Editor’s Corner Archive:

Eoin Meegan

December 2020 January 2021

So this is Christmas. And we are together at last. I think everyone will rejoice that we can meet loved ones and be with family again. We rejoice too that travel restrictions are lifted for the Christmas and New Year period, and that in the days leading up to Christmas we can go into shops, browse cards, find that last minute gift for that special grandchild; or meet with an old friend for a mince pie and coffee, always remembering to be respectful of distance. And for those who attend religious services it will be a boon that they can do so again in person.

Of course it will be a more subdued Christmas than the kind we’ve been used to. Gone will be the office parties, the thronged arcades, big variety shows and packed streets; gone too, the familiar gesture of inviting all the neighbours around for a glass of Christmas Cheer or to ring in the New Year, as we each exercise sensible precaution.

So this is Christmas. And a year like no other draws to a close. February now seems a distant memory when we first heard rumours of a virus spreading across Europe. Surely it wouldn’t come here. But it did. And by the end of March Ireland was in full lockdown, our National holiday eclipsed, and life irrevocably changed. This generation will not easily forget the summer past: children at home from school, playgrounds padlocked, the elderly confined to homes without visitation rights, pubs shuttered, businesses ceasing to trade as we exchanged wages for a pandemic payment.
An eerie silence hung like a pall over once bustling, now deserted streets. No sport, no football matches, no concerts, no gala events, as normality became the first casualty of the new reality. We recalibrated, and got used to working from home. We learned how to keep away from people, not to shake hands or give hugs, how to hide behind face masks, and what the word ‘cocooning’ meant.

So this is Christmas. And what have we done? Well, a lot, actually. We protected each other. We sat in neighbours’ front gardens and chatted so they wouldn’t be alone. We made up food parcels and distributed them to where they were needed. We streamlined religious services, wore masks when on public transport and in shops. Frontline workers laboured tirelessly to care for the sick, and played the part of a mother or spouse to the dying so that they didn’t pass over alone.

We learned that people mattered more than economies, and that being apart didn’t mean separation. We did a lot. You did a lot. We should be very proud. And that is why it is fitting that we celebrate Christmas now. It is time to rekindle an idea born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, that kindness and love can transform the world. And taking that radical idea forward into 2021 build a new society, one where world poverty can, and must, be eradicated, where medicines (including any vaccines on the way) are distributed fairly, including Third World countries, and where discrimination becomes an obsolete word.

Only then can we truly acclaim to have built Peace on Earth, and extended Goodwill to all Humankind.

October November: Editorial Observations

With the threat of Covid-19, the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, and an uncertain economic future the issue of housing in this country was never more pressing.

As a society we need housing that not only provides safety, meets all adequate requirements, and is affordable, but is also a place to laugh and love and grow in together.

To this end we have to stop thinking about units to store people in, and instead think about creating homes. This cuts to the very heart of who we are as a human family.

The sight of rows of tented shelter along the canals masquerading as homes is an affront to all of us. Equally distressing is the ever growing number of young couples, highly educated and hard working, being forced to live with their parents, and denied the joy of starting their own home due to exorbitant mortgages and ever-increasing rents.

This is wrong on so many levels. When we think about it, having a home is a basic human right, up there with safety of the person, and one that needs to be enshrined in the Constitution, as it is in many other European countries, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden to name but a few.

Our lead story exposes this, the ill-conceived planning that threatens the destruction of small villages and the rending of communities, and is expanded upon in our centre page spread which asks incisive questions on why housing laws are being flaunted, and loopholes exploited to bypass the necessary requirement for social and affordable housing.

And we follow this up with a comprehensive history of the high rise (pages 31-33).

On a brighter note we look at how a vitamin we’re all deficient in, ‘the sunshine vitamin’ may yet provide a glimmer of light in the fight against Coronavirus (p. 8); as well as how art is helping those challenged by the necessity of cocooning and self distancing, through an exciting programme that is age friendly and dementia-inclusive (p. 18).

As Halloween is likely to be a muted affair this year, and most people opting to stay in out of necessity, you can read up on what seasonal flicks are on offer to watch from home (page 29).

With the country at Level 3 restrictions and the spectre of fear loose, the impetus was never so great for us to look out for each other. This can be as simple as calling on an elderly person this winter to make sure they have food and fuel. And to let them know that although they may have to be apart, they are not alone.

