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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 7, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

    The Cold War

    Harry McGee

    I saw scenes in Dublin last night that I have never witnessed before and am unlikely to witness for another generation. A combination of snow fall and then a hard freeze in the run-up to rush hour made the whole of the city (and most of the country) into an ice rink.  Journeys of one hour or less turned into six or seven hours as people from the suburbs got caught in mass gridlock as cars failed to negotiate even the tiniest of inclines.

    I was out for a while last night and walked home at about 11.30. The streets were deserted, save for the odd straggling soul. It was like a scene from 28 Days Later, even though slightly more serene.

    When something like this happens when one is travelling, it’s called a Force Majeur or an Act of God, something that can be attributed to the weather or natural circumstances; and not to human error.

    Granted, this is unprecedented. We haven’t seen anything like this in half a century. But it’s getting worse.

    And what’s becoming a little creepy is the continuing silence of the Government. If they issue a statement, or come out in public,  would it just be for the sake of doing it? Or is there something practical that can be done? Would calling in the army for such a mass phenomenon make any difference? Or could it? Sure the country was unprepared for this? But realistically, could it have been any other way?

    I just get the feeling this morning that we have reached a pass. And that the Government has now been resting for a little too long and needs to start getting out there and at least give the impression that it’s trying to lead from the front.

    • robespierre says:

      Harry – salt like honey doesn’t spoil. Reserves won’t go to waste if properly managed as part of a reserve. The key question is what is the restocking trigger point. It would appear that we allow near total depletion i.e. 20% safety buffer or lower before reordering.

      I acknowledge that distribution is an issue and that demand is high but there are other materials that give traction and can be used in these circumstances like dirt and sand. Salt is best because it lowers the freezing point and grit better as you git dirt and sand.

      Like with everything else, the government is behind the curve. It seems that they are entitely incapable of getting anything right first time.

      Incidentally, how many of the other 26 European parliaments are still on vacation?

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      Enjoy the weather. It’s beautiful. Learn something (like Kevin Myers Indo yesterday) — look at the behaviour of the birds in the snow — it’s amazing. So what if the country slows down. Isn’t that exactly what the planet needs? A lot less vehicles on the roads polluting the atmosphere. A few weeks of this will do more to help reduce nasty emissions that all the climate change blather of the “experts”. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The planet is designed (yes, by God) to fix itself and for the period of time that it was designed to last for. We suffer the consequences of our actions. What does Harry want — the entire Government driving around the country on a giant snowplough throwing endless quantities of grit all over the roads? Yeah, that’ll help. Btw there is something very parochial/Oirish/cliquish about this blog — as though everyone in Oireland is supposed to know everyone else. The comments of that Red Biddy person with the multiple personalities makes me want to throw up and of course my views on homosexual practice will make me a pariah.

    • Suzy says:

      Assume you heard the interview with John Gormley on Radio 1 at lunchtime and the fact that’s it’s not just an Irish problem – the weather or the salt! Didn’t take Sean or the listeners to think Lehman Brothers!

    • Hugh says:

      “…and am unlikely to witness for another generation. ”

      Shurely “another year”. Naive.

    • Bryan says:

      Definitely call in the army. They should have lots of engineers and other smart people, not to mention a bunch of foot soldiers without too much else going on (we’re not at war, right?), So why not. I’m reasonably sympathetic towards the government but it amazes me how often they pass up opportunities to do little things that show that they are actually bothered about the plight of the people they govern. Even if the army thing turned out to be a circus, the sight of soldiers helping people push cars or even just directing traffic would, I think, do a heck of a lot for morale and the sense of nationhood.

    • I heard today that they have called in the army, although I’m not quite sure what they’re at.

      @Hugh, I would assume that by next year we’ll be better prepared. Or, perhaps not assume but hope.

      @barbera, that’s a lovely little viewpoint you have there, if somewhat impractical. Life must go on for those of us who aren’t taking time to admire the flowers and thank God that there are no “nasty emissions”.

      We’re set to be like this for at least another five days, so one would hope that things get a little more organised in the meantime. The Government is definitely resting on its laurels, but there’s an air of “head in the sand” about it too – they’re probably too terrified because they just don’t know what they can do about it, and don’t want to admit as much!

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      Why are people projecting their insecurities, fears, doubts, qualms, worries, uncertainties, reservations, suspicions — inner turmoil basically — onto the scapegoat that is “the government”? There is a certain amount of money (borrowed) for whoever is in government to work with. The combinations and permutations of what happens with that will make very little discernable difference in people’s lives no matter who is in power, given the immediate circumstances, and the object being for the best brains in government to keep the economy buoyant in the GFC storm. The unhappiness/discontent/gloom that is becoming more and more evident and with which public discourse is saturated, especially in recent times, is to do with a neglecting of spirituality and a forgetting of the soul. Even psychoanalysis recognises this as its proponents try to claim the attributes of the soul for the psyche. Get a spiritual life and shovel your own snow. The army indeed!

    • barbera O'Shokenzy says:

      @ Rosemary Mac Cabe.
      Ah shure is that yourself Rosemary and you only a half a mile up the road and around the corner from Paddy Mac’s across the boreenmanna road from Seanin og and only three doors up the way from Red Biddy above over in Deaglán’s blog? Ah shure ye haven’t changed a bit Rosemary. Still thinkin’ you’re the only wan with a job in the country and not even a minute have ye got to smell the roses or listen to a bird sing and still givin’ out about that crowd above in Leinster House. I WANT A MICRO-UZI

    • Ray D says:

      Is it not funny that when teachers (and others) – more correctly, their unions – offered 12 days unpaid leave to save the State money, it was ridiculed by a media- and politically-inspired campaign while now when they have a few more days paid leave, there is not a gig about it!!

    • Betterworld Now says:

      At least GW Bush took the time to view the floods in New Orleans from 20,000ft as civil life broke down on the streets of the city below. And even there, there was someone (remember FEMA?) who was nominally in charge of disaster planning. Here? Nothing but blank stares all round and faxed statements from ministers sent from foreign sun/ski holiday resorts.

    • “Get a spiritual life and shovel your own snow”! That is my favourite quote from the current weather troubles! It’s almost poetic!

    • @barbera, I’ve actually been off work this week so I’m not too concerned about getting to work. All my minutes are for smelling roses and listening to birds, but I’d still love someone to come and shovel my driveway for me!

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