If drinking coffee and driving friends home late at night was a ‘bag-able’ offence then John Skevana O’Sullivan would be serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
John’s obliging nature has brought him face-to-face with ‘the bag’ more times in recent months that the average motorist would in a lifetime.
It’s the obliging side of him that sees him sit at meetings and wait with mugs of coffee so that he can drive friends home when they’re finished their few pints.
John has had a share of meetings recently as he’s one of the handful who involve themselves in community service at its finest.
He’s one of the longest serving members of the St. Patrick’s Day organising committee. He’s also the founder of the River Island Card-playing school which has raised thousands of pounds / punts and Euros for various local charities.
John is a notoriously slow and careful driver. And his friends believe that’s why he’s a magnet for the traffic corps and the blue, flashing lights with which he’s now so accustomed.
As a young fella I was mad about the Readers’ Digest. They’d have a series of ‘filler pars’ on various pages. Invariably they were short items of historical interest – or jokes.
One I remember went: ‘In 1875 people were amazed to see cars driving at 15MPH – they still are.’ I thought it was hilarious – I still do.
John Skevena is not complaining about the frequency of his face-to-face meetings with the dreaded ‘bag’ – in spite of the ribbing he gets from the same friends. He has nothing to fear, nothing to hide. He never drinks nowadays and is happy in his Good Samaritan guise.
There are people, though, who wonder what Castleisland has done to deserve the level of check points mounted in the area in recent times.
Is it that we merit closer Garda scrutiny that any other town or village in the county?
Abandoning any airs of Houlihan-esque eloquence, one local man offered his observation: “They’re tearing the arse out of it around the place and you can see that from the cut of the town here any night of the week,” he said.
The fact of the matter is that it’s nothing personal and it’s all down to government policy. And, yes, it’s a matter of austerity choked resources.
Apparently it’s all about cut-backs and retirements and the shocking fact that once every month or so there are not enough gardai to cover the county.
It has happened more than once recently that there was no cover throughout the county of Kerry from Friday evening until Saturday morning. The withdrawal of subsidies has also curtailed mileage and ‘traveling out’ options by the Traffic Corps.
As this greatly shortened arm of the law is now based in Castleisland it explains the frequency of checkpoints in the area. Traveling out isn’t a financially viable option anymore – as far as government policy is concerned.
“People are being fooled up to the balls of their eyes and it’s demoralising for the guards on the beat as people are beginning to give out about what they see as a heavy handed approach to local policing,” said a frustrated member of the force.
It’s nothing personal – it’s government policy. It’s impacting negatively on the businesses of the area and people here are beginning to grumble.
The people on the checkpoints are not the law-makers. They’re enforcing those laws. They’re simply doing what they’re told – more or less.