Guilty until proven innocent

The radio is always good for a bit of entertainment. While I’m a big music fan, one look at my profile will indicate that few bands I like ever get played on it. So I really only listen to talk radio. In Dublin that means Newstalk 106. Fine station, it is.

Sean Moncrieff is the afternoon entertainment on Newstalk.

One of the best parts of his show is the vox pop where well-spoken reporter Henry McKean goes out on the streets to see what real people think of real issues.

Of course, hilariously, he almost always goes in to the under-privliged areas to interview, shall we politely say, the less educated of our real people.

Yesterday’s topic centered around the issue of the number of crimes being committed by people who are out on bail. 11,000 crimes a year, apparently. The solution that Enda Kenny (leader of the Government opposition) has come up with is the tried and tested “tagging” system where suspects out on bail are electronically tagged in an attempt to ensure the furthest they wander is down the chippy for a kebab.

Anyway the working class of Dublin’s inner city had all sorts of suggestions for us.

Our first gentleman seemed fairly well up with things in a general way. He suggested that people shouldn’t object to being tagged if they’re not guilty of anything as they would have “nothing to hide”. He then described being stopped by the Gardaí himself the other day and asked to empty his pockets. He had no objection since he had nothing to hide.

“So, you’re not a criminal then?” Henry asks in his brassy “To The Manor Born” tone.

“No,” replies the man sharply. “Sure I don’t agree with what half of them do.”

Which begs the question – just what half of the criminal fraternity do you agree with? Rapists, murderers or just good old fashioned burglars and con men?

There was utter bemusement at one woman who managed to use the word “thing” in a sentence about six times. The sentence was only ten words long.

Always good for a laugh, Henry bluntly asked one rather dodgy sounding guy if he knew anyone who committed crimes while out on bail.

“Ah yeah,” he said. “Sure I know a good few who are out there robbin’ houses and breakin’ in to cars for car radios, you know?”

“And how much would you get for a car radio these days?” Henry enquired, clearly enjoying the fact that he’d met an aspiring Godfather figure.

“Twenty, thirty euro. Enough for their next fix,” the criminal fountain of knowledge replied.

If Henry had made his way over to my part of town I would have gladly given my views. Do away with bail, lock them up in a dungeon – but don’t throw away the key. No way – there’s still a chance someone could find it. Melt it down in to a little silver spoon shape that can be used with my Haagen Dazs. I find those wooden ones very unsatisfactory.

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