Kim Bielenberg: If you didn't laugh, you'd nearly cry (into your beer)
Published 23/01/2013 | 17:00
THE Healy-Raes have done it again. They have proved that politics in this country sometimes veers between the fanciful, the absurd and the downright surreal.
Danny Healy-Rae has successfully pushed a motion through Kerry County Council calling for permits to be issued to rural motorists allowing them to drive home after "two or three" drinks.
In others words, for the first time in the history of the world, a local council has approved a plan for licences for drink-drivers.
Kerry County Council will now write to Justice Minister Alan Shatter asking for the booze permits to be issued. The chances of this happening are about as likely as the mullahs of Iran handing out licences for public strip shows in Tehran.
The script writers of 'Father Ted' would surely have rejected a storyline involving gardai handing out drink-driving permits. It would just be too far-fetched and stage Oirish. But that was the bizarre vista conjured up by Healy-Rae as he proposed his motion. He envisaged special licences for isolated old gents living in mountain passes who, as he put it, had no access to the DART. This could help prevent suicide, said Healy-Rae, and I am told, he had his tongue firmly out of his cheek.
The prospect of steering a path down lonely boreens on dark nights with drink taken, passing only sheep, would make the lives of isolated country folk worth living.
Or so we have been led to believe by Mr Healy-Rae.
Some questions were left unanswered after this statesmanlike intervention. Will there be provisional drink-driving licences for those who are learning how to motor along while two or three sheets to the wind?
Will these tippling tyro motorists have to be accompanied by a drunk?
Perhaps the semi-fluthered drivers should have to travel with DD (drink-driving) plates.
The Healy-Rae family, of course, has form on this issue. Danny's father, retired TD Jackie, has been a relentless campaigner in favour of drink-driving. In 2009, Jackie Healy-Rae opposed new limits, and said: "Alcohol has nothing whatsoever to do with the number of people being killed on our roads."
The family has virtually turned the plight of the oppressed rural motorist, confined to their home by an overbearing state, into a human rights issue.
The right to motor in a tipsy state in a car or tractor along the public highway in Co Kerry could be enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
There is only one viable solution to the problem of thirsty country dwellers being unable to get home from the pub without attracting the attention of gardai.
Instead of the customers driving to the publicans, the publicans could drive to the customers.
Mobile pubs could circulate around the highways and byways of Ireland while customers get tanked up without fear of prosecution.
And then, at closing time, they would be dropped off at their gates.
That surely makes more sense than issuing permits to drink-drivers.