Monday 24 October 2016

Ireland - and the EU - must be cautious in fight against Isil

Published 23/11/2015 | 02:30

A Malian police officer walks in front of the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali
A Malian police officer walks in front of the Radisson hotel in Bamako, Mali

Ireland's involvement in the French response to terrorism by deploying troops to replace French troops in Mali is venturing into deep and dangerous waters, given the spate of terrorist activity currently at play in Europe.

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Terrorists do not forget that easily and the sight of an Irish tricolour will alert them to Irish involvement. Irish troops who are engaged with militants will not be considered innocent.

They have engaged an enemy, an enemy that can inflict mass murder on civilian populations in highly successful military operations carried out without warning. Isil is perhaps the most potent of all terrorist organisations in forming alliances with al-Qa'ida or intercontinental terrorist groups.

So far, allied forces have underestimated the dangers in taking on terrorist groups around the world. The dangers are now all too apparent and the allied forces are putting everybody's life at risk in their obsessive bid to run down terrorists - terrorists who consider themselves freedom fighters and who may not attack Western countries if they are left alone.

The US and the French have headed up the onslaught for some time and the Middle East territory wars that go with them. In response, terror cells are now being activated in Europe, led by key militants.

The recent attempt to hit what terrorists believe is the capital of Europe, Brussels, is all the evidence anyone needs that great risks are involved in waging war.

It is quite likely that terrorists will continue to haunt the EU from now on. The EU has become a soft target for terrorists. And now all governments in the EU - including our own - will need to choose their words and military actions very carefully.

Terrorists are also engaged in counter-intelligence and have the ability to work under the radar by altering their identities and changing tactics. Further attacks on civilian populations are almost a certainty, with the militants going into abeyance only to attack again in future, out of the blue.

No government anywhere in Europe can afford the luxury of glib words, actions, or involvement in taking terrorists to task.

Maurice Fitzgerald,

Shanbally, Co Cork

State to blame on school places

Hugh Sheehy's interesting letter (Irish Independent, November 19) entitled "Christians not being charitable" makes for interesting analysis of the present situation whereby there is a lack of school places in some parts of the country. I have taken his advice and tried his thought experiment, which brought me to a very different conclusion.

Mr Sheehy seems unwilling to face the fact that it is the State that has failed to provide enough school places.

The Basin Lane Christian Brothers school where I was educated as a child has been handed over to Educate Together, a body that concentrates its efforts on providing schools for those who do not want to receive a Christian education.

In the more straitened financial times of the 1950s, my parents, along with many other Catholics, contributed financially to the Christian Brothers' appeals for funds to build their new national school.

As a Christian, I have backed the handover of my former school to new patronage and I would be more than willing to support a body such as Educate Together to purchase land upon which to build more of its secular schools.

Alan Whelan

Killarney, Co Kerry

Late Late wasted opportunity

Being a lifetime fan of National Hunt racing, when I heard the announcement that 'The Late Late Show' had AP McCoy, the greatest National Hunt jockey of all time, as one of its guests, I sat up and looked forward to what was to follow.

I can only describe the experience of watching the interview as being like that of a child given a large ice-cream - only to find it tastes like raw celery.

What a pity someone like Ted Walsh was not given the job to sit and talk with the great man about something he knows.

Instead I listened and cringed - as some of the questions asked had very little to do with racing.

This was not one of the desk-top drummer Ryan Tubridy's finest interviews. How sad - like an odds-on shot falling at the first hurdle.

Fred Molloy

Clonsilla, Dublin 15

Leinster must relight the flame

I watched Leinster fall at the hands of Bath at the weekend. Their European dream has pretty much disappeared down the plug-hole after just two games.

We have to go back to 1996 to find a similar scenario.

Let's be clear, there was an improvement, but what struck me was the lack of engagement and intent from the lads in the blue shirts for much of the game.

It was as if there was an off switch.

These are professional rugby players, so why did motivational levels appear to rise and dip so unpredictably?

Is there a mental hangover from the World Cup that has still to be walked off?

Defeat is a by-product of competition. You deal with it and move on.

Watching Leinster and Munster, a malaise seems to have set in. It is as if the spirit has somehow been sapped and the fire that is so necessary for the fray has been dampened down. Top athletes are gifted, but they only get to shine for a short spell. If their hunger goes, then you must look to the youth to rekindle the flame.

Luke McGrath made his presence felt as soon as he was introduced to the game, we never saw Ian Madigan, and the most gifted of them all, Gary Ringrose, is reduced to the briefest of cameo appearances.

To his credit, Jamie Heaslip summoned up the strength to lead by example at key moments, but overall, the blue flame that is the trademark of Leinster spluttered, and flashed all too briefly.

Give the young guns their day. We may lose a few games, but ultimately we will be the stronger. Fortune favours the brave.

Ed Toal

Galway City

All tomorrow's inquiries

When will the inquiry begin into the failure of the inquiry into the banking failure?

Dr John Doherty

Gaoth Dobhair, Co Dhún na nGall

Irish Independent

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