May the ditch rise to meet you
Last night, in a rare moment of insight, CNN anchor Aaron Brown aired the idea that April Fool's day had lost its force because so much of the average news these days seems so hard to believe anyway. Case in point: we carefully scrutinised this announcement from the Irish government concerning an European Union road safety conference next week, which like every EU event until June will be held under the Irish Presidency. And here's the key blurb about the conference:
The Minister for Transport, Mr. Seamus Brennan, will host a major road safety event in Dublin Castle on Tuesday next, 6 April.
Each year in Europe there are up to 40,000 fatalities as a result of road accidents and the Dublin event will highlight the need for urgent action to address this unacceptable loss of life and serious injury.
The focus of this event is to:
Facilitate the initial launch of the European Commission's Road Safety Charter, which forms a critical element of the European Road Safety Action Programme 2001 to 2010; and
Provide a forum for an expression of our support for the UN/WHO Road Safety Week, which commences on 7 April 2004...
In addition, Formula One World Racing Champion Michael Schumacher will be visiting Dublin Castle to speak about the UN/WHO road safety initiative and to demonstrate the safety elements of a new seatbelt slide.
Yes, the guy who makes his living doing 160 miles an hour will be the public face of the road safety campaign. We looked for the 1st April dateline, some sign that this was a joke, but No. This announcement comes when the Republic's road safety record is much in the news:
...the road fatality figures for the first three months of this year, 96 deaths, show a 34 per cent increase on the same period last year.
And in typical official Ireland fashion, there is deep puzzlement expressed about what the problem could possibly be and what to do about it -- when even the dogs in the street (or rather, for their own safety, in the footpath) know that the problem is young men getting into cars, likely having had a few drinks, and living out their own Michael Schumacher fantasy on the Republic's pathetic roads. Coming next -- Shane McGowan as the public face of the don't drink and drive campaign.