We are all in this together, and we will get to the other side of it, so being there for each other is yet another palpable way of demonstrating that sense of home.

Finally, I would like to pay a special tribute to our outgoing editor, Beibhinn Byrne, who has been at the helm at NewsFour for the past three years. Beibhinn was respected and loved by the journalists and everyone involved in the paper. She helped guide NewsFour in a progressive and modern direction while retaining its distinctive quality as a community rooted, intellectually robust local newspaper. All of us at NewsFour wish her the very best in her new career.

Beibhinn Byrne

August September 2020

Welcome Back! It has been the worst of times and the best of times and how we have missed each other and the routine customs we took for granted. There is a lot to question and a lot to accept, just as there is much to be fearful of but also grateful for. Both are true as our current situation evolves. We must be the ones who shape it, safeguard it and take responsibility for what we will accept or resist. Our lives and liberty are precious and all that matter in the end. We hope you enjoy our editorial feature on it all. Stay Human, stay connected, stay observant.

June July 2020

Our front page on this issue is a snapshot of the resilience, community and hope that continues in daily life during these strange and disruptive days. Families, community groups and locals all over Dublin 4 and indeed the country are, despite the restrictive conditions, keeping it real, keeping themselves and daily life going. Sometimes it’s the little things other times it’s bigger activities but both indicate the care for our environments and one another is proving unstoppable.
You can’t stop or quarantine the audaciousness of the human spirit. Our better qualities are contagious too and life will go on, the hope of people simply being ordinary and getting on with it and creating positivity under trying circumstances is inspirational and signals that not only will life continue as normal but perhaps even better than before.

February March 2020

Vision. That’s the operative word for this upcoming election, this coming decade and it’s the theme of this issue. You can read potted bio and candidate’s visions (pages 20 & 21) in our double spread. What we vote for – both in our everyday lives and this election – has never been more important. We stand at a critical juncture, on a precipice in fact. There has never been more at stake for our environment, our society and our country. We must understand how serious it is.  

The prices we are paying both literally and figuratively are too high but they will be asphyxiating in the future if we don’t shout ‘Stop’. Now. 

Ninety four years of a two-party state has not served us well. The world has changed drastically and we need new thinking and action for a future that can exist, if we make it so. Who wants to be a ‘have’ in a world of ‘have nots’? Who wants to live disconnected, amidst a damaged and dysfunctional society? Who, in a position of gain, would not want others to experience peace and privilege and indeed help them get there? We all know the single, disturbing negative answer to these questions. Just as we all know the affirmative, life enhancing alternative. It is a choice. We must make the right one. 

William Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’ comes to mind reading the report on the Grand Canal Innovation District announcement. The wheels are in motion but it is distrustfully vague on detail. Big tech and business’s empty promises towards the community must be rejected for guaranteed realities and a bonafide future for people. Issues such as publicly owned and affordable housing, pollution levels, public service facilities and services that nurtures families and real community, now, and in the future cannot be fudged. 

We need to ask whose and what kind of ‘vision’ is it? Especially in light of the, to date, gargantuan unpaid tax by some of the players. 

The old VW factory on Shelbourne Road (page 15) is a fascinating, though conflicting, read in vision and ‘innovation’. Pride at ending a wasteful, grabby practice through independent, solution-based thinking. Sorrow and anger at the mad waste of ripping up so fine a tram system, a great public good extinguished by ultimately, short term and unsustainable interests. 

Vision requires looking ahead for generations, it asks hard questions and doesn’t gloss over problems but excavates them to ensure a solution. Vision is motivated. Derek Jarman (pages 26 & 27) whose bravery and insightful activism in the 1970’s is the voice of today; a refusal to back down on what is right, an insistence on the birthright of natural human expression and resistance to anything that wants to suppress or crush it. Bjork (page 32) who keeps pushing boundaries, is a one-woman lesson in personal evolution and boldly signposting positive future directions. One of our own, the poet Paula Meehan (page 28) and the new Irish poets (page 29) represent our empathy, artistry, intuition and spirit, all of which are resurfacing from their suppressed importance in society, to take their rightful place as respected and powerful ways of knowing and communication.  

We are the system, we are the workers and consumers, the architects and dwellers of it, we are the watchers and the participants. Economy must serve us, not us serving it. We need to demand the world we want. We urge you to vote for better, not just in this election but in your ongoing, everyday, interactions and transactions also. Political ideology, decision making and legislation directly shapes and dictates our day-to-day wellbeing, our purses, our services, our communities, our environments, our securities and our freedoms. On Feb 8th we urge everyone to vote. If you don’t use your vote you lose the chance to exercise control over not only what happens to you but to others and to future generations also. Make sure you vote wisely.

