What you may need to know

1. To quote another fantasy series, we come to it at last: the great battle of our time.

2.
The seventh season of Game of Thrones, despite coming three months later than the usual April debut, consists of just seven episodes. An eighth and final season will follow in 2018.

3. The shorter season and later debut mean that more time has been spent on writing and filming, while vastly more cash has been spent on each episode. That’s quite clear from those sweeping battle shots and brand new sets.

4. Filming was also pushed back so as to avoid the usual summer (as in last summer) shooting schedule. It’s winter in Westeros now, so shooting took place later in the year in Northern Ireland.

5. It’s endgame time: Season 7’s plot will see the long-gestating confrontation between, well, everybody, as the war for the Iron Throne enters its (apparent) final phase. Fresh from her Corleone-esque massacre of her enemies, Cersei Lannister sits on the Iron Throne but her reign promises to be a short one as Daenerys Targaryen arrives to reclaim her throne. Meanwhile, in the North, Jon Snow aims to keep the White Walkers on the right side of the Wall, because if he fails, it doesn’t matter who rules King’s Landing. Meanwhile, Arya Stark may just make it back to Winterfell, Tyrion will continue to find his place in the world and a zillion other plot points will approach their conclusion.

6.
If all that sounds like gibberish to a non-fan, well, it is, but make no mistake, Game of Thrones is the real deal. Everyone may live in castles and swing swords, but themes of politics, class division, family religion and faith, the horror of war and more make it one of the most brilliantly realised TV dramas of this or any other era.

7. On top of that, and the masterful acting and production value, I’ve always said the key to Game of Thrones addictive success is the same as what made Breaking Bad such a hit. Right from the very beginning, the question was put to the audience: how’s it going to end? With BB, the question was what will happen when Walter White is caught; here the question was and is who will be the last one standing? Each time a new person has climbed those steps over the past six years to sit on the throne, it has always felt temporary. Now that Dani and (as it turns out) Cersei Lannister are set to go to war with one another, whichever one comes out on top really will be the conqueror.

8. This show famously hasn’t shied away from killing off its heroes, don’t forget, so it’s entirely possible that fearless, scheming thunder-bitch Cersei might well be that last one standing. Unless (personal prediction alert): history repeats itself and the Kingslayer becomes the Queenslayer, but we could go on about that all day.

9. Along with the vast returning cast, the great Jim Broadbent has taken up a role for season 7.

10. As with season 6, events of the show have long overtaken the events of George R.R. Martin’s source novels. His last instalment, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011, while The Winds of Winter is still a work in progress. In your own time, George.

Verdict: Do we even need to say?

Date: July 16, Sky Atlantic.

Yesterday.

The new Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland met for the first time.

At a media briefing, when asked about calls for Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to stand down, head of the commission Kathleen O’Toole – who was on the panel which appointed Ms O’Sullivan to Garda Commissioner in 2014 – said:

I don’t think it would make a difference whether it was Nóirín O’Sullivan or someone else. I think this management team inherited a poison chalice. And I think we need to get beyond the finger-pointing and the name-calling. We want to look to the future.”

Further to this…

During Leaders’ Questions, taken by Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace spoke about Ms O’Toole’s comments and, later, revisited the protected disclosure made by whistleblower Garda Nick Keogh.

Readers will recall how Garda Keogh, in May 2014, as a member of the drugs squad in Athlone, made a formal complaint to the then confidential recipient Judge Pat McMahon about a garda in the drugs squad and their alleged involvement in the supply of heroin in Westmeath, Offaly and Longford.

Garda Keogh also claimed a State mobile phone was supplied by a senior garda to a suspended garda whom Garda Keogh alleged had links to the drugs trade in Co Westmeath.

In November 2014, Mr Wallace told the Dail that since Garda Keogh had made his complaint, he had been subjected to constant harassment by senior management, manufactured complaints were made against him, and his activities were monitored. In December 2015, Garda Keogh went on sick leave.

In 2016, John Mooney, in The Sunday Times, reported that an internal investigation found evidence to substantiate “many” of Garda Keogh’s claims.

However, Garda Keogh still has to see any report of this investigation and it’s understood none has been published.

