Saturday 1 October 2016

Letter of the Week: RIC men recalled

Published 24/08/2014 | 02:30

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

Madam - I was privileged to be among the congregation at a Mass held in the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin on the first Sunday in August marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.

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It was heartening to hear Archbishop Diarmuid Martin refer to those Irish men (his uncle was one) as "having fought with great courage in the defence of an ideal".

Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan, who also attended, correctly said afterwards that it was "most regrettable" that the Irish war dead were "airbrushed from history".

Sadly there is another cohort of Irish men who "fought with great courage" for the same ideal - the promise of Home Rule and devolved government - and who are still "airbrushed from history".

They served the community faithfully in the decades leading up to independence, as the record will justly testify, until they found themselves suddenly on the wrong side of history. The record shows that over 500 members of the RIC and 14 members of the DMP died violently between 1916 and 1922.

The writer Sean O Faolain, whose father Denis Whelan served with the RIC in Cork City, said of this bloody period: "Men like my father were dragged out in those years and shot - so be it. Shot to inspire terror - so be it. But they were not traitors - they had their loyalties and they stuck to them."

However despite our lobbying efforts over several years, there seems to be no apparent appetite among our politicians to have a memorial erected to these men or even to have an official commemoration for them, a matter of major disappointment to their legions of descendants (85,000 men served in the RIC and the predecessor force).

Nonetheless our small ad hoc group of retired gardai has taken up the cudgels where official Ireland has failed. We will be holding our second annual interdenominational commemoration service at the church of St Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus, Dublin 6 next Saturday, August 30, at 2.30pm. All are welcome, especially anyone who had relatives in either force.

Gerard Lovett,

Hon Sec RIC/DMP 
Commemoration Committee,

Knocklyon, Dublin 16

Women change, men don't

Madam - How long is Rosanna Davison married?

A couple of months at a guess - and now she is an expert on relationships. Good for her if she is able to get around the daily domestic grind without having to nag her husband to put out the rubbish when he is in his "man cave". She picks up his towels and socks. Will she still be doing this when she is cleaning up after the kids? It's hard to train an old dog new tricks.

In today's modern world I thought it was all about compromise and sharing the domestic duties.

While it's lovely to spoil our menfolk, I would tread carefully A woman marries a man expecting he will change - but he doesn't. A man marries a woman expecting she won't change - and she does.

Mary McKenna


Co Kilkenny

What will Rosanna say in 40 years?

Madam - We are 40 years married this month, so I was amused to read Rosanna Davison's recipe for a happy marriage after only a few months!

Perhaps you could ask her again in 40 years.

Patricia Keeley,

Dublin 6W

Few agree on the size of the pay gap

Madam - Your report last weekend (Sunday Independent 17 August 2014) wrongly claimed that there is a huge gap between public and private sector pay, and failed to explain the moderate gap that really exists.

The report didn't mention that the CSO figures it quoted do not include the so-called public service 'pension levy,' which reduces public service incomes by an average 7.5pc.

Neither did it mention the CSO's disclaimer that its comparisons of public and private 'average' pay are not comparisons of rewards for the same or similar jobs. That's because they don't take account of responsibilities, qualifications, experience or educational attainment, all of which are higher on average in the public than the private sector.

Economists and other researchers disagree on the size and significance of the public-private pay gap. The most balanced study of recent years was done by the CSO in 2012. It looked at ways of calculating the gap and concluded that, depending on how it's measured, it could be as little as zero or as much as 12pc once the pension levy is factored in.

Recent pay increases in many parts of the private sector - which are both welcome and overdue - are no doubt narrowing the gap. But there is no divide between public and private sector workers.

Pay increases are badly needed in all sectors of the economy, both to improve dented living standards and to support the fragile recovery by getting people spending in the local economy again.

Bernard Harbor

Head of Communications

IMPACT trade union

Dublin 1.

