What has happened our country? Our society? Our industry? Ireland has changed dramatically in the last few months and certainly not for the best.

We are in full scale melt down now and at this stage and I’m afraid it looks like we are going deeper into the dung heap rather than coming out the other side like most other countries in the world.

Ireland, a small country on the edge of Europe that has produced sports stars, Rock stars, Movie stars, Business tycoons, Political giants, famous artists, poets, scholars and celebrity chefs. Ireland, the land of tourism, hospitality, opportunity and fun. Ireland, the small country that always over achieved and was a country many others aspired to be, is in chaos. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no leadership what so ever, it’s people have been brain washed into blind panic and the nation is sinking quicker than the Titanic.

Last week Ireland was hit with a new wave of restrictions. All sports were to be played behind closed doors. Parent couldn’t watch their children play a match even if it was in a large stadium. They were informed they were to drop their children to the gate and wait outside. Most likely sitting in another parent’s car having a chat while waiting for the kids to finish rather than being outdoors in a spacious stadium. There are more holes in this public health advice than in a sieve.

The celebrity doctors and scientists that have become household names in Ireland over the past five or six months came out to defend their man Dr.Ronan Glynn, the acting Chief Medical Officer on social media during the week. These guys have been busy building profiles for themselves over the past few months, no doubt all done for financial gain. I see Prof. Luke O Neill has even found time to launch a book recently. It’s important for them to keep driving their agenda, one would imagine the gravy train has never been so lucrative for these individuals.

The Irish economy is in free fall, Dublin city centre is like a ghost town and this is before the government support schemes begin to recede next month. Stevie Wonder could see what’s coming in the next few months. Choppy waters ahead.

Lucrative horse sales at Goff’s and Tattersalls have been moved to the UK. Kingspan highlighted how their Irish operation was far worse affected than anywhere else in the world due to our draconian lockdown measures. Ryanair have come out swinging again this week slating the Irish government. Aer Lingus has recently criticised the quarantine restrictions put in place by the Irish government and the Irish open golf tournament has been moved from the Republic to Northern Ireland as the Republic is essentially closed for business. These are all massive companies that a small Island can’t afford to be without. Love him or hate him I’d prefer Mr. O Leary running our country now than any of the so called leaders we currently have.

The people are turning on each other. It’s an undeniable fact. The old are blaming the young for hosting or attending house parties. What do they expect them to do? It’s human nature. They have done their part and flattened the curve like they were asked. The Government are now on a mission to flatten the country and economy. Remember this, those young people under 35 years of age are now about to live through their second severe recession neither of which was their fault. Are they still the bad guys?? People whose incomes haven’t been affected in the slightest have never had it so good. They will no doubt bang the public health measure drum and look down their nose at anyone who dares question the so called experts. I have no doubt, if they were like the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods were taken away from them, they would have different views. One group have a lust for lockdown as it means doing little or no work and still getting paid for it while the other group are dying to get back to work.

I read a great line on social media which somebody I follow tweeted recently “No holidays, no sport, no parties, no pub, no travel, no music, no singing, no dancing or kissing. No deaths and no one in hospital”. I think it sums up the whole situation in Ireland at the minute!

Then we had the “Golf Gate saga”, where 81 high profile politicians, judges, journalists etc. had a gathering after 2 days of golf despite telling the general population that there was a strict limit of 50 people allowed at any indoor gathering. The whole thing smacked of ‘do as we say not as we do’. The Minister for Agriculture had to resign, others are under similar pressure. As someone who had to postpone their wedding and hasn’t been allowed open my business in 6 months, I felt like it was a slap in the face. However, the furious reaction by the Irish public has been blown out of all proportion. These guys were wrong to do what they did, they were arrogant and felt the rules didn’t apply to them but they didn’t murder anyone. 81 of them got together and had a piss up.  That’s the reality. Instead of getting angry and ringing radio stations maybe organise your own piss up… they are fun, the sacrifices have been made now it’s time to get on with life. The media are driving the agenda. Plenty of the sitting TDs such as Simon Harris waited till the day after the news story broke to gauge the public mood before passing judgement and taking the high moral ground. It’s a pity he didn’t criticise the golf event straight away like he did when videos emerged from Berlin bar in Dublin of young people enjoying themselves. Those politicians are an opportunistic bunch.

Veering back to my own industry the big National Hunt sales have just ended. The Derby Sale was nothing short of a disaster. Turnover down 50%, average and median sale prices down 19 and 24 %. Carnage. No matter how any PR guru tries to paint a pretty picture, those figures speak for themselves. I really feel like now is the time sales companies, bloodstock agents, breeders, owners, trainers, racecourses, on course bookmakers, catering companies and any other industry stake holders with ‘skin in the game’ come together with strong representation and lobby Horse Racing Ireland. The career civil servants leading the organisation are not delivering. They are not rocking the boat at Government level like the GAA did this week and they are achieving absolutely nothing. This current situation can’t be allowed to continue. There is no good being the good boys who sit in the corner and say nothing if its achieving nothing. Scotland this week announced they intend reopening sports stadia on September 14th. France has had crowds at sporting events for 2 months now and are lobbying hard for 20,000 spectators to be allowed attend the Arc in 6 weeks’ time. Its amazing what good lobbying and leadership can achieve. There is no doubt HRI has lost its voice in the Irish parliament, Dail Eireann. We need to get back racing, with owners, followed by members of the public ASAP. Our industry, way of life and ability to earn an income relies on it. We are an outdoor activity in acres of space. If Dundrum shopping centre can have thousands of people in it why can’t a racecourse?

Finally, I’ll leave you with an encounter I had this week. Upon entering my local livestock mart this week I met a man who loves football and is a character who I have a lot of time for. After a general chit chat for a few minutes he said to me all sports should be called off for the rest of the year. Why I asked. ‘On health grounds’ was his reply out of the side of his mouth as he took a big puff on his cigarette.  As we parted ways I turned around to ask him was he serious but he was gone. All that was left was the plume of smoke he had just exhaled. Public health my arse I muttered. An awful lot more die from the side effects of smoking than corona virus. Another good decent fella brain washed.

Go out, enjoy yourselves. Life is not a rehearsal, you only get one go at it. Hopefully I’ll see you on a racecourse sometime soon.

All the best.

Brian