Letters: EU and Commonwealth talk is sapping our identity
Published 16/08/2014 | 02:30
In the early 1990s, whilst on home-leave from Kenya, I developed a two-month long friendship with Cyril Cusack. Our Irish-African connections further cultured the friendship and we left no stone unturned in our twice weekly verbal jousts over afternoon tea in a Dun Laoghaire hotel.
He was, of course, a great Irish stage and screen actor, but not many know that he was also a great philosopher and analyst, particularly on all matters Irish. He had an eagle eye for detail and his fingers were well placed on the pulse of Ireland. To me, he epitomised all the qualities of pure 'Irishness'.
Not long before our last meeting, he leaned close to my ear and half whispered: "You know James, the problem with us Irish is that we have an identity problem; we don't quite know who we are, or who or what we want to be; and it seems, we never will!"
I was still in reflection mode on this disturbing observation some months later as I chatted in a Nairobi hotel with a well-respected Irish-American news correspondent. Without warning, she announced: "I presume you are aware, James, that in many circles (all) Ireland is seen as part of, and dependent on the UK."
Of course, I knew this but did not take to being told it by a journalist. Like many Irish living abroad, I have witnessed this statement as both a remark and an attitude. Browsing Ireland's mainstream media in recent months, it seems more clear. They were both quite right of course - and more than 20 years on, it seems they still are.
Today, I can't help but wonder if our membership of the EU is further sapping our ailing identity on one hand whilst the creation of 'Ireland's Call' as a substitute national anthem, and infantile talk of re-joining the (British) Commonwealth looks set to finish the job, on the other! I wonder what Cyril would say.
Fallout from arming Kurds
Everybody's happy, it appears, for the Kurds to protect the Yazidi from the Islamic extremists who appear determined to exterminate them. The Kurds are saving the US, the UK and France from putting "boots on the ground" so stopping embarrassment to certain political reputations and promises. Obama must be a relieved man. Arming the Kurds is a no-brainer.
But hold on a minute. Aren't these the same Kurds who want to establish their own state of Kurdistan, which combines portions of a number of other states, including Syria and Turkey? The same Kurds who have fought a number of fierce battles with Turkey on this issue? And isn't Turkey a key ally of the US and Nato?
So the allies are re-arming a people who are oil-rich and want their own state. Anybody remember the Taliban who were armed to fight the Russians in Afghanistan? Look how that turned out. Moral of the story - sending somebody to do your dirty work can be a very expensive long-term solution.
Keeping your head
Would it be correct to say the prosthetic pilot landed successfully because, even though he lost his arm, he kept his head?
Redmond acted in best interests
Unlike some of our so-called "leaders", John Redmond acted in what he believed to be the best interests of the island. In encouraging Irishmen to fight the King's war, he was trying to prove to our then-overlords in Britain that we wouldn't turn on them in the event of our gaining independence.
Had things gone to plan, Redmond would most likely have been the first Prime Minister of neither the "Republic of" nor "Northern" nor "The Free State of" Ireland, but of an Ireland one step closer to a total, united independence, albeit on a lengthened time frame.
Considering, however, that it took 33 years after 1916 for us to become the republic of a bit of the island that we are today, hanging on just that bit longer could have even been a wiser decision.
Cue Murphy's Law, Easter 1916, and a different letter, though.
Women's rugby deserves reward
Let's put the achievement of the women's international rugby team at the World Cup into perspective.
I have no doubt that there are several members of the Irish men's team who would swap every medal they won in exchange for being able to claim that they were the first Irish team who had taken the scalps of the Kiwis at their own game. Imagine what could be achieved if we gave women's and girl's sports the same investment that we have, so far, managed to waste on men's sports?
How I recall Bacall magic
The death of the beautiful Lauren Bacall reminded me once again of one of my favourite Bogie/Bacall movies 'To Have and Have Not'. Oh, it's no wonder I rarely go to the cinema, they just don't make them like that no more! Just take note of these wonderful Bacall lines. After kissing Bogie a few times, she says: "It's even better when you help".
Saying goodnight to Bogie, she turns and says: "If you want me, all you need to do is whistle, you know how to whistle? You put your lips together and. . . blow."
How sexy is that?
After a big fat gangster gets rough with her, she says to Bogie: "Was you ever bit by a dead bee?"
Another wonderful screen icon has departed. May she rest in peace.
Lenihan was an inspiration
In a recent interview with this paper, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor Kate Feeney made an astounding claim that the Dail had not produced a positive role model in the last 20 years. I find myself feeling a combination of bemusement and disbelief at this stark contention made by someone who is barely four months in elected office.
Ms Feeney's views are misguided and simply wrong. The Dail has had, and continues to have, many role models with Brian Lenihan being one that comes to mind. The late Finance Minister was without doubt a positive role model for people. He was a man of duty who fought a terminal illness to the point that he put the country's well-being before his own. Indeed, people from right across the political divide and those most vehemently opposed to his policy choices still respected the man trying his upmost in an unspeakably dire political and personal situation.
Does Ms Feeney believe that she would be able to be the positive role model that she stated was lacking in Irish politics? If so, then I wish her the best with that ambition, but I would remind her of Mr Lenihan, who helped inspire countless people fight and continue to fight this dreadful disease.
Fools who espouse 'snip cool'
There is a trendy new 'must have' procedure being obtained by the cool Irish middle-class feminist husbands, who then proceed to tell everyone about it. The vasectomy has become the manly way to take the pressure off one's wife as far as contraception responsibility is concerned. Which is all very well, but it sort of has the potential to bring its own pitfalls in a possibly not too uncommon scenario. What happens if the woman becomes pregnant - wouldn't it be a little awkward to then have to say the 'snip' wasn't successful?