Friends of mine recently returned from a visit to the Canadian city of Toronto where their trip coincided with the G20 Summit of world leaders. As usual, there were many protestors on the streets, some of them extremely violent.

My friends stayed well clear of the action in which over 1,000 people were arrested. But they could hardly believe their eyes when they saw a photograph in the Toronto Globe Mail newspaper of police chiefs displaying a selection of weapons confiscated from the violent protestors. There were machetes, swords, knives, cans of spray-paint, slingshots with golf balls and there among all those weapons of destruction was a lone hurley! It was a well used hurley with a metal band and tape on its bos and bandage on its handle for better grip.

No doubt, down the centuries, hurleys were used as makeshift weapons in this country during various incidents but, as far as I know, this was the first time a hurley was used as a weapon against world leaders at a G20 Summit. Far be it for me to condone violence but, all the same, if the hurley as a weapon caught on internationally, it would prove to be an export bonanza for our local manufacturers.

Solicitor finds loophole in speeding cases

Considering the awful carnage that has occurred on our roads in recent weeks, I wouldn’t dream of being flippant about speed which, without doubt, really is one of the biggest contributors to death and injury for motorists.

But there are many motorists out there who feel aggrieved when they are caught in a speed-trap on certain stretches of road. They are fined and given penalty points for driving not too much over the odds and there is an ongoing debate over the usefulness and the merits of such prosecutions.

So, bearing that in mind, it has emerged that thousands of motorists were wrongly convicted of speeding over the last six years and they may now be able to have those convictions quashed.

A test case was taken to the High Court by Limerick solicitor, Dr Breda Hayes, who insisted that many people had been convicted of a non-existent offence over a long period of time and, as such, she maintained their convictions were unlawful and in breach of their fundamental human rights.

Dr Hayes explained that Section 5 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 only applied in cases where drivers were caught speeding in built-up areas which were clearly defined under the legislation as being an area of a city, town or borough. In the High Court it had been successfully argued that the townland of Castlequarter, near Toomevara on the main Limerick-Dublin road, was not defined under the law as a built-up area and, therefore, an essential ingredient of the alleged offence was missing.

The solicitor said she believed the number of people wrongly convicted over the years was substantial and the case had far reaching consequences for the State, particularly in respect of those who had received penalty points.

It would appear that the implication is that anybody convicted under Section 5, in any part of the country, can now investigate whether or not they were caught speeding in a built-up area that met the criteria of the Act.

Remembering The Miami Showband

It is 35 years ago this month that the Miami Showband massacre occurred. Younger listeners may not be too familiar with the atrocity which saw one of the most popular pop bands of the day being attacked by a Loyalist gang as they returned home to Dublin after playing a gig in Banbridge, County Down. God forbid anything like that should happen again but, I suppose, for the present day younger generation, it would be comparable to Boyzone or Westlife being gunned down.

Bass-player Stephen Travers from Carrick-on-Suir was riddled with bullets in the atrocity but, thankfully, he survived and is still a regular and welcome visitor to his native place. The musicians who died in a hail of bullets in the outrage were Tony Geraghty aged 23, Fran O’Toole aged 29 and Brian McCoy aged 32.

The same week, 35 years ago, our own Tom Dunphy from The Big Eight Showband, home on an Irish tour from Las Vegas, was killed in a car accident as he was driving to a gig in Donegal. Waterford keyboard player, Noel Ryan, was also in the car but, despite his injuries, he survived the crash and is now a respected Chiropractor with a busy practice in Waterford and the South East. A lot of people from the showband generation will surely reflect on the past and remember old friends at this time of year.

Even St Peter’s a producer!

A famous Hollywood director died and found himself outside the Golden Gates of Heaven where St Peter was already out front waiting for him. “Welcome, my son, God is pleased you are here but He wishes to send you back to earth where He wants you to direct one more movie.

But the director wasn’t happy. “Listen, St Peter, with all respect, I’ve had enough of life which hasn’t been easy for me in recent years and I’m just about ready for an eternity of carefree bliss. Anyway, I retired from making films years ago and I haven’t directed a movie in ages.”

“You don’t understand”, said St Peter, “we’re going to send you a score composed by Ludwig von Beethoven, a set by Leonardo de Vinci and a script written by William Shakespeare.”

That stopped the director in his tracks. “Wow, with all that talent at my disposal, how can I refuse, I’ll do it and it will be the movie of the century”, he predicted.

“That’s wonderful”, thrilled St Peter, “God will be so pleased. Now, there’s one other little thing, I have a girlfriend who is a super little singer and dancer. . . . ”