Lifestyle

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Last orders for rural barstool blather, please

Rural pubs may be in decline but much of what passes for 'rural rage' is barstool blather of the most cock-eyed variety. Take Danny Healy-Rae's promotion of drink-driving permits for country-dwellers: only somebody who has spent way too long in the local shebeen could endorse the Kerry councillor's call for the introduction of what would quickly become a licence to kill.

Public criticism of Healy-Rae's daft suggestion was dismissed by some belligerent bumpkins as a manifestation of our old friend, anti-rural bias.

In the blinkered worldview of rustic militants, the country people who matter most are inveterate booze-hounds who demand the right to drive while over the legal alcohol limit. It doesn't seem to occur to Healy-Rae or his cheerleaders that the likely casualties of this crackpot policy – the pedestrians who could be knocked down, for instance – would also be members of the rural community.

Like everywhere else, the countryside has an abundance of very real social problems. Rural poverty is on the increase, as many citizens find themselves confined to an income that allows them to live for about half the time they are expected to live on it. Despite such hardship, however, self-styled champions of country life remain preoccupied with trivial distractions, like perceived restrictions on the civil liberties of drink-drivers.

Bar-room bleating should not be mistaken for authentic rural opinion.

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