Friday 30 September 2016

A hundred years after Rising, an unequal Ireland is still unfree

Published 16/03/2016 | 02:30

‘Padraig Pearse’s ideals should now be interpreted according to the realities of modern Ireland’
‘Padraig Pearse’s ideals should now be interpreted according to the realities of modern Ireland’

Padraig Pearse's stirring declaration at the grave of O'Donovan Rossa that "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace" should now be interpreted according to the realities of today's Ireland.

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We persist in equating freedom with severance from England when far too many of our people cry out to be freed from the shackles of poverty.

Our politicians continue to suffer from creeping myopia as they fail to take seriously the depth of poverty in which many people find themselves.

The freedom that Ireland now cries out for is the freedom of opportunity for all to participate in a way of life that befits them as human beings.

The deprivation of so many of our citizens does not arise, as is sometimes suggested, because Ireland has far too many people - but because a minority grab far too much for themselves.

While the Easter Rising transformed Irish-English relations, it had little significant impact on the class nature of Irish life.

In the years following the creation of the Free State, many carved out lucrative careers in politics as many others were left impoverished. Bribery and corruption became the lifeblood of Irish politics.

Our legal system tends to prosecute the poor for low-level breaches of social security law, but fails to engage with the same enthusiasm in pursuing the vast sums stolen through tax evasion.

We have regular triumphal announcements about the steadily improving economic growth rate but remain in the dark about the precise beneficiaries of this good fortune.

What seems obvious in Ireland is that the rich start rich while the poor start and end poor.

The lottery, the poor man's tax, is the modern equivalent of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, providing the bogus comfort of a forlorn hope that pennies will fall from heaven.

Philip O'Neill

Oxford, UK


Two-tier pay in teaching

Alison Hayes' article (Irish Independent, March 9) on the two-tier pay problem in teaching - whereby teachers who started after 2011 are paid significantly less than those who started before then - particularly resonated with me, as I am a post-primary student teacher set to qualify in 2017.

Ms Hayes says "I was discriminated against, simply because of my age", and I believe she is entirely correct.

According to Ireland's Employment Equality Act 1998, two employees who do "like work" - or "the same work under the same or similar conditions" - cannot be discriminated against on any of its nine discriminatory grounds, one of these being age. Since, technically speaking, the two-tier pay system does not discriminate on grounds of age, it is safe from legal challenges.

However, dividing a profession into two groups - effectively by age since the majority of the post-2011 group are younger - is blatant discrimination to anyone who is reading the overall moral thrust of the Act, the self-proclaimed purpose of which is "to make further provision for the promotion of equality between employed persons".

I challenge our new government to adhere to the moral essence of its own Employment Equality Act, and to pay those who do "like work" a "like salary". Just because something is legal, it doesn't make it right.

Sinéad O'Loghlin

Dalkey, Co Dublin


I find myself in full agreement with Paddy Murray (Irish Independent, Letters, March 11) when he says that younger teachers are being discriminated against in terms of their pay and working conditions.

In 2010, the Government cut the pay of all public servants by an average of 14pc, and then on top of that it cut the pay for new teachers by a further 14pc.

This means that in staffrooms all over the country we have a dual pay structure where younger teachers are doing exactly the same job as their older colleagues but being paid substantially less.

Unfortunately, the disadvantages faced by our younger educators stretch far beyond this two-tier pay scale.

Simply obtaining a permanent and pensionable job is becoming a rarity, rather than the norm, and the lack of full-time jobs for recently qualified teachers is damaging education and creating instability in the classroom.

Where once teachers applied for full-time, permanent positions, now most apply for fragments of jobs with no guarantee of employment from year to year.

The implications for teaching and learning in our classrooms are obvious. Schools will have to deal with a high turnover of teachers and the difficulties with continuity that this will inevitably cause for the students. Highly qualified teachers will take their abilities elsewhere and new graduates will be less likely to consider teaching as a career.

Kevin P McCarthy

Killarney, Co Kerry


Sugar levels in energy drinks

I see that Safefood research has found that some energy drinks contain up to 16.5 teaspoons of sugar.

At this rate, it will soon become the norm for parents to check their children's blood sugar levels each morning.

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24


Nama land sales

Finance Minister Michael Noonan tells Nama to speed up land sales in a bid to boost housing. Six months ago, he was warning the banks that they would have to lower mortgage rates.

How much longer will it take Mr Noonan to work out that nobody is listening to him?

Seamus McLoughlin

Keshcarrigan, Co Leitrim


Water solution

To solve the water issue, we should install a top-of-the-range water pump, shower and toilet at the end of every street, and in every village across Ireland. These would be kept in pristine condition by the county council with regular cleaning.

Property owners who didn't wish to pay for services directly to their homes could avail of free water and sewage disposal at the end of the road.

The homeless would be delighted.

Alison Hackett

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin


St Patrick vs the snakes

I write in reference to Aidan McMeel's very informative letter reminding us all that St Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland (Irish Independent, March 15).

Lest we forget, St Patrick also banished the snakes from Ireland. Because, if we are determined to peddle the myths and legends associated with St Patrick, let's not pick and choose.

All hail St Patrick, the patron saint of ophidiophobes.

Gary J Byrne

IFSC, Dublin 1

Irish Independent

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