Saturday 22 October 2016

FG/FF will team up

Published 11/10/2015 | 02:30

'Surely even Enda can see that all the indications point to only one outcome after the election and that is a Fine Gael/Fianna Fail government'
'Surely even Enda can see that all the indications point to only one outcome after the election and that is a Fine Gael/Fianna Fail government'

Sir - So Enda has instructed his party faithful to slag off Micheal Martin at every opportunity (Sunday Independent, October 4). Mr Kenny has instructed his subordinates to invoke a put down used by Harold Wilson about Ted Heath 50 years ago - "a shiver looking for a spine". Well, the hordes of spin doctors he has working for him have once again let him put both feet in it. Does he really think that this type of spiteful drivel is going to win favour with the Irish electorate, especially the undecided voters? Is he not worried that he will have to announce Mr Martin as his Tanaiste in a few months time?

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Surely even Enda can see that all the indications point to only one outcome after the election and that is a Fine Gael/Fianna Fail government. God help us, there is no other possible alternative, and the Irish people will get what nearly every democracy in the world has - a parliament of the left and right. At least then we will be able to come down on one side or the other, and not base our vote on what happened on the streets of Dublin 100 years ago.

Mike Burke, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare

Brian Friel's kindly notes

Sir - I have the following correspondence from the late Brian Friel through my association with the Glenties Drama Group.

1. Dear Brian McDevitt,

Many thanks for your note.

Of course you have my blessing for your upcoming production of Lughnasa.

I hope you have a most enjoyable time doing the play and that your audiences have a most enjoyable time watching it.

Best wishes -

Brian Friel.

2. Dear Mr. Mc Devitt,

Many thanks for your note. I hope the company had an enjoyable rehearsal time and that your audiences have a good time, too.

If you could send me (or fax me) a fax number I'd be happy to fax a message to the group for your opening.

Best wishes,

Brian Friel.

3. To the Dancing at Lughnasa Company.

It is altogether appropriate and deeply satisfying to me that Glenties people are performing Lughnasa.

There is a welcome wholeness in that. Because Glenties itself is both the core of the play and its engine.

I hope you had a most enjoyable time in rehearsal. I hope your audiences enjoy what you present to them. In short I hope the night sings.

Warmest good wishes to you all.

Brian Friel.

A generous and lovely man.

Glenties is so honoured.

Brian Mc Devitt, Glenties Drama Group, Glenties, Co Donegal

Ignore SF spin about Mairia

Sir - In response to news that Máiria Cahill could be the next Irish Labour Senator, (Sunday Independent, 4 October), Sinn Féin supporters argue that her current sense of politics has no credibility because she was formerly involved with SF and Republican Network for Unity. But this is disingenuously simplistic.

Máiria Cahill comes from a traditional Republican pedigree. Ninety-five pc of people that grow up around that type of politics initially inherit it. Máiria, like any young person with her lineage, was predisposed to the "Struggle" because that was her circumstance.

I also grew up around the narrative (albeit not to the same extent) that SF was who I should support. I was never personally comfortable with Provisionalism, but when the majority of people you are exposed to in your youth speak exclusively in that sort of language, it does tend to factor into your outlook. Even John Hume's father warned him about the lure of the "Struggle" on impressionable young people in strongly nationalist areas.

Eventually though, you develop strength of mind and your politics adapts according to what you actually think and feel. This is what we see with Máiria Cahill. Someone that is naturally full of humanity, but was born into a political culture that wasn't conducive to such a mind-set.

Those that post pictures of a young Máiria Cahill holding an anti-RUC sign are therefore extremely vindictive. Young people need to be given a trial and error period when it comes to realising their true politics - particularly in the context of Northern Ireland.

Criticism of Mairia's politics ignores the important context of Máiria being a young victim of abuse. The occurrence of that abuse, and the subsequent stifling of official justice, came from the SF movement. It would seem that in a bid to exorcise her long-festering anger about this, Mairia became involved with a radical opposition group that was not only aggressively anti-SF, but offered her protection from some of the very dangerous people that operate within SF. In victims' terms - not conventional logic - this makes absolute sense.

It is hardly surprising that Máiria would have sought this during a vulnerable and frustrating point in her life.

Nobody should fall for the very contrived SF propaganda line that Máiria is some dangerous dissident, and it will be unfortunate if the debate that arises from her candidacy gives oxygen to such a non-issue.

