Belfast Telegraph

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The grim reality of Christmas

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 15/12/2015

Christmas is the time to be merry, or so the song says. However, two stories in this newspaper today paint a very different picture of the festive season, highlighting the idiocy of those who drink and drive and the brutality of those who commit domestic abuse. Picture posed
Christmas is the time to be merry, or so the song says. However, two stories in this newspaper today paint a very different picture of the festive season, highlighting the idiocy of those who drink and drive and the brutality of those who commit domestic abuse. Picture posed

Christmas is the time to be merry, or so the song says. However, two stories in this newspaper today paint a very different picture of the festive season, highlighting the idiocy of those who drink and drive and the brutality of those who commit domestic abuse.

It seems incredible that after all these years of public education, including the use of graphic and memorable television advertisements, some people are still stupid enough to get behind the wheel of their car after drinking alcohol.

The old chestnut says that the most dangerous component in any vehicle is the nut behind the wheel, and that is certainly the case of the drunken driver who was caught with a child in their vehicle.

Another was nearly four times the legal limit and yet another apprehended was nearly twice the limit an astonishing 11 hours after their last drink. At this time of the year, given the number of Christmas parties and the temptations to go for a drink after work, the police presence on our roads is greater than normal and their main target is drunken drivers. It is obvious that a driver’s ability is impaired after drinking, yet that does not seem to deter many. Last year, 270 were caught during the winter police clampdown.

Anyone tempted to drink and drive should ask themselves several questions. Are you prepared to be caught, brought to court and lose your licence and, possibly your job if it depends on your ability to drive? Are you willing to risk your own life or, more importantly, someone else’s life rather than take a taxi or go out with a driver who doesn’t drink?

Turning to the other grim side of Christmas, domestic abuse, the number of incidents is astonishing. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year, 190 cases were reported to police. Alcohol undoubtedly played a part in many of those cases, but so did the constant pressures of the increasingly commercialised holiday season.

It is clear that behind the lace curtains of Ulster society all is far from well in very many homes. And the grim fact is that abuse is not a single occasion crime, but something which can be repeated very many times. Many victims do not report the abuse because of shame or fear, but police and other organisations are waiting and ready to help. Nothing excuses this crime and no one should put up with it.

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