Friday 21 October 2016

Aussie TV pundit’s slur reminds us of our famous humour

Published 04/06/2015 | 02:30

Irish roots: Former US president Ronald Reagan enjoys a pint
Irish roots: Former US president Ronald Reagan enjoys a pint

We Irish can rely, among other things, on our self-deprecating sense of humour to deal with any errant, disparaging remarks by Australian commentator Grahame Morris, as reported in your June 2 edition.

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Not only could we not "grow potatoes," but as can be attested by the one-liner "I never knew ya took a drink at all until I saw ya sober one day," to an appreciable extent, we have made our way in the world not just by our excellence in the arts and sciences, business and politics, but with a balanced, humorous acknowledgment and occasional self-caricature of our long-suspected national proclivities.

Last month, however, Irish at home and abroad, forgetting Oscar Wilde's "life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about", demanded the world notice the constitutional amendment, concluded by a landmark national referendum.

"We're the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our Constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality. So it's a very proud day to be Irish," said Leo Varadkar, a Cabinet minister who came out as gay at the start of a Government-led effort to amend Ireland's conservative Catholic Constitution.

Mr Morris, the Aussie TV pundit, was having none of this "light to the world" stuff from a country he identified as the trigger behind Australia's Labour Party seeking to replace the words "man and woman" with the term "two people" to define who can be legally married in Australia. The Irish, he said, "can't grow potatoes, have a mutant lawn weed as their national symbol and can't verbalise the difference between tree and the number three, but all of a sudden, Australia has to follow suit?"

The final word on the Irish self-deprecating sense of humour goes to former US president Ronald Reagan, saying goodbye to then Canadian PM Brian Mulroney in Quebec City while their spouses Nancy and Mila were getting out of their car to come and join them: "Brian, well, for two Irishmen, we certainly married up.''

Brian O'Leary

Baltimore, Ireland and Lexington, KY, USA


No recovery for pensioners

Your headine 'Rising tide is finally lifting all our boats' (Irish Independent, June 2) is very wide of the mark. I am an old age pensioner who retired in 1998 after 40 years of work. I thought my pension was reasonable - there was no talk then of 1) the pension levy, 2) the Universal Social Charge (USC), 3) the property tax, and 4) the water tax. Now all these taxes eat into my pension, leaving me not far from the breadline.

The unions are fighting for relief from the pension levy and the USC for workers, but there is no talk of relief for old age pensioners who, during their working lives, paid PAYE, PRSI, health levy, high interest rates on mortgages, and VAT on all goods purchased. We paid our way, now we are paying for the second time and no politician or union leader considers us worth a mention, let alone having the courage to speak on our behalf.

No, our boats are holed below the water line, with no rescue service to come to our aid.

Name and address with editor


An option for Greece

The original solution proposed by Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister of Greece, was based on the principle that their loans would be repaid out of future increases in national income. This was wisely rejected by the Troika.

There is, however, a huge inequality in incomes and wealth in Greece. Would it not be a solution to introduce a provisional tax on higher incomes and/or on wealth? The revenue raised would be used to pay down, at least partially, the loans. Those who pay the tax could be assured that it would be refunded out of future national growth.

This seems so obvious that it is hard to understand why it has not been suggested to Greece by other member states in negotiations in the EU council.

Could it be that they are reluctant to urge measures such as this, in case it came back to bite them in their own domestic economic and budgetary policies?

John F Jordan

Killiney, Co Dublin


Rank-and-file Catholics

What was said of the rank-and-file soldiers of the British army during the Great War can now unfortunately be said about rank-and-file Catholics.

Lions led by donkeys.

Mick Hannon

Clones, Co Monaghan


Dáil privilege proposal

The privilege accorded members of the Dáil and the Senate to have their words "privileged" and immune from prosecution is necessary for a vibrant democracy. However, like all privileges, no privilege is or should be immune 100pc from challenge, and the Constitution should allow for proper redress on behalf of the offended.

Therefore, permit me to offer the following proposed amendment to the Constitution which, if approved, would not prevent elected officials from publicly stating what is the public's right to know.

If two-thirds of both Houses vote that the one seeking redress should be allowed to confront his/her accuser in a public arena within a reasonable time, such a proposal would limit the abuse of this sacred privilege.

Vincent J Lavery

Irish Free Speech Movement,

Dalkey, Co Dublin


Time we heard from the Pope

Every Sunday in every Catholic church throughout the world, the Gospel or part thereof is preached.

Many words are spoken about Jesus and his sacrifice for mankind when he gave his life by way of crucifixion on the hill of Calvary.

Yet to date, no one seems to know who the other two people were who were crucified alongside him.

Some say one of them was named Dismus, he apparently asked forgiveness for his crime and it was granted by Jesus, but that's all we know of him.

Millions of words have been written and given to detail, yet no one has bothered to give the full names of the other two defendants on either side of the man we call Jesus. I doubt if the reporters back then would be hired by the newspapers of today.

Finally, the marriage referendum is over and the silence from the Vatican is deafening. In one of the gospels, I think the following advice is given: Be not afraid! So what are you waiting for, Pope Francis, those who are staunch members of the church and who may have voted No are awaiting to hear what you have to say.

It's time we heard from you!

Fred Molloy

Clonsilla, Dublin 15


The humble Archbishop

I was pleased to hear an interview on RTÉ this morning between Sean O'Rourke and Archbishop Eamon Martin.

He came across as a humble, yet highly dignified and intellectual Christian.

In spite of the usual "robust" interview, he was calm and articulate, in a very impressive way.

It is hard to see that his views would hurt or offend anybody.

Michael O'Mara

Patrickswell, Co Limerick

Irish Independent

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