Irish Examiner view: Why don’t we embrace rules?

Our culture of bending the laws
Irish Examiner view: Why don’t we embrace rules?

Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney.

Were this a normal year, the sports pages would be alive with one county GAA management figure or another appealing to one Croke Park disciplinar or another to have a ban on a red-carded county star overturned or modified.

This indifference to the rules, this expectation that they can be bent, is almost culturally normalised and, sadly, not just in the GAA. That may be behind the fact that Monaghan GAA boss Seamus McEnaney has been banned for 12 weeks after a “breach of Covid-19 regulations”. McEnaney is the fourth GAA manager to face such a sanction, a punishment more symbolic than real. 

What does a 12-week ban from Monaghan, Cork, Dublin, or Down Gaelic football entail? Whatever it is, it is hardly life- or habit-changing.

The same might be asked about the publication of details of Wicklow weekend roadside dumping that led to a €150 fine. If there were four people in the car, a lubricated meal would cost more. Again, hardly a dissuasive sanction.

This half-heartedness applies across our lives, particularly in relation to white-collar crime. Yet our legislators make no effort to update sanctions so they might actually do what they are intended to — stop behaviour that’s damaging to society.

Why are we so gullible, so misunderstanding of the positive role basic rules can play in our lives? Who are the real victims of this silliness?

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