Sunday 25 September 2016

Laurel and Hardy and their poignant moment in Irish history

Published 08/02/2016 | 02:30

Iconic double act Laurel and Hardy. Photo: PA
Iconic double act Laurel and Hardy. Photo: PA

Congratulations to Paul Whitington (Irish Independent, February 6) on his affectionate tribute to the immortal genius of Laurel and Hardy, and in particular for his reference to their arrival in Cobh at the start of their 1953 tour.

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Your readers might consider the sheer pathos of that scene: the greatest comic actors of their age forced by the whim of fickle public tastes to abandon the silver screen and, in their advancing years, return to their music hall roots, arrive by liner into a town that had, through the Titanic and Lusitania sinkings, experienced human tragedy on a monumental scale when the two were in those formative years of their career.

They hear the famed 'Cuckoo Song' ring out from the bells of Cobh cathedral and their eyes fill with sincere tears of gratitude.

At the same time the eyes of that young generation who were boarding liners in that same port to emigrate to America and England were filled with the tears of enforced separation - just as the same generation, but a few short years before, had, throughout the spartan years from the 1920s to the '40s, wept tears of laughter in their local cinema at the magically insane antics of the same old, wonderful men now coming into their midst.

Little wonder that day holds a storied place in the annals of the funniest duo in cinema history.

May they rest in peace, and their fame endure, forever.

Gabriel Doherty

School of History

University College Cork

Opposition lack experience

During the current election campaign, there should be much more attention paid to the fact that the dearth of past Cabinet experience amongst the ranks of the Opposition is astonishing.

It should be borne in mind that the balance of experience and "new blood" invoked by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition when taking office in 2011 was appropriate, with Enda Kenny, Michael Noonan, Richard Bruton, Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte et al all serving as competent, effective anchors within Cabinet, acting as a cohesive and stabilising influence at a particularly fragile time for the Irish economy.

A cursory glance at the Fianna Fáil front-bench would suffice in order to derive an accurate summation that no one there holds anywhere near the same, essential gravitas as the aforementioned politicians.

Of course, Sinn Féin has nobody at all with any ministerial experience, and the same applies to the vast majority of the medley of Independents.

Voters should be aware that at a basic level, the reality is that the next Government has to be run by a set of individuals with the wherewithal to take the right, crucial decisions on behalf of the people until 2021.

Accordingly, now is certainly not the time to install a Cabinet of novices.

John Kennedy

Goatstown, Dublin 14

Fine Gael and 'Fiscal Space'

There is no doubt that Enda Kenny's credibility suffered a battering in the past week of the election campaign, when he and his colleagues initially failed to distance themselves from the possibility of seeking the support of the discredited Michael Lowry in forming the next government, if such a situation arose.

This was followed by his remark that the vast majority of Irish people do not understand economic jargon.

To many, this came across as condescending and insulting.

To Mr Kenny's credit, he may be somewhat correct in that assumption as he showed that he did not have much of an understanding for that jargon himself, either, when questioned on the subject, as he needed Mr Noonan to explain it.

Even then, they were found to be peddling misleading figures in order to try and further bamboozle the unknowing public with their economic jargon, as was FF.

It was Sinn Féin, the party who have been labelled all along as peddling fairy-tale economics, which produced the more realistic figure.

Undoubtedly, many people may have little knowledge of the economic concepts of GDP, GNP and deficits, along with the new and sickening term of 'Fiscal Space', as people's main economic thinking is based on what they may have left in their pockets at the end of the week when everything is paid for.

Regarding that, Mr Kenny and his Government ought to be reminded that over the last five years the vast majority of people in this country have run their households and businesses by battling against all the odds to keep themselves and their families afloat under the most severe austerity measures, which have been imposed by the Government of which he is leader.

This ought to prove without doubt that most ordinary Irish people have an excellent knowledge of economics as they have greatly suffered as a result of his Government's economic policies.

It is sacrifices imposed on those people that have created the green shoots of recovery that we are being told are now sprouting.

Alas, for many of the people who are 'ignorant' of economics, those shoots of recovery are merely mould in the Fiscal Space of the far away hills.

Christy Kelly

Templeglantine, Co Limerick

I'd like to explain to your readers the term 'Fiscal Space', now adopted with glee by Fine Gael advisers, for public dissemination by Enda Kenny. Mr Kenny, having recently heard the term "Fiscal Space" cited at Davos, thought it sounded cool.

In plain, everyday language "Fiscal Space" is the amount of taxpayers' monies collected by the Government of Ireland, which it is permitted to spend by Germany and the ECB.

To all who assumed this was the area between Mr Kenny's ears, and those in Fine Gael HQ, who knows, you may well be correct.

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

I laughed, then I cried

I finished reading Joe O'Neill's letter 'What monkeys can tell us about the upcoming election' (Irish Independent, February 5) and I laughed till I cried.

Then the horrible truth hit me and I haven't stopped crying since.

Philip Murphy


Irish Independent

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