Spas should sort out our Troubles: Just pool it together!

John Coulter with his column from the Irish Daily Star. The piece initially fetaured in Newshound on 5 March 2014.

Forget the Haass proposals, the North needs a network of sexy spas and relaxing thermal baths to take the icy chill out of the current peace process impasse on supposed secret deals.

I once spent some of the most memorable and chilled-out couple of hours of my life in Budapest's plush and famous Gellert spa.

With the North drawing Hungary in the qualifying matches of the 2016 European soccer tournament, a mind-blowing trip to a Budapest spa must also be on the cards for the Green and White Army.

With the massive shake-up coming to the North's councils with the existing 26 being remodelled into 11 so-called super councils, I pray the new super councillors take the wise decision to install at least one municipal spa in each council location.

The spa system of thermal bathing has the reputation of curing health problems, and with the rising costs of leisure centres and swimming pools, surely the new councils should invest instead in a network of professional public spas.

The Gellert spa I visited over Halloween even had a heated outdoor pool with a relaxing water jet.

Given the amount of money Irish people spend on pain killers, anti-depressants, tranquillisers, and sleeping tablets, the pill bill could be slashed if people chilled out instead in municipal spas

But don't image you'll get a traditional Irish reflexology session with sweet-smelling candles, soft music and gentle pats.

My masseuse was very professional, but she could have been cast as a prison guard in the classic hit TV drama, Prisoner Cell Block H. I knew my muscles had been massaged!

In an era where we have to take a more indepth interest in a healthy lifestyle, public thermal baths where everyone can enjoy the joys of a spa and massage would be of tremendous benefit for society.

Traditionally, the concept of the spa seems to be the prerogative of the well-off prawn sandwich brigade.

But the one good element post war communism brought to Hungarian citizens was to make the spas available to the ordinary workers.

The north already has a magnificent range of swimming pools which ordinary families can enjoy.

If people were to spend more time in municipal spas, could existing enemies be so chilled out, we could solve so many of our sectarian problems?

If the Churches supposedly care for our spiritual health; GPs cater for our physical health, why not have that network of spas to gently massage our mental health into tip-top condition?

Would sectarian tensions be eased if more people spent the time in the spa – and especially the steam room – rather than being stressed-out at religious interfaces.

For the Hungarian people, and especially the Budapest citizens, their spas are not the locations for sleazy erotic films.

The spas have become major tourist attractions, and the Hungarians take a real pride in the healing properties of their thermal baths.

If Stormont was to copy the Budapest model, in years to come, perhaps a visit to an Irish municipal spa would be nearly as attractive as the Fermanagh lakes or the Giant's Causeway.

I live in hope. Meantime, roll on that football match in Budapest!


  1. John-

    That would go down well with the rate payers-a free spa in each council-they will be looking free drinks next-

  2. Good idea, the hot springs in Japan and Korea are a joy so if anything like those happy days. They have to be segregated though, females and males don't use the same pool coz everyone is naked.


    Free drinks? What do you call expenses?

  3. Michael Henry
    If the shinners stopped indulging in freebies the people would be able to get a wee bit more.

    You call the Sinn Fein finance department the hub of all funding.