EU stance on refugee crisis leaves us in a constitutional Catch 22
Published 09/09/2015 | 02:30
No one, except perhaps the most heartless and thus deluded person, would argue that Ireland should not help the Syrian people who have been driven to the very edge of their land by men with guns and bombs .
Our generosity will be, I am sure, supported by the current organs of the State and help will be provided .
However, there is one fly in the ointment with regards to Syria, Eire and its partners in the EU. It is a constitutional one and it has to do with France deciding to bomb Syria.
Believe it or not, we as a people and our Government, by extension, are legally bound to seek peaceful means to all international conflicts. We are surely holding up that end of the bargain with our Navy helping out and with the news that loads of Syrians will be rehoused here .
I simply ask the question: Is it not madness to be in an EU that has seemed to force us, in a sense, to break our constitution and house refugees from Africa while another member of the EU bombs the living hell out of the country whence they came?
Then again, the Vatican is calling for every parish to take in refugees while still holding large shareholdings in arms companies ... it seems the profits of death are only to be kept by those who deal therein. The rest of us pick up the tab for armies and their suppliers to devalue human life, to the point where laws and taxes now seem irrelevant and collected not for the greater good - not the Syrians' greater good at any rate!
Cuts destroy our islands' heritage
Of all the nit-picking, bureaucratic debt by a thousand cuts that officialdom has visited on a long-suffering public, the decision to wipe out the Aran Islands air service ranks among the worst. Even the local Fine Gael representatives were not informed before the decision to transfer the service to a (as yet unpurchased) helicopter was announced.
The amount of the grant to Aer Arann for running this regular, vital service is thought to be in the region of e900,000.
This sum would not fund the golden handshake of more than e600,000, and a pension in excess of e100,000, that former financial regulator Mr Patrick Neary received.
Nor would it foot the bill for the 40 people who stand to lose their jobs and end up on the dole.
The decision is on a par with the removal of medical cards from the over-70s, but in another way it has far worse long-term implications.
What sort of a country do we want? Do we want to shut down the island communities off our shores?
On the heels of the Aran announcement came the news, two days before school opened, that a bus which brought Inishboffin children from Cleggan to Galway on a Monday (there is no secondary school on the island) and back again to Cleggan on a Friday, was no longer being subsidised - e10,000 a year was saved, apparently.
In these days of zero hours, which the taxpayer subsidises, and of vulture capitalism, over which Nama flaps its wings, these islands are an increasingly valuable part of our cultural heritage.
The Gaeltacht areas are increasingly under pressure from the spread of English and the smartphone, but the island schools prepare the teachers of tomorrow to preserve the language in the only arena in which realistically it can be saved: In urban areas via the Gaelscoileanna.
There is such a thing as a tax too far, as the water rates controversy reminds us.
There is also a cut too far, and the cuts imposed by the faceless men in the well-paid back-rooms show all the clever eejitry of what Wilde so accurately described as the men who "know the price of everything and the value of nothing".
They should take care that part of that price may shortly be paid at the ballot box.
Tim Pat Coogan
Crisis heaps shame on America
The US - the self-appointed policeman of the world - has a lot to answer for in the Middle East. It invaded countries that were no threat to it; in Libya there is a power vacuum with social unrest and Iraq - which had no weapons of mass destruction - is being destroyed by Isil.
Furthermore, it has a major responsibility for the migrants now seeking refuge in EU countries. The US is silent on the tragedy. Once again, shame on the US.
Yanks march on parochialism
De Valera's speech on St Patrick's Day 1943 is pure nostalgia; poor materially, but with spiritual wealth and comely maidens dancing at the crossroads.
All this would have been put at risk if he entered the war and a million GIs were stationed here. GIs were overpaid, oversexed, and would have been over here.
The GIs would have their kit bags filled with nylons to trade for sexual favours. Céilí dancing and Irish music would be replaced by the jitterbug and jazz music. We would speak mid-Atlantic English rather than Gaelic.
Ireland's closed, priest-dominated society would have been the first casualty of war and we would mix and grow up, rather than grow up 'mixed up'.
We were parochial until we joined the EEC in 1973.
Confusion is seasonal in Ireland
As blow-ins from the USA (yes, those reviled immigrants), my wife and I are curious about the seasons in Ireland, in so much as on Monday, September 7, we were reminded constantly by the media that 'this is the last day of summer'.
Well now, anywhere else in the world, the last day of summer is September 21, when the sun is directly over the equator, aka the Autumnal Equinox.
Thus December 21 is the Winter Solstice, when all those brave souls venture to Newgrange to mark the beginning of that season, followed by the Vernal Equinox on March 21 heralding the start of spring and then the Summer Solstice on June 21, the commencement of summer.
Could someone explain to a California blow-in the seasons of Ireland, and their basis?