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Sometimes pragmatism is a hard medicine to take . A week or so ago ,DUP Health Minister Jim Wells, in his first appearance after the sacking of Poots,  conceded that the only viable option for the treatment of heart disease in children was to use the facilities in Dublin. It was a practical decision.This hardly went down like honey or ambrosia in a party brimming with hatred and loathing for anything “Southern Irish Republican” , especially when within days the First Minister refused to appear at the start of the Resolution Non-Talks , lest he might be tainted in a photo-op with a southern politician.Already, the backwoodsmen and navel-gazers were having conniptions behind the scenes and on the odd radio rant..

Listen up though.This train has been coming down the tracks for long, long years now.It’s just that a lot of people in Norneverland have refused to go near the station.

When did you last buy a book in a bookshop or a cd in a  local record shop? I know for myself, locally, it was long ago and I’m talking over forty years ago .In my case,it was  an impossibility to  quickly source the kinds of books and music I really wanted  to buy at a local level. Of course, that’s partly because I  do not live in a large city where I can readily source a cornucopia of products to please all sorts of diverse tastes. For that reason , most of what I have ever bought was by post or on occasional visits to the city or a nearby larger town.Of course , the physical product has gradually been superceded by ebooks and downloads . For all of that  there is a vinyl revival underway and many still enjoy the physical appeal of a well-bound book.

I could go right back to when Richard Branson started up his Virgin company selling records from the back pages of the “New Musical Express” adverts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I bought Jack Bruce’s “Harmony Row” from him and also some of the first American imports by Jefferson Airplane.Alongside the download , I enjoy seeing the “real deal” in my hands. The physical presence.

The changes were  gradually coming for many years…. long before Virgin  Megastores and Virgin in Space. Just over a decade ago ,the internet then opened up an entire world with Amazon .Anyone can simply type in the title of the book , music…anything and as Bob would say ..”I’m your uncle”. For the most part  this process  relies on the postal services and is so easy by comparison to the old way.  Shops in towns have been forced to provide better service and to specialise to compete . It’s a healthy thing ,in as much as it  hopefully  makes people more imaginative when selling their products..  Before Amazon I would search through catalogues for things I really wanted and for the most part , they were never available locally.

Last week I went for a few things in  the IKEA store . I noticed some time ago that this huge warehouse is so extensive that they had to build it right beside the George Best airport …possibly for ease of supply. The turnover in the place is extraordinary too. They have door-opening loss-leaders  that would make any provincial shop-owner burst into tears . Wine -glasses and towels for a pound! What’s not to like? These huge businesses are only symptomatic of what is happening on a global scale and even in local politics and health services. On a small island like Ireland it makes sense to centralise some  services such as health care and government . Already some services are being shared pragmatically between the North and the South and it makes perfect sense , given that Belfast and Dublin are really only mere hours apart. The internet has made us all believe that we are all a common humanity, in any case, so more and more , territorial borders are becoming a mental irrelevance.

It’s really only a matter of time before we will all think in terms of a united world …never mind a united Ireland . Now, if only we could get that local rail -link restored .Some clot called Beeching decided it would be a great idea to remove it and train links throughout the UK , back in the 1950s .He certainly hadn’t his sights set on future globalisation.He didn’t see that train coming down the tracks.


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