No reliable data on public/private pay

Madam- The report you carried in last week's Sunday Independent by Daniel McConnell, on the so-called salary gap between private and public sector workers, represents the worst kind of stoop down low journalism. Of course, by referring to CSO figures, you claim some form of divine legitimacy. Can I respond?

The CSO, along with the ERSI, are government funded and ultimately government controlled bodies. The ERSI in particular disgraced itself during the Celtic-bubble years by cheer-leading the illusory economic miracle. We have no independent, economic data gathering body.

On the direct matter you addressed last week: what does the CSO, and the Sunday Independent mean, by "private"?

Does this refer to the profits generated by multi-national companies and taken from this country by millionaire and billionaire owners and shareholders?

Does it refer to privately employed people that have a large range of perfectly legitimate means of avoiding taxation?

Do you consider that a publicly employed and highly trained doctor or nurse should be compared to a minimally trained person who works on a till in Aldi, or a person that serves coffee in one of the notoriously tax avoidant international coffee chains?

When one factors in the reality that private industry in Ireland is lightly taxed (to put it mildly), and that public sector workers, as well as suffering swingeing pay cuts, have no means of avoiding tax, the reality is we are very much worse off than the private sector as a whole.

As a public sector worker I would love to pay a notional 12pc of my income in tax, and would then gladly pay an accountant to assist me bring that 12pc down to 5pc, as so many private sector companies do here.

So, please Sunday Independent, play fair and stop promoting hatred of public workers, we aren't the enemy you insist on making us out to be.

Declan Doyle

Lisdowney, Kilkenny

We should listen 
to McCarthy

Madam - In his article of August 17, Colm McCarthy warns us that "with debt still rising, pay hike talks are unnerving". He is also giving us the sobering advice that "it will be at least a decade before the public purse can bear pay increases - not before."

He may be a pain in the face but Colm McCarthy has the unhappy knack of being right.

Way back during the tiger years he was one of the few who warned of the dangers of the policies that were being followed then. In contrast to his warnings the message from media in general during the boom could be summed up by saying that everything is getting better and better and we should not pay too much attention to "whingers".

Well, Colm McCarthy was one of the whingers back a decade ago or more - and how right he was. He is now telling us that we had what he calls a "Demolition Derby for budgetary prudence" before elections during the boom. We are paying for that now in austerity.

Despite the austerity, however, he tells us that "outstanding debt" as a percentage of national income is "a whopping 140pc".

That may be unnerving and we may not like it but we cannot say we were not warned - for a second time.

A Leavy,


Dublin 13

Senator disagrees with Harris view

Madam - It is regrettable that former Senator Eoghan Harris, in his Sunday Independent column, chose to tackle the speaker and not the substance when I called on the Government to clarify, if the view of a former Taoiseach - that the 1916 Rising was "completely unnecessary" - was also the current Government position.

This statement by John Bruton has upset the relatives and descendants of those who struggled and many who died to achieve the ideals of the Proclamation - "equal rights and equal opportunities, civil and religious liberties" - certainly aims worth achieving and not at all "unnecessary".

As to the unwarranted attack by your columnist on me, I will have to borrow a quote from your letter of the week last week - one of the over 250,000 descendants of the Easter Rising, and someone who was also insulted by your columnist. "To be insulted by you is to be garlanded with lilies'

Senator Mark Daly,

Leinster House,

Kildare St, Dublin 2

Let's cut out the name-calling

Madam - I agree with your correspondent, Donal Lynch's implication that the State broadcaster should not have to provide "the alternative perspective" every time gay marriage is discussed on the air in any programme.

Personally I feel that marriage is between a man and a woman and that gay marriage is a step too far. I certainly agree to civil partnerships to protect the rights of gay couples.

I object strongly to your correspondent's description of myself and others with the same feelings as anti-marriage cranks. If in the future an anti- gay marriage discussion takes place and there are gay people who object if an "alternative perspective" is not provided, will your correspondent describe them as pro-marriage cranks?

