Stay safe during the season of joy



As we’re breaking up for the festivities and there’ll be parties galore to attend, if I may, I’d like to give you some advice. It’s the same advice I’ve given to my grown-up daughters, although they’ve called it a lecture, and it’s this…when you’re out and about enjoying the ceoil, craic, bia agus deoch (responsibly), please stay alert and please stay safe!

  Now, while I’m not trying to wreck anyone’s buzz, I’m sure you’ll agree the news that three young women reported alleged sexual assaults/rapes while innocently out enjoying the festive season last week is enough to make anyone worry. These alleged assaults occurred in Dublin, but that’s not the point. One allegation was made against a ‘taxi’ driver, another allegation was made against ‘a high-profile sports star’, and the third alleged attack happened to a German lady. So, despite the festive joy that’s in the air, despite it being the season of goodwill to all, there are clearly some scumbags who’ll take advantage of the dark nights and the fact that party-goers tend to relax a bit more, which affords the attacker the perfect opportunity to strike.  

  In fact, on Sunday last, having thoroughly enjoyed seeing Les Miserables, my daughters and I stood for ages in the biting cold trying to get a taxi. Now we know Christmas is a busy time for taxi drivers, and, such is the demand, it’s possible that, among the decent, hard-working, legitimate ones who’re on the road, there may be some, let’s say, rogue ‘taxi’ drivers out there, (giving honest ones a bad name)…and I suspect the vehicle we got into may have contained an iffy driver. I may be wrong, but I’m basing my suspicions, (and that’s all they are), on the fact that a few minutes into the journey, ‘taxi’ man became brash, to the point of aggressiveness, and, while he resembled, (kinda) the pic on his ID, he had absolutely no knowledge of Dublin city and, as my eldest directed him to a well-known landmark, he ignored her and instead scrolled through Sky Sports on his phone, while, in his earpiece, he shouted to someone in a language we couldn’t understand. This relentless footie-results scrolling – and what I perceived to be quarrelsome conversation, (remember I didn’t understand this person’s native tongue) – continued throughout our journey. 

   I also noticed, without ever once indicating, ‘taxi’ driver zig-zagged through traffic at speed in a car that rattled – and he smelled absolutely vile. I whispered my concerns to my daughter who felt that as we were in a rough part of the city, getting out may prove even more precarious. It was at this point I raised my phone, took a picture of ‘taxi’ driver’s ID, and, sending them to my husband, who was, admittedly back in Roscommon but hey, ‘taxi’ man didn’t know that, I smiled sweetly and informed the now strangely attentive individual, (who suddenly shut up, ceased scrolling and focused his eyes on me), that hubby’s over-protective and likes me to check in with him. Now, while myself and my daughters are strong women, all capable of delivering a swift kick to the family jewels in the event of a physical attack – as I’m sure are most feisty Roscommon lovelies – had I been alone, I’d have been terrified and I’d have exited that particular vehicle at my first opportunity because I did genuinely feel we were in a vulnerable situation.

  At this point, let me state that our ‘experience’ occurred in Dublin, and not here in Roscommon, and I believe the majority of taxi drivers across Ireland are polite, decent human beings who take enormous pride in their work and who only want to get their passengers home safe and sound. In fact members of my family are taxi drivers. However readers, taking a few precautions like pre-booking your taxi from a local licensed operator or even hopping into one at any of the many designated ranks across the county is the key to enjoying a fab night out and a safe journey home. In addition, before entering any vehicle, please check it has a permit displayed in the front windscreen, and tell someone where you’re going and what time to expect you home. Remember, a decent taxi driver will not mind you checking his/her credentials; in fact, they may welcome it.



Charlie Flanagan must examine the licensing laws around evictions


The shocking events that occurred in Falsk last week had me questioning whether I was living in 2018 or indeed, had been transported back to 1740 – a time of famine, mass starvation and mass evictions!

  I could hardly believe my eyes and ears, yet, in an operation filmed and shown widely across social media, a family of two brothers and their sister, who have farmed the land for generations, were aggressively evicted from their home. 

  In fact, the shocking footage shows local people being wrestled into submission in what can only be described as being both forcible as well as heart-breaking scenes, as this family were left helpless and homeless a week before Christmas. This horrendous turn of events resulted in a group of individuals taking retaliatory measures – and may I stress, I will never, ever condone violence in any form, either against another human being or indeed against any animal, because nobody has the right to take the law into their own hands – it has to be said that, understandably, tensions were clearly high, as were the depth and strength of the emotions, which run strong in this proud and beautiful county of ours; a county I am proud to call home. But again, violence is not the way forward!

  Now, while I don’t know the details of this situation, I do know people get into financial difficulties for all sorts of reasons, (and it’s nobody’s business but their own, and there for the grace of God go I); however, it’s alleged the property was taken into possession after KBC bank won a court order against the family. But I have to ask if surely some sort of arrangement could have been amicably reached in order to avoid such a forced eviction…something which would have allowed this family, and other families in dire situations, remain in their homes while discharging their debt?

   If the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan has any mettle in him, my advice would be that he’d use it wisely and act now to examine the licensing laws around evictions because we simply cannot have a repeat of the horrific scenes that unfolded last week…not here…not in this Republic, and not in our peaceful and proud county of Roscommon.