Saturday 22 October 2016

Ireland has no reason to celebrate the Battle of Waterloo

Published 13/07/2015 | 02:30

The Duke of Wellington
The Duke of Wellington

Gerald Morgan (Letters, July 7) says that we in Ireland should celebrate Waterloo in 1815. It is hard to see why. Waterloo was a victory for inherited hierarchy and oppression.

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Napoleon might have been an autocrat - he had to be after the chaos of the French Revolution - but he promoted equality under the law and a meritocratic society.

As for the Irish who made up a third of Wellington's British troops that day, 30 years later they and their children starved in the Great Famine - so much for their reward.

Mr Morgan implies that Wellington deserved to win as he was a greater general than Napoleon. In fact, whereas the Emperor won over 50 battles in his career, Wellington, while a skilful general, made his reputation by beating second-string French marshals in Spain.

Moreover, Wellington would never have won Waterloo without the assistance of 50,000 Prussians. Mr Morgan speaks of the tyranny of empires, meaning Napoleon's: what about the British Empire that covered a quarter of the globe a century later and the oppressiveness of the Hapsburg and Romanov Empires who Napoleon fought? Truly, winners write the history.

As for Marshal Ney, Mr. Morgan asks what happened to him after the battle. He was judicially murdered by the pathetic Bourbon dynasty that the Allies inflicted on the French people after Napoleon's abdication.

Dr Frank Giles


Dublin 4


Greeks must revisit history

The current fiasco regarding the Greek government and the European banking establishment seems eerily similar to the Battle of Thermopylae 2,500 years ago, a battle that looms large in the Greek national identity, as well as in pop culture in general.

In this battle, using their tried and tested wall of spears formation which they called a phalanx, thousands of Greeks successfully stalled the advance on Athens of a foreign army that was many times their number.

Even though it was only a blocking action while on a strategic retreat, the battle was very soon talked up as a great victory by a small Greek army over the nearly innumerable foreign hordes seeking to force their will on the Greek people.

This battle seems to be dictating the Greek response in 2015 to the European Banks seeking to get their money back. Athens seems convinced that if it just forms a political phalanx, then it can defeat the banks. But this is to miss the reality of the battle.

Phalanxes lack mobility and manoeuverability and are wide open to attack if the enemy is creative. Plus the Greeks at Thermopylae were eventually surrounded and destroyed by their enemies. And, to top it off, Athens itself was seized and burned, with many Greeks going over to the enemy.

Just a bit of insight for Athens.

Colin Smith

Clara, Co Offaly


Third-levels costs much higher

I disagree on the costs for third-level as predicted in the Irish Independent (July 10). As a mother of three students from Kerry who attended Trinity and DIT over the last 10 years, these figures are ridiculous.

At the moment a single room in a student campus in Dublin for my son is €6,350 per year, Registration is €3,000, bus travel is €800 per year, food and social life are €4,800 and call credit is €320 per year.

This does not include the train from Kerry, which is €35 per week, so visits home are €140 per year.

These basic costs amount to €15,410 per college year for our student son in Kerry. And that's not including books, laptop, not to mind laptop repairs or sports clothes.

Marlyn McCarthy

Causeway, Co Kerry


Don't rubbish the country

Ireland's green, clean image is a big plus for all sectors of the economy - food in particular. However, I feel that this is now under threat as our beautiful, green landscape is being dappled with recklessly discarded rubbish.

It is being dumped on our hills, in our rivers, lakes, bogs, ditches, amenity areas and in other people's bins by people who cannot, or will not, pay the collection costs.

Duncan Stewart, in his RTE programme, Eco Eye, highlighted the damage that non-degradable material, such as plastics, are doing to marine life on the sea bed.

Civic-minded people up and down the country are making huge efforts to arrest this grimy problem by collecting and bagging other people's discards in their towns, villages and environs. Sadly, they are fighting a losing battle as the littering continues unabated and they are ill-equipped to deal with the rural landscape.

This is now a national issue, and like any other national issue, it needs to be dealt with by the Government. Bring back the 'free' collection of bins and open up the re-cycling depots before it's too late.

We all know that there is nothing for free, but paying for refuse collection through taxation brings everyone into the net.

Pat McLoughlin

Newcastle West, Co Limerick


Vatican moves on our climate

She is one of the world's most high-profile social activists and he is one of the Pope's most senior aides and is a professor of climate-change economics. But now the secular radical will join forces with the Catholic cardinal, Peter Turkson,and other members of the laity, in the latest move by Pope Francis to shift the debate on global warming.

Naomi Klein's arrival at the Vatican has raised eyebrows, which is always a good sign. Nearly 500 years since Galileo was found guilty of heresy, I hope he is now permitting himself a wry smile.

Eithne Mac Fadden

Carrigart, County Donegal


So much for upholding family

Your editorial (July 10) states: "You would have to look very slowly to see where the constitutional commitment to the family is reflected in Irish society as far as the Government's role is concerned." In fact it is unlikely that you would find it at all, no matter how slowly you look.

Recently the UN Human Rights Council passed by a two to one majority a resolution calling for the protection of the family.

The resolution strongly affirms the family as the natural and fundamental group unit of society, similar to the Irish Constitution.

The resolution also calls on governments to both implement pro-family policies and to take steps to address threats to the family.

Ireland voted against the resolution.

Frank Murphy

Strandhill Road, Sligo

Irish Independent

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