Thursday 27 October 2016

As election approaches, Irish politics are mired in complacency

Published 03/02/2016 | 02:30

US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Does Ireland need a similar figure to enliven politics here? Photo: Jim Watson/Getty
US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Does Ireland need a similar figure to enliven politics here? Photo: Jim Watson/Getty

The political rutting season is upon us. What is steadily emerging from the pre-election exchanges between the political parties is the persistent manufacture of bogus differences and the ritual amplification of mutual antipathies.

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The Irish political scene is in crying need of an awakening from complacency. Currently, the gap between the people and the political class continues to stimulate various levels of indifference.

Perhaps we need a taste of the entertaining but ludicrously implausible Donald Trump to put fire in our bellies.

The emerging preoccupation with 1916 has become an unintentional smoke screen, distracting us from the fulfilment of the more challenging dreams that fired the hearts and minds of the men and women of that fateful Easter week. Ireland's freedom continues to be narrowly conceived as severance from British rule.

We seem to have exchanged one form of subservience for another. The landed gentry have been replaced by a political elite, builders, bankers and developers, who between them have defaced the landscape with the desecration of greenfield sites and the creation of an underclass. This is presumed to be the price we pay for economic development.

It is difficult to unsettle the assumptions of any age. Far too many Irish people remain unfree, bogged down in grinding poverty, seduced into thinking that things could not be otherwise, the inculcation of orthodoxy and resignation being the main weapons in the armoury of those who rule us.

In economic boom time the culture of abundance concealed the many lives of poverty; the national mood was too buoyant to notice.

When things go badly wrong, it is the poor who invariably have most to lose. This is not just morally reprehensible but also economically inept.

We must not rush to laud the green shoots of economic growth until we have identified the potential beneficiaries.

Relying solely on business self-interest as the means of achieving the well-being of society and economic efficiency goes against all that, on reflection, we value.

Philip O'Neill

Oxford, UK


Climate change is natural

In recent press reports, the climate pundits are at it again. Last year was supposed to have been the hottest since records began in the 18th century.

Scientists attributed this trend of hotter summers to greenhouse gases from burning of fossil fuels, causing heat waves, droughts, downpours and rising sea levels.

I don't believe that to be true, in Ireland at any rate. I remember far warmer summers in my youth when the sun shone from dawn to dusk and the pavements were so warm a child could not walk on them in bare feet.

Modern climate record keeping only began in 1850, when methodical thermometer-based records were introduced.

I'll stick with the bible of great scientists and researchers such as Dr Antonio Zichichi, botanist David Bellamy and environmental scientist Professor Denis Rancourt - who all proclaim that global warming and climate change are driven by natural phenomena.

It depends in a significant way on the fluctuation of the sun's cosmic rays, not on greenhouse gases. Human activity has less than a 10pc impact on the environment. Planet Earth is a living organism like us - revolving in its orbit around the sun at 66,000mph for at least 4,500 million years. It has suffered all the cyclical scars normally attributable to natural phenomena, and recovered from them.

Nevertheless, we should continue our exercise in getting rid of poisonous CO2 gases for the sake of a cleaner and healthier environment in which to live. In this guise, it is a sensible housekeeping exercise.

It will help create extra jobs and, possibly in the process, also contribute towards healing the ozone lairs and achieving that 20pc EU target.

James Gleeson

Thurles, Co Tipperary


'Robust' rugby

It was interesting to hear in 'Against the Head' on RTÉ, that the new England rugby coach, Eddie Jones, can be very robust.

Is that the best way to get the most out of players? Joe Schmidt no doubt expects players to be the equal and better of similar players playing in other international teams.

But does his handshaking idea supersede aggressive shouting? It means the rookie can tell the veteran onfield that he is out of his position. It makes for positive communication and maybe a better result.

Patrick Dillon

Address with Editor


Wogan bridged divide with UK

Terry Wogan could truly be said to have been Ireland's unofficial long-term ambassador to Britain.

He was there at a time when it wasn't easy to be Irish in the UK, and his presence undoubtedly lightened the load the emigrants had to bear in the face of the atrocities which were been committed in their name, such as the mass killing of people in pub bombings, the assassination of political figures and, indeed, the attempted assassination of the British cabinet.

It's only by listening to BBC radio broadcasts in the days following his death that one can truly appreciate just how popular he was with the British listening public.

At the time of his retirement as a radio host, he had a bigger listenership for his morning radio show than any other broadcasting personality, not just in Britain but in Europe; he was up there with royalty in the popularity stakes in the UK.

Some people have expressed shock at the news of his death, but to live to the age of 77 in relative good health is a decent achievement.

Tony O'Brien

Balbriggan, Co Dublin


Planning for a rainy day

Our Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, says he's putting away billions for a rainy day fund.

It won't last too long, if this year is anything like the one just gone.

Vin Ruddy

Dublin 9

Irish Independent

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