Una Mullally: I keep succumbing to Healy-Rage

The Co Kerry politicians’ stance on road safety and drink-driving beggars belief

Speaking during a joint committee meeting on drink driving, Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae has called into question the figures put forward by Minister for Transport Shane Ross

 

We all have things that wind us up and, most of the time, our friends know what buttons to push to get a rise out of us.

The other day, a friend of mine was winding up another who is a nurse by calling his job a “vocation”.

Vocation, I said, is a word used to pay people less. We were having a laugh but the nurse couldn’t help but take the bait: “You know how much that annoys me!”

My personal trigger is a familiar emotion to many. It’s that feeling of reading a newspaper and the second those triggering words land, the only proper exasperated response is “for god’s sake”.

It’s a deeply-held feeling that you don’t belong somewhere, that a part of the country is conspiring against your sanity.

I call it Healy-Rage – that unmistakable reaction when one or two or more of the Healy-Raes comes out with yet another statement that beggars belief.

I know that eejits are best ignored, but these are elected politicians

We’ve had climate change denial, reality television phone-in messing, opposition to same-sex marriage, and general buffoonery.

But standing on a platform that is pro-drink-driving crosses lines even the Healy-Raes merrily jig along. I can’t help but take the bait.

I can’t help but be wound up. I know that eejits are best ignored, but these are elected politicians.

Regardless of their form, we shouldn’t allow for this kind of stuff to be normalised.

Special kind of ignorance

Healy-Rage is what happens when someone says: “Two glasses or three glasses of Guinness did not cause an accident for anybody.”

It is frustration with the height of ignorance, a special kind of ignorance, purposeful ignorance, honed and nurtured ignorance, polished until gleaming ignorance, displayed proudly by the owner as if ignorance itself is an achievement.

Their phoney fool posturing, the callousness of choosing a couple of pints over the experiences of those whose loved ones have been killed or maimed on our roads. That’s Healy-Rage.

How can you live in Ireland without succumbing to Healy-Rage? It’s a tough one. Michael and Danny’s double act is cringeworthy.

If they want something shoved down their throats, they should try reality

Of course, the latter is a publican himself. He was convicted in 2015 of operating after hours in 2013. He was done for it in 2012 as well.

Michael Healy-Rae says opposition to drink-driving is shoved down our throats.

Danny attests that a more pressing concern for road safety is bushes sticking out on roads.

If they want something shoved down their throats, they should try reality.

Go up to the National Rehabilitation Centre in Dún Laoghaire and talk to the people there with catastrophic injuries from car crashes.

Ask them whether the incidents were due to a bush sticking out.

But they know deep down they’re having a self-serving cod. As my grandmother used to say: “Sure he’d believe his own lies.”

Self-interest

It is hard to believe the Healy-Raes give a hoot about safe roads or the people driving on them. They act solely out of self-interest.

In a way, I suppose they’re doing us all a favour by not masking it in a more deceptive manner.

Talking about “bushes sticking out in the road” is an example of a favourite Healy-Rae argument: picking two disparate issues and packaging them in order to achieve some kind of fake leverage.

The bushes argument is, in fact, a call for fewer restrictions on farmers and landowners cutting bushes and hedgerows, dressed up as a concern for road safety.

If the Healy-Raes gave a flying yellowhammer about road safety, they’d be against drink-driving, wouldn’t they?

Legislation to extend cutting and burning vegetation in August, the Heritage Bill, currently faces strong opposition from wildlife organisations and those who care about nesting birds and wildlife.

How cynical does someone have to be to hi-jack drink-driving in order to drive home a point about bushes

In the Senate, David Norris rightly criticised Minister for Regional Development Heather Humphreys for using “biodiversity” as a synonym for farming, as opposed to what it really means, and for overlooking what the existence of hedgerows and bushes do to both protect and foster biodiversity.

Labour Senator John Whelan put it best when he said in the Seanad: “Section 40 is an assault on the landscape and habitat. It is an assault on conservation, our wildlife and our natural heritage.

“I note that the title of the Bill is rather innocuous: the Heritage Bill, 2016. It is a Trojan horse for an attack on our heritage. It represents an assault on our natural heritage and landscape.

“No one in his right mind would extend the hedge-cutting, hedge-burning and scrub-burning season by a full two months while claiming to have any regard for wildlife, heritage, conservation or habitats.”

How cynical does someone have to be to hi-jack drink-driving in order to drive home a point about bushes and the desire of farmers to cut and burn them?

The Healy-Raes are using a bush-cutting backdoor of their own design to package a nonsensical argument that is an insult to anyone who has ever been the victim of drink-driving.

Now if that doesn’t give you the Healy-Rage, don’t worry, the twosome are sure to come up with another slice of eejitry any day now.

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