Darren Litter, Co Tyrone

Disagreement on cost benefit study

Sir - In last week's Sunday Independent, under the heading, "A case of tunnel vision for Metro North rail plan," Colm McCarthy claimed that there was "no indication that a cost/benefit analysis had been done for the Metro North".

The National Transport Authority did of course carry out cost/benefit analyses of each of the six transport project options under consideration, and the details were published on our website ( on September 29, and were referred to in media material issued on that day. Our cost benefit analyses helped us to assess the relative merits of the six different project options, and to make an informed recommendation to the Minister.

I hope this helps to clarify the situation for your readers.

Anne Graham, National Transport Authority, Dublin 2

McCarthy issues worth examining

Sir - I read Colm McCarthy's article on the Metro North rail plan (Sunday Independent, Oct 4) with interest. I almost moved on to something else. But then the gravity of what he was suggesting stuck me very forcibly. This matter needs to be investigated further.

The government plans to invest €2.4 billion in Metro North. They need to clarify if there is, as Colm McCarthy suggests, an "apparent" or "actual" breach of the "same Government's published procedures for evaluating investment schemes financed with public funds." This is our money. Metro North will go ahead at the expense of other projects. If a cheaper alternative using bus transportation already exists, can we really justify spending €145 million per kilometre for Metro North? The recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General is a stinging indictment of extraordinary wastage by Government departments. It is reasonable to demand the government conduct due diligence and follow their own rules.

An appropriate cost and benefit analysis might well conclude that €2.4 billion would be better spent over a wider range of national projects. Metro North must be submitted to such an analysis before a penny is spent on it. The government has questions to answer here. Has this analysis been conducted? Have they followed their own rules? If not, why not?

As we descend into electioneering mode, let's try to establish if the Metro North project is a flagship or a folly.

John Coleman, Midleton, Co. Cork

Believes Famine was genocide

Sir - Re Ruth Dudley Edwards's article (Sunday Independent, 4 October): The facts are Ireland exported 4,000 ships of food to England per year in the worst years during the Famine, mostly wheat, oats, barley, peas, beans, onions and other vegetables, as well as horses, fish, rabbits, beef and poultry.

And of the 100,000 British soldiers stationed in Ireland during the Famine, not one is recorded as starving to death. So, I believe the Famine to be a genocide.

Sam Dunne, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

What really caused the Famine?

Sir - "What caused the famine was the potato blight, not the English government. Get over it," Ruth Dudley Edwards wrote (Sunday Independent, 4 October).

During the Famine a million Catholic Irish, the country's poorest and weakest, starved to death on the side of the road. Entire families and villages were extinguished. Three hundred thousand of our youngest and strongest died on the boats trying to escape death, all of them Catholic Irish.

Our country was administered throughout this dismal chapter by Her Majesty's Government - the government of the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth.

Lavish celebrations continued undaunted at Dublin Castle throughout 'the Castle Season', patronised by the gentry of the great houses of the country, English Protestant landowners. The six-week season culminated in a grand ball on St Patrick's Day.

The Catholic Irish ate grass. They were found dead with green stains around their mouths. They died because they were poor. When the potato crop failed they had nothing to eat.

The people were poor because of the strategy of the English Government to impoverish and oppress them, through laws that removed their property and their livelihood; that prevented them from sitting in parliament; that banned them from living in towns. I should have expected a greater level of awareness from an educated journalist and from her Editor.

Anne Brennan, Templemore, Co Tipperary

British Army's role in the Famine

Sir - Attempting to deny Ireland's 1845-1850 Holocaust, Ruth Edwards wrote (Sunday Independent, October 4): "The British government handled the catastrophe incompetently, and for doctrinaire but not ill-intentioned reasons changed policy to non-interference after two years, but there was no deliberate cruelty and no intention to kill anyone."

The catastrophe was created by deploying army regiments to Ireland where it competently removed, at gunpoint, the abundant agricultural output for export while its producers starved. More than half of Britain's army participated. Ireland's landlords were largely English, Protestant, and so powerful in Britain's Lords and Commons they were able to control deployment of the army and leave hundreds if not thousands of mass graves across Ireland. On what basis does Ms Edwards claim Britain had "no intention to kill anyone?" How can starvation be "unintentional" if food is removed by violence?

