Letters: 'Sorry' is not in Sinn Fein script
Madam – Your Letter of the Week writer (Sunday Independent, May 11, 2014), suggested that Sinn Fein "took pride in the peace process" and should therefore "now engage in a warring process and say sorry for the nightmare years".
I suggest that Sinn Fein's current attitude to the peace process is simply because it best serves their future political ambitions. As for saying sorry, that's not in their script – as it would be very much a vote-losing exercise, particularly in Northern Ireland. For the same reason their fine representatives at Westminster will continue to refuse to take the Parliamentary Oath. According to my dictionary, democracy is defined as "government by all the people, direct or representative". Sinn Fein is therefore denying the most basic of democratic expectations to their constituents.
Over 100,000 people in the relevant constituencies were non-Sinn Fein voters at the last UK general election. There are three questions that need answering: Why is Sinn Fein so ready to praise "the democratic process" in other situations and declare, in recent times, that they have "moved on"? Why is this situation allowed to continue by the UK government, given the present successful application of democratic local government within Northern Ireland? Sinn Fein should be told that it will not be accepted at the time of the next UK general election in May 2015.
Finally, the question of flying the Union flag on public buildings in Northern Ireland has caused strong protests, physically and otherwise recently but, on the question of the loss of their basic democratic nights, the affected voters in Northern Ireland have remained silent over many years. To me this is particularly odd, given that they are still required to pay the same taxes as those who have full representation by their MPs at Westminster.
Crawley, W Sussex, UK
HOPE: A THING OF MAGIC
Madam – Hope is magic.
So here's the bit where I'm supposed to fly. Be optimistic. Successful. Only I'm falling not flying, and the sun's warm and something in me tells me even if my wings appeared in this moment, strong and wide and beautiful as I could ever dare to imagine, that somehow the self-doubt, the bad news, and the scars of the past would make me some kind of ridiculous Icarus because people are watching and I might fail again.
And in the fleeting moments of confidence I'd be blinded to my own flaws and I'd burn and the world would witness.
And the usual chorus of 'I told you so' and 'we always said she's no good' would be the last song I'd ever hear.
Rising time after time is hard. Knowing each night when I lay my head on my pillow that the odds are against me and have been for a while, and knowing the morning comes and I have as much power over that as I do over the banks and the government tomorrow, makes me wish for sleep that I never have to wake from again.
But . . . there is a thing called hope. And I believe hope is a kind of magic – even though we might get so beaten down we forget sometimes. And it is said hope is a dangerous thing. It is true there's danger in hope.
The risk of another letter with that crushing red line and those killer words 'Final Reminder.' And the knock on the door or the look of pity in the eyes of someone who sees you and doesn't understand because where they stand today, the waters you're drowning in now haven't reached them yet. But they probably will. And some of us will inevitably drown. Or suffer so much damage we never deserved, that when and if it's all over, what they leave us with of who we once were will be different.
And it will have made us hard. Cold. Without hope.
I can't pay all my bills. I can't promise I won't want to die sometimes. I can't give what I want to give to those who have less than me. I can't say I have any clue where or how the light is coming in. But I look for it anyway because of hope.
Someone gave me hope just by listening to what I needed to tell them. And like a tattoo that reminds me, I come back. The hope an angel has given to me comes back too. Day after day. Week after long and, at times, suffocating week .
And I absolutely, defiantly and forever refuse to believe in a world without the kind of magic that hope is.
Name and address with Editor
ENDA ON BORROWED TIME
Madam – Your editorial (Sunday Independent, May 11, 2014) raises questions about Mr Kenny following Mr Shatter. Similar to a broken clock being occasionally correct this will happen, if not sooner, then at the next election. It is fast becoming obvious that whistleblowers are among the few assets we have left.
Some would say that simply on the basis of his smugness and arrogance, Minister Hogan should also go. Why should he be allowed to coast to the next election before moving from one gravy train to another in Europe, leaving a path of destruction in his wake? The current class are not concerned about the level of water charges in two years' time because they know they will not be involved.