In addition, Mr Mooney reported that the DPP told Garda Headquarters that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute those implicated, but that a senior garda and a drugs squad garda in Athlone would face disciplinary proceedings.

Readers may also recall how, in January of this year, GSOC requested to oversee the disciplinary investigation of the two gardai but Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan refused GSOC’s request.

From today’s Leaders’ Questions…

Mick Wallace: “Tánaiste, yesterday Kathleen O’Toole confirmed the suspicion of many, that the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is a fig leaf to divert attention away from the crises in Garda management. She said that their task is not to scrutinise the performance of individuals and that Garda management inherited a poison chalice. What she forgot to tell us is that the present commissioner was part of the poison when she got the job in 2014. Why did they appoint someone that was part of the problem?”

“Head of GSOC [Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission] Mary Ellen Ring said last week, I would have thought you could have this commission done and dusted by December the 1st, if they just sat down and read the [Garda] Inspectorate’s reports and that there was no guarantee that the report delivered by the Commission on the Future of Policing in September 2018 would be acted upon.”

“As the head of the Garda Inspectorate Robert Olsen, previous reforms identified had not been implemented. No one, he said, had made the change happen. In the last few weeks, things have got so bad at Garda Headquarters that a decision was made to grant a barrister and junior counsel to both the Commissioner and her most senior Assistant Commissioner, at the expense of the State. They can’t even be in the same room without being lawyered up.”

As a result of the failure to resolve issues around the complaints made by the same Assistant Commissioner, including interference in the interview process for the Commissioner’s job back in 2014. Despite the expenditure of tens of thousands in consultancy payments to a company to investigate the issue – a job that was never tendered.”

“Interestingly, that same interview panel that trawled the world before deciding that Noirin O’Sullivan was the best person to replace Martin Callinan, involved not only Josephine Feehily, who in her role as head of the Policing Authority has failed to recommend the removal of the Commissioner; Kathleen O’Toole, who yesterday indicated that she wanted to take the heat off Noirin; but also Vivienne Jupp, a former executive of global management consultancy Accenture, a company which benefited from multi-million euro contracts with An Garda Siochana.”

“Vivienne Jupp was also instrumental in establishing Cyril Dunne as Chief Administrative Officer inside An Garda Siochana who was among the first to be made aware of the Templemore scandal.

“Yesterday, the outgoing Taoiseach said if a minister were in charge of a calamity, like that in the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement, they’d be immediately sacked. Tanaiste, you might find yourself heading up a different department in a few weeks time, the present commissioner has given more than enough proof that she is not the person to bring An Garda Siochana forward.”

“Minister, Tanaiste, this might be your last few weeks in justice, would you not consider doing what needs to be done in the best interests of An Garda Siochana because the legislation allows for you to remove the commissioner when it is in the best interests of An Garda Siochana and it certainly would be.”

Later

“The house that is known as An Garda Siochana is falling down around her ears. While scandals, which can only be described as white collar crime continue to escalate around Templemore, at the other end of the scale, the plot thickens around the Garda involvement in the heroin trade in Athlone.

On the 19th of May, 2017, presiding Circuit Court judge Keelan Johnson expressed his displeasure, annoyance and frustration at being seriously misled by a garda. The judge outlined, in public, in open court, that, on the 7th of June, 2016, while sentencing a woman on drug offences, committed on the 2nd of June, 2015, a garda purposefully, and deliberately misled him and the court.”

The same drugs operation, for which other gardai have been found to have had an involvement in, as a result of the protected disclosure of Garda Nick Keogh three years ago, yet, nobody’s been arrested, nobody’s been charged, three years later. Why? Because some of Noirin’s inner circle are being protected.”

Previously: A Breathtaking Timeline

Mudhoney (top) the happy grungsters

Last week, with a tasty voucher worth 25 big ones to spend at any of the 14 Golden Discs stores nationwide on offer, we asked you to name the most defining song of the grunge era.

You entered in your dozens.

But there could be only one winner/loser, baby.

