Sunday 25 September 2016

Letters: Burton must recognise the problem in our politics

Published 14/07/2014 | 02:30

Joan Burton called it the Berlusconi complex
Joan Burton called it the Berlusconi complex

My thanks to Patricia R Moynihan (Letters, July 11) for reading and responding to my letter of July 9.

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I have been a political admirer of Joan Burton for a long time. Her overwhelming victory in the leadership contest shows in what high regard she is held by the remaining active members of the Labour Party.

But do they (and even the highly intelligent Ms Burton herself) grasp what has been happening inside the skulls of our people – and particularly the skulls of those who 'should' have voted Labour in May's elections?

Since 2008, a substantial number of us ordinary Irish citizens have been working very hard to understand what went so terribly wrong with the Irish Economic Miracle (aka 'Celtic Tiger'). And why, why, why?

What seems to have been entirely missed by the political elite (to the accompaniment of condescending homilies), is that, far from being ignorant peasants and proletarians, many of us have made the necessary intellectual leap. In a crude simplification: a deeply flawed global socio-economic system crashed headlong into good old Irish native greed, the collapse even of secular values.

But has a single member of the Labour parliamentary party identified themselves with such a view? Joan did not have to throw a verbal bomb, let alone walk out of government. But there was not one syllable that indicated that she understood the fundamental problem in our politics.

What worries me particularly about Ms Burton's Labour is that there is apparently no strategic understanding that though our collective future rests very much on 'local', ie 'Irish', policy and governance, all that depends utterly, for this tiny, open economy, on what happens (or does not happen) within the European Union. Let alone the rest of this shrinking planet.



A thankless job

I happened to be in Dublin last week, and on the same day, not far from Leinster House, I saw Michael Noonan and Taoiseach Enda Kenny; they were not together but in coming and going in the area, I caught a glimpse of them.

It occurred to me that heavy indeed is the head that wears the crown. I can appreciate that both were under stress as it was the week of the reshuffle.

I have never been a member of a political party – though like everyone else in the country I take a keen interest in what's going on.

Seeing these two men evidently tired and battered by the waves in their battle to turn back the tide of austerity, I was struck by their integrity.

I read repeatedly about the low regard we have for those who seek and hold public office, and no matter what they do, you will hear the refrain: "sure aren't they well paid for it?".

Perhaps. But Michael Noonan has been bravely doing his job while fighting serious illness. He might have taken leave but he stuck to his task instead.

Mr Kenny has doggedly attempted to get the green shoots back in the economic wasteland that he was left by the last shower. His reward has been a chorus of abuse.

It has been a tough and utterly thankless task.

Evidently neither man is in it for gratitude or appreciation; they believe in what they are doing.

They are human and they have made personal sacrifices, and I think their efforts should be saluted, along with the efforts of many other sincere and honest public servants who believe in what they do.



Hearing God's call

It is Catholic doctrine that baptism gives each one of us a special charism for one's vocation in life. The charism is permanent; it influences us in making the choice and living it out.

Speaking from my own experience, I made the wrong choice. I wanted to be a priest, but I had no desire to live a celibate life. I was repeatedly assured, over a period of years, that God would give me the grace to be celibate, if I prayed for it. It was only when I was teaching theology in the Philippines during Vatican II, that I gradually became convinced that I had no charism to be a celibate.

I still feel the call to the ministry, but I have always wanted to get married. I have been harping on this for 40 years now, and am glad that the subject of the charisms has at long last come to the fore.

Why could a woman not have a charism for the priestly ministry? St Paul was way ahead of the teaching church today on the charisms. We need them now as never before. If God calls, the church must answer.




Micheal O Fearghail (Letters, July 11) echoes the sentiments of many experienced teachers when he implores the new Education Minister to halt the rushing through of Junior Cert reform.

It is of great concern that the proposed changes will not benefit the students and may in fact devalue a system of education, which, in spite of its faults, is acknowledged worldwide as producing well rounded individuals. I request minister Jan O'Sullivan to plan carefully any changes to an exam that has many advantages in its present format. As we often inform our students – fail to prepare, prepare to fail.




Israeli bombs rain down on Gaza again, to date killing 103 people, wounding over 700, making many homeless and traumatising a trapped population living under an illegal land, sea and air siege.

Gaza's hospitals are struggling to cope; according to Medical Aid for Palestine, the list of zero stock medicines is now 139 items, almost one-third of essential medicines.

In the West Bank, 936 Palestinians have been arrested since mid-June, and at least nine have been killed.

Yet the Irish media consistently presents the Israeli narrative of its actions being "retaliation", simply ignoring that Israel is the occupier, the aggressor, has an army, an air force, a navy and the financial and political support of the US and the EU. As the bodies pile up in Gaza, the press here continues to dehumanise Palestinians and disregard their humanity by prioritising Israel's interests and its voice.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling that Israel's wall, snaking far beyond the Green Line into Palestinian land, is illegal, yet there has been no sanction on that state for this or any other of its breaches of international law.

Meanwhile, the Irish Government continues to trade with Israel and oppose the call from Palestinian civil society for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions).




The two Popes will watch the World Cup together. One Argentinian, the other German. After the final whistle, they will get their ball and have a kick-around in the Vatican.

If there are any disputes about offside, handball or foul play, which Pope will have the final say – given that they are both infallible?



Irish Independent

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