Christopher Fogarty; author of Ireland 1845-1850; the Perfect Holocaust, and Who Kept it "Perfect", Chicago, USA

Nature's free entertainment

Sir - These last few weeks I have had the most wonderful distraction with the delightful singing of a little robin. I leave my kitchen window open to enjoy this free entertainment. He perches on a tree just outside and sings his heart out. As I listened I realised there are two, one answering the other. What a joy on these beautiful days.

Dorothy Nixon Cribbin, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo

Sound man, Brendan

Sir - Kudos to Brendan O'Connor for his article on Cathriona White (Sunday Independent, October 4).

Once again he has shown his connection with how life really is for people and asked the question as to why do people have to "sanitise" every tragedy and try and find a villain without looking at the bigger picture. Well done Brendan.

Tony Sheehan, Co Waterford

Brolly and GAA are entrenched

Sir - I was disappointed by Joe Brolly's comments (Sunday Independent, October 4) and hope that they don`t reflect the wider view of the GAA. The article specifically mentioned me in relation to an interview by another leading GAA figure, Jarlath Burns, who said he would have no problem removing the Irish Tricolour and Irish National Anthem from GAA matches.

I responded in a positive manner to Mr Burns, even though he finished by saying that while getting rid of flags and anthems would not bother him, it was "not going to happen in the GAA".

Mr Brolly's article stated 'The reality is that no appeasement would satisfy the Tom Elliotts of this world'. This I believe is Mr Brolly attempting to detract from the progressive attitude of Mr Burns and attempting to suggest that I was a problem to such progress. If Mr Brolly's attitude reflects that of the GAA as opposed to Mr Burns's position then the organisation is really in reverse mode as opposed to being a positive, forward-thinking group.

Obviously while Mr Burns said that such actions to remove some of the overtly political activities of the GAA would be acceptable to him, they would not be acceptable to the GAA, which I assume is firmly where Mr Brolly stands - not an inch to make the GAA a little more acceptable to the wider community. Unfortunately it is attitudes such as this that have kept the organisation at a significant distance from many within Northern Ireland's society.

I have offered to further discuss the matter, and if Mr Brolly wishes to be part of that I invite him to any such discussions, or maybe he is just too entrenched with the current political side of the GAA to move to a more moderate accommodation by the organisation.

Tom Elliott MP, House of Commons, London

Here's your hat, Brendan

Sir - Brendan Fanning referred to the Italian team as "a team of creaking veterans who offer no threat at all" to Ireland (Sunday Independent, 4 October). We were damn lucky to beat them on Sunday. They were within inches of a try that would have won the game for them. Time to eat your hat, Brendan.

Padraig Mc Ginn, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim

Show courage with the All Blacks

Sir - Another brilliant piece by Eamonn Sweeney (Sunday Independent, October 4). It is an important lesson for us/you (I'm English) to learn. Once again we have a perfect model in front of us in Kilkenny. They don't poach foreigners from Tipperary and Waterford as England poaches Fijians, Samoans and Tongans at rugby and Irishmen at cricket (Eoin Morgan indeed, a Dub himself).

I wish I could say as much about the money-loaded Dubs. If they can't find 15 Dubs to play for Dublin in mostly home matches, with little travelling involved in Croke Park, they don't deserve to win anything.

In Semple Stadium in the quarter-final the incomparable Henry Shefflin (along with the incomparable DJ Carey, TJ Reid, Richie Power, Eddie Brennan, Eoin Larkin, Tommy Walsh, JJ Delaney, etc ... etc) got a red to add to his two yellows in the 32nd minute (a travesty of sport) and Clare famously went on to win the final after two brilliant matches, celebrating their win in the famous Clyde/Berkeley Court Hotel in posh Dublin 4.

I hope the complacent rugby players have learnt this lesson well, having struggled to get the better of a proud and determined Italian team. I hope the great Ger Earls (Young Munster and Thomond RFC) enjoyed the match.

I hope we/you have the courage to meet the All Blacks in the quarter finals, and to give us a break from the French with their Fijian winger and South African full back.

It is time we beat them as all who remember Tom Grace's try and Barry McGann's attempted conversion in 1973 will surely agree.

Our Romanian XV will do for the French, since the French have systematically exploited and ruined Romanian rugby.

Gerald Morgan, The Chaucer Hub, Trinity College, Dublin 2

Sunday Independent

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