The Rule of Law.
I don’t suppose you think about it too much, do you? Maybe you do, but it’s probably not at the top of your priorities.
Me too; in the normal day to day struggle I am not much occupied with it.
Sometimes, though, events intrude and jar my mind, and force me to think about what life would be like without the Rule of Law.
Events like the arson attack on the hotel in Rooskey, the hotel that was to be used to accommodate asylum seekers. Or like the attack on the security guards who were securing a property that KBC bank had repossessed outside Strokestown in Roscommon.
I don’t want to go into the merits or otherwise of these events. I am happy to let the Courts do so when the time is right and I am delighted that anyone accused of an offence will be given natural justice and will only be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
But I am fearful when I think what society would be like without rules and regulations, without laws, without some boundaries by which we oganise ourselves. And by which we give rights and obligations to each other.
I think about what would be like to allow football or hurling or rugby or any other sport for that matter be played without rules. And without a referee.
The strongest, dirtiest players could do what they liked. Anything would go, no penalties, no frees, no rules.
Democracy and the rule of law may have imperfections but, for me, they are the only game in town, the only acceptable solution to organise ourselves as a society in a civilised way.
The thought that in 2019 there are still people out there who believe that violence is the best way to sort out a problem with a bank or with an opposing viewpoint as to accommodating asylum seekers causes my stomach to churn.
It nauseates me.
It sickens me that there are individuals who believe the willingness to wield a baseball bat or threaten serious harm on opponents should prevail in any dispute.
Lord Denning said many years ago when faced with the prospect that the British legal system faced an “appalling vista” if it had to accept that the Birmingham Six were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.
Yet the British legal system bit the bullet, freed the wrongfully convicted and imprisoned prisoners and in the process almost certainly strengthened the appearance and respect of the legal system.
Let me be clear: I have sympathy for anyone who borrows money from a bank and is unable to repay it. I have sympathy for anyone who is upset about asylum seekers living in a hotel in their community.
But that’s as far as it goes.
I also am happy to accept that we need rules and regulations and laws for the good of everyone in Irish society, particularly the weakest and least well off.
The Rule of Law must prevail; anything else is such an “appalling vista” as to not bear thinking about.