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Pass the sickbag before I throw up

Is this the most nauseating story you have ever read?

Fionn O’Callaghan was sitting in the back seat of his family car one Saturday morning last January. Alongside Donnacha, his six-year-old brother, and Colm and Majella, his parents, O’Callaghan, 7, was going to an under-8 rugby match with the Wexford Ramblers. As the car travelled along a stretch of the motorway in Wicklow, something caught the young boy’s attention.

“I saw a woman smoking in her car and she had children sitting in the back and you could see it was very smoky in there,” he said. “I asked my parents if you were allowed to smoke when children are in the back, and they said you could. I really didn’t like it one bit.”

Colm O’Callaghan suggested his son take his concerns to politicians. Brendan Howlin, the Labour party minister and local TD, perhaps? Or why not write to Enda Kenny, the taoiseach?

"I thought nothing more of it until later that day when we arrived home from the rugby match and Fionn ran into his bedroom,” said Colm. “Half an hour later, he emerged with a letter for the taoiseach, asking him when he would make it the law to ban smoking in cars when children are present. He was determined to find out what was being done about it.”

Two days later a response came from the taoiseach’s office. Fionn’s concerns would be raised with James Reilly, the health minister, and Frances Fitzgerald, the minister for children. When he heard nothing more, Fionn decided to “doorstep” Reilly at an event in Wexford last month. His campaign caught on, and recently O’Callaghan became perhaps the youngest person ever to address the Seanad.

"He brought the house down, just as he did when he doorstepped James Reilly,” said John Crown, a cancer specialist and senator who had invited Fionn to speak. “The health minister suddenly found himself in front of a forceful seven-year-old asking him when he was going to ban smoking in cars.”

This story appears in the Irish edition of today's Sunday Times. The article also features a quote from John Mallon of Forest Eireann:

"Smokers have been characterised as filthy, smelly addicts and the government must shield our children from them,” said John Mallon, a spokesman for Forest Ireland, a version of the British organisation that is sponsored by the tobacco industry. “It wants to denormalise smoking by banning it, and there are those who have decided they simply don’t like the look of the smoker. I’m not a bad parent or a bad person because I smoke.”

Mallon argues smokers are aware of the dangers, and choose to smoke anyway. “Smoking in cars is about educating rather than legislating. Responsible people don’t light up a cigarette in a car with children present. And as for a ban in public places, how can you measure second-hand smoke in the outdoors?”

All good points, John, but factored against the word of seven-year-old Fionn O’Callaghan and what he thinks he saw in another car going at motorway speed, what chance do we have?

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Reader Comments (15)

Too young by many years to participate in the democratic process, our protegy of the tobacco control industry resorts to special pleading, secure in the knowledge that he will be indulged.

Why does it remind me of this?:

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 12:38 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Yes this is repulsive and nauseating. The use of those who society deems too young to play a role in the political process as pawns in the political manoeuvres of those old enough to know better has been a common tactic of autocrats throughout the ages. The current crop of medically minded would be dictators are no better than their politically motivated predecessors. It is hard to believe that young Fionn would give a damn about what other people do in their cars without some serious prompting from others. It is simply wrong to use a 7 year old in this way.

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 13:11 | Unregistered CommenterIvan D

The smoking ban in the UK has now been in force for 5 long and arduous years. These five years seem like a lifetime to those of us who smoke, but they are a lifetime for children as young as the precocious little Fionn O'Callaghan.

Fionn has been indoctrinated with this type of propaganda since he was a "toddler" This is as real and as true to him as an adult seeing someone committing a murder.

I know I have labelled this poor lad as precocious, as indeed he has now turned out to be - but it is not his fault. Look at the evidence that he sees before him - it is on TV - on posters on cigarette packs - spoken about in Parliament - smokers are cast out like lepers - castigated and reviled by a huge percentage of the population - what the hell else is this poor lad to think or believe?

Until we overturn this type of advertising and vilification of people who smoke it will only increase and poor children like Fionn will grow up accepting every word - every picture and every "dodgy" fact that is put before him.

