The man from London was astounded: “I just don’t get the rally!” He had witnessed the pouring of Fairy Liquid on a stretch of road to help the halfwits spin with even greater venom and was aghast that ordinary motorists would have to traverse the same stretch the following morning.
“The downside of Donegal” he added. I agreed, as I have for years, and before the usual suspects start whinging about the millions that come in to the county, we have to ask: “Is it worth it?”
At Drumkeen, to add to the ubiquitous tyre burn marks along the tarmac, someone had dumped two bags of rubbish smack bang in the middle of the road. At 11.30 am on Saturday, outside the shopping centre doors, three yokels (from Leitrim, I established) were so drunk, that not only could they hardly stand, but they thought it was fun to smash their bottles on the ground. Elsewhere I saw youths sitting on walls and in the carparks, drinking....some carried 24 packs of beer. What is the position regarding drinking in public in Letterkenny?
Under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, it is an offence for you to be so drunk in a public place that you could reasonably be presumed to be a danger to yourself or to anyone around you. If found guilty of this offence, you could be liable to a class E fine and a member of the Garda Siochana can confiscate any alcohol you may be carrying.
It is illegal for a licence holder to sell alcohol in a closed container (i.e., can or bottle) for consumption off the premises in a place 100 metres from the premises. If you purchase alcohol in this way, you could be liable for a class E fine. While there is no national legislation prohibiting drinking in public, each local authority area is entitled to pass bye-laws prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in a public place. It’s about time we passed such a bye-law here.
On Sunday, about an hour before the Donegal/Tyrone match, ‘supporters’ of both teams walked the streets of the town drinking openly, many of them drunk already, and outside one hotel, the sound of glasses breaking added to the intimidatory atmosphere.
Meanwhile, ‘souped-up’ Sam and his friends caught in the traffic jam on the main street, revved and growled, spewed smoke and ensured that genuine rally fans and families steered clear of this exhibition of neanderthal gobshitery.
The gardaí did their level best in the face of what seemed to be to be insurmountable odds. There were more than 85 arrests and Inspector Michael Harrison said he wanted to stress that the rally was incredibly-well marshalled and those arrested were not genuine rally fans.
“We probably had a bigger crowd coming into Donegal last weekend than we have had for a long time. And yet there was no serious injury during the rally. It was actually a pleasure to police. The organisers of the rally, the Donegal Motor Club, go to extraordinary lengths to ensure safety and that has to be stressed. Those arrested are not genuine rally fans and most do not even go out and attend the stages of the rally but are only here to cause trouble.”
Michael, I have great respect for you as a policeman but I also know from your rank-and-file that it most definitely was not ‘a pleasure to police’. It was most certainly not a pleasure to witness the invasion of our county by drunken yobs and if they are not genuine rally fans, it’s about time we considered a Rally Brexit and keep them the hell out!
I know it may sound impractical, but judging by the shape of some of the motors, surely prevention is better than cure, and non-roadworthy unlicensed, untaxed vehicles could be stopped at three or four heavily policed junctures. Yes, I know...resources, resources!
For far too long in Donegal, we have tiptoed around this glaring problem because of economic and tourism considerations, and ignored the concerns of the decent law-abiding citizens who want to watch the rally in peace.
I made a point last weekend to observe it on the fringes...I was ashamed and disgusted.
IT’S ONLY FOOTBALL!
The imbecile who left a disgusting message about Rory Gallagher in Highland Radio on Sunday evening should hang his head in shame. Had he met many of the shell shocked team some hours after Clones, he would have seen that the young guys in particular were hurt and baffled to the core and despite the brave faces of the more experienced heads, this hurt like hell.
As Eamonn McGee reminded them on Highland, ‘this is a learning curve’.
The hurlers on the ditch will always have a field day but we live to fight another day.
As regards Longford, I happen to know their manager Denis Connerton, and he’s a passionate football man, long steeped in club and county. They may have had mixed fortunes over the years but there’s always one big game in them. They beat Mayo in 2010, Cavan in 2011, Derry in 2012 and 2014,
And beat Monaghan last year, before going out to Cork, after being ahead at half-time. All that being said, however, they will meet a wounded animal in Donegal.
THE END OF MAY?
...and I don’t mean the beginning of June! Matthew Parris is a columnist with the Times and Spectator, but more significantly, he is a former Tory MP. So, when he puts the knife in his Prime Minister, you know the die is cast. In a piece entitled “The sooner Theresa May goes the better”
He wrote of the Grenfell Tower inferno: “That tomb in the sky will be forever Theresa May’s monument. Grenfell marks the spot and her visit marks the moment the last vestiges of her career were finally rubbed out. She made it her own yesterday by that fateful “visit” to a handful of senior fire officers, guarding her from any contaminating contact with the bereaved and newly homeless. Dead to emotion or empathy, she sealed her fate.”
In The Guardian, Polly Toynbee wrote: “That tower is austerity in ruins. Symbolism is everything in politics and nothing better signifies the May-Cameron-Osborne era that stripped bare the state and its social and physical protection of citizens. The horror of poor people burned alive within feet of the country’s grandest mansions, many of them empty, moth-balled investments, perfectly captures the politics of the last seven years. The Cameron, Osborne, Gove Notting Hill set live just up the road.”