News Letters

Sunday 21 September 2014

Letters: An open letter to Communications Minister Alex White

Published 18/07/2014 | 02:30

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Alex White
Alex White
Poolbeg Power station at the Pigeon House in Ringsend, Dublin City. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
Poolbeg Power station at the Pigeon House in Ringsend, Dublin City. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan has refused to accept any blame for the Garth Brooks concerts fiasco
Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan has refused to accept any blame for the Garth Brooks concerts fiasco

In your new role as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with responsibility for broadcasting, may I draw your attention to the prime-time slots assigned to the Angelus on RTE1 radio and television?

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In my view, religion should be treated as a commodity in the same way as other basic needs. Just as all of us crave food, water, etc, a majority of people have a need to transcend the reality of their daily struggle to survive and to find some deeper meaning to their corporeal existence.

But the State needs to be neutral in its broadcasting policy. The Republic of Ireland is now a multicultural society with myriad religious philosophies and practices. Exclusively promoting one religious sector that propagated an institutional belief system leading to the human rights abuses of the Magdalene laundries, the mother-and-baby homes, illegal adoptions, child sexual and physical abuse and symphysiotomy can only lead to dissent and racial/religious grievances.

The one-minute prime-time slots on RTE1 Radio and RTE1 Television would cost the Catholic Church about €2m per annum if it was asked to pay for such slots. It is unconscionable that the taxpayer should be asked to foot the bill for such promotion.

The Department of Education would also be wise to take a more neutral stance in matters of religion in state-funded schools. In treating religion as a commodity, our classrooms could be rented out to religious groups after school hours and the proceeds could be used to promote special talents such as the arts and sport.

It's time to review the special status conferred on the Catholic Church by RTE and other State-funded institutions and the collusion in this practice by successive governments. I now call on you, minister, to justify why this policy should continue.

Good luck in your brief.

ANNE O'REILLY, DUNDRUM, DUBLIN 16

NO MERIT IN POOLBEG CHIMNEYS

Sentimental souls talk about the ugly Poolbeg chimneys as iconic landmarks that bring a warm glow of affection when glimpsed from a plane coming in over Dublin Bay. Ahh the chimneys! We're home.

Aren't they lucky to be coming home from their holiday? A recent UCC study found that Ireland, despite having similar economic problems to Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, has by far the highest emigration levels within the EU. And seven out of every 10 Irish people emigrating are in their 20s. For these effective economic deportees, looking down as they fly away from the country that failed them, the Poolbeg chimneys could seem a two-fingered final farewell.

The chimneys have no merit. They belong to a very recent redundant past. Let's send a signal that we're looking to a more attractive future and, in doing so, restore the beautiful vista across the bay both north and south. Demolish the monstrosities.

BRIAN BRENNAN, PORTMARNOCK, CO DUBLIN

FILLING THE WORLD CUP VOID

What shall we sports fans do now that the World Cup has come to an end? How shall we fill the void?

I have heard summer has duly arrived and luxurious growth abounds. What exotic collection of lesser-spotted creatures has now taken up residence in the long untended grass, I wonder?

Unfortunately I cannot attend to that matter just yet. The Tour de France is now entering a most crucial and challenging part. Then there is the comprehensive coverage of the British Open Golf Championship. And I haven't even mentioned the Leinster Football Final yet!

Some environmentalists profess that mowing the aforementioned grass is less than eco-friendly and hampers the greater development of both flora and fauna.

Who am I to disagree?!

TONY WALLACE, LONGWOOD, CO MEATH

DRIVING HOME THE PROBLEM

It was with great amusement that I read that Dublin City Council plans to introduce traffic lights that allow bicycles to proceed 10 seconds or more before the motorised traffic.

Have these people walked around Dublin in the last couple of years? Pedestrians stop to stare when any cyclist stops at traffic lights.

As things are, maybe we should install lights on the "pedestrian" paths to protect the cyclists from those irresponsible walkers!

Another wheeze was in your paper last week: the 'N' sign for drivers for two years after passing the driving test. For a restriction to work, it needs to be enforced at a reasonable frequency. Anyone who drives in the cities or the motorways will have seen the frequent learner-plate drivers unaccompanied. The risk of prosecution is obviously so low that it is negligible.

I do not blame the gardai for this; they are obviously undermanned and demoralised, and have their hands more than full preventing crime.

To top it all, I read, again in your paper, that two-thirds of those found guilty of motoring offences in courts do not receive their penalty points because the existing law, that they must bring their driving licences to court, is not enforced. That's not a "loophole", but a gaping barn door.

FRANK QUINN, OAKLEY ROAD, RANELAGH, D6

BROOKS FIASCO

Dublin City Manager Owen Keegan has refused to accept any blame for the Garth Brooks concerts fiasco. He said the decision taken was "fair, reasonable and balanced".

Just like the present state of Dun Laoghaire after his tenure there?

K NOLAN, CARRICK-ON-SHANNON, CO LEITRIM

ORANGE ORDER INVITE

The invitation to our President to attend the Rossnowlagh Orange Order ceremony in Co Donegal poses the question – how often has the queen of England attended Orange Order ceremonies?

RORY O'CALLAGHAN, CEANNT FORT, KILMAINHAM, DUBLIN 8

BUILDING PEACE

When I visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory in January of this year, I witnessed first hand the devastation that prolonged occupation is having on Palestinian communities. In Gaza, I witnessed the effects of ongoing cycles of violence and the economic impoverishment of the people by the economic blockade imposed by Israel.

Israel's military operations in Gaza strike me as ultimately self-defeating for their own security. Israel should recognise that collectively punishing and impoverishing the people of Gaza, including conducting extensive and disproportionate air strikes in dense urban areas, will only create anger and hopelessness among the ordinary people of Gaza.

Such resentment regrettably results in further violence.

The actions of both Hamas and Israel contravene international law. Both sides are acting recklessly and without regard for the safety of either Palestinian or Israeli civilians.

Ultimately, the sort of cyclical violence that we have seen over recent days will only lead to a continuation of the situation whereby millions of Palestinians are impoverished and live without hope and Israeli citizens live in daily fear of rocket attack.

Making meaningful efforts towards ending violence and building peace will do far more to ensure security and safety for Israel's citizens.

EAMONN MEEHAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TROCAIRE, MAYNOOTH, CO KILDARE

Irish Independent

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