Tuesday 25 October 2016

A truly appalling use of RTÉ's licence fee

Published 05/04/2016 | 02:30

'Michaella McCollum may have been a bit player, but without the courier, drugs would not make it to our streets'
'Michaella McCollum may have been a bit player, but without the courier, drugs would not make it to our streets'

The pedlars of death who preside over the drugs world destroy the lives of all they touch.

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Every link in the chain, from the source to the end user, leeches on and hollows out its victims.

Behind every story of addiction is one of pain and suffering and those who willingly promote this dehumanising cycle by playing an active part in putting drugs on our street should at all times be seen be seen for what they are.

That is why the soft-focus treatment by RTÉ of Michaella McCollum has promoted so much upset.

In an age where celebrity is all, giving the convicted 'drugs mule' a primetime slot on TV to promote herself was a step too far.

That she was young, that she was feckless are not excuses. She willingly took part in what was, by any standards, a serious crime.

Being caught in a bid to smuggle €2m of cocaine into Europe is no minor misdemeanour. Not only that, she attempted to lie her way out of the situation by claiming that she had been forced into breaking the law at gunpoint.

In recent months, we have seen just how merciless and cold is the world of the drug baron. These cold-hearted gangsters prey on the weakness of others and live like vultures off their human carrion.

Michaella McCollum may have been a bit player, but without the courier, drugs would not make it to our streets.

There are parents all over this country who are warning their children about the grim and grimy doorway that drug use opens up.

Presenting this woman in such a positive light, without challenge or serious probing, glamorises what is a pernicious offence.

As a public-service broadcaster, RTÉ has a responsibility to hold criminals to account. That licence fee money was used to facilitate the programme only adds to the public anger. The softly, softly approach to Michaella McCollum glossed over the enormity of the damage done by drugs in our society. Such crime is especially insidious because the parasites who control it wilfully create ruinous dependency and then extort profits as a by-product.

RTÉ really should know better.

Education system must add up for the country

Not everyone wants, or needs, to do higher level maths in the Leaving Certificate, but for too long in Ireland far too few senior cycle students were opting for the "honours" course. Not enough in a world where there is increasing demand for maths-based proficiencies. 

The national target participation rate in higher level maths is 30pc and the introduction of 25 CAO bonus points in 2012 for those achieving a minimum grade D has made that attainable.

The benefit for the economy is the creation of an ever bigger pool of candidates with the necessary foundation to pursue study in maths-related areas, and we have seen an increased uptake for these courses.

But, building a brighter future for Ireland and its people is not about championing the engineers and techies over the artists and writers. As we commemorate events of 1916, we are reminded of the rich and innate cultural and artistic tradition for which Ireland is famous.

The challenge for the education policy-makers is to support and reward the talents of all students, creating the elements for powerful synergies betweens the arts and the so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects that will drive innovation across the economy.

Irish Independent

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