December 2019 January 2020

And so another year comes to a close, not just a year but to borrow Auden’s September 1, 1939 ‘a low, dishonest decade.’ We are in appalling trouble with the grim inequality, ecocide and frightening disconnection. But as offensive as these situations are we need to grasp them with both hands, to not be ‘uncertain and afraid’ but to be determined to change. Challenges are the flipside to solutions and where we currently stand provides the keys to embrace new values and resolve to build a better world. A world of higher values; one that reveres all life; one that eschews rapacious, diminishing, capitalism and instead promotes a supportive society and an economy of quality. A world that offers opportunities for everyone and a way of living that would benefit us all.  

Everyone has the capacity for this and everyone deserves to be given the ability and support for it. 2020 is a new decade, the second of this newly minted century. What are we going to do with it? It is people who change things. It is people who are powerful. We have big questions to ask ourselves and big answers to give. Because the solution is inside us – we have them already, we just need to facilitate ourselves and others, so it can be given. It is people, not systems, that decide. 

The theme of this issue is people. People’s lives, past and present. There is no such thing as an ‘ordinary’ person or life – from local whodunnits (pg 25), laudatory memorials (pg 4), to bravery and independence (pg 6) and the curious and sad (pgs 10 & 11) – glory and scandal abounds. We had great submissions from locals, one being the pg 4 feature mentioned above. We are thrilled to print a new column, Reader’s Viewpoint (pg 8) and we invite readers to submit their view on topics and issues, local or global, for every issue. 

Locals feature throughout, receiving lifetime awards, celebrating 104th birthdays, raising funds and starting vital social endeavours. Ordinary people being extraordinary and extraordinary people being ordinary. One person who completely comprehended the actuality and importance of this was that famous Dubliner, Gay Byrne. His passing also marks the end of an era, and there is a lovely tribute to him on pg 16. 

We have all the listings of events in the area (pgs 20 & 21) and some ethical and purposeful gifts from local shops in the gardening section (pgs 30 & 31). In a hopeful signpost of future generations and better values to come, this year’s books (pg 18) feature poetry, which achieved record sales last year (soaring to €12 million) driven by younger readers who hunger for nuance amid conflict and disaster. Real gifts and hope that, as Auden says, ‘Show an affirming flame.’ NewsFour wishes everyone a very happy Christmas, we ask you to look out for the needful and one another, and to really think about and look forward to a New Year, a new decade and a new future. It’s time.

June July 2019

We demand a better future. That is the cry that went up from communities at the local elections with the increased endorsement of the Greens. An environmental vision is a humanitarian one. We are connected to our habitats, cityscapes, landscapes and all the necessary biodiverse wildlife, fauna and open spaces we should have within our constructed ones. This is vital for survival and wellbeing. Equally the choices we make and the interests we endorse via political representation matter because they become the policies and blueprint that dictate the quality of our lives and the direction of our society. 

We are ‘the environment’ and we desperately need a whole, new way of thinking, interacting and being if we are to ensure a tomorrow, let alone a better one. We need a world where we can all breathe both figuratively and literally; because unchecked, unsustainable capitalism and its crony politics of ‘business as usual’ is killing us. 

This is why elections are important and communities need to stay vocal and be active. The Save our Trees campaign (pg 14) is a case in point as is the fact that BusConnects is in a two-phased consultation process and the community needs to engage with it in wholesale numbers if they want to have an impact. It works, as the IGB outcome (pg 33) illustrates. Changes don’t have to be either/or, where to improve a public transport system, we tear nature asunder. We need to retain what’s best and build on to that (Vienna Housing Model pg 32). This requires the work of thinking, negotiating and patience rather than the irrational, ‘make-it-so’ of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, everytime. We’ve been here before: Dublin’s old trams and the LUAS are a case in point. Lisbon a hilly, ancient city has managed to retain their historical trams and build a state of the art metro system without destroying the character or cultural uniqueness of their city; made possible because of long-term thinking, resourcefulness and a focus on servicing people not contractors, ‘the market’ or corrupt ideology. Check agendas and policies before you give your consent, vote or euro. Be informed, then engage accordingly with positive action. This is how we demand a better