Married men of a certain age, beware. If you see Herself smiling sweetly at you or if you hear your children saying that your long distant wedding day must have been a great craic altogether, run for the hills and hide.

The reason for my warning? We all know about the few romantic (or drunk) couples that renew their marriage vows in the Elvis Chapel of Love in Las Vegas or on top of the Minaun in Cheekpoint but now clever fundraisers have cottoned on to the whole idea of ‘second marriages’ and nobody is safe.

A colleague of mine, who has been caught up in the brouhaha, tells me that the organisers of the Outreach Moldova Charity have persuaded no less than eight married couples to renew their vows in a joint bash to be held in Askeaton, County Limerick, in just over a week’s time. Now, of course, the work done by the charity in setting up and running an orphanage is wonderful and should be applauded and supported but could they not find some other way to raise funds?

Some of the couples got married in the 1960s but most are from the 1970s and 1980s. They will all dress up in their wedding finery and participate in a special ceremony in the local church and then go on to a slap-up meal and the usual ‘afters’ in a local hall. The money for charity is made by the organisers getting a cut out of all the proceedings but the big dosh comes from the family, friends and acquaintances of the happy couples who are all asked to pay €25 each for their invitations. You might have had one-hundred people at your original wedding but you can now have three-hundred at this one. In this instance, it really is a case of the more the merrier!

It will be all very well if both partners are up for it but I suspect that more than a few poor men, and probably a few poor women as well, will be dragged into it kicking and screaming before eventually bowing to the inevitable. Grrrr, Bah, Humbug.

Gardai draw wrath of Judge Neilan

District Court Judge, John Neilan, has inspired more than a few headlines in the past especially during his bouts with the former Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell.

Well, he was outspoken again at last week’s courts in Athlone and Longford.

More than a few people drew sharp intakes of breath when the Judge accused local gardai of engaging in a PR exercise in court and, at one stage, threatened to jail the prosecuting Garda inspector for allegedly laughing in court.

The exchanges occurred when the prosecution failed to produce a Book of Evidence during a remand hearing in a case involving a 46-year-old man accused of murder. When Inspector Paul Cuttle requested a further remand until July 30th., Judge Neilan wanted to know why the request had not been aired the previous week. Accusing the gardai involved of wanting to parade in front of the cameras, he asked where they trying to run a PR exercise in his court.

“I hope you all get your photographs taken outside the court and you can send them to the Commissioner who can throw darts at them if he wants”, declared the Judge.

Judge Neilan’s comments were addressed to Inspector Cuttle and, when the Inspector sat down, the Judge accused him of laughing and threatened to jail him for a week for contempt. “I saw you”, he said to the Inspector.

Then, Judge Neilan had a swipe at the Social Welfare Service at Longford District Court. Defence solicitor Brid Mimnagh, representing a couple from Latvia and Lithuania on theft charges, said her clients were in dire circumstances and the woman was very sick.

“Is there no agency that that can advance some allowance to this couple”, asked the Judge. “I’m speechless”, he said, “because this is a country that boasts about all the aid it provides worldwide. We can send people out to Africa and our troops to Chad but are there any Good Samaritans in our government offices at home. I’m amazed at the situation”, he said.

Before adjourning the case, Judge Neilan complimented the court interpreter on his ability to speak Latvian, Lithuanian and Russian. “I have three languages myself”, he confided, “Irish, English and Bad!”

Slow down and speed up!

While there is no doubt that speed causes countless accidents, it is right that somebody has, at long last, addressed the problems caused by snail-paced drivers.

The Road Safety Officer for County Mayo, Mr. Noel Gibbons, spoke out last week and said that slow drivers, who held up other road users, joined speed-merchants as being culpable in the toll of carnage on our roads.

Appealing to motorists to drive at speeds appropriate to the conditions, or else give way to vehicles stuck behind, Mr. Gibbons said such drivers unknowingly contributed to other motorists making overtaking manoeuvres that were sometimes fatal. Very slow driving often amounted to driving without due care and attention, he said.

He pointed out that, in 2006, almost 3 per cent of collisions were caused by improper overtaking and reminded motorists that it was not an offence to pull onto the hard-shoulder briefly, provided there were no pedestrians or cyclists present, and allow a tailback of traffic to pass by.

That said, the Road Safety Officer stressed that fast moving vehicles did not have the right to bully or intimidate slower moving traffic.

Unbridled amusement

Sligo County Council’s new Chairman had a somewhat embarrassing start to his year in office. Minutes after being elected Chairman of the local authority, Councillor Jude Devins suffered the political equivalent of the commentator who praises a footballer just before he misses a penalty or a jockey described as going well before falling at the next fence.

Once installed in the chair, Councillor Devins informed his colleagues that, before commencing business, he wanted to lay down the law regarding mobile phones in the chamber. He wanted all phones to be switched off and, even if they were kept on ‘silent’, the members were not to deal with any calls during the course of the meeting.

According to the report, the new Chairman was so forceful in his instruction that, there and then, several members immediately whipped out their phones and turned them off. Then, just as they were settling down, the calm in the council chamber was shattered by a loud, persistent ringing that kept going until the red-faced Chairman realised that his own phone was the offending item!

In what may well be a mischievous understatement, According to reports, the Chairman’s acute embarrassment caused unbridled amusement in the crowded room.

An under the table affair

John and Mary were having dinner in a certain city restaurant on Saturday night last and it was noticeable to other diners from their body language and the way they held hands that they had eyes only for each other. But, then, their waitress, taking another order at a table a few feet away, noticed that John was ever so slowly sliding down his chair and under the table. Mary, meanwhile, seemed unconcerned.

The waitress watched as John slid all the way down his chair until he was completely under the table and out of sight. All the while, Mary remained calm and unruffled, so much so that the waitress felt obliged to act.

“Excuse me, madam, but your husband has just slid under the table”, she said, in a worried voice. Mary looked at her, a grim expression on her face. “Actually, he hasn’t, he’s just walked in the door”, she replied.