Nanny’s not that bad but she needs to be kept in her place

Country Living with Francis Farragher

WE all have our problems in life, some of them big and others well . . . not so big. An example of the latter came to my attention a couple of weeks back after purchasing a plastic bottle of water on one of our better June days [everything being relative] and proceeded to remove the cap. Of course, the damn thing wouldn’t come off and after a slug or two, there was a little dribble of water down the front of my shirt. “A bloody faulty bottle,” I thought to myself only to find that the following morning, the same thing happened me when I went to take the top off a milk carton.

Surely, too much of a coincidence, and it was. The reality was that I was a ‘victim’ of the EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive or SUP [A quite appropriate abbreviation, whether deliberate or not, given my difficulty in taking a sup from the bottle without leaving a dribble trail]. If you don’t feel like drinking from the water bottle with the cap attached, and you don’t happen to have a small scissors in your pocket, then based on personal experience after about seven turns of the plastic attachment linking the bottle and cap, it will snap . . . and freedom will have arrived.

In the greater scale of things, there are probably bigger issues in this world to worry about but it brought me back to a time when there were huge philosophical debates going about that wonderful phrase, ‘the nanny state’ which was a favourite term for many conservative politicians across the water in the UK including that great Irish favourite [joking!] Maggie Thatcher. The notion of Maggie being worried about the nanny state as she finger wagged about so many things to the UK public, and the world, is, to put it mildly, something of a paradox.

There are of course many aspects to this debate and one of them takes me back to over 20-years ago, March 29, 2004, when the then Health Minister, one Micheál Martin, introduced the smoking ban in confined workplace areas including pubs and restaurants.

At the time, we nearly had another Irish Civil War over ‘the smoking ban’. So, was this the nanny state running amok or was this just a very sensible public health measure which benefited the vast majority of people. No doubt about the conclusion on that one and Micheál Martin, was proved to be a man ahead of his time in terms of sensible public health measures.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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