Sometimes you just have to love this mad little country!
Since Christmas, three years ago, the abolitionists have been out in force demanding minimum pricing on fun, sorry, alcohol, they want gruesome health warnings on bottles and tins of the stuff and also that old chestnut, a massive crackdown on drink driving.
In Ireland today, you are considered to be under the influence of alcohol after a half pint of beer. Yes, you read that right. Pissed on a half one! Have a glass of lager and drive away and you risk losing your license, paying a hefty fine and getting a shed load of penalty points which will make insurance either impossible of prohibitively expensive when you get back on the road.
But the Gardai did get serious about drink driving and as proof of this, we are told, "The Pulse system says that 1,996,365 breath tests were carried out across Ireland during the five year period." Wow! That's nearly every single car on Irish roads today. You'd have to agree it is an example of very vigilant vigilance, or something like that.
But hang on a tick. The Medical Bureau of Road Safety Data, (whoever they are), have the task of double-checking the Garda figures by examining the devices that are used on these breath tests. Today, this Medical Bureau issued a statement saying they found the figure was actually 1,058,157, (roadside tests carried out). To which one can only say, "Ah for fucks sake lads, what's going on?"
Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn was hauled before the glaring media lights to answer for the force. I don’t know," he said, "Certainly they weren’t recording them correctly”. He also said there was no one single reason that may account for this discrepancy. So, the Gardaí are now taking down the breath test data that is currently published on their website.
According to the Journal, In a statement, the Policing Authority said that while it is encouraging that information is being put in the public domain, the authority is “alarmed at the scale of the discrepancies”. This is not just an academic statistical matter, it is an ethical one. It raises serious questions of integrity for the Garda Síochána organisation and combined with previous issues regarding inflated activity levels, erodes confidence in the credibility of Garda data generally.
Oh dear! We've had Blue-Flu, Blue-Glue and now we have Blue-Poo because the Gardai's statistics have been shown to be pure shit. Over nine hundred thousand breath tests they claim to have carried out were not performed at all. Alcohol Action Ireland will go into meltdown over this farce. The startling figures for drunk driving that they have used as a stick to beat the Government with are obviously untrue or at the very least, wildly inaccurate.
As is usual here, "A fact-finding investigation has been established, led by Superintendent Pat Murray who is based in Athlone. However, Assistant Commissioner Michael Finn said Gardaí only began keeping paper-based records with device details and information about who conducted a checkpoint last year. The investigation is an internal one, and the results may not be made public. So they only have records of one year out of five and anyway, no matter what they discover, we won't be told about it, (again as usual).
But what tickled my fancy about the article is the mention of 'Deep Cultural Problems' in the Gardai. The Policing Authority said, "It raises widespread concern about the way Gardaí go about their daily work and about management and supervision. The scale of the discrepancy is “further evidence of deep cultural problems” within the service." Are they referring to a 'drink culture' by any chance?
Certainly down through the years it was common knowledge that our Police Force was prone to the odd pint, ahem! The Gardai like their booze and I for one don't blame them a single bit for that, given the difficult and thankless job they are asked to do. So I put it to you, if you have a lad in uniform who likes a few pints after work himself and you order him to arrest any other lad he finds behind the wheel with as little as a half pint in him, would the uniformed lad feel a bit hypocritical by any chance? Would he be saying to himself, any lad who can't drive after a glass of beer shouldn't be on the road at all? Would he in fact revert to the old method of having a brief pointless chat with each driver he stopped to see if any of them had a giveaway slur perhaps? Then back at the station that night when the Sergeant asks if he did his quota of tests, would he not just nod that he did and think no more of it.
Because if that's proof of a cultural problem then I have it too.