I watched our Cub Scout leaders loading a van this morning. David and Jimmy are two of the finest men you could meet. Every week they devote hours of their time to the Cub Scout gatherings. They have over forty Cubs, so many that they had to split the pack into two to allow everyone to come along.
David and Jimmy were using their own holiday to take the Cubs away. No-one pays them for this, they have homes and families of their own, they could say that they already do enough, but dozens of kids will have great fun because David and Jimmy come from a time and a community that said this was good stuff to get involved in.
Our whole Scout Group has the same infectious enthusiasm as David and Jimmy. Sean, our Group Scout Leader, seems to be specially gifted in bringing on waves of young leaders. There are maybe 150 young people involved with our Scout Group. Every year at the annual general meeting we are delighted to be able to mark another year of defying Bertie Ahern’s claims that Ireland no longer has what he calls “social capital” and what the rest of us call volunteers who are prepared to get up and do something.
Our Scout Group is Ireland at its best.
If I wanted to pick a candidate for Ireland at its worst, Dun-Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council would be a leading contender. This morning the wheelie bin from the Scout Den had been left outside of the church gates, unemptied. The Scouts have had this wheelie bin for years, it gets put out maybe once a month. It has been emptied every time, but not this morning.
A sticker had been slapped on the bin saying that it had not been registered and that it would not be emptied until registration had taken place. All of our wheelie bins are micro-chipped, the County Council know exactly who this bin belongs to, they themselves delivered the bin for the Scout Den. Registration is not about recording details, it’s about imposing bin charges. Bin charges are a double taxation, the County Council already receive central government funding for performing necessary functions from central taxation, bin charges are a way of making more money for the Council’s schemes.
Some jobsworth who has not even the courage to put his or her name to the sticker has determined that our Scouts must now pay the bin tax. Our Scout leaders must now find extra money for the privilege of giving their time in the service of the community. I wonder if anyone in the County Council was taking their holiday to take young people away.
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul?” asks Jesus.
Ireland in 2007 is in serious danger of completely losing is soul