Letters: Our political system is suffering from a meeting disease
Published 03/06/2014 | 02:30
The urge to hold and attend meetings is hard-wired into our nature. Meetings provide an outlet for the need to escape from serious living to the experience of convivial pointlessness. In Ireland there are not enough meetings to satisfy our national needs, hence the clamour to get to Brussels, the meetings' capital of Europe.
The exercise of our right to vote is crucial in selecting those who are in the greatest need of meetings.
I have little patience with the cry to abolish the Seanad. The abolitionists seemed unaware of the point and purpose of this meeting place in the lives of its members. Do we wish for the unedifying spectacle of those who crave for meetings camping on Kildare Street pleading for admission to Leinster House to satisfy their craving? Besides, sending them to Brussels is a far more expensive alternative.
I am aware that there are some who do not wish to see our second chamber becoming a meaningless talking shop, losing sight of what they see as its essential custodial function.
Though attendance at meetings is essential for healthy living, over-attendance leads to Meeting Malady (MM). Its most worrying symptom is the longing for linguistic barbarism; sufferers develop an urge to generate unnecessary additions to our current stock of words.
Nouns are mindlessly converted into verbs; we are invited to action proposals, to task somebody, to diarise and prioritise. In the more advanced stages of the illness, verbs are turned into nouns; we are informed that an onerous request is a big ask.
Even poor Bertie Ahern succumbed to MM when, at a constituency meeting, he lapsed from his renowned mastery of the English language to declare that Fianna Fail was "doing brutal". I suspect, as he would put it, he has over-met and is doing penance for his syntax.
Back-come, Bertie, all is forgiven. We all make mistakes.
33 EDITH ROAD, OXFORD OX1 4QB
BUSINESS OF CREATING HOUSING
Your business editor, Thomas Molloy, suggested last week that a tax could be imposed on empty houses to free up the market. This is an excellent idea. I would go further and suggest that the same should be done for vacant commercial properties.
This would help to off-set the upward-only rent reviews. Better still, it would force the market to recognise that we simply have too many shops. Proprietors of vacant premises would be encouraged to look at the possibility of converting retail space into residential accommodation. Such conversions might even be encouraged by financial incentives.
JOHN F JORDAN
FLOWER GROVE, KILLINEY, CO DUBLIN
LET SCHMIDT PUSH US FORWARD
The bombshell announcement that John Plumtree is, so prematurely, to leave his role as forwards' coach to the Irish rugby team made for a disappointing end to what was a triumphant weekend for Irish rugby, with Leinster winning the RaboDirect Pro12 Championship.
Such is the contribution that Mr Plumtree, in the short time that he has been here, made to Irish rugby, it behoves the Irish Rugby Football Union to find a near-identical, world-standard replacement for him.
We must endeavour, as we prepare for the Rugby World Cup, to not saddle manager Joe Schmidt with an inferior forwards' coach.
The IRFU did a great job in sourcing Greg Feek and David Nucifora for Irish rugby; it is to be hoped that they take the same high-quality approach when sourcing the next forwards' coach.
Ideally, Schmidt will be allowed to source his own forwards' coach.
JOHN B REID
MONKSTOWN, CO DUBLIN
MEDIA HAS POWER OF CHANGE
John Downing's article on the formation of the next government (Irish Independent, June 2) highlights the issue of the media's power in opinion formation. All of us are in denial about it but none are immune to it.
Media coverage of our political scene in pre-election periods is crucial. The recent local and European elections, when the anti-austerity bandwagon steamrolled all before it, is a case in point.
The most powerful media actors supported one political grouping in all elections from 1997 to 2007. In the wake of the economic collapse they switched sides in 2011. One would have thought that they had no option. But it looks like we are back to business as usual for the next election.
With a bit of servicing and a lick of paint that anti-austerity bandwagon should have no problem riding roughshod over this Government's hopes of re-election.
SHIELMARTIN DRIVE, SUTTON, CO DUBLIN
US KEEPS SOLDIERING ON – FOR US
The other side of America.
One of my regrets is not applauding when, some years back, I was in Shannon Airport after taking a flight from Dublin and awaiting a flight to New York and, while waiting in the terminal, a large group of American soldiers came walking through the terminal.
They were in transit and probably on their way to Iraq. The majority of people or civilians stood up and applauded as the soldiers walked by.
I, in my ignorance, did not stand up. Why? Because being typically European I had issues with American polices in the Middle East but, whether I had issues or not, I should have stood up and applauded as these soldiers were doing what they were ordered to do and were not the people I had so-called issues with.
But sitting there that day I started to realise how proud and loyal the Mid-Americans are of their fellow Americans and country.
The following winter I was in Philadelphia and a real bad snow storm came in. It shut down a lot of public transport. I suddenly noticed that there was a lot of people in wheelchairs and some others struggling on crutches – all of these people were disabled in some form and were trying to get to the shops for supplies.
The majority of these people were veterans who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. They had fought in these wars not just to protect America but to protect western society. Whether people think they were right or wrong to do so, they did it and some sacrificed their lives.
It seems to me that some people have negative opinions about US policies but, at the end of the day, it's the Mid-American people who have been the ones who have paid the biggest price when it come to human casualties in protecting western culture and beliefs.
RATHNEW, CO WICKLOW
AN ODE TO O'DRISCOLL AND CULLEN
Brian O'Driscoll and Leo Cullen have gone from the game.
Their legacy will live long after their name.
You never give up, keep the spark alive
And when they say it's impossible, that's when you'll thrive.
Of the knocks and the bruises, there's nothing to tell,
For the bigger they were the harder they fell.
For the next generation have big boots to fill,
They walked with giants,
Now it's their time to thrill.