An Irish councillor wants special licences for rural drunk drivers. What would Flann O'Brien say?

Plus: Beyonce? Lip-syncing the national anthem? How very dare you!


A rare old row has broken out in Ireland over the question of whether people living in rural areas should be given “permits” to drink and drive.

The motion comes from an independent councillor, Danny Healy-Rae, who argued that, since the drink-driving laws were tightened up in 2011, people in rural districts never visit pubs and have become more lonely. Painting a heartbreaking picture, he explained that “the only outlet they have is to take home a bottle of whiskey, and they’re falling into depression, and suicide for some of them is the sad way out”.

Remarking that the lonesome rustics travel on “very minor roads, often on tractors, with very little traffic, and it’s not right they’re being treated the same as the rest of the travelling public – they have never killed anyone”, he suggested they should be allowed by the Gardai (police) to drive home from a pub “after having two or three drinks, on little used roads, driving on very low speeds”. The plan was approved by Kerry County Council by five votes to three, and is now before the Minister of Justice. Labour councillors are incensed and incredulous.

I love this story. I can’t help wondering what Myles na Gopaleen would have made of it (Myles being the journalistic nom de guerre of the great novelist Flann O’Brien.) His Irish Times column used to poke fun at “the Plain People of Ireland” and at the moral corkscrews that politicians use for brains. How he would have enjoyed pointing out that Councillor Healy-Rae is the proprietor of a Kerry pub, as are three of the councillors who voted in favour of his motion, and that Healy-Rae’s suggestion that the lonesome cease imbibing after “two or three drinks” must have come after a long wrestle with his conscience (“Could I say four pints? How about four and a Jameson chaser? Could I get away with five?…”)

He’d have loved Healy-Rae’s picturing of the little bog roads of Kerry and their pitiful traffic – the odd lonesome tractor wending its miserable way home to the cottage whose owner will spend the evening listlessly peeling spuds, saying the Rosary and staring at the wall. He’d have contrasted this with the prospect of the little bog roads becoming Silverstone racetracks of squealing tyres and burning rubber, as drink-maddened tractor drivers slalom homicidally past each other.

He’d also, I suspect, have considered the wider application of the motion, which suggests that people should be treated differently from everyone else if they’re unhappy. So should Kerry people whose lives are lacking in excitement have a permit to burgle the houses of their neighbours, watch TV in their reception rooms and make off with no more than two (possibly three) souvenirs?

How could her critics sync so low?

I can’t understand the whingeing about Beyoncé’s fabulous rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Obama’s re-inauguration. A woman from the Marine Corps Band, which accompanied her, said they’d pre-recorded the backing music and Queen Bey had mimed to a studio-recorded vocal. I don’t believe a word of it. OK, she may have sung over a studio-recorded version, but c’mon – that wasn’t lip-syncing. She was singing her heart out. She was singing her fabulous butt off. If it was over a pre-recording, she was doing a perfect duet with her own voice. And what could possibly be wrong with that?

Twitter: @JohnHenryWalsh

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before