Sunday 23 October 2016

Brexit, class and ball games

Published 03/07/2016 | 02:30

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, and European Council President Donald Tusk have been talking a tough stance over Brexit
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, and European Council President Donald Tusk have been talking a tough stance over Brexit

Sir - Eoghan Harris thinks that the older generation in Britain has ruined the future of young British people by voting for Brexit. Eoghan Harris referred to these strong and proud people as "selfish". Has Mr Harris lost the sense left to him?

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The British people have seen their industries decimated by the new pups of finance and the love of money over sovereignty and national pride. All over Europe, including here in Ireland, people have been burdened with the debts of the connected and the reckless; facilitated by faceless European bureaucrats and a few lapdogs here at home.

Mr Harris then plays philosopher (which he likes to do) and uses the sports of soccer and rugby to explain the differences in Irish class. He claims: "We who got a better deal in life know that." The correlation of that statement then has to be that those who got a worse deal in life know that truth just as well. So when the rugby classes of Europe try to off-load their debts and profligation on to the shoulders and pockets of the average soccer fan, don't be that surprised when you get a soccer ball shoved up your jaxie.

The refereeing may be more egalitarian in rugby, but that fairness stops when you leave the ground.

Darren Williams,
Dublin 18

Good advice will be hard to follow

Sir - Ruth Dudley Edwards (June 26) asked (and answered) the question: "How should Ireland, North and South respond to Brexit? Coolly and intelligently, I suggest, and in a spirit of mutual goodwill."

Good advice, but unfortunately there are so many factors that are outside our control that that approach will hardly make the slightest difference. We are inextricably tied to the EU with regards to any new negotiations with the UK, and will not be permitted to enter separate bilateral talks. The UK, for its part, will soon discover that creating favourable new trade agreements with the EU and countries outside the EU will not be easy. The EU is by far the UK's largest trading partner and it will undoubtedly use this leverage to ensure that the UK will not be allowed to gain trading advantages. Migration will continue both inwards and outwards of the UK as it has always done.

One of the main Brexit selling points was that there would be extra funding for the NHS. Along with many other promises we now know this to be a fallacy. It seems that self-interested and narrow-minded politicians, in pursuit of their own agendas, have manipulated a disaffected with disingenuous promises.

John Bellew,
Dunleer, Co Louth

EU leaders quick to criticise British

Sir - Following Brexit, the EU leaders were quickly out of the blocks seeking the maximum punishment and embarrassment for the British people for their courage and audacity in upsetting the undemocratic and dysfunctional gravy train that is Brussels today. Instead of reflecting on the clear and obvious shortcomings within the EU that prompted 17.4 million Britons to vote to leave, the bully boys reverted to type.

What will almost certainly follow will be an attempt to mirror the brutal jackboot treatment doled out to ordinary innocent Greeks as well as the untold austerity horrors inflicted on our own people with the abject compliance of our own Government.

Unlike ourselves, the British will no doubt demonstrate some backbone and face down these threats.

It is vital that the special long-standing relationships between Ireland and Britain must be maintained in full. These relationships include not only the €1.2bn trade between our two countries every week but also the free movement of goods and people. In many ways our ever closer relationships have been consolidated over the years by mutual respect and intermarriage in both countries.

Sadly, recent experience with our own Government has been to meekly capitulate and to allow our so-called EU partners to ride roughshod over the interests and welfare of ordinary Irish people. The result has been suicides, emigration, homelessness and child poverty, as well as massive interest payments of €8bn every year for private banking debts.

Another failure by Kenny and Noonan to show some courage and independence surely cannot be contemplated on this occasion.

John Leahy,
Wilton Road, Cork

Generation gap

Sir - I am disgusted with the young people that did not turn out to vote in the UK's recent referendum; thus ruining the future of older people who actually did. Not that anyone should be surprised. According to a YouGov poll, only 43pc of UK voters aged 18-24 turned out to vote. The same pattern has resulted in Brexit.

Permission and freedoms have become "on-a-plate" entitlements to travel, social welfare, and jobs for a spoiled generation whose expectations are out of whack with their ability or deservedness. Millennials have themselves to blame, but why ruin it for the rest of us?

Judith Goldberger,
Donnybrook, Dublin 4

Look for positives

Sir - Maurice Fitzgerald's letter of June 26 epitomises everything that has long been sad and bad about our attitude to life and living as a race of people for far longer than just a century.