James Purcell,

Balbriggan, Co Dublin

Brendan made me think of home

Madam - I loved Brendan O'Connor's newsletter from West Cork. Here I am working hard in Pittsburgh, and could definitely be brought back to West Cork and Bishopstown and Innishannon and Baltimore.

One of these days we will take a trip home again.

Thanks for sharing it.

Dorothy Murray,

Pittsburgh, USA.

Thanks Brendan for the memories

Madam - Coming from Cork, a native of Cloughduv, my homeplace is not very far from Brendan O'Connor's route from Bandon into Innishannon.

I have lived in Melbourne for the last six years and long for Cork and the trappings of summer. Brendan has described the trip to the mother's place perfectly, and in the process made me very homesick. I want to thank him for this article and all the other great articles he writes.

The only thing missing from the article was the Bandon butter on the homemade bread with coleslaw to make it a true heart attack on the plate.

For a son of Colaiste an Spioraid Naoimh, he has a terribly good way with the English language!

Ronan Creedon,



Niamh's critics missed the point

Madam - I am writing in defence of Niamh Horan and the article she recently wrote about women's rugby (Sunday Independent August 10).

What happened afterwards, mostly on Twitter was a storm in a teacup. People took offence with some of the imagery used in the article, for example, "these are not butch, masculine, beer-swilling, men-hating women."

Anyone with cop-on can see 
this statement for what it is: a 
light-hearted poke at cliched beliefs that a minority of people hold about women who partake in this sport.

Sometimes the best way to expose the use of language in this way is to bring it into the open as Niamh has done and let people see how ridiculous it is. In this age of politically correct speech we can sometimes lose the run of ourselves and throw the baby out with the bath water.

I enjoyed the article and am delighted to read in her follow-up piece that she is not for turning despite the brouhaha created by people on social media who more than likely have little else to do with their time. To quote her from last Sunday, "no matter how big the wall of opposition becomes, never ever back down from being true to who you are."

Keep up the good work Niamh and I look forward to future articles where at least you get down and dirty in your research unlike many of the armchair naysayers,

Tommy Roddy,


Niamh's advice is appreciated

Madam - Niamh Horan, in response to the women's rugby controversy, wrote last weekend (Sunday Independent, August17, 2014) the following: "During our encounter, the rugby players taught me about physical strength, so I can now return the favour in moral strength.

"No matter how big the wall of opposition becomes, never ever back down from being true to who you are. I would rather be hated for what I am, than liked for what I'm pretending to be"

Very wise words from this young lady. Bravo Niamh! Bravo!

Brian Mc Devitt,

Glenties, Co Donegal

Niamh's column a welcome relief

Madam - Kudos to Niamh Horan (August 17) for her robust (and humorous) rebuke to the online antagonists who railed against her following an article published in the previous week's paper - a light-hearted piece on a day spent training with the Railway Union women's rugby team.

It escaped the attention of many that the article was about women who happened to play rugby and not about the game itself; the clue - it wasn't in the sports section.

The Sunday Independent is the most diverse newspaper in the Irish market, with its broad range of news stories and opinion pieces. Niamh's column brings a welcome relief from some of the more depressing news from across the globe. She has also shown pluck as a reporter such as when she confronted Priory Hall developer Tom McFeely after a chance encounter while on holiday.

I suspect that many of the self-righteous, self-appointed guardians of political correctness use their spare time scanning newspapers looking for offence.

As for me, next week after reading about some outrage or other, I will relax and read Niamh's column.

John Bellew,

Dunleer, Co Louth

Attack on Niamh was 'bizarre'

Madam - It is difficult not to be utterly bemused by the bizarre storm in a thimble that blew up in response to Niamh Horan's light-hearted piece (Aug 10) about a day spent with a women's rugby team.

As for those who have reacted so negatively to Ms Horan's article, they have done themselves no favours and have made themselves look ridiculous in the eyes of people of common sense - maybe no bad thing.

Congratulations to the team on their outstanding achievement in defeating New Zealand, generally considered to be one of the world's best.

Hugh Gibney,


Co Meath

Sunday Independent

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