Give me a politician like Leo Varadkar or some of our current Independents (and some notables from different parties in the past) who actually speak out and make decisions and I will support them. My problem in the next election is that there are very few of these, and Mr Varadkar's problem is that he must stand away from the current crop, before he too becomes contaminated. He is obviously a future candidate for Taoiseach but I can't see him waiting around as long as Enda did.
Furthermore, unlike Enda, he wouldn't want it by default.
YOUTH RECOGNISES POLITICAL PROMISES
Madam – So the canvassing is on again, handbills are being passed through the door like no one's business, promises are being made left, right and centre; posters are being put up on high vantage points on the telephone poles; people are shaking hands with people they never met before, at least not since the last election.
New schools will be built, student grants restored, hospital wards re-opened, pensions will rise, tax will come down, jobs will be guaranteed, roads brought up to standard – the same balderdash we've heard come every election time and numerous lies will be told to young and old alike.
The youth of today will not, however, succumb to the put-on promises like their parents did. For years, families have been turned against each other over politics, and God help anyone mentioning FG in a FF house, and vice versa.
My late father left Ireland for the US in the the last century not talking to his sister, all over their preference of government. Opposing deputies can be found with arms around each other in the Dail bar, singing The West's Awake, with their poor followers thinking they're working their ass off up in the Dail.
One rotten potato will rot the whole pit of spuds, and by God we have seen some rotten potatoes down the years.
What a sad state of affairs that the invalided, deaf, blind and poor have to pay for the sins of others. The once famous island of saints and scholars is now the island of thieves and blackguards and the emigration train never was as busy.
So come on, young people, get out there and vote in who you think may get you off the emigration train, the dole queue, and the road to nowhere.
You are the future of this once proud little gem of an isle.
Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo
Madam – Maurice O'Connell is overstating the case when he implies that it was the 1916 rising alone that was 'undemocratic' and that 'left us with a toxic legacy' (Sunday Independent, May 11, 2014).
Some blame for the toxic legacy rests in London. There, between 1912 and 1914, the parliament, at the head of the most powerful and populous empire in the world, passed an Act giving the people living on the island of Ireland Home Rule.
But this most powerful parliament failed to implement its own Act when nearly half a million unionists signed a covenant 'to use all means necessary' to stop its implementation. That was at least as undemocratic as what happened in Dublin in 1916.
That caused a minority of Irish nationalists to turn to physical force. The euphoria over Home Rule had marginalised physical force. Even Patrick Pearse was on Home Rule platforms in 1912.
So the rebellion in 1916 was no more undemocratic than the failure of the most powerful parliament in the world to implement its own Act.
It took the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, endorsed by the vast majority on this island, to bring that toxic legacy to an end.
Our present problems tell us that democracy is not perfect and our governments can be as liable as the British to make mistakes.
But surely our free press and our democratic leadership are capable of ensuring that what Maurice O'Connell calls the 'principles and values' of this constitutional democracy are not 'thrown on the rubbish heap of history'.
Sutton, Dublin 13
EMPIRE IS GONE, NOW GET OVER IT
Madam –I refer to Mr Barrett's, letter 'Catholicism and the fight for freedom', (Sunday Independent, May 11, 2014).
I seem to recall myself that in 1845, Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid declared his intention to send £10,000 to Irish farmers, but Queen Victoria (the famine queen) requested that the Sultan send only £1,000, because she had sent only £2,000. The sultan is supposed to have sent the £1,000 along with three ships full of food. The British administration tried to block the ships, but the food arrived secretly at Drogheda harbour. A letter in the Ottoman archives of Turkey, written by Irish notables explicitly thanks the sultan for his help.
Mr Barrett would be wise to come to terms with the natural end to the defunct British empire, and undertake a new hobby.
Rathfarnham, Dublin 14
KERRIGAN EXPOSES UNPALATABLE TRUTH
Madam – Perhaps J Dawson (Sunday Independent, May 11, 2014), should stop buying the Sunday Indo and instead confine him or herself to the tabloids.
