14th September, 2000

A piece in one of our local newspapers made sad reading last week. The chip shops in the city centre are the cause of all the trouble, if they were closed then the drunken yobs and trouble makers would have no place to congregate. As some of you will know I spent many years running a take-a-way (I still prefer to call it a chipper) not through choice but through necessity. Anybody who has worked in the catering trade, especially at night dealing with the public after closing time knows that it has its good and bad moments. I've made a lot of friends down through the years, ordinary decent people enjoying a night out, having a few drinks followed by a fish supper from their local chipper. The bad moments have been a stitch or two on the head, a few bruised ribs, tyres punctured, a broken window, but overall, the good times out weighed the bad.

My point is that I did not start the trouble. People (mostly young) looking for trouble started it, yet some people want to see chippers closed early because people who go there are causing trouble and breaking the law.

Now we come to two very important words Law and Order. Laws are passed by our politicians and implemented by our police, which is the way it should be. We might not agree with all of them, but we accept them because they are Law. Now comes the second and perhaps more important the word Order, what does it mean? It could mean several things, an officer's command, a religious group, a meal in a restaurant etc, but put it with law and you have law & order. Now we all know what it means, as a civilised society we obey the laws of our state and go about our business morning noon and night in an orderly manner. It is the job of the police to ensure that people who walk the streets of our city at night and weekends do so in a lawful and orderly manner. The chip shop owner is a taxpayer paying rates, service charges, giving employment, yet some people want him to close why? Because the police have lost control of the streets, and how long will it be before they lose control of the suburbs? The Celtic monster has given birth to a yob culture here in Ireland. I looked up the word Police in the dictionary and it states “Police” A body of civil officers especially in a city organised under authority to maintain order and enforce law.

Every weekend night thousands of young people head for town to have a good fun night. A few hours later it seems a different scene. What causes it? Drink & Drugs! The exchequer takes in billions every year in taxes on drink. Young people tell me that they wouldn't go to town on a Saturday night with less than 30 for drink, that's about 12 pints “Frightening” One can see the results of it Sunday morning on the streets of our city.

I spoke to a retired Garda recently, he gave me his views on the force past and present. He said, “Twenty five years ago I was stationed in the City Centre, at night two of us would walk out on our beat, we'd meet people we'd, talk to them, we'd get to know people. We would meet the villain with the stolen car radio stuck inside his jacket, but overall we controlled the streets and people liked and respected us. Now it's different, it's about productivity. It's like a nine to five job, get a few motorists here and there, no tax, parking on double yellow lines. Go out and make your wages, close the stations at night save money and create productivity. I'm glad I'm out of it.”
Last Saturday morning I drove down to Rochestown College to photograph a group of youngsters presenting Fr Aengus with a bag of money in aid of Motor Nuron research. These youngsters are the essence of all that is good and Christian and long may you continue to be that way. Wouldn't the world be a great place if children only populated it with their innocence and love? But then we adults educate them with our beliefs, hates, bigotry, and everything that comes with growing up. What's that song line about childhood “Oh to be a child again, oaks from acorns grew, one and one made two. I believed it all didn't you?”

Great news from the County Council, they have taken up the offer on the sponsorship of flowers for two roundabouts. However there is still one roundabout to go. I was going to tell you who the two generous people were, but I want to make it three. So I've got five days to come up with one more, Any Offers? I can tell you that neither of the sponsors are a financial institution. I had hoped that one of them would put a little something back into Douglas, but folks I live in hope. Finally congratulation to Douglas Weekly's person of the year, Michael O'Mahony, one of life's gentleman. Enjoy the night Michael.
Bye for Now,
Michael O’Hanlon.

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