Pat’s Patch

Shooting fish in a barrel....

Last week there was a bit of a spat between Buncrana councillor, Ciaran McLaughlin and various road safety groupings about the role of speed detection vans.

The Sinn Fein man wondered whether their priority was saving lives or to be cash cows for the government. He pointed out they were originally proposed to be ‘high visibility’ deterrents to speeders but that most of the time they were to be found hidden at ‘sneaky’ speed traps.

Amidst all the toing and froing there were claims some vans are netting up to 48,000 euro a week in fines.

Susan Gray of PARC, the road safety lobby group, hit back very strongly saying she was ‘very angry’ with the councillor claiming it was very simple - if people didn’t speed they wouldn’t be forking out fines and the vans wouldn’t be raking in the money.

Only a fool would disagree with that, but I don’t think that makes Colr McLaughlin’s claims any less valid.

For years l watched Gardai with their ‘hair dryers’ on the main dual carriageway into Letterkenny nabbing drivers for speeding. In a county with some of the most dangerous roads in the country this was, most definitely, nothing to do with road safety as this was, and remains, statistically probably the safest road in Donegal.

But in terms of revenue generating and achieving the targets for gardai it was like shooting fish in a barrel.

Selfish people...

I had occasion to drop a friend to a health centre in Derry last week. As I drove in I saw the only space available had disabled markings so I drove around for quite a while before I found an alternative spot. Sitting in my new location awaiting my friend’s return I noted a woman driving in and heading straight for the disabled spot. She got out, flicked the remote and, clearly far from disabled, ran into the centre.

It was a cold, wet day and I thought what a selfish cow that woman really was. She didn’t give a monkeys what was to become of some genuinely disabled person who might actually need to get close to the building to avoid getting an absolute soaking.

Fairness ..example 567!

This guy came on the RTE news representing the business owners association, IBEC, the other morning arguing very strongly that there should be no wealth tax claiming that the economy was starting to turn around and that we should leave well enough alone. Higher taxes could, he suggested, frighten the capitalists away

I don’t know if it was the same guy I heard a few months ago on the very same programme who called for a reduction in the minimum wage stating it was a prohibitive cost for many businesses.

So let me run that by you one more time - the message from the bosses is don’t tax those who can probably afford it but do tax those who probably can’t.

Now this comes as a shock!

A survey by Which?, the consumer magazine, has found Ryanair came bottom of the pile of major brands in regard to customer service. Which? claimed people described staff as ‘rude’ and that they seemed to regard customers as a nuisance.

Now isn’t that a real shock....

Ryanair have, as usual, laughed off the survey claiming that Which? knows squat about air travel.

I don’t know about you but I have reached the stage if I can find an alternative airline I’ll willingly pay that bit more rather than fly with our charmless low cost carrier who seem to go out of their way to make flying, already a stressful enough undertaking for people like me, a truly unpleasant experience.

And what difference will it make?

So we are out of recession, according to the latest statistics. And the financial ratings agency, Moody’s, has upgraded its outlook on Irish sovereign debt from negative to stable. Don’t all rush out throwing your hats in the air.....

Believe me it won’t make one iota of difference to me and you, and the forthcoming budget is still going to target the ‘working class’ - that is, people in work - with more charges, more cuts and just making our every day more miserable.

As I keep saying why don’t they start looking at the tax the big companies pay, introduce a tax for those earning more than £100,000 and really cut the pay of ministers, top civil servants etc so that we can only feel the pain equally.

Never going to happen, is it?

But I feel better just getting it out there .....

Fair play to Ryan

I didn’t watch the debate on the Late Late Show about the controversial child beauty pageant but I’m told presenter, Ryan Tubridy, all but demolished those promoting such shows.

In my humble opinion there is something wrong seeing a three year old child dressed like a vamp - heavy make up, wigs, cut down adult clothing etc - and I wonder what it does to them psychologically. And I would seriously wonder too at the mentality of those who attend such shows, particularly males.

I hold the view very strongly that childhood is precious and a child should stay a child for as long as practicable.

And finally...

Some months back I found a book in the house that I ‘borrowed’ from a library in Long Island in 1972. How it got there would take to long to tell. But I came across a similar story in the Belfast Telegraph on Friday last where Professor John Foster, formerly of Queen’s University, was clearing out a house in Oregon where he now lives and discovered a book of poetry he had got in Queen’s in October 1966.

He told the paper: “Fines from the library are 50p per day for their seven night loans so I was looking at a steep bill. As the Americans say - ‘You do the math.’”

The math would indicate he owed £8,500, but Queen’s were so pleased to get the book back they waived all charges.

As Professor Foster said the moral of the story is that if you discover a book that’s overdue make sure it’s ‘really, really overdue’.