I was wracking my brains last night trying to remember any kind of public protest against the smoking ban in its seven year history of failure.
It seems strange that a law that targets a third of the population unfairly could be proposed and passed without a whimper of opposition on the streets. Certainly in 2003/2004 Saint Michael Martin knew he was taking a gamble with it, but he'd handled the health portfolio so badly anyway, I suspect he thought that if his ban proposal failed it wouldn't make things worse than they were.
As it panned out he got away with the ban, left the HSE in a shambles, and was rewarded with Foreign Affairs by that other Saint, Bertie Ahern. And if further evidence of the 'success of failure' in modern Ireland were needed, he was also elected as leader of Fianna Fail.
Mind you, senior individuals in our private banks enriched themselves using a combination of malpractice and reckless borrowing, brought the country to bankruptcy and then handed the impossible debt to the people with little opposition.
There are frightening similarities. In the case of the ban, Michael Martin cited fabricated figures on the alleged effects of ETS and concluded publicly that there was no other choice. On debt, Brian Lenihan quoted fabricated figures supplied by the banks before offering the debt guarantee and also said there was no other way. Our betters must be laughing at us as they rack up their pension pots on the backs of our children by continuing to take away our money and freedoms.
In the UK, though, smokers are beginning to hit back. In a small town called Stony Stratford a councillor, Paul Bartlett, proposed a motion that smoking be banned everywhere in the area. This was based less on health than Mr Bartlett's personal preferences. He hated smoking so he wants it banned. But private individuals decided to protest. The result was that the motion to ban smoking in the town has been withdrawn (for now).
When are we going to put manners on our public representatives? Their fat salaries and cushy lifestyles depend on us, the very people they persecute (because they have little else to do with their time).
The British protesters realise that their government want to have the tax revenues from the legal sale of tobacco products whilst penalising smokers with restrictions, and they have started to say, "You can't have it both ways".
In Ireland, our message seems to be, "You can do as you like with us and we'll never object". Those who fought and died for our freedoms must be turning in their graves in disgust.