News Ian O'Doherty

Tuesday 23 September 2014

First they came for your sunbeds

Published 17/04/2014 | 02:30

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The developing gap between the religious importance of events like Communion and Confirmation and their growing commercial and secular importance is really only an indicator, for me, of the growing disconnection that is appearing between what values we hope the schools are teaching our children and what values we actually believe in and try to live by
The developing gap between the religious importance of events like Communion and Confirmation and their growing commercial and secular importance is really only an indicator, for me, of the growing disconnection that is appearing between what values we hope the schools are teaching our children and what values we actually believe in and try to live by

There was a time when anybody who argued that the Government and the various arms of the State were intent on turning every one of us into one docile, feeble-minded flock of sheep was dismissed as some sort of weird, American-y crackpot.

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That can be attributed to a number of factors, not least of which is the profound Irish misunderstanding about what a democracy is and what it means to be free.

And, let's be honest – the Irish like rules. Forget the usual old guff about the Fightin' Irish or the infantile, romantic nonsense about us being an inherently rebellious people. In fact, it's a myth cheerfully propagated by a governing class which knows that, when push comes to shove, we will always look to our elders and betters and assume that they know what they are doing.

But the truth, as we have learned to our cost, is that the governing classes haven't a bloody clue. In fact, most of them are so busy wasting time and cooking their expenses that they remain in smug, blissful ignorance of how the real world works. And the danger with such a disconnected elite is that, sooner or later, they will start to inflict their ideas on the rest of us.

There's no need to smear ourselves in the stale ash of the smoking debate. But make no mistake, the argument that this was being done to protect bar staff was a convenient Trojan horse to get their ideas into law. This was never about health and safety in the workplace, this was about social engineering and using a cynical sideshow to win an argument that would never have been won if they had simply told us the truth – these people don't like smoking and they don't want you to smoke.

Having scored a success on that front, they have now moved onto other areas which meet their thin-lipped disapproval. We've seen the spectacularly stupid and utterly ineffective introduction of calorie counters in restaurants, just to remind you that Matron is keeping an eye on you. In fact, we are bombarded daily with stern lectures about how we should be living our lives and the latest assault on our personal freedoms is a rather unlikely one – sun beds.

The increasingly inept Minister for Health seems to have spent most of his time in office trying to put out fires that he started himself and he has spent the last few years looking like an increasingly pissed-off Brendan Grace as he tries to distract us from his manifest failings as a politician.

When in doubt, or in trouble, start telling people what to do.

And so we come to sun beds. In what must be the most fatuously obvious case of someone shrieking 'think about the children', Reilly wants to introduce a total ban on people under the age of 18 using tanning machines. And why the urgency?

Well, it's Communion season, 'innit?

It's that time of the year when idiot parents like to send their little Shakira or Kylie or Rihanna to the local tanning salon. Now, banning people under 18 from using tanning machines in time for Communion season begs one question – how many 17-years-olds will be making their Communion this year?

Is he really trying to protect seven-year-olds? Or is he just increasing the scope of his prohibitionist tendencies by playing the kiddie card and, in one fell swoop, dragging teenagers into the dragnet of his pious disapproval as well?

Well, what do you think? He is only doing what he's doing because that's what happens when you give people power – they will always, always, always abuse it. Which is usually why the very people who want to go into politics are the last people who should be allowed near it.

But there's more – because Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín ó Caoláin, in cahoots with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, wants to ban adults with fair skin topping up their tan as well. This time, they want to force people with pale skin to get a certificate from their doctor giving them permission to toast themselves.

What next? A cert from your quack every time you go out for something to eat saying you have a permission slip to order steak or butter-based sauces?

So remember – Nanny knows best and you aren't to be trusted to make decisions for you and your family.

And only a crank would have a problem with that, wouldn't they?

A very Irish solution

So, you won't be able to go for a beer tomorrow because it's Good Friday – one of those bizarre concessions to the Church that have no place in a civilised society. Or indeed, a civilised Catholic society, because the Spanish and Italians have no such prohibition.

But you won't be able to place a bet, either. Because that is apparently against Jesus' wishes or something. But hark! Actually, you will be able to place bets – just online or on your phone.

You see, it's just the bookies that are closed.

Remember that fact the next time someone in Government complains about the scourge of online gambling.

Now that's top-class parenting

So, a young English couple have just announced their baby joy. A very young couple. In fact, the father is 12 and the mother is 13.

As you can imagine, babies having babies is a rather touchy topic, and presumably the grandfather is a bit put out that his child has given birth at a time when the only thing she should be playing with is her My Little Pony?

Not a bit of it. In fact he turned up on radio to say that he was "proud" of his kid and she had done nothing to be ashamed of.

That's a Jeremy Kyle special waiting to happen.

But remember, you mustn't judge.

That would be mean.

Irish Independent

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