Luck of the Irish
While much of America is tightening its drunk-driving laws, a county in southwestern Ireland has put those laws into reverse. According to the Kerry County Council, at least, it’s now legal for rural residents to drive home from the local pub after throwing back a few pints. Passed with a vote of five to three, the controversial council motion will culminate next month in the creation of a special permit that will allow rural drinkers to drive drunk.
[Insert politically incorrect wisecrack about the Irish love of drinking here.]
Lauded by Independent Councilor Danny Healy-Rae, the law is meant to “help prevent depression and suicide in isolated country areas.” While addressing the Council, Healy-Rae – presumably sober at the time – argued that rural residents typically drive home from a pub on rural roads with very little traffic and that they “have never killed anyone.” The new law will, he insists, bring back an important social activity for lonely people that had been lost, thanks to recent and ever-stricter drunk-driving laws.
No one will be surprised to learn that Healy-Rae owns a pub himself in nearby Kilgarvan, County Kerry. He argued that his customers are traveling very minor roads, and are often on tractors. “It’s not right,” he says, “they’re being treated the same as the rest of the traveling public.”
Ireland’s Road Safety Authority spokesman, Noel Brett, has countered Healy-Rae’s argument by pointing out that, to date, the greatest number of road accident deaths and injuries have occurred in rural locations.
None of this would fly in hyper-vigilant America, where one can’t even get away with abusing one’s own children without the cops swooping in. Forty-two-year-old William Province, for instance, was arrested in Jefferson County, Montana, last month and charged with allegedly water-boarding four boys, two of whom were his own sons.
Province was hauled away from a Montana airport, where he’d just returned from a trip to Alaska, and charged with subjecting the boys, the youngest of whom was nine, to a water-torture technique that simulates drowning. Province reportedly claimed that he meant the exercise as a “learning experience.”
Earlier that week, a man named Kirill Bartashevitch was charged with threatening his high school-age daughter and allegedly pointing a just purchased AK-47 at her head. The child had, according to police reports, brought home a report card with two Bs on it, rather than the straight As that her father expected.
Bartashevitch, who is Irish, was reportedly sober at the time.