Tens of thousands of computer-generated Garda summonses and DPP prosecutions could end up in a legal quagmire following submissions made to a County Galway court two weeks ago. Many summonses for excess alcohol offences are issued in this way pursuant to Section 1 of the Courts (No.3) Act of 1986.

In Ballinasloe District Court, solicitor Gearoid Geraghty sought to have a case thrown out on the grounds that the summons against his client was invalid because it failed to state that the Act under which it had been issued made no reference to the fact that the said Act had been amended by Section 49 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004.

While admitting that Mr Geraghty’s submission had ‘some merit’, Judge Geoffrey Browne ruled against it. However, Judge Browne did agree to refer the matter to the High Court where a decision will be taken at some time in the future. Consequently a whole bunch of similar cases have been adjourned pending a decision by the higher court. Such a case usually takes about six months to be dealt with but Judge Browne pointed out that it was possible that every other similar summons in the country would have to be adjourned pending the outcome. “If they are wise enough (the DPP’s Office) they will get their act together quickly”, declared the Judge.

It should be stressed that these are computer-generated charges and more serious charge-sheets will not be affected as they are not issued by the Central Administration Processing Unit.

A world first at Snow Patrol concert

A very interesting world first was created in Dingle last Saturday night during a recording of a Snow Patrol concert for the ‘Other Voices’ television series.

The first ever use of a process known as ‘optical burst switching’ took place during the live recording of the band in St. James’ Church. Optical burst switching means that InTune networks were able to show the show live in high definition across the road from the church in Brenner’s Hotel. People in the hotel were also be able to pick up the concert on personal devices such as laptops and mobile phones. The exercise is being hailed as the first step in creating a next generation of smart and green communications infrastructure for this country.

Failte Ireland’s Director of Strategic Development, Aidan Pender, described the event, and its use of world-first technology, as a wonderful example of this country’s creative innovation and would help to establish small, sustainable enterprises. I’m not sure about ‘optical burst switching’ but that is the kind of thing the TSSG Research Unit is doing very successfully out at WIT.

Outspoken Anglican priest has Waterford connections

The Church of Ireland Rector who made national headlines last week with his trenchant statements about Judge Yvonne Murphy’s Report into child abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin is no stranger to Waterford and Kilkenny.

The Reverend Stephen Neill, an Anglican priest based in Cloughjordan in North Tipperary where he is the local Rector, is son of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Winder Neill, who served as Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford, before becoming Bishop of Ossory based in Kilkenny.

Stephen Neill received part of his education at Newtown School in Waterford and, if memory serves me correctly, he was the person who traced President Barack Obama’s Irish roots.

He created quit a stir last week when he called for the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio, Giuseppe Leanza, and the temporary severing of diplomatic ties with the Vatican. Insisting that this State’s actions will demonstrate whether or not the Republic has really broken free from the ‘shackles’ of the Vatican, the Reverend Neill said some bishops had not only failed to protect children but had also let down the vast majority of clergy who were not abusers yet found themselves tarred with the same brush.

He also said he believed the ‘formation’ of priests should be investigated as he strongly suspected that the high incidence of child sexual abuse was related to compulsory celibacy. He said he wasn’t sure whether deviant individuals were attracted to a ‘Boys Only’ club with access to vulnerable children or if the repression of sexuality had led to twisted manifestations of sexual behaviour but he strongly suspected that both were factors.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with him, the Rev Neill certainly put his head above the parapet by wading into the argument given that he is a member of a different Christian Church. Of course, prevention of the abuse of children should be everybody’s business but it is still rare to see such strong ‘cross church’ comment because, despite there being excellent and cordial relations between the two churches at local level, it isn’t always that way at the top.

For instance, in England last week, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor was all set to become the first Roman Catholic clergyman in the House of Lords since the Reformation in the 1500s. However, the Cardinal has now felt it prudent to refuse the Life Peerage following objections from a number of his bishops.

Attraction works both ways

The lads called into the pub at the usual time one night last week and were surprised to find that one of their friends, Jimmy, was already sitting at the bar and it was obvious he had already had a couple of drinks. “How come you’re so early, you’re usually the last to arrive”, said one of his friends.

“Lads, I’m down in the dumps, big time”, said Jimmy glumly. “You all know that I never married because all my life I’ve been looking and waiting for the perfect woman. Well, today I found her. She is a few years younger than me, very beautiful with a wonderful personality and loads of money. And, when we got talking, I knew almost immediately that she was the one for me, my perfect woman.”

“But that’s wonderful”, said Jimmy’s friends, “you’ve been waiting for her all your life and now you’ve met her. What are so depressed about?”

“The trouble is”, said Jimmy, “is that she’s waiting for the perfect man and I’m not him.”