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 17:10 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

The kid's lying but it doesn't matter because the Irish and British Govts only want to hear from liars who bolster their own snobby prejudices.

I don't say it is intentional but the Govts have created a dangerous phobia among the general public and kids like that simply use heir own phobic imaginations for effect and obvious attention.

Shame the Irish minister didn't ask my 6 year old grand daughter.

She is quite capable of speaking up for herself and tells me she doesn't mind if I smoke in the car - but not grand dad coz she likes to tease him - but despite her pleas for us to smoke in the car, we don't because my family is not my own anymore - it belongs to the state and I haven't yet asked Ms Milton for permission on how I should speak to my family.

The only thing I want in life now is to get as far away from Soviet Britain and its brain-dumb youth that has purposefully been taught how NOT to think but how to fear anything that can be deemed to be NOT middle class.

Smoking bans are born from snobbery and hate and they have no basis in health.

It's got to the point where the only argument in defence to their ridiculous scaremongering and unfounded hate campaigns is to offer something in evidence as concrete as they do - and that is just Fuck Off.

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 17:23 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

The way Ireland's political class are heading at the moment.
I think they may be wise to lay off people a bit.
As for the boy and his brain dead parents ,he sounds like he deserves the sort of society he is being groomed to encourage.
It's so obviously a set up.

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 17:26 | Unregistered Commenterc777

Given that the Celtic Tiger is now the Celtic Wet Lettuce, I think Irish politicians should have more pressing matters to concern themselves with rather than little Fionn's comments on a non-event.

The Irish economy is a basket case and yet another wave of mass migration from the Emerald Isle. Little Fionn will be lucky if she will be be able to afford to run a car never mind witnessing someone smoking in one. The world has gone mad and the politicians with it!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 18:07 | Unregistered CommenterBill C

c777 - he is going to get the society he is being groomed to encourage. In 20 years or so he may realise his mistake, too late, far too late for it to be easy to change.

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 18:40 | Unregistered Commenterheretic

Given his parents ambitions for him, no doubt in 20 years he will be Irish Pm and making policy based on hate and fear and not the genuine greater good.

Personally, I think the disgusting anti-smoker exploitation of children is about as low as it is possible to get. They should be ashamed of themselves

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 20:22 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

So a 7 year old gets an urgent audience with the government but no voter of age gets anything but a standard dismissive letter if they write in? The Irish government see nothing wrong with this? Gobsmacked.

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 21:03 | Unregistered CommenterGregster

I smoke, therefore, I am

Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 21:47 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Urgent action needs to be taken! Forcible sterilisation of this repulsive child's parents should be undertaken at the earliest possible opportunity to prevent them from sullying the gene pool with any more of their hate-addicted, inhuman offspring!

Monday, May 14, 2012 at 1:30 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Piece of luck for Dr Riley, though.

July 2011

"In a response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming as to whether he would consider banning smoking in cars where children under 16 were present, Dr Reilly said he was “in favour of legislating in this area” but added the public would need persuading first."
Irish Times

And then up pops young Fionn.

April 2012

"Health Minister James Reilly wants to ban smoking in parks and on beaches in a bid to discourage children from taking up the habit."

"We don’t want children to see adults smoking in public areas. Areas where we would expect lots of children to be present, as in our public parks and on our beaches, should be smoke-free zones, and I will be putting a memo to Government to that effect."
Irish Examiner

Presumably when the weather picks up, young Fionn will be heading for the beach.

Monday, May 14, 2012 at 10:49 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

As Larkin put it so well

They **** you up, your mum and dad.
They don't mean to, but they do.

Monday, May 14, 2012 at 13:10 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

"It's got to the point where the only argument in defence to their ridiculous scaremongering and unfounded hate campaigns is to offer something in evidence as concrete as they do - and that is just Fuck Off."

Nice one Pat, made my day after hearing about wee Nicola's plans for taxing me out of the drink...

Monday, May 14, 2012 at 16:42 | Unregistered Commenteranon again

Hmm - children reporting adults to the Government .. is that a first ?

Monday, May 14, 2012 at 20:35 | Unregistered CommenterDunhillbabe

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