Friday 24 November 2017

Two million Germans tune in for Healy-Rae's drink-drive TV show

Danny Healy-Rae's controversial argument to relax drink-driving laws in rural areas has hit a new European audience.
Danny Healy-Rae's controversial argument to relax drink-driving laws in rural areas has hit a new European audience.
Francie, the pensioner who features in the ‘Spiegel TV’ programme which looked at proposals by Danny Healy-Rae
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

DANNY Healy-Rae's controversial argument to relax drink-driving laws in rural areas has hit a new European audience.

An estimated two million Germans tuned in to watch the publican councillor's debut on 'Spiegel TV' on Sunday night, an investigative magazine programme that has been running since 1989.

The segment featuring the Kerry councillor will be available on the 'Spiegel TV' website, which attracts an additional 100,000 hits per day, from tomorrow.

The proposal by Mr Healy-Rae caused uproar earlier this year when it was carried by Kerry County Council after it won the support of three other publican councillors and Mr Healy-Rae's son, Johnny.

The proposal called for legislation to be introduced that would allow gardai discretion to issue permits to rural dwellers that would allow them drive home after consuming "two or three pints".

Mr Healy-Rae insisted the proposal was intended to tackle rural isolation and an escalating suicide problem and was not an attempt to boost his own trade as a rural publican.

Since 2011 Ireland has had a 0.5mg blood/ alcohol limit, the same as Germany and other EU countries.

The 'Spiegel' programme that takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the proposal ponders the question: "Three Guinness is still ok, isn't it?" And it looks at the politician who is "fighting for more merriness".

Filmed in Kilgarvan in May, we meet 'Francie', a 70-year-old pensioner on his high stool in Healy-Rae's pub.

Francie, the narrator says, with his thick grey sideburns and green hat, looks exactly as you would imagine a real Irishman to look.

"He has always driven to the pub . . . how else could he get home?" the narrator asks.

"A man must be allowed to drink a few pints. He has a right to it. And by God, after two or three or four pints you should still be allowed on the road," says Francie, as he takes a slug of the brown soup in his glass.

According to 'Spiegel': "The voice of this folksy politician carries weight. Danny comes from an infamous political clan. His father Jackie was a member of parliament and irritated Irish city politicians like a poltergeist from the country for decades."

Producer Roman Lehberger insists his take on the issue isn't mocking but is presented with humour.

"The core of the story is a serious issue and one that resonates with a lot of Germans," he told the Irish Independent.

On his impressions of Mr Healy-Rae, he added: "He's a good-natured guy who really looks out for his people."

And as the segment ends, once again we meet Francie, who heads off into the sunset in his car.

Irish Independent

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