Publicans around the country have launched a concerted attack on proposals for a further reduction in the legal alcohol limit for driving. The Vintners Federation of Ireland is insisting that a further cut in the legal limit is totally unwarranted and will do nothing to save lives.

Claiming that most people had already ‘got the message’ about alcohol and driving, the VFI said last week that reducing the limit to less than a pint of beer would have no impact on road deaths but it would criminalise decent people and would rip the social fabric of rural Ireland even further apart.

The Federation said most drunk drivers involved in accidents were three or four times over the limit and pointed out that respected Donegal Coroner, Dr. John Madden, had publicly stated that he rarely came across accidents where people had between 50 and 80 milligrammes of alcohol in their blood.

It has to be acknowledged that the vintners have a vested interest in the situation but it also has to be acknowledged that a great many people agree with their stance. Of course, no responsible person could condone people getting behind the wheel of a car while their ability is diminished by the consumption of alcohol. That said, no two persons have the same metabolism and it would appear that people who are socially sober and responsible are being convicted because of the current legal level. If the level is reduced then a great many more decent, law abiding citizens will end up with criminal records.

Indeed, the government would be well advised to take a second look at a number of other ‘rules and regulations’ that criminalise ordinary, hard-working people. The fishing industry is one obvious area that springs to mind and the obsession with petty driving regulations continues to build up a reservoir of resentment among large sections of the population.


Britney should come to Ferrybank and get well

As regular readers will know, I have a lot of time for singer/songwriter Sinead O’Connor but I was disappointed recently when she stated on Oprah Winfrey’s US television show that troubled singer Britney Spears should do herself a favour and move to Ireland and Longford in particular.

I would whole heartedly agree with Sinead that six, no-nonsense months in Ireland would do Britney the world of good but I would have preferred if she had suggested that the US superstar should immerse herself in the everyday life of Ferrybank as opposed to Longford. If the Village was good enough for your granny, Sinead, it should be good enough for Britney!

For instance, we in The Munster Express would happily employ Britney on a part-time basis to work on the music and fashion pages. And, after a few weeks joining in the smoke-free sing-songs in Paddy Flynn’s Pub, her vocal chords would be refreshed and rejuvenated. Then there is physical fitness and, even if she didn’t want to play in any of the matches, Britney could train with the Ferrybank GAA teams after which she would be super fit for any concert in the world.

And, finally, if Britney felt the need for male company and it wasn’t available in Ferrybank (highly improbable) she would have a huge array of top class specimens to choose from, especially if she ventured across the river to Blaaland and the Saturday night fleshpots of the Carstand area.

A different looking camogie team

There are several trains of thought out there at present regarding the wearing of religious garb by devout members of different religions. One controversy that has been to the fore in recent years is the insistence by some members of the Muslim community that they be permitted to wear headscarves or hijaabs at school and at work.

Some say it is the thin edge of the wedge and, if they succeed in that regard, it will lead to more unreasonable demands down the road that impinge even further on traditional Western society. Already, many public buildings such as hospitals, much to the chagrin of the majority in this country, do not feature cribs in their foyers at Christmas in case it indicates a preference for the Christian faith. Others point out that clothing is only clothing and if people want to wear certain garb because of their religious beliefs, then that’s their own business and let them off.

Not too far away from us in Gorey, County Wexford, a sign of that town’s growing multiculturalism is highlighted by a recent development at the Naomh Eannna GAA Club. The club has pledged to do its bit for integration by accommodating the needs of Muslim girls who play on their teams. There is a growing Muslim community in Gorey and a decision has been taken that girls will be permitted to wear their headscarves or hijaabs underneath their protective helmets when they play camogie and they can also wear track-suit bottoms as opposed to the usual short skirts.

One family taking advantage of the situation are the Egans who moved to Gorey from Saudi Arabia five months ago. Shekina (14), Shakura (12) and Shakira (8) are all keen players and active members of the club. Their father, Liam Egan, said the respect shown by the Naomh Eanna Club towards the Muslim religion was wonderful, especially when one considered the rise in bigotry and Islamophobia across Europe. The club’s gesture was the kind of thing that united people as opposed to dividing them, he said. Mr. Egan is originally from Gorey and converted to Islam some years ago.

No doubt Mr. Egan is a decent, respectable man and I’m sure the well intentioned Naohm Eanna officials are equally so but, to be honest, I think they have made a mistake by agreeing to let young girls wear hijaabs beneath their helmets in what is a contact sport. I would have a variety of reasons for saying that, not least of which is the fact that camogie is a contact sport and all that involves.


It doesn’t happen with our TDs!

Former Kerry footballer and Fine Gael TD, Jimmy Deenihan, was in the news last week but only indirectly when it emerged that his re-election victory celebration had ended on a sour note.

This is actually a found-on story from Listowel District Court where the owner of The Angler’s Rest Bar in Finuge was charged with a breach of the licensing laws on a date in May of last year. Inspector Joe Moore told the court gardai entered the premises at 1.25am, an hour after closing time, and found that the place was bopping. A band was playing with gusto and 72 people were singing and dancing even though no exemption was in operation.

Stressing that the owner of the bar, Ms. McCarthy, ran a very efficient and proper house, defence solicitor Helena O’Carroll explained to Judge Mary O’Halloran that a victory dance to celebrate Jimmy Deenihan’s re-election to the Dail had been in progress and, in the euphoria of the night, the function went over time. Pleading for leniency, Ms. O’Carroll suggested that the offence wasn’t on the extreme side of ‘after hours’. After considering the evidence, Judge O’Halloran imposed a conviction and a fine of €550.

Is it that the lads in Kerry know how to have a better time than us or are we just dull by comparison? I heard of no such party when Martin Cullen, Brendan Kenneally, Brian O’Shea and John Deasy got re-elected.


A foolish question

A woman got a taxi home with her weekly shop from the supermarket one evening last week and, as she was fumbling in her handbag for her purse to pay the driver, he noticed that she had a television remote control unit in the bag. “Do you always carry the television remote control with you when you go shopping”, asked the taxi driver in a somewhat sarcastic tone.

The woman stared him straight in the eyes for a moment before replying. “It’s actually none of your business”, she said in a cold voice, “but, if you really want to know, my husband refused to come shopping with me and taking away his remote control was the worst thing that I could do to him legally.” She didn’t give the driver a tip and he vamoosed as quick as he could.