If Chris Snowden, Jeff Stier or Dr Axel Klein are reading this, please accept my apologies for the appalling bad manners of my fellow-countrymen during your visit to Ireland.
The occasion was a discussion hosted (and paid for) by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The venue was the Royal College of Physicians, and the panel included the above three gentlemen and Senator/Professor John Crown, an oncologist.
The title of the talk was 'How to really stop people smoking' and you might have thought that it could have been a constructive and useful occasion to honestly look at what is being done and offer ideas as to how else the problem (if it really is a problem) might be tackled. Instead Crown insulted and castigated the three other speakers, expressing his deep disappointment at the College for allowing the event to go ahead. He went as far as to say he had been misled into participating.
Red-faced with rage, either actual or contrived, the Senator shouted and bawled his way through his full range of vitriol. As the first speaker his main point was that the audience should not listen to any other speakers because they were evil people. It was truly horrific and cringe-making to watch him in full flight.
Any lingering illusions I may have had about Crown simply vanished over his ten to 15 minute tirade. He is bad-mannered and tyrannical. Frankly if I had cancer I would prefer to visit a vet or a mechanic in preference to Dr Crown. If last night was an example of how the lofty and well-heeled conduct their affairs in the hallowed halls of that College then they should be ashamed of themselves.
It was most embarrassing as an Irish citizen to have witnessed the ugly contempt shown to the three visitors and in the cold light of day I feel a sense of shame. If any good has come out of it then it can only be that Chris, Jeff and Axel can finally understand just how extreme the spokespersons for tobacco control have become in Ireland. They are nasty, aggressive people and it is my personal hope that our visitors will enlighten the civilised world about the emerging dictatorship that is evolving on this tiny island.
To top off the evening, Kathleen O'Meara of the Irish Cancer Society marched in 'after' the speakers had finished. The woman didn't have the courtesy to get there on time, I thought. But no. She actually came in, took the microphone on the floor and gave a tirade of her own before picking up her handbag and marching out again.
Incidentally, Crown stated his intention to "come after" local Irish pro-smoker lobbyists next. I assume they include me and I will be delighted to lock horns him at his convenience. He won't find me as mannerly and respectful as his hosts of last night.