circles and that can only be a good thing.

SOCCER: Shay Given wants to leave Manchester City on loan in January, and his old club Newcastle United need a quality goalkeeper to deputize for the injured Steve Harper. I know the Newcastle boss Chris Hughton has said it won’t happen, but surely this is a match made in heaven?


Cork finally got their hands on the All-Ireland football title on Sunday thanks to a stirring performance from top scorer Donal Goulding, while boxer Katie Taylor did the country proud again with her third successive World Championship gold medal in Barbados. The economy may be screwed but our sport is still our national savior.


Two time world champion boxer Ricky Hatton has been caught using cocaine in a newspaper sting, and his one time opponent and conqueror Floyd Mayweather Jr. is up on assault charges for attacking his former partner. Yet more examples of top sports stars who think they are above normality and common decency. Will they ever learn?