Gene Kerrigan is, and has been for years, like a light shining into the dark crevices of Irish public life. He exposes the truth, however unpalatable it may be, to the party hacks of whatever persuasion.
For my part, I look forward with relish to his articles.
Keep up the good work, Gene!
Navan, Co Meath
MOBILES AND FAGS A DANGEROUS DUO
Madam – There is a lot of talk at the moment about the use of mobile phones while driving. I think the practice of smoking while driving is dangerous and should be banned. Just think the fag in one hand and the wheel in the other! The smoke from the fag blinding the driver, so it is very dangerous.
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford
EMIGRATION VERY REAL EXPERIENCE
Madam – I found Pat Fitzpatrick's article 'A Decade of Difference' (Life, Sunday Independent, May 11, 2014), to be extremely shallow and out of touch with reality. It's an insult to put emigration on a list with subjects that have no real substance.
The tone of Mr Fitzpatrick's description of emigration led me to ask what planet has he be living on and maybe his only experience of emigration is his dad paying for his gap year abroad. Emigration has a huge effect on families and communities and from my own experience it certainly is no joke even if you are prepared to make it into one, Mr Fitzpatrick. You have the same mentality as our Government; out of touch with what is going on with young people in this country.
LOOK AT YOUR OWN PERFORMANCE, PAT
Madam – I have just read your headline article 'Rabbitte: High taxes will bring down coalition government'. (Sunday Independent, May 11, 2014). Pat Rabbitte needs to look to his own department. His handling of Ireland's natural resources, together with the giveaway of the Whitegate power plant and Bord Gais Energy is nothing short of disastrous. He should add this to the reasons why the Government could fall.
HISTORY LESSON FOR ECONOMIST
Madam – Marc Coleman writes: "It is a sad fact that too few of our politicians have a thorough grasp of history". (Sunday Independent, May 11, 2014). Sad indeed! Marc then proceeds to describe King Louis XIV as the grandfather of King Louis XVI. He was, in fact, his great, great, great grandfather. People in greenhouses, Marc ...
Stillorgan, Dublin 18
DANDELIONS PUT SMILE ON MY FACE
Madam – There must be something wrong with me. I love dandelions. I love their bright yellow colour. The fact they pop up every year unaided and unfarmed. In times gone by our ancestors used them for food, flavours and medicine. They are also one of the first summer flowers and are there to provide a large amount of food for the emerging bees – the real farmers which go around, unpaid and help to increase nature's bounty. The bees are just emerging from the winter hibernation in response to the growing heat and light, the same factors that brought on the dandelions. Why would anybody want to kill these magnificent creatures?
These are not weeds. They are food and medicine for us and for the rest of nature, provided free for our benefit.
EMER IS CORRECT ABOUT COUNCILLORS
Madam – Cllr Dermot Lacey wrote (Sunday Independent, May 11, 2014), "Reluctant as I am to disagree with a constituent, Emer O'Kelly (Sunday Independent, May 4, 2014) has tempted me. Her comments about the role of councillors are ill-informed and unfair... Contrary to Ms O'Kelly's implication, the adoption of a budget is a reserved function for councillors".
But should councillors have any reserve function?
In 1876 a speed limit of 6mph was introduced in Ireland and in 2014 it is a reserve function of councillors to set speed limits. Councillors must consult with organisations including the Gardai before setting speed limits – but having consulted, consent is not required.
According to the Irish Independent (March 7, 2003) car-nage on Dublin city roads was cut by 74 per cent as a result of traffic-calming measures but there was an increase of 26 per cent in the number of deaths in Dublin county over the same period. Dublin now claims to have the safest roads of all EU capital cities.
Up to 4,000 drivers receive speeding penalty points weekly on roads with incorrect speed limits set by councillors using the reserve function.
Ms O'Kelly's comments about councillors appear well-informed and fair.