Friday 30 September 2016

Letters: Our neutrality in World War II was the right decision

Published 02/09/2015 | 02:30

'Ireland would have been devastated by the Luftwaffe if we'd joined WWII'
'Ireland would have been devastated by the Luftwaffe if we'd joined WWII'

World War II Ireland was certainly not saved at the expense of others. Let those who want to thump their craws, fuelled by an inferiority bred and schooled into us, do so - we seem to find endless reasons for doing so, from fear of being dubbed racist to the preservation of frog spawn, or some other obscure reason.

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I am a 72-year-old 'war baby' who can recall some of the final days of the war, but more so the rationing that went on into 1950. Mary Sullivan of Cork has covered those days well, especially for those mouthy-type know-alls of a lesser age who seem to believe we should have declared war on Germany and thrown our lot in with Britain.

Our little, helpless nation was just out of the ravaging effects of the Great War and the War of Independence - throw in the Civil War for good luck and we were really on our knees - so neutrality was the right decision. However, there was an element in the opposition party who would have run head-long into the war.

Neutrality was declared by Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain and the Balkan states - unfortunately, they did not have the luxury of being an island on the Atlantic side of another island who were directly in the path of the jackboot. The Dublin, Monaghan and Cavan fire brigades were sent to Belfast when it was attacked.

Maybe it would have been a good training exercise for Luftwaffe bomber crews to wipe out Galway and Limerick and have a pot-shot at Cork, all in one night.

Eamon de Valera was right to stay out of it. For the record, I was never a fan of Dev, but he was not inclined to declare war on Germany.

Edward Griffin, Lismore Heights, Waterford

De Valera was a credit to Ireland

With great interest, I read your readers' letters on the late Eamon de Valera. As a Protestant Englishman, I am glad he was spared the firing squad in 1916 over the Easter Rising, probably on account of his being US-born. Nevertheless, he was a credit to Ireland, whatever his detractors think.

I remember his passing in 1975, and, thereafter, studied his political stance, and became aware of the injustices perpetrated on the people of Ireland by the British government - in reality, by the English establishment.

Although not yet reunited, de Valera certainly contributed to Irish freedom and independence for 80pc of the Emerald Isle. Reunification is right, and will surely happen in time - through the ballot box, not the bullet.

Dominic Shelmerdine, London SW3, UK

Religious monopoly on schools

People have been justifying the almost complete monopoly of the patronage of primary schools by religious institutions on the basis that the majority support it.

I question if this is true. Just because the majority of people in this country say they are Christian, it does not follow that the majority are in favour of a near-total monopoly of school patronage by religious institutions and state-sponsored discrimination.

To say so is a considerable leap of, ahem, faith. It's like saying that because 90pc of the country identified themselves as Christian, the majority is against same-sex marriage. That didn't happen, did it? I don't recall there ever being a referendum on the matter.

But, for argument's sake, let's assume it is true. What those who advocate the maintenance of the status quo do not get it is that this is not about the majority - it is about a minority. The way a society protects its minorities is a measure of how civilised it is.

We live in a so-called republic. Freedom of conscience and freedom of (including from) religion are fundamental rights. They are cornerstones of a republic and should not be trumped in the name of tendentious majoritarianism.

I assume that advocates of such contrived majoritarianism would apply the same twisted rationale to countries where the fundamental rights of Christians are subjugated? After all, they're only a minority, right?

The religious monopoly of school patronage and state-sponsored discrimination on religious grounds are inconsistent with the values of a true republic.

As things stand, schools are funded by the State, the State is legally responsible for protecting the human rights of schoolchildren, but the State allows schools to discriminate against its own citizens on the grounds of religion. This is a disgrace.

There is obviously a desire among the population for education under religious patronage, but this near-total monopoly has to end.

Rob Sadlier, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Multi-campus plan is just crazy

So, we are told that a new 'technological university' for the south-east is 'back on track'. There is a good case to be made for a normal university for Waterford, but the concept of the multi-campus 'technological university' is simply crazy.

What WIT has been told is that it is not qualified to be a university, but that if it merges with a much weaker institution (Carlow IT) located miles away it will be eligible. This makes no sense of any kind, and is a recipe for disaster.

The whole idea of these technological universities, dreamt up in the Hunt Report, is badly thought through, and the government really should not be going ahead with it.

There is no evidence anywhere that creating multi-location institutions with little coherent provision is a good idea.

This really does need to go back to the drawing board.

Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland

Water mess resolution needed

The Government urgently needs to resolve the water charges implementation mess and display some intestinal fortitude by:

1) Clearly stating water charges will be fully implemented as originally envisaged by billing all users fully for all metered water consumption. As it is State-owned - and cutting off water not a preferred solution - mandatory deduction through tax or Social Welfare should be applied to non-payers.

2) Use the normal social welfare and tax systems to compensate low-income households, tapering over a period to reflect good conservation.

3) Use one national State-owned company, as multiple authorities have clearly failed over a century. Hold a referendum to insert a provision in the constitution to stop privatisation.

4) To avoid wasting investment to date, use Irish Water - but make the regulator ensure benchmarking with companies in similar countries.

The Government must stop the futile appeasement of unelected ideologues that thrive on chaos, conflict and brinkmanship.

Alan Hope, Castlebar, Co Mayo

Irish Independent

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