Friday 20 October 2017

McGrath is right, it's time we gave our beleaguered smokers a break

Actress Lauren Bacall pictured with a cigarette in 1965. Today, the absolute intolerance of smoking is a kind of neo-puritanism, and junior minister Finian McGrath was pilloried for suggesting pubs and restaurants might set aside special smoking areas. Photo: AP
Actress Lauren Bacall pictured with a cigarette in 1965. Today, the absolute intolerance of smoking is a kind of neo-puritanism, and junior minister Finian McGrath was pilloried for suggesting pubs and restaurants might set aside special smoking areas. Photo: AP
David Quinn

David Quinn

Irish politics is often a form of virtue signalling. It has probably always been so, but given how tyrannical political correctness has become, the ways in which politicians are now allowed to signal their virtue has become more and more constrained, and more and more subject to censure when they step out of line.

Consider the example this week of poor Finian McGrath, our new Super Junior Minister attached to the Department of Health with special responsibility for disability services.

Finian seems like a decent egg, and for the most part he holds very safe, politically correct views. But Finian is a smoker and as such he has a bit of human sympathy for other smokers. He wondered out loud, therefore, whether we should cut the poor, beleaguered smoking community of Ireland - an oppressed and persecuted minority if ever there was one - a bit of slack.

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