In reverse order

Alice in Chains – Rooster

‘Penfold’ writes:

The most outstanding song of the Grunge genre is undoubtedly Alice in Chains’ “Rooster” because the subject is treated with a gentle reverence with the choruses rising to an intense roar. (It’s a brilliant tribute to Cantrell’s Dad)…

Soundgarden – The Day I Tried To Live

Michael Holland writes:

The most outstanding song of the Grunge genre is undoubtedly The Day I Tried To Live because it sums up excellently the depressing cloud overshadowing the grunge scene and how a lot of us feel from day to day and just push on. R.I.P Chris Cornell

 

Melvins- Honey Bucket

Deadly Calzone writes:

The most outstanding song of the Grunge genre is undoubtedly ‘Honey Bucket’ by Melvins because King Buzzo is a god (Kurt Cobain also co-produced). The video is also absolutely hilarious…

SoundgardenMy Wave

Scottser writes:

My Wave from album Superunknown was the song I practiced to learn how to play in 5/4 time. Soundgarden’s music meant so much emotionally to loads of different people but to me, they were exquisite musical technicians. they were the ‘bar’ when I was starting out getting halfway decent on drums. Chris Cornell, as well as being an absolutely savage singer was also a criminally under-rated guitarist.

Winning entry

Mudhoney – I’m Spun

Me writes:

I was too young, rural and uncool to see the 91/92 Nirvana (Sonic Youth) gigs but after a lot of negotiation with the mother it was agreed for my 17th birthday I could have a trip up the country and a ticket to their RDS gig. Like so many others here those few years were absolutely central to developing my musical tastes and my attitudes and ideas of the world.

Obviously that gig never happened (so my 1st concert experience was instead Feile ’94 which just blew my mind). After I finished my LC that year I took what is now referred to as a gap year. I lived in a chambre de bonne in Paris and had an absolutely incredible time.

Every Saturday and Sunday morning at about 7am my neighbour used to blare Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, waking me and adding to my hangover damage. In return I would lean across and press play on my cassette player and reply with the song I had ready and queued up for her; Mudhoney’s I’m Spun.

Over that year I got to see Mudhoney, STP, Beck, Foo Fighters and others live and as now 40 year old it’s impossible for me to hear many of the songs from that period without a shock of nostalgia. I cannot be objective at all to say what is the best of the time but for the purpose of this exercise; The most outstanding song of the Grunge genre is undoubtedly I’m Spun by Mudhoney because nostalgia is a hell of a drug…

Thanks all.

Golden Discs

Last week: And The Band Plaid On

Norah Casey

Tomorrow night.

On the Late Late Show.

At 9.35pm.

Via the RTÉ press office…

“The Late Late Show will be celebrating 50 years of the Community Games in Ireland with three of Ireland’s sporting stars… rugby star Tommy Bowe, world champion walker Olive Loughnane and former Republic of Ireland international Niall Quinn.

Norah Casey is one of Ireland’s most successful and best known businesswomen. After years of keeping it secret, Norah will, for the first time, speak openly about the violence she suffered in her first marriage…

Paul Burrell was Princess Diana’s rock for a decade… he’ll give viewers the inside track on the royals…

Almost 60 years ago, Irish born Paula Douglas was taken to America by her adoptive parents. It wasn’t until she saw [the film] Philomena that she began to question the circumstances around her own adoption. With no clues to her true identity, she appears on the Late Late on Friday to share her story…

Ryan will be making good on a promise made during the hugely popular The Late Late Show Country Special with legends of the Irish scene Big Tom and Margo in studio to perform their new duet ‘Through the Years’… and new music from Damien Dempsey.

It has everything, in fairness.

*chews foot*

Tonight.

On Fine Gael’s Facebook page.

At 8pm.

A debate between Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar (top) will be broadcast from the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin with Gavin Duffy acting as convenor.

Further debates will take place in Carlow tomorrow night; Ballinasloe, Co Galway on Saturday; and Cork on Sunday.

The debates take place ahead of next week’s vote – almost 21,000 Fine Gael party members (25%) and 235 local representatives (10%) early in the week, and 73 parliamentary party members (65%) on Friday, June 2.

Mr Varadkar’s 12-page Taking Ireland ‘policy ideas paper’ can be read here, while Mr Coveney’s 16-page Positive Strong Leadership paper can be read here

Fine Gael (Facebook)

Previously: ‘They’re Loud And They’re Growing’

Earlier: ‘Those People Are As Important To Me As People Who Pay For Everything’