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Ignore this clown prince of gombeen generation

DANNY Healy-Rae is absolutely right. There is a terrible illness blighting this country, especially the remoter parts of Kerry.

It's one which the good people of the Kingdom have to live with every day, but which touches on the lives of city folk only sporadically.

So perhaps it is finally time to deal with the matter head on, and do the right thing.

Which, or course, is ban all people with the surname Healy-Rae from being allowed hold any form of public office in Ireland.

It's ironic that the very day RTE was airing a documentary about the effects of alcohol on our behaviour, Kerry councillor Danny Healy-Rae -- son of Jackie, and brother of Michael -- should be suggesting on air that it's okay for someone to have "two or three pints" and then drive home.

Harebrained

Because while in Merlot & Me, Maia Dunphy gave an entertaining and thought-provoking analysis of how even a little drink can harm us in fundamental ways, Danny Healy-Rae and a handful of Kerry councillors/publicans were approving a scheme to license people in outlying rural areas to break the drink driving laws, so that they could drive home from the pub without fear of arrest.

Healy-Rae's logic, of course, can only be espoused by the gombeen generation for which the Healy-Raes stand as the Royal Family. Because at the root of Danny's argument is the belief that you can only have a good time if you drink, and that you can't visit a pub with downing pints.

Here's a thought. Is there anything stopping these poor, isolated country folk from driving to their local pub, enjoying the company of others over a non-alcoholic drink, and then safely driving home?

Other than the fact that it would hit the profits of publicans such as, well, Danny Healy-Rae...

Worst of all, Danny played the suicide card, slyly bringing up the instances of local people taking their own lives due to depression as a defence for his harebrained scheme. Not only does this show an obscene failure to comprehend the causes of depression, his idea that a few drinks in a pub would help this condition simply defies belief.

In more enlightened parts of the world, going to the pub to knock back pints is a symptom, indeed possibly even a contributing factor towards depression, but in the mind of a county Kerry publican, such an activity is a cure.

There is, however, one simple cure for the main blight that is afflicting rural Kerry. And it's in the hands of its local people, the next time they're called on to put an X beside the name Healy-Rae...