The unusual mindset of the Irish

The Irish public have some sort of perverse need to wallow in other people’s misery.

People see what was once a leading business in their town go into receivership (and unfortunately there have been too many of those ) and the snide remark takes the form of: “They got too big for their boots anyway” or “that will take them down a peg or two”.

It always amazes me when you hear devout football supporters hurling dog’s abuse at a lad playing for their rival club and the following Sunday, when he lines out for the county, the same person nearly jumping his bones coming off the pitch in the stampede to shake his hand and heap praise on him.

The hypocrisy of it all is remarkable and so narrow-minded. But it’s life.

It’s also a part of life that despite our laws, people will always twist, bend and break them and find themselves hauled before the courts.

A stuttering young fella, with a tear in the corner of his eye and his shoulders hunched in shame as mammy and daddy cower in the back of the court for fear of being recognised, hadn’t bargained for this when he and his friends, following a Paddy’s Day bender, hurled abuse at the garda on foot patrol. Fuelled by alcohol, a pinch of testosterone, and a dose of adrenaline, the gang of them thought they were having great ‘oul craic until things got out of control and one usually quiet fellow got mouthy to the garda, wouldn’t leave the area when asked and ended up with a public order conviction for his troubles.

The neighbours would be having a field day in his honour. “Mammy’s boy. Top of the class. Home from college. Thought he was above the law. Look where that got him.” You can picture the scene yourself.

Newsrooms are oh so familiar with the sound of the mammy’s voice on the phone. Please don’t put Tommy’s case in the paper. Granny doesn’t know anything about it and she loves your paper and if she sees it she will die. (Literally ). And she has heart problems. And this will tip her over the edge. Unfortunately part of the punishment of finding yourself before the courts in Ireland is that your case is heard in public.

And there are times when you wonder is it in the public interest to publish a particular case given what can often be very personal circumstances leading up to and surrounding the actual offence.

That brings me around to drink driving. It’s drink driving cases that attract the most phone calls and pleading to have them ‘left out’.

But anyone who knowingly drinks alcohol and takes command of a vehicle, in the knowledge that they are flouting the law and putting people’s lives at risk, should be named and shamed.

No one denies that the pub trade is on its knees and having to reinvent itself. That’s not all down to the new strict drink driving laws but also due to a cultural shift in attitude. Social isolation is also a serious concern.

Thank God fewer lives are being lost on Irish roads than ever before. A lot of this is down to greater road safety awareness.

But then you have a county council in Kerry looking for drink driving permits for people living in rural Kerry. Are they seriously living in the real world? No one denies that rural Ireland is in decline and isolation is a problem that needs serious consideration. But to suggest that allowing people to drink and drive would be some form of a solution is ludicrous. Shame on the Kerry county councillors who supported this motion and dare to risk the safety and lives of road users. You’d wonder did they enjoy a tipple themselves before that particular meeting.


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