herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Don't swear but do fight the French? Let's keep some old laws

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is doing a bit of a clean-up of old laws.

At the moment they're in a public consultation process to see if we agree with their scrappage plans.

Unless you've a lot of time on your hands, or have strong feelings about the 'suppression of tories and woodkerns' you probably haven't given it a lot of thought. But perhaps you should.

You see, the Department are correct that modern Ireland probably doesn't need to have a 300-year-old law allowing for the apprehension of rapparees - they (and their pikes) have long since ceased to be a common feature of our cities and towns.

But it may be jumping to conclusions to decide all these old laws are irrelevant.

Take for instance the proclamation providing 'penalties for provision of false news' - the state could make a fortune if this was properly enforced.

In fact one day's Twitter monitoring would pay off our national debt.

Likewise, what's wrong with the law preventing members of the army duelling with each other? Those lot have assault rifles - the last thing we need is for them to return to settling arguments with guns at 50 paces

So some of the old statutes are definite keepers. Others might benefit from national debate.

Like the ones keeping catholics out of walled cities, towns and limiting their capacity to leave their parishes.

Obviously there may be some downsides to those.

While we're having the debate, there's a few we should keep at random just to spice things up a bit.

The declaration of war with France, for instance - wouldn't that make the ferry journey to Cherbourg way less boring if you knew you were about to go behind enemy lines?

Or the proclamations against profanity - imagine if every time you swore, you had to get ready to leg it in case there was a guard around?

Life would be so much more thrilling for us. Well, all of us except woodkerns, rapparees. And catholics.

CSO won't get carried away

The CSO has a history of being boring. That's not a criticism. They're meant to be.

They do tremendous work and provide hugely useful information, but none of it was ever meant to make hearts race. They must have found the last few years very unsettling.

First they were thrilling in a bad way: their numbers telling us unemployment was spiralling out of control and debt was soaring.

But recently they've become thrilling in a really nice way: growth up, employment up and house prices up.

Thankfully, they've learned to dampen some of the passion they now create. Their latest set of figures on house prices show a climb of 14.9pc in the year till August.

But at the end comes the vital reminder not to get too gleeful - prices may be up, but they're still 41pc below their peak in 2007. Ah well.

Lily, we must object

Is anyone else confused by Lily Allen (left)? Her comeback song was a tirade about the modern objectification of women, yet in every public picture since then, she's appearing in ever-more- revealing outfits.

Is it ironic? Is it a statement about women reclaiming the right to display their bodies how they see fit?

Or was 'it's hard out there' more about the sales than the sentiment?

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