We live at a time, in a country and in a world that has never been better in most respects. The problem has long been, however, and still is, that the oft times prophets of doom and gloom haven't yet given up on trying to share their melancholies and miseries.

The traditional practice here of employing John Bull and Martin Luther as a common enemy and blaming them for all our woes ran out of steam a long time ago. A look in the mirror would have saved us centuries of misgivings and ineptitude. Brexit will obviously have some short- term ill effects but ultimately it may prove to be a blessing in disguise. To my knowledge it has rarely happened anywhere that when one door has been closed another one hasn't been opened. The best is yet to come and unless we forget about the past we will forever remain in the grip of those with a morbid disposition.

Pat Daly,
Midleton, Co Cork

Overturn this vote

Sir - Possibly one of the advantages of being over 60 is that at times you see things in a simpler light and tend to be more sympathetic and less gung-ho. Concerning Brexit, I feel everybody needs to take a big breath and stand back for a few moments. The vote was a disaster for everybody. The UK needs the EU and the EU needs the UK in as much as we in Ireland need both.

Common sense and experience tells me that if you back somebody into a corner, always give them an honourable way out - a cornered rat is a dangerous creature. My own feeling is that the UK should be allowed to vote again within a short time period.

I think the following definition puts everything into perspective: a Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat.

Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way. However, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit.

We should learn from history.

Aidan Hampson,
Dublin 5

Remember Martin

Sir - The Sunday Independent has rightly commemorated the 20th anniversary of Veronica Guerin's death. Films, books, TV documentaries and countless newspaper articles have kept her memory alive.

It's a pity the forgotten man of Irish journalism does not get the same attention. Ask the average Independent reader who Martin O'Hagan was and you will probably be met by a blank stare.

The Loughinisland Massacre Inquiry is the latest to state clearly that the RUC/British army undercover units colluded with loyalist paramilitaries.

Martin was one of the first to expose Downing Street's death squads and he paid for it with his life.

Michael O'Flynn,
Friars Walk, Cork

Sometimes love can't conquer all

Sir - If it had been 49 females (feminists, mothers, pregnant women) that had been murdered by an extremist as they gathered in what they believed to be a safe environment for their gender, would Judith Goldberger be of the same mind when she says "what is not helpful at this time is for any group to claim this tragedy as their own", (Letters, June 26)?

If a woman had written in the aftermath of such a tragedy that the "grief was hijacked by (women) activists" and that the tragedy was a "mirror for (women) narcissists", would she still have written of "a superb opinion piece"? When Emily Wilding Davison stepped in front of King George V horse at the Epson Derby just over 100 years ago in 1913 as part of the British women's suffrage movement, and subsequently died from her injuries and was given a funeral reminiscent of one organised by the state, were her militant motives ridiculed by women seeking equality and justice?

Fast forward 100 years and many of the dead in the Pulse nightclub were Puerto Rican who, like some of their US counterparts, had only achieved marriage equality in 2015. Some families did not even know their loved ones were gay until the coroner announced their names. A father of one of the victims, refused to claim the remains of his gay son; thankfully other family members accepted the body. To not see this as a crime of hate against the LGBT community is to diminish the lives and reputations of those who have spent their lives fighting for equality.

And as for "love will conquer all" - try telling that to a person with a fully loaded, semi-automatic weapon as they walk into a "safe haven" to commit their murderous deed. The hate of homophobia, as we know to our cost, rarely responds to kindness.

Tom McElligott,
Listowel, Co Kerry

It is time to commemorate all

Sir - July 1 marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Battle of the Somme and as a matter of diplomatic and commemorative progress members of the Irish Government could be found this week on the Somme representing the Irish State on the sacred battlefields.

Meanwhile, members of the Government are standing idly by as the listed buildings on our nation's sacred battlefield of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin's Moore Street fall into wrack and ruin due to water damage and other structural faults. One of their number, Minister Heather Humphries, is set to appeal a High Court ruling to preserve one of the nation's most sacred battlefields.

Surely this a disgrace and a shambolic way to treat those Irish people, many of them relatives and descendants of the brave men and women of the 1916 Rising, who want this area restored and preserved as a historical legacy for our future generations. Our Government cannot have it both ways - the Somme battlefield is as sacred to the history of Europe and island of Ireland as Moore Street is to our Irish Republic.

The Somme was an imperialistic and militaristic catastrophe - 20,000 killed on day one, one million killed, maimed, missing or wounded on all sides in five months - the number of Irish killed there has never really been properly accounted for.

