I wouldn’t agree with ‘cavewoman’ description
‘I have never had a television and never will’
Phylis McGee from Belalt near Pettigo in Donegal: “No matter what he says, I am not going to pay for something I haven’t got. If gardaí call I’ll tell them I have no television and I am not going to pay it. If I am taken to court, I will say the same thing. If it means going to jail, I’ll have to go. But they will not take me into jail for that now. You never know, I suppose. It’s all about money, money.”
Phyllis McGee doesn’t know what Minister Pat Rabbitte was doing when her living conditions were widely publicised earlier this year. When the whole nation learned she doesn’t have electricity or television.
Yet Mr Rabbitte said yesterday that he doesn’t believe there are cavemen in the country who don’t watch television or don’t access content on their iPad or iPhone. Well, Phyllis doesn’t have any of them.
“I certainly wouldn’t agree with his description of me as a cavewoman,” she said.
Phyllis (79) was twice robbed, at the end of last year and the beginning of this, at her cottage in Belault, 6km from Pettigo, Co Donegal. The robberies, by five men on the first occasion and three the second time, earned her national headlines and an interview in her home with RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan.
Recalling it, she said: “I didn’t even know who Miriam was. Because I never watch television I wouldn’t know about her. I have to say when she arrived here she was very nice.”
Phyllis would not be a dab hand on the iPads or iPhone either. And televisions? “I have never had a television and never will. I live in an ordinary house but I choose not to have a tv. If people don’t want a television they are entitled to be without one. Why not? For God’s sake, I hate the sight of it. Whenever I visit neighbours I won’t look at theirs. I would actually sit with my back to it. I don’t like it and that’s it.”
Phyllis has a battery-operated radio and it keeps her in touch with the news. She heard Mr Rabbitte talk about the new broadcasting charge yesterday when he was on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“No matter what he says, I am not going to pay for something I haven’t got. If gardaí call I’ll tell them I have no television and I am not going to pay it. If I am taken to court, I will say the same thing. If it means going to jail, I’ll have to go. But they will not take me into jail for that now. You never know, I suppose. It’s all about money, money.”
Phyllis lives on her small farm with 10 cats and a pet cow, called Daisy. She has no electricity and uses a tilley lamp for lighting. “After my break-ins, a local public representative talked to the ESB about connecting electricity to my house. They wanted €1,600 before they would start, so I said I wouldn’t bother with it.”
She has a new, tougher door with extra-secure locks following the break-ins. Phyllis says she looks forward to her annual outing to a concert just across the Border in Tullyhommon every November.
“It’s far better than television any day,” she laughed.