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The Andrew Goff column

ROONEY THE PEOPLES' HERO (and it's not Wayne)

28-06-2006

By the time she was 10 years old Josephine Rooney had lived through the most devastating years modern mankind had experienced. The crushing of Hitler's Axis of Evil created ripples that we are still dealing with.

That war was fought by armed forces and civilians in conditions those born afterwards find hard to imagine let alone empathise with.

Some of those that fought were recognised yesterday at Westminster Abbey. Surviving holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross attended a service of remembrance. For some it will be their last as time marches on. Their story and that of Josephine Rooney, now 69, were reported in yesterday's paper without a hint of irony.

For the Cross holders, yesterday was probably about looking back to those they had fought alongside with. For Josephine it was looking forward to a jail term for non-payment of Council Tax.

Josephine Rooney had objected to the poor performance of her local Council and refused to pay; choosing jail over compromise. Described by someone who knows her as “an angel” one has to wonder what sort of society those brave people at Westminster Abbey were fighting to create. A society where those who are brave enough to stand up for their rights, to put their heads over the parapet while others may cower below, are jailed.

Our prisons are already overcrowded and the government is struggling to find new ways to reduce both levels of crime and of prison population. Yet we, yes it's all in our name, send a 69 year old paragon of community to jail because she objected to be ripped off by the state and did something non-violent about it.

We need an ASBO placed on stupidity within local and national government.

We can ask what sort of society would we have had if, faced with Fascism, we had gone quietly in to the abyss?

I suspect that just possibly it wouldn't have been that different to how it is now.

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