Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Another GoSafe (speed camera) van set on fire.

You might be surprised at some of the Google searches that lead to Gombeen Nation.  One that comes up regularly enough is “GoSafe jobs”.    

Lots of people are looking for work these days, it seems, no matter how immoral or dubious.    What doesn’t show in searches on the subject however, is the related phrase “danger money”.

Now, it is one thing to sit in the back of a darkened van all day or night to catch motorists exceeding  the speed limit.  It is quite another to be scrambling for your very life when some unappreciative wag sets your mobile photo-lab alight.

Back in November, Gombeen Nation reported on the roll-out of speed camera vans, operated by private consortium GoSafe.  It said how similar vans located in Britain -  a country with surveillance levels Winston Smith might have been shocked by  -  had incurred the wrath of some members of the public, with vans being burnt out as a result.  

It actually turned out to be quite prophetic, as since the vans came into operation in Ireland, two of them have been set on fire  -  one on November 26th (in Louth) and the other last Sunday evening (Wicklow). 

Now, much as I disagree with the deployment of  speed cameras and vans under the pretext of “road safety”,  I cannot actually condone setting them alight.  A human life is more important than a couple of penalty points, after all –  even a GoSafe operative's.   Fortunately, in both cited cases the occupants escaped unharmed.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan condemned the latest attack in yesterday’s papers:

"GoSafe are working on a daily basis to assist An Garda Síochána in reducing speed-related collisions and stop loss of life and serious injury on our roads,"  he said.  "Their work at the side of the country's roads helps to save many in our communities from the tragedy and pain of the loss of family and friends in road collisions….."

Very emotively put, Commissioner - but wrong nonetheless.   There is no evidence whatsoever to back up your claim that GoSafe have saved any lives on Ireland's roads.  None.   Last year, road deaths were the lowest recorded in this country -  the GoSafe snitches only arrived on the scene in the 11th month of it. 

Road fatalities have been on a downward trajectory for years,  even when there were only three fixed cameras in the whole country.   And this despite the fact that there are more cars on the road.  Yet the demonisation (and the fleecing) of the motorist continues on turbo setting.

Our roads are safer, simply because they ARE safer.  We have more motorways than we used to, and they are statistically the safest roads.   New cars are safer, as many are equipped with sophisticated safety systems (which the Government taxes).  Drunk driving is no longer the acceptable pastime it once was, especially in rural areas.

As a result,  there are  people who can see the GoSafe scheme for the racket that it is  -  It is just that some seem to get angrier about it than others.    Witness the rather unsympathetic comments on the Irish Taxi Drivers’ Forum after the November attack on the GoSafe van:

 “ A hero”.

 “I heard it went up in a flash”.

 “They said it was doing a 'survey' - but they said before that cameras would only be placed where there had been fatal accidents. So were they trying to decide instead where they could earn most revenue rather than save lives Huh? ... serves them right”    [ Good point about the "survey".  GM ]

“1 down a lot more to go”.

Whatever you think about taxi drivers – and I think their job is a tough and dangerous one, though perhaps not as much as a GoSafe operative's  – they are not boy racers.  They are people who drive for a living.

Maybe we should - just this once - listen to their opinions?

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Bernd said...

Zero points for quoting "A Hero!" in the context of somebody torching a vehicle with (a) person(s) in it.

There were three attacks of the same kind in recent years, one on a Garda van, two on GoSave vans. In all cases the vans were occupied when they were set alight. In all cases this means that the "hero" in question took an uncalculated risk whether the person inside would escape without injury or even with his life.

The perpetrators are nowhere near "heroes", they are reckless criminals and potential murderers. And, in my humble opinion, brainless to boot.

As to listening to taxi drivers - I had some choice comments on deregulation and "dirty ni**ers" and "foreigners" on a blog piece some time ago. I suspect these eejits would also laud somebody torching a non-Irish-operated taxi as a hero. Especially when the "dirty ni**er" operating it still was inside.

Rant over ...

The Gombeen Man said...

Sure Bernd... valid, eh, point. But I must agree with the guy who raised the location of these GoSafe "survey vans". Were they not supposed to operate in pre-designated "accident black spots"?

Anonymous said...

Gombeen Man is quite correct, as always. It was the original intention to use these Go-Safe vans positively to prevent accidents, and that is a noble intention.

But, allowing for the vagaries of human nature especially greed, some wise officious guys decided to make a packet by using the Go-Safe vans as a money spinner, and some Irish people didn’t like it.

I disagree with any act of vandalism or threat to life, but it is only right that the Go-Safe extortionists should be stopped because what they are doing is local government theft.

The perpetrators of arson and attempted murder were not heroes, but The Garda Síochána have to take cognisance of Irish opinion, “We are not Fools”, The British have taught us very well.

Dakota said...

Unfortunately Ireland always imitates all the worst excesses of different climes. Setting a Go Safe van alight being the perfect example. I don't, nor couldn't, condone the most insane of behaviour. Horrible, dispicable stupidy of the worst order. No human life should be put at that kind of risk.
That been said a reality check is needed here! Why oh why, would you set up a scheme to catch speeding drivers in "accident black spots" and then systematically roll them out in non accident black spots? I know that logic and rationality is not much admired here but this is stretching credulity beyond all sensible bounds? It must be the sense of humour thing again? Or is it just a case of blatant greed? Maybe there should be a centrally funded scheme to bring the concept of logic and sensible behaviour to all here?

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes folks - I agree with you all. I did say that "a human life is worth more than a couple of penalty points" (I was being a bit flippant with the "even a GoSafe operatives" bit).

I should point out that I did not quote some of the taxi drivers' more, erm, inflammatory comments...

By the way, Bernd, my dear old dad (natural forces rest him) had a brief career as a taxi driver. He wasn't very good at it and nor was his car... we often had to push it for him. But that's back in the late 70s.

Some are right bigots nowadays (don't use taxis much, but got stuck with one real ignorant git once). I don't think they are like that, though...

But whatevear about the above, it isn't to say I don't resent GoSafe and its slimey snitches hiding in the back of vans, "surveying" areas to (it would seem) catch people...

Remember too, the Government stands to gain around a lot from this little wheeze. See extract from and link to previous post below:

"According to Stephen Carroll, writing in last Saturday’s Irish Times, the “secretary general of the Department of Justice, Seán Aylward, previously estimated the proposed network may generate half a million speeding penalties a year. At €80 per speeding fine, the privatised speed cameras alone could generate roughly €40 million a year.”

If those figures and projections are correct, that is a €24 million surplus per annum in fines. €24 million!


Anonymous said...

aaaah yes indeed GM its just the cost of doing business in our little paradise of saints and scholars ETC no wonder we are envied the world over UP DEV

Anonymous said...

Phineas Taylor Barnum was right when he said "there's on born every minute". He meant a bloody fool. Anyone that thinks that Ireland is a little paradise of saints and scholars, or that we are envied the world over is: "out to lunch" and should still be living in the trees. This is the sort of mug who believes that there was Irish Famine and whining banshees.

The Gombeen Man said...

Don't worry, Anon (DB?). The preceding comment has all the hallmarks of a certain Mr Beverly Hills - or BH for short.

He is an old friend of the blog and you can be sure his comments contain a very, very, large dollop of irony.

Anonymous said...

Mr Gombeen Man
Yes, I accept that the gentleman in question was being ironic, and I do not think that he is a mug, therefore, I apologise. I have never accepted the label "Saints and Scholars" given to Ireland by the Irish Christian Brothers.