Saturday 22 October 2016

Letters: American view of our referendum

Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30

Yes voters celebrate at the Central Count Centre in Dublin castle, Dublin
Yes voters celebrate at the Central Count Centre in Dublin castle, Dublin

Sir - Before my recent trip to Dublin to campaign for the Yes side, my father gave a word of advice: no talk of Irish re-unification.

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"Save that for another trip," he half-jokingly counselled. "Besides, isn't legalising gay marriage in Ireland gonna keep you busy?"

Dad was right. The history-making campaign to win a marriage equality referendum was all-consuming.

Thanks to the Yes campaign's social media mastery, I was plugged into the field operations before I even left home. On the first day of my trip, I met fellow Yes campaigners out in Ballyfermot for a door-to-door canvass.

Despite some mild linguistic challenges, interfacing with Ballyfermot voters was very satisfying indeed. I spoke with about 40 people that afternoon and only met one No voter.

Most folk talked about the banks and austerity, the Catholic Church, and Oireachtas. Some felt harmed by these institutions and saw a Yes vote as a way to strike a blow against oppression in general.

In many ways, America is Ireland's younger sister, each somewhat similarly situated to the Catholic Church. Both nations endured the same rigid, dogmatic influences on our cultural, social, and sexual mores.

But as America is much younger, our church-related traumas left discernibly less scar tissue. The good news is that under Pope Francis, progressive-minded Catholics seem poised to exercise a greater voice in both our nations, especially on issues of economic justice, war-and-peace, and a more sustainable stewardship of God's creation.

It's just a pity it took 2000 years to get here.

Jay Lassiter,

New Jersey, USA

We must engage to change

Sir - Maurice O'Connell from Tralee is a frequent contributor to your Letters page and always articulates his viewpoint well.

But given that he voted No (Sunday Independent, Letters Page, 31 May) I find his statement - "Appropriately, there will be a massive life-changing effect on a certain number of people, but only for a tiny minority within what is already, statistically, a minority" - disagreeable.

Over 50 per cent of the population voted in solidarity with our gay brothers and sisters and collectively gave us a day out on Saturday May 23 that we have never seen in this country before.

From Boston to Adelaide and beyond what this country achieved through the democratic process has grabbed the world's attention like no other.

So it is not all as dark and forbidding as Mr. O'Connell would have us believe. And If there is one lesson that can be learned, it is that if we as citizens want to make this country a better place it will not come about by 'hurling from the ditch' but by actively engaging with people in their own homes. The general election campaign has thus, already begun.

Tom McElligott,

Listowel, Co Kerry

November won't see an election

Sir - The headline in the Sunday Independent (31 May) over a report by Daniel McConnell and Ronald Quinlan read: 'Coalition prepares for November poll'.

They gave their reasons why they think there will be a November general election. These included a mysterious Government Minister who strongly advocated an early election after the budget.

I will bet the two journalists €50 each that there won't be a poll until 2016. Most of the tax cuts and benefits, like increases in children's allowance won't take place until January 1, 2016.

Why would the Government have the Budget in October, then take the chance of holding an election in November.?

Tom Mason,

Ballybrack, Co Dublin

Some cliches are not all that bad

Sir - I read with interest Dr Declan Collinge's article in the Sunday Independent (24 May).

I thought that some of the cliches he listed were better than his replacements for them. The following are some of my own bugbears! It has become common for people to say: "I would have ..." for something they actually did.

Imagine if God said "I would have made the world".

Another common phrase is "the past number of years" which is meaningless. You should specify a few years or several years as appropriate.

Nearly everybody says and writes "try and" instead of "try to"! Donovan sang "Try and catch the wind", but Try to Remember Frank Sinatra instead.

"From the get-go" must be one of the ugliest phrases in use. It means "From the Start".

Hugh Owens,

Douglas, Cork

Sarcasm is not free speech

Sir - May I make a few observations on Joe Brolly's article in last week's Sunday Independent: 'Free speech is difficult to uphold, but the odd slip is a small price to pay'.

His 'odd slip' was unprovoked, hurtful and a sarcastic attempt at humour, aimed at a colleague in sports presentation.

He quotes George Orwell from a 70-year-old essay, Politics and the use of the English language, in which he warned of the "grave threat posed to honest discourse by political correctness"

Sarcasm is the language of bullies, and is used to intimidate and demean. Sarcasm is certainly not honest discourse.

Joe Brolly would do well to take counsel from Mark Twain. His advice was: "It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid, than to open it and remove all doubt".

PJ Quinn,


Let's all be proud of our Navy

Sir - The article 'Plucked from the cruel sea' by Allison Bray and Claire Mc Cormac, (Sunday Independent, 31 May), concerned the Irish naval ship, the LE Eithne, rescuing more than 600 migrants from the waters of the Mediterranean only two weeks after she set sail from Ireland.

The LE Eithne is one of a number of ships of different nationalities helping out in this effort. There are German, British and Italian ships there too.

Everyone should be proud of the work and effort the Irish Navy are doing. But as Captain Barry said, the rescue by the Irish crew is literally a drop in the ocean of what is to come.

More than 40,000 migrants and asylum seekers reached Italy so far this year. Many are fleeing civil war in Syria, Eritrea, Libya and other countries.

Unless the EU and the United Nations take action immediately, I fear the LE Eithne will be needed for many months to come.

Bernard Rafter,



Praise for Joe's 'Blackbird' piece

Sir - In Joe Kennedy's elegant essay on the blackbird (Sunday Independent, Country Matters, 31 May). We learn that they are highly favoured by poets and artists. (I might even add Lennon/McCartney's Blackbird and Austin Clarke's The Blackbird of Dairycairn to Joe's impressive list).

What makes them special is their connection to humans - we rarely get as physically close to any other bird, save perhaps its cousin the robin. Long may they frequent our gardens.

Damien Boyd,


Kids' solution could work in Dail

Sir - I recently visited a creche, and the lady who ran it explained how she keeps harmony in a place with over 30 kids - all aged under six.

Those of a quiet nature, she kept together. Those who liked to cry or throw their rattlers out of the cot, she put together in another section.

After a while, the disruptive kids copped on and took example from the quiet ones.

After leaving the creche, I concluded that the same modus operandi should be tried out in our Dail. Since Enda and his Government already sit as a group, why not have Fianna Fail and Shane Ross sit near them - but not with them.

Then on the other side have all the disagreeable ones sit together and annoy each other.

Finally; no circus would be complete without a ringmaster. Gene Kerrigan from the Back Page of the Sunday Independent would be a natural for this job, as he knows everything.

Mike Kelleher,


Co Waterford

Sunday Independent

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