Letters: No more 'expert groups' or word games: plain speech only
Published 04/06/2014 | 02:30
It has been interesting seeing last week's election results. Despite almost 400,000 people unemployed, not to mention the large numbers forced to leave Ireland to seek work, it is the several hundred local councillors and the small number of MEPs who lost their jobs who have finally forced government action on a number of critical issues.
It has also been worrying that two further jobs – leader and deputy leader of a certain political party – have taken up such a huge amount of media time and energy.
We have been told that the medical card issue will now be solved by an 'expert group', yet to be appointed. This is a change of terminology from the phrase often used some years ago when the health system was being reorganised and we were led to believe it would give us 'centres of excellence', until it transpired that phrase was no longer fit for purpose – a bit like some of the actual centres.
Earlier in the year, when the Aer Lingus workers' pension scheme was identified as a major issue, we were also told an 'expert group' had been appointed, but it appears there has been limited progress on that front to date – and based on the action taken last Friday, that agenda may now have to be broadened.
I wonder, do those jobs for 'experts' pay much and how can people apply?
Two other much-abused terms should also probably now come under scrutiny: the words 'ombudsman' and 'regulator', widely used but, without appropriate resources or direction, hampered in carrying out any significant functions, if maybe useful in ticking government boxes?
And when it comes to taking money, rather than using one of three words (tax, charge or levy), perhaps for Budget 2015 stick to the tried and trusted one 'tax' – it's much clearer and we all know that it means cash going in only one direction.
ROCKSHIRE ROAD, WATERFORD
TOO MANY RULES FOR A GAA REF
The GAA is making the referees' job impossible. I would not ref a match now for love nor money.
The rules need to be simplified, not multiplied. The black card is the last nail in the coffin. Worse still, every new regulation inexorably demands another, and so on ad infinitum.
Why not just make holding a foul, as in the old days, and let the referee be the judge? Why is the ref's job so clear-cut in rugby and so complicated in Gaelic? But, of course, I am talking through my hat, and the pundits, as always, are right.
ADDRESS WITH EDITOR
IF WE WANT HELP, OLLI, WE'LL ASK
The EU seems to have become quite vociferous on what is good for Ireland's financial health. One can only assume that this is as a result of the Fiscal Compact treaty that was half-passed in Ireland recently. The reason I say half-passed is of course that the Irish have developed a tradition for having two referendums on European treaties.
As Angela and Enda know well, the Irish are merely waiting for Francois Hollande to re-negotiate the treaty as promised in his election manifesto. If he has any problem, then perhaps Enda could suspend the workings of the treaty until such time as we get around to having the second referendum: 2020, perhaps, or maybe some other point in the future . . . ultimately we'll decide, I suppose!
Anyway, it's nice to see Olli Rehn and others rabbitting on about what is good for Ireland when we haven't even decided yet whether that is any of his business or not.
ATHENRY, CO GALWAY
THEORIES ON SECTARIAN KILLINGS
Brian Walker's theory that between April 26-29, 1922, 10 Protestant men in west Cork were killed in retaliation for sectarian attacks on Catholics in Northern Ireland is plausible (Irish Independent, May 31).
Some 229 people were killed there between February and May 1922. The violence began with the expulsion of 6,000 from Belfast shipyards in July 1920. Protestant trade unionists were also victims. One, James Baird, later observed that every Roman Catholic was excluded, "whether ex-service man who had proved his loyalty to England during the Great War, or Sinn Feiner". By November, "almost 10,000" were affected.
Thousands of Catholics were also driven from their homes. An April 1922 agreement between Michael Collins and James Craig to give restitution to expelled workers collapsed near month's end. Northern Protestant church leaders' support for the shipyard expulsions was also reported that month.
However, there is a problem with Walker's notion of North-South sectarian reciprocity. Southern Protestant congregations were, at the time, denying sectarian tensions, while denouncing attacks on Catholics in the North. The day it reported the west Cork killings, the 'Southern Star' reported Protestants in Schull condemning "acts of violence committed against our Roman Catholic fellow countrymen". The British Empire journal 'Round Table' noted in June 1922: "Southern Ireland boasts with justice that it has been remarkably free from the sectarian hatreds that have come to characterise Belfast."
Why, then, did the killings take place? Some research indicates an IRA perception that the victims had collaborated with British forces. Walker dismisses one possible contributing factor, the simultaneous killing in nearby Macroom of three British Intelligence officers. The British denied their officers' intelligence function and the IRA denied arresting and killing them. It is possible this led to acquiescence in a purely sectarian narrative for the simultaneous civilian killings.
This is speculative, but makes more sense than Walker's theory of retaliatory sectarian attacks. My view is explained in more detail in 'Field Day Review' 2014.
FACULTY HEAD, JOURNALISM AND MEDIA,
GRIFFITH COLLEGE, DUBLIN 8
A VERY INTERESTING COMBINATION
I was amazed by Alex White's decision to use the Rosie Hackett Bridge to announce he will run for leadership of the Labour Party. If ever there was an incongruous juxtaposition of two names, surely this was it. One is a barrister from a middle-class background, while the other was a working-class activist from a Dublin tenement.
DUNLEER, CO LOUTH
GOODBYE TO TIES THAT BIND
The posters have been removed from their elevated positions on lampposts and other points of visibility. Now, would those who put themselves forward as candidates mind removing the plastic ties which kept the posters in place? Some of those have been in place not only from these but the 2011 and 2009 elections. And they look unsightly.
SEAMAS O CNAMHSAI
MEN LEFT OUT OF MINI MARATHON
Another Women's Mini Marathon today, and I am delighted for all the participants and beneficiaries of a fantastic effort.
I would just like to point out that if this effort had been called the 'Men's Mini Marathon', it would never have been allowed to flourish.
In fact, I am sure that if there had ever been a 'Men's Mini Marathon', every entrant would have been accused of being sexist.
RATHFARNHAM, DUBLIN 14
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