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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Laws laws everywhere


Some laws make sense while more are senseless yet it seems they are everywhere.
Still others are an injustice and just plain wrong. There are more laws now than ever before, and because of it, ensures that there will always be work for those that run and rely on its well oiled wheels; those who cannot afford justice will find little comfort in most judgements either.  For the mega rich and in trouble, the law is little more than an irritant in an otherwise perfect day. But I digress: my own gripe is not even remotely criminal on what I have done, but more criminal in what the law has done to me. 

Recently, I had to make an early Sunday morning journey to the airport at around 7am. Apart from the mating cries of birds, there was no other sound of life as I passed a school 3 miles outside the village where I live in Oughterard.  Parked so secretly beside the school was an unmanned van with a speed camera. A letter the next week told me that I was to be fined €80 with 2 penalty points on my licence for being caught speeding 10 kilometers over the designated 50 at the school. This law still applied even at 3 am in the morning!!

The reality in this minor gripe is that this speeding law, without sense or reason, is done with only a tax revenue in mind and not the spirit of what law is meant to be. It encourages other prejudices and apathy, rightly or wrongly, of what law is really about, in case there was any hopeless optimism left that there was any justice to be had at all in the first place. A wrong law is criminally unjust, yet sometimes, the law works even if not intended to do.

Not too long ago, Clare Garvey was stopped by a Gardai on her way to Oughterard. It had been reported that she was seen veering back and forth over and on the white line.

Clare tried to explain away that it was tiredness and she had just finished work, and added, “I hope you did not think I was drinking.” The Gardai, a good natured man, let her go on her way with a warning for her to be more careful. What she nor the Gardai or anyone else knew, was that she was in fact driving under the influence, the influence of a yet undermined brain tumor.

More than 24 hours later, she felt an awful weight in her head and began to get sick. She also began to think again why she had been stopped by the Gardai the day before which made her decide to get to the Hospital fast. Within 72 hours she was having surgery to remove a tumour from her brain. The operation was a success. 

Up to that fateful morning before she was stopped by the Gardai, she has showed no symptoms or migraines that there was anything wrong with her; she did not smoke or even drink that might have heralded what was indeed amiss. Being stopped for a DUI made her do something sooner rather than later to find out what was wrong, and the person that had called the Gardai may very well have helped save her life.


Barry Clifford