Another example of bewildering leniency in our courts

Our man Frank on an old chestnut of his – lenient sentences for gangsters; feeling sorry for Police Commissioner Frank Reagan after he was served a bad pint…and the bell-ringing Italian priest who’s out of tune with his neighbours…

Many times over the years, I have expressed my bewilderment at the various workings of the Irish justice system. I have often been amazed, on one hand by the severity of sentences sometimes dished out to people who have been guilty of relatively minor misdemeanours, and on the other hand by the leniency shown by some of our judges to perpetrators of the most heinous crimes.

  Wayne Whelan, a lifetime gangland criminal, who was a notorious drug dealer in west Dublin, was by any standards a nasty piece of work. He had survived several attempts on his life, including one in Lucan in September 2019 when he was shot in the head, arms and body.

  Despite knowing his life was in danger, Whelan dropped his guard when his close friend, Anthony Casserly, invited him to go to a pub to watch Ireland playing football. When Whelan sat into the car to go to the pub, a gunman – who was hiding in the back seat –  shot him three times in the head, killing him instantly. The car was later burnt out, and it was two days before Whelan’s body was identified.

  Casserly, having lured his friend to his death, called to the Whelan family home to comfort his mother and console the family (as soon as news broke that it was likely that Whelan was the victim).

  In his judgement, Justice David Keane said that Casserly had directly lured his friend to his death, and that he used his friendship to lower the victim’s guard. He then sentenced him to nine years in jail, with the last two years suspended. By my calculations, with good behaviour, Casserly could be out in about five years.

  I wrote here before about Paul Begley, who got six years in jail for importing into this country garlic which was labelled as apples, thereby avoiding a large amount of tax. Despite admitting all, and volunteering to pay everything back, he was sentenced to six years, although the Court of Criminal Appeal later reduced it to two.

  Maybe I am naive, but I would have always thought that any act that resulted in someone’s murder should be worthy of a very severe sentence, and even though Casserly may not have pulled the trigger, he was surely instrumental in the brutal killing of his so-called friend.

  Thankfully, most of us never get into trouble for anything except minor offences, but even for the most minor indiscretions, it seems to me that the full force of the law is often applied. I just wonder if the same applies to some of our most vicious and dangerous criminals.

Bad pint had by (blue) bloods boiling!

I make no secret of the fact that I like television, especially during the long winter nights. There is nothing I like better, as the rain rattles off the back windows (the wind and rain usually hit our house from the back), and as the wind howls like a banshee, than to park myself on my own armchair and watch some of my favourite programmes.

  I have told you recently of my new-found love affair with Netflix show, Heartland, and the truth is that we spend a lot of time catching up on the several years’ episodes that we missed.

  When I am watching ordinary telly, I like to tune in to The Rookie, or my long-time favourite, Blue Bloods. Blue Bloods is about a family of Irish-descended cops in New York, who still cling to their Irish heritage. The father, Frank Reagan, played by Tom Selleck, is the Police Commissioner.

  In this week’s episode, Frank/Tom went into an Irish pub to have a chat with one of his policemen. Much to the joy (I’m sure) of Diageo’s marketing people, he ordered a Guinness. Now I don’t know how much Guinness pay for their ads, but it must be almost priceless to have Frank Reagan order a Guinness in a show watched by millions of people worldwide.

  I waited with bated breath to see the lovely creamy-headed pint, and to witness how much he enjoyed it. Sadly, there was no head at all on it; it looked like a pint of flat beer. Fair play to Tom Selleck, he took the slightest sip out of it and then walked out the door.

  I said to myself that this was a chance missed, a bit like Rory McIlroy must have thought after his ball went into the water at the last hole in the weekend golf tournament in Dubai. Back to the pint: If any of the local pubs served up a pint like that, they would hear about it for a long time.

  Anyway, not everyone might be as observant as I am when it comes to Guinness, but I think everyone knows the head is vital. As a lifelong student of pints of Guinness, I can confirm that there is nothing more disappointing than getting one with no proper head (although I don’t like bubbles on top either). You cannot jeopardise the lovely creamy taste. Therefore it amazes me that some director or producer or some other member of the production team didn’t insist on doing justice to the pint of plain.

  I know some people might say that because it’s New York you shouldn’t expect to get a great pint, and as someone who has never been to the Big Apple I don’t really know how the Guinness is over there normally, but having sampled it in Spain and France I have to say that in both of those places it was as good, if not better, than here in Ireland.

  However, it will not put me off watching Blue Bloods, or the Reagan family, but if I was Frank Reagan, as Police Commissioner I would have had the barman arrested for dereliction of duty.

For whom the bells toll…

Over in Italy, Fr. Leonardo Guerri has been fined €2,000 for being over-enthusiastic when it comes to ringing the bells in the Santa Maria a Coverciano Church in Florence, where sleep-deprived residents claim he has been ringing the bells more than 200 times a day. They claim the bells are rung every day from 8 am to 9 pm and that they cannot sleep, work or relax. I can understand the last two, but surely most people are up by 8 am and very few are in bed by 9 pm, so I am a bit doubtful about the ‘lack of sleep’ claim.

  Anyway, after four years of petitions, law suits, and testing for noise pollution, the environmental agency decided to crack down – and fined the good Padre  €2,000. He can still ring the bells, but only for Mass and the last service of the day at 6 pm.

  It’s ironic that after years of making loud noise to the annoyance of his neighbours, when asked about the ruling and the fine, the priest maintained a firm silence and declined to comment!

  Thankfully, as I live almost in the shadow of our parish church, I have no similar complaints, and will not be taking Fr. Donal to court.

And finally…

Finally for this week, on a weekend which saw the return of the National Football League and good wins for Roscommon and Galway, and heartbreaking defeats for Pearses and Faithleach’s at All-Ireland club level, pride of place must go to the ladies of Kilkerrin-Clonberne on their historic All-Ireland club final victory over red-hot favourites, Cork’s Mourneabbey.

  It’s a rural part of east Galway, representing two small villages, so to become All-Ireland champions is some achievement. Heartiest congratulations to all involved. It also shows that no matter where you come from, or how small that place is, sometimes the impossible can happen and dreams can come true.