Thursday 29 September 2016

Letters: Fans of Garth and GAA have been treated with contempt

Published 22/07/2014 | 02:30

Garth Brooks: the furore over his
concert cancellations goes on. Photo: AP
Garth Brooks: the furore over his concert cancellations goes on. Photo: AP

* After spending hours over a number of days in front of a computer, I finally got a pair of tickets for the final night of the Garth Brooks's Croke Park concerts. We, the desperately seeking ticket people, were the ones who initially set in train the demand for a minimum of five concerts.

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I and thousands of people like me have given a lifetime of service to the GAA and other organisations that rely heavily on voluntary endeavour.

Without us there would be no Croke Park or GAA. Some of us have been attending games and other events in Croke Park long before some residents lived there. Over the years, we have spent money inside and outside the stadium. We have patronised shops, hostelries, pubs, eating houses and street traders.

We have paid for our parking and brought great life and vibrancy to the area during the playing season. When it came to the Brooks concerts no one even considered consulting us. All we got was a type of glib remark such as: "I feel sorry for all the people who bought tickets."

And then there were the condescending remarks from some in the media as though we were some type of country & western simpletons.

We have been either ignored or treated with contempt, if not disdain, and not allowed to play in our play area.

I don't remember any vociferous complaints, or money being lodged in a person's account to take out a High Court injunction, with respect to the intensification in the use of Croke Park when permission was given for its use to play rugby and soccer matches when the then Lansdowne Road stadium was being developed.

And as far as I know, Croke Park did not specifically have planning permission to host rugby and soccer games.

No condescending or patronising remarks with respect to rugby or soccer supporters from commentators.

Only reverse snobbery as though rugby supporters would have to endure a part of Dublin that would not be their normal play and socialising ground.




* The exclusion of women from serious ministry in the Catholic Church is mirrored in the way the Government shows shameless bias in favour of men in the selection of TDs for significant posts.

One can only hope that the Taoiseach will shy away from the cynical approach of David Cameron in promoting women in order to enhance his election prospects.

Women do not exist to fulfil the purposes of men. One of the central principles of our moral lives is that of respect for persons.

This implies we live in relationship with others whose purposes and perception we take into our view.

The role of women has sometimes been reduced to that of incubators for the offspring of men; whilst men lived free and easy lives, women were condemned to relentless domesticity.

When women are promoted within government, there is more comment in the media about what they wear than about what they think.

I was privileged to attend a service recently, presided over by a female bishop from America. She preached an outstanding sermon. Sadly, the main comment after the service was about the hat she was wearing. Some found the mitre rather odd sitting on a woman's head, as if God designed the mitre with men in mind.

If we discriminate against the inclusion of women in the church other than in relation to roles where they are subservient to men, the least we can expect are relevant reasons for doing so. The silliest reasons given include: 'Jesus was a man'; 'Women are not leaders by nature'; 'Jesus chose men to lead his ministry'.

The history of the church has not been a vast preparation for the way things are.

No account of the way things are can ground a judgment about how they ought to be. It is not our common humanity, but some taken-for-granted inherited ordinance, that grounds the inequitable treatment of women in the church.




* It has been suggested that we do away with the Angelus on RTE on the grounds that 'this is not a Catholic country'. There are at least four good reasons to disagree.

In the most recent Census over 80pc of respondents – given the choice of putting 'no religion' – instead put 'Catholic'.

That figure takes into account both Ireland's multicultural makeup and immigration over the past decade.

In any normal, healthy democracy, acknowledgement is given to the wishes of the majority. The Angelus lasts about one minute – or 0.00069pc of a 24-hour day.

An insistence that over 80pc of the population in a democracy ought not to be allowed even 0.00069pc of the nation's daily broadcasting output – and which they support with their licence fee – ought to raise eyebrows in alarm at the motivation and logical capabilities of those making such demands.

The Angelus in its current form has been drained of almost all religious content to the point where it is more of a secular 'pause for reflection' than a call to prayer. That even this short, watered-down 'pause for reflection' still manages to offend the strident secularist ought to raise eyebrows in alarm at the kind of intolerant society such people wish to create.

Insofar as it still has any religious overtones, the Angelus serves a clear, meaningful function – a call to prayer: to reflect on our relationship with God and our ultimate purpose here.

A secular call to 'pause for reflection' on the contrary, would be an empty shell. A pause to 'reflect' on what? The worst outcome would be that RTE give in to a minority of ill-thought-out calls to banish something that a majority would like to keep; and which represents a more tolerant and pluralistic society, contrary to claims of so-called secularists.




* With the cabinet reshuffle done, the Government can reset itself by focusing on the radical reform of what it called "an outdated system of administration".

An easy win would be to "publish who does what and to whom they are answerable" as recommended by the Independent Panel on the Strengthening Civil Service Accountability and Performance.

This would not need new legislation, as the 1997 Freedom of Information Act already provides a good basis for immediate action on this.

This act already makes it mandatory to publish certain information about public bodies.

Such information includes "the names and designations of the members of staff of that body responsible" for carrying out the arrangements needed to implement Freedom of Information.

These arrangements include the publication of information regarding rules and practices in relation to certain decisions by public bodies.

Furthermore, the 1997 act also specifies the publication of a "general description of its structure and organisation, functions, powers and duties, any services it provides for the public and the procedures it provides for the public".

Last year, the Government proposed to drop these measures in the new Freedom of Information Bill.

It remains to be seen how serious the reshaped Government is about resetting its commitment to serious reform.



Irish Independent

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