What happened on the Somme destroyed generations, nations, empires and a continent and ended the other European political fiasco of imperialism. What happened in Moore Street, the GPO and Sackville Street during Easter 1916 was the catalyst that built a nation.

The stupidity or ignorance of successive Irish governments is that they have randomly commemorated things which they don't fully appreciate in a politically expedient way without properly understanding what it is they are commemorating.

With all the commemorative activities that have occurred for 1916/2016 many of the battlefield sites of the 1916 Rising still are void of proper commemorative plaques of recognition.

This Government - a new type of coalition in our fledgling state - could carry out some momentous acts of remembrance in this significant year by beginning a proper process to signpost all the sacred sites of 1916 and the War of Independence with the same commemorative respect as is afforded to the fallen of the Great War across Europe.

This Government could also start the process of erecting Great War memorials in every county to all who served and died following Redmond's call to arms thinking that they were fighting for Home Rule and an All Ireland state. Ours is now the opportunity to rewrite history with commemorative maturity.

Paul Horan, Asst Professor
Trinity College Dublin

Sportsmanship is match of the day

Sir - With the second half of the Ireland v France Euro 2016 match being shown on the big screen at Croke Park last Sunday, it has to be said that the wheel has turned the full circle as regards to the GAA's attitude to the big soccer tournament. It was so different when Jack Charlton's team made the big breakthrough to reach the finals for the first time back in 1988.

Twenty-eight years ago, in my role as a sports journalist, I decided to compile an article for a national newspaper in which opinions were sought from a few prominent GAA personalities about the international event which was capturing the attention of the country.

While men like Mick Loftus, Brian McEniff and John O'Leary were looking forward to the games with considerable enthusiasm, others were much less forthcoming.

Two gave me very short interviews, with one of them saying, "that's none of our business", and the other suggesting that I go and ask soccer people what they thought of the GAA!

The subsequent publicity sparked the GAA into congratulating the 'boys in green' on their performances in Germany.

Although the ban on so-called foreign games had been put to rest 17 years earlier, the negative mentality associated with the rule was still alive.

But thankfully, relations between the GAA and rival sports like soccer and rugby have now improved for the better, with international matches in both codes being staged at Croke Park and substantial financial gains being accrued as a result.

The decision by the Croke Park hierarchy to show the big soccer match last Sunday scored further points for the association and it deserves to be applauded.

Noel Coogan,
Navan, Co Meath

Road matters

Sir - Your correspondent Geraldine Herbert gives some good advice (Sunday Independent, June 26) for drivers intending to drive in Europe this summer and refers to several countries in mainland Europe.

However, there is one serious error under point (3) when she writes: "Remember to drive on the left-hand side of the road.

This may sound obvious but it is very easy to forget and revert to your normal driving pattern."

In mainland Europe, they drive on the right, not the left-hand side of the road.

Ray Taylor,

Imperialist power

Sir - I agree with Eilis O'Hanlon's article (June 26) on the question of Joe Biden's welcome in Ireland by the Taoiseach and the President.

This welcome, against the background of the Irish establishment's hand-wringing concerning the refugee crisis in the Middle East, is an example of hypocrisy.

I wonder did the Taoiseach ever raise with David Cameron the question of the guilt of the British government in entering into the Sykes-Picot agreement with the French in 1916, which heralded the outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East after 400 years of relative peace during which Muslims, Jews and Christians had lived together.

When Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary at that time, asked Mark Sykes, a British diplomat, "What should be the basis of the agreement between Britain and France?" he replied with the arrogance that was the hallmark of all great powers in the age of imperialism: "I should like to draw a line from the e in Acre to the last K in Kirkuk."

Thus the destinies of millions of people were shaped by the way a printer had arranged place names on a map.

Hugh Duffy,
Cleggan, Co Galway

Birthday wishes

Sir - Two years ago, on July 6, 2014, Kathleen Corrigan wrote the following in one of her many letters to your newspaper: "I was 90 years old on June 30 and for 14 years never missed a week writing to the Sindo letters page."

So last Thursday, June 30, 2016, Kathleen was 92 years young. I do pray you're still well and healthy Kathleen and may I wish you a very, very happy belated birthday.

I pray also, that in nearly 30 years' time, like Kathleen, I may still be sending my weekly letter, published or not, to the Sindo letters page!

Brian Mc Devitt,
Glenties, Co Donegal

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