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Smacking stalwarts dig in As parents spare the rod

> SMACKING children is a precious right for the mammy, and maybe even more for the dada.

Matt Cooper opened the ultimate can of worms with the comment: "It is not legal to give an adult a smack, but it is legal to give a child a smack if you're its parent or guardian."

But then he rolled out the statistics -- and, astonishingly, only one parent in three now believes in the clip on the ear.

But some still do -- Wexford Fianna Fail senator Jim Walsh defended the smack -- including "the odd slap on the hand as we got when we were at school".

How a simple phrase can bring you back to another time. Instantly I was in a freezing west of Ireland schoolroom reeking of turf smoke and urine, where we children stood in a circle spelling out words in Irish and English.

One family in that schoolroom had the drawn faces of poverty, their foreheads already lined from stress.

The teacher had asked a spelling of one of these brothers, and he failed it. She took his hand, clenched it into a fist and turned it so she could batter his knuckles with the thick end of the stick. Silent, he sucked in his lips and clenched the hand under his armpit. Tears poured down his face.

But back to those little slaps. A small slap is fine, said Jim, "as long as it's done in a way to get a message across to the child that they must behave themselves".

Just the thing to set bad boys right.

> For those bad boys, news just in -- The Colm and Lucy Show revealed that the average woman's bag contains goods worth €200: mobile phone, MP3 player, purse, etc.

And now the lads, too, are carrying man-bags, or as they call them in some parts of France, a baise-en-ville (or "shag-in-town", because it contains just enough for the Frenchman's overnight stay).

> Back in January, 2007 Judith Tonge contacted Liveline. Her story led to the Wildlife Bill that crossed the gap on Tuesday, pursued by a baying pack of politicians.

Judith was back this week, retelling her story of a hunted stag leaping the high railings around her son's school. "The pack of hounds chasing it also went into the school yard just as the children were coming out at 3 o'clock." There was mayhem, teachers and parents trying to grab children out of the way of hounds and terrified deer, while the riders milled around the road where parents park.

It all sounded like something out of The Irish RM.

Next up will be the folkies of the Dail defending the bizarre desire of farmers to have six breeding bitches on their farms at a time.

> Colm and Lucy's listeners rang in about end-of-year presents for teachers. One group of parents got together, a listener said, and gave a tenner each, collecting €200.

You wouldn't want to have six kids in school!

A teacher said what she loved was handmade cards from the children. Colm suggested a charitable donation. I'd suggest brownies, made with sticky little fingers and love.

> If you're up at 7am tomorrow, or looking for something to listen to on Sunday at 6pm, try Newstalk for The Trad Counsel, a documentary on a Sligo village where everyone plays traditional music.

The Last Word, Today FM, weekdays

The Colm and Lucy Show, RTE 2FM, weekdays

Liveline, RTE Radio 1, weekdays

The Trad Counsel, Newstalk, this weekend


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