April Fools Jokes to be Banned in Castlebar
Castlebar Town Council today announced a new bye-law had been put before its nine Councillors last week instituting a total ban on promotion of April Fool Jokes around the town in 2008. There was all-party agreement on the bye-law which comes into force today albeit with some unforeseen consequences and costs.
Health and safety concerns are foremost and the council is quite serious about a ban that at first glance seems to be a bit of a joke itself. "Everyone laughed and said it was impossible when the smoking ban was first mooted too" said Johnny Mee (Lab), the council's most senior member. "This is health and safety issue, pure and simple. We are not killjoys but we have to take our responsilities under the Health and Safety Act of 2005 seriously."
The Council Chamber
HSE has issues with dangerous stunts
The HSE has been expressing increased concern about the tomfoolery associated with this childish April Fools practice - it can lead to quite serious accidents. The man who burnt his ear answering the phone while ironing his shirt up in Snugboro is a case in point. The lack of local skin grafting services forced him to go to Galway for treatment. His so-called mates took great delight in phoning him from just outside his house, waiting until he had a hot iron in his hand and pointing a video camera at him through the front window as he scorched his ear with the iron thinking that he was answering his mobile. The video is on YouTube. Deliberately ringing someone up when they are ironing and watching television at the same time is a dangerous stunt as this case proves. Putting it up on YouTube is even worse. But they wouldn't do it if the April Fool Culture wasn't promoted so heavily by newspapers and other media.
Cling film on loo seats, subscriptions to embarrasing newsletters, putting and advert for your bosses job in the paper, putting salt in the sugar bowl or laxatives in the coffee, swapping the signs for fir and mna - they may seem harmless but really these are just not funny any more - people can get heart attacks from this kind of thing.
Newspapers to be Checked
"The trouble is that newspapers, television and radio all go mad trying to outdo each other repeating old April Fool Jokes and looking for ever more elaborate new ones," said Aidan Crowley (FF). This gives legitimacy to any kind of idiocy and just encourages kids to do some really dangerous things. It just has to stop. They can find other ways to sell newspapers surely?" he concluded.
It is believed that the bye-law specifically targets all newspapers delivered or sold within the jurisdiction of Castlebar Town Council. This has significant costs associated and similarly controlling TV and Radio is costly - but a ban is a ban.
Marsh House Front Office
Costs of the Bye-Law
The proposed Castlebar ban will be quite costly on our rate payers this year, due to the additional staff time required to regulate the ban on April Fools articles in newspapers. All vans entering the town in the early hours of the morning transporting newspapers to John Hanleys, Wynnes, Gavins and all the other newspaper outlets in town will be stopped at the town's speed limits. All offending articles in the Irish Times, The Indo the Sun, Star and the rest of the red tops will be clipped from said newspapers before allowing the rest of the paper to be delivered. Articles concerning Bertie Ahern's finances will automatically be assumed to be April Fool Jokes as no one believes them anyway - they will be removed too.
These workers will obviously have to be up early to meet the news distributors before they drop their loads from their vans outside the shop doors. The council workers will be paid double time for hours worked before 8am. Equipment costs too were mounting last week as the council purchased every last pair of scissors to be found in Archway Stores and Faheys on Main Street. Other expenses include the cost of getting someone to actually read all the local newspapers produced in the town to ensure that none of their local stories are jokes either.
Hoping for National Takeup
An isolated local ban has problems associated with - but then it is viewed as a pioneering effort for Castlebar town - in much the same way that Ireland gained great kudos from its pioneering ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. "Now they are all doing it," Kieran Gavin told this reporter.
The ban will be extended nationally by the Dáil later in the year - once the TDs actually get back to work and start legislating again that is - assuming they ever get over the "Bertie's Bucks" saga.
Tin Foil Jamming
A move to institute electronic jamming of incoming TV and Radio Satellite signals was also costed out in some detail but the purchase of 8,648 tin foil helmets for the whole town's population was deemed to be excessively costly. The consultants employed for the project also pointed out that tin foil helmets don't actually work against high-frequency satellite TV signals, whatever about terrestrial signals.
So the recommended 'Plan B' for preventing electronic April Fools jokes being broadcast into Castlebar is to require the ESB to reduce the voltage such that TV and Radio sets will not work on April 1st and 2nd - the two most dangerous days in respect of April Fool mania. Normal voltage will return on 3rd April when the main danger period is past.
Of course CRCFM and MWR will have a full time council bye-law enforcer or 'minder' for these two highest risk days - ready to pull their plug if they even think about broadcasting an April Fools item. The council are well aware that there will people in the town with battery-powered radios able to listen to any jokes that might be broadcast and not affected by the low voltage.
April Fools Lectures at Museum to be Banned
The fact that the Museum of Country Life out at Turlough is actually running activities on customs associated with April Fools has not escaped the eagle eye of the councillors either and the bye-law will include a specific edict against the Museum's collection of April Fool artefacts. "It's all very well calling them folklore and country life practices," said Noel Campbell, one of the newer members of the council. "People are being injured by April Fool jokes gone wrong," he added, "and it can't be passed off as just a folk practice."
The council points out in the preamble to the bye-law that they used to hang people on the Mall too - but we no longer do that. And we used to smoke in pubs but we no longer do that either - it's an agreed health and safety issue. Promotion of April Fool Jokes in any form simply leads to dangerous tricks and people get hurt as a result. Castlebar will lead the way - 'Ar Aghaidh' as the town motto puts it.