Thursday, 26 August 2010 21:07
All of us at some time or another are burdened by the stresses and strains of family or business life. It's part of the ups and downs that life challenges throw at us.
For some it can be difficult to cope; for others they take problems in their stride and move on. In past times your local politician was often a shoulder to whinge on or just a listening ear. In modern times politicians often feel that if the law of the land needs changing to suit their scenario, let's change it.
We have seen one of these outrageous spectacles take place recently in Castlebar Town Council dealings and personal comments about the owner of Supermacs, Pat McDonaghs and his way of doing business.
Mr. McDonagh was summoned to a meeting to address issues of anti-social behaviour in Castlebar. The allegations were that his premises were a magnet for anti-social behaviour. It must be stated that the business is run on a legitimate fashion, paying rates and service charges and working within the law.
Business people can often suffer many side effects to one's business, especially where lawmakers are concerned. Some of our so-called political supporters of the community felt that if the Supermacs outlet closed early it would solve all our anti social behaviour problems. Politicians jump to public and media opinion to get a short-term solution to problems that have beset this country rather than looking at real, lasting solutions.
Mr. McDonagh was accused of having no knowledge of what's happening in Castlebar in the early hours. Is it his job to police the town? Is it the business people's responsibility to monitor anti-social behaviour on our public streets?
It's become a media issue for politicians because they may get votes when they attack businesses and give the impression they are standing up for the rights of the ordinary people.
Personal references were made abut Mr. McDonagh's wealth as if he should not make money for hard work. It's coincidental at times like this when politicians want to impress voters that many of their own colleagues are being investigated. Instead of taking the proper investigation route, kangaroo - like courts are set up within government buildings by politicians to investigate themselves and their wrongdoings.
For years pubs and takeaways have been blamed for anti-social behaviour. It was a shrewd move because it took the heat off the people who had the responsibility of controlling anti-social behaviour.
This latest move by Castlebar Town Council is an attack on businesses in Castlebar that operate within the law. They know that the responsibly for law and order and changing of the laws is the job of the government. There is no purpose in politicians marching on the Dáil to protest at issues that are not being addressed by their own colleagues.
Recently I visited University Hospital Galway. During visiting hours, at 8.30 in the evening, a riot broke out in the A&E department of the hospital and it spilled out into the car park. Twenty gardaí were summoned to quell the violence. Unarmed, defenceless gardaí stood by on the sidelines waiting for things to settle. This was the worst case of anti social behaviour one could imagine. Amazingly, no politician called for hospital waiting rooms or visiting areas to have to close at 8.30 p.m. because of anti-social behaviour.
IN another incident armed gardaí in riot gear surrounded a local cemetery because of anti-social behaviour. Should we not consider closing the cemetery during the hours that anti-social behaviour takes place and shift the problem to the church instead?
Some councillors used strong language to Mr. McDonagh's indifference to their problems. Why should anyone in business, who operates within the law, be told by a councillor that because of our inactions you must close you business when businesses throughout the country are fighting for survival, often as a result of unfair and reckless political decisions? Who has the right to close them down at the busiest hours of business?
This is a blatant attack by some politicians on the business community of Castlebar who run their businesses by the rules. Many of these politicians turn their faces away. Their voices are silent when business people are subjected to illegal acts by others.
It may not be politically correct to condemn people who trespass illegally and take over private property giving two fingers to the authorities. In many cases politicians condone this type of behaviour that's perpetrated on the businesses community in Castlebar and many towns throughout Ireland while at the same time giving the impression to ordinary, law-abiding people that they are doing all in their power.
People are entitled to a night's sleep. People are entitled to live in a safe and secure environment. If these entitlements are the responsibility of the businesses of Castlebar then the law and order and controls are seriously lacking in many other areas and politicians should get that message at the ballot box.
New York in the 1990s had more than its share of anti-social behaviour and murders. Mayor Giuliani and his colleagues put plans and laws in place to address the problems. Today, New York is one of the safest cities in the world to travel to. A city where pubs, clubs and restaurants stay open 24 hours, but that wouldn't work here because our politicians and legislators don't have the guts or determination to face up to the realities of life.
In our little patch little thought is given to the facts that businesses may have to open long hours to survive. It's worth remembering this is an Ireland where national and local politicians can hold down up to four or five jobs, oftentimes being paid lucrative expenses from some or all of them. That's what we call democracy, where the people who vote them in are often jobless.