Is relentless TV spotlight just glorifying crime?

Our man Frank on the relentless TV fascination with crime; The need for investment in the Irish Navy; Golfing (not singing) in the rain; And some positive local matters…

I have never hidden the fact that I have a certain fascination for criminals and their crimes. Occasionally I would read about some of the most notorious lawbreakers and try to understand their motives in carrying out their dastardly deeds. However, the sheer number of programmes on TV about different crimes (mostly murders) at the moment is bordering on the ridiculous.

After a certain hour every evening, a huge amount of our prime time viewing, especially on Sky, comprises of programme after programme of investigative journalism. In some cases, the investigation is into murders that have never been solved – as with the recent three-part Netflix series about the doorstep shooting of TV personality Jill Dando – while others simply trace the steps that were taken to bring different killers to justice.

I recently wrote that I would not watch another Netflix documentary about John Gilligan, who, while not convicted of the brutal murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, is widely believed to have been behind the hit, and who certainly brought death and misery to many families through his substantial drug business empire.

Now I hear the infamous killer Peter Sutcliffe, known as the Yorkshire Ripper, a man who was convicted of killing thirteen women and attempting to kill seven others, is featuring on a new Netflix documentary. While I understand the interest in his story, I do not agree with bringing it all back to life on our TV screens. Although Sutcliffe died in 2020, I think it is hugely insensitive to revisit him and his crimes, and I imagine the families, friends and relations of his victims would prefer not to have to relive the painful memories of that horrific killing spree.

I am sure someone will make a lot of money out of all these TV shows, but I don’t think any of those people deserve to have extra publicity for their awful crimes.

Naval gazing: Investment needed in Irish naval service

Talking of crimes, the massive seizure of €157 million worth of cocaine last week in a major operation off the Wexford coast was a huge coup for all our crime prevention agencies, but it would also make you wonder how many others of these type of smuggling trips are carried out successfully every year.

There can be no doubt that luck played a huge part in the capture of the ship with all the drugs, because if the trawler hadn’t run aground on a sandbank, we might never have heard of it at all. The two lads who paid €400,000 for the trawler only a couple of days earlier in Castletownbere apparently knew how to drive a boat, but not in severe weather, and so they ran it aground and had to be rescued.

As a result, the authorities figured out what was going on, and credit where it’s due, they carried out the biggest seizure of drugs that has ever been done here in Ireland.

However, the CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Association, Patrick Murphy, was critical of our national security, which he described as a joke. We have nine navy ships, which could be used to patrol our seas, but at the moment seven for them cannot be used as we have no staff members to crew them.

He says our navy has the potential to be the best in the world and all we need to do is pay the men and women on our ships a decent wage. He says the drug cartels see us as an easy touch and – in his words – “we got lucky this time”.

Anyway, it was a great result for all concerned and it seems a huge amount of skill, bravery, and daring was needed to take control of a ship that wasn’t obeying any orders to stop. All I can hope is that Mr Murphy’s fears will be acted on, and hopefully our Government will put in the resources needed to make our navy the “best in the world”. 

Raining champs: Last week’s other golf game…

It’s Saturday morning, and while the eyes of the world are on the Ryder Cup matches taking place in fabulous weather in the beautiful city of Rome, up in Mountbellew another golf match is about to take place… albeit in slightly different weather conditions.

As I told you last week, if you were paying attention, the fearsome foursome of Richard Smyth, Duff (my brother), Paul (my son) and I were due to take part in Michael Nolan’s fundraising Am-Am in aid of the Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage in poverty-stricken Haiti. We were well aware that heavy rain and high winds were promised for the day, but as we teed off at exactly 9 am, all was relatively good on the weather front. However, by the time we reached the 4th hole, the promised weather had arrived.

Lesser men would have headed for the sanctuary of the clubhouse, but we are made of sterner stuff, and despite losing two umbrellas to the high winds, we ploughed on (some of us literally) and completed our 18 holes in a little over four hours.

As far as we could figure out, we were the only players on the course, apart from two lads who packed it in after a couple of holes. By the time we finished, the fearsome foursome were extremely wet!

Michael told us that the rest of the week was very successful, so well done to him. And the truth is that despite not getting anywhere near the winning enclosure, we had great craic and thoroughly enjoyed our morning’s golf.

We made it home in one piece, and after a warm shower, no one would ever know we had played 18 holes in a fairly severe downpour. Here’s to next year, when I have no doubt Michael will do it all again – hopefully he will send an email to the weather God next time!

Martin’s book is recommended

Way back in my secondary school days, I have to admit that I hadn’t a clue when it came to any of the so-called difficult subjects; anything to do with maths or science passed way over my head. Come to think about it, languages did the same. The only subjects I was sort of good at were Irish, English, History and Geography.

For some reason, History and Geography were my particular favourites, and now as I look back on my life, I regret that, in particular, I never carried on with my interest in history, as I know very little about our Irish or even local history.

However, Martin Duffy, a neighbour of ours back in those days, went the opposite way and he recently wrote a book called ‘The Burkes and the Pollocks’, which details the roles those two families played in the history of the parish of Kilbegnet (Creggs/Glynsk) on the Galway/Roscommon border.

In a book packed with historical information, Martin tells us how the Burkes sold their home, Glynsk Castle, along with 7414 acres of land to the Pollock brothers in 1853, and how the Glasgow-born brothers changed the entire farming structure of the local area to have more productivity, in the process inflicting huge suffering and misery on the local people.

Other items of interest, in a book packed with fascinating content, are the Long Land Saga, and lots on Charles Stewart Parnell, who of course made his last speech in Creggs. There is also mention of Creggs-born Luke Concanen, first Bishop of New York.

As we head towards the season of Christmas, I can only say this book would make a lovely Christmas present. Well done Martin, it’s a wonderful production.

And finally…

Out here in Crosswell we are celebrating a big win that our daughter Tara recently had in the world of showjumping (see photo).

With her horse Ice Cream VDT, affectionately known as Holly, she topped the prestigious National Amateur League Table, an All-Ireland League that has been going on since March and which had competitions all over the country and featured pairings from every county in Ireland. As with leagues in every sport, consistency is the big thing, and the best and most consistent team will take the prize.

So heartiest congratulations to Tara and Holly on winning a national title. To win even a local show is an achievement, so to win an All-Ireland is something special!