Letters to the Editor: Don't bank on change
Madam – So now at last we have an agreed bank inquiry committee. Well at least Enda is happy at having control over matters. The others? Not so happy I think. They can rant and rave all they want but can't change anything.
Over the next few weeks and months or even years there will be certain people grilled over what was said or not said. When it was said and where it was said. People who were in high places will be called back to answer for their actions. The newspapers will have a field day with quotes and photos of those appearing at the inquiry.
And when it is all over, when those who were in power have been shown up for what they did to this country, what will be the consequences? Will there be any proof of what they did? Will the bankers, regulators and politicians still get to retain their fat-cat retirement lump sums and pensions? Will they be allowed to sit comfortably as directors of companies to which they were appointed? Could anyone in their right mind believe that those responsible will suffer for their actions?
In fact it is all a farce, a game to be played out in public. A hoax controlled by the Government trying its best to show that it can do something when in fact it can do nothing.
The real shame of it all of course is that the opposition is willing to take part in this shambolic act. Having seen one politician who could no longer stomach the circus, the whole of the opposition should have resigned as well and left it all to Enda's crew. But they could not; they were unwilling to walk away. They want to rant and rave with the best of them despite having no control of the situation.
Of course with the new Labour leader also to be elected the bank inquiry might not happen if Labour pulls out of Government and a new election is called.
Not so long ago promises were made in Europe regarding the banking situation. Certain politicians came home and proclaimed that we would not be allowed to suffer alone; we would be helped if we were good little Europeans. Fools we were to believe such lies, and bigger fools those who led us into believing that help was at hand.
So another circus has come to town with a prize crew at the helm. It is high time to take up fishing again; at least the river bank is still there.
Michael O Meara, Killarney, Co Kerry
We need to reject racism
Madam – The horrific experience of Happy Agamah ('They banged on my door and shouted 'nigger''' – Sunday Independent June 15, 2014) has in the most powerful way illustrated the urgent need for Irish society to reject racism.
It is unacceptable that in our country people are being forced to lie awake at night fearing a brick, a burning mattress or a petrol bomb being thrown through their window, or even worse into the bedroom of one of their children.
In 2013 the Immigrant Council of Ireland through its email service reported an 85 per cent increase in cases to 144, of which over half led to a garda investigation. It is a trend which has continued into 2014.
It is time to show Mr Agamah and all other victims of racism and discrimination that such actions are rejected here.
We are seeking the introduction of a new national action plan to ensure there is a multi-agency response to these crimes and a full review of our 30-year-old incitement to hatred legislation to ensure that it is fit for purpose.
A statutory reporting system, similar to the 24-hour hotline recently introduced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, should also be introduced.
Ireland needs to ratify European conventions on cyber-crime to ensure that those behind online hate cannot take shelter by using internet servers which are beyond the reach of the gardai.
The dangers of complacency have been illustrated for all to see by recent high-profile events in Northern Ireland and the rise of the politics of the extreme right in other parts of Europe.
Political leadership is needed now to ensure Ireland never goes down that path.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Dublin 2
House of cards
Madam – The Government's U-turn over the withdrawal of discretionary cards from people who clearly and in many cases desperately needed that vital service makes one wonder about the true calibre of those who govern us. Health Minister James Reilly's reference in his apology for the debacle to the "unforeseen consequences" of centralisation must be cold comfort to those who, as he also asserted, will not be reimbursed for the medical bills they had to pay when their cards were taken from them.
No government is perfect. Politicians are human, they make mistakes – and then have to put things right as best they can. But the mind boggles at the levels of ineptitude involved in putting thousands of families through such an ordeal.
These were innocent human beings already struggling to cope, with the support of their families, with lifelong incurable illnesses or severe disabilities. And bureaucrats come along and foist this additional burden of financial strain and mental anguish on them.
The carers and the people whose lives they help to make worth living, often in the most challenging circumstances, are the ones who emerge with credit from the discretionary medical card scandal.
The Government is fortunate that a general election is not due until 2016 (barring unforeseen consequences, as Dr Reilly might call them).
John Fitzgerald, Kilkenny
It's always women left holding baby
Madam – Regarding the 796 babies in the 'mother and baby' home in Tuam, who was primarily responsible for the welfare, health, protection and safety of these girls, young women and babies?
Where were the men responsible for these girls/ women, being pregnant? They were primarily responsible. A man, a real man, would stand by and protect the girl/woman. And he would be a father, a real father, to the child he fathered. He would provide for both. And care for both. And where were the grandfathers of these little babies? What kind of a father or grandfather would abandon his son or daughter, or grandchild?
But nothing has changed. Males are still responsible for girls/women being pregnant. And they still take no responsibility. They walk away, free as a bird.
They had their bit of fun, and don't feel an iota of responsibility for the result of their bit of fun. Not an iota of concern for the resulting baby or its mother. Let the taxpayer pay for all that.
The male of the human species could and should take a lesson from nature. He should learn from the birds, and the bees, and the four-legged animals. They only produce what they can care for, and rear.
Margaret Walshe, Dublin
There's no excuse for Tuam tragedy
Madam – One line of thinking I have seen repeated since the dreadful Tuam 'mother and baby' home story broke is that the public must consider the tragedy in the context of the country's economic and social profile at the time. Well, I say this: no particular time in our history should be an excuse for what happened here.
All our shameful history needs to be brought out into the open – corporal punishment in our schools, the dreadful industrial schools, the Magdalene laundries, clerical sex abuse, and now this latest news on the remains of 796 babies who died at a religious-run and State-funded home for unmarried mothers in Tuam from 1925 to 1961. We must accept that as a society we have no excuses whatsoever.
Brian McDevitt, Glenties, Co Donegal
Believing in real SF, not fairy tale
Madam – I take great exception to Eilis O'Hanlon's piece – 'SF children fall for fairy tales of North' (Sunday Independent June 15, 2014). She suggests that the thousands of people (including me) who supported Sinn Fein in last month's local elections are all blinded by some fantasist hero-worship of Gerry Adams and have fallen for a fairy tale.
Don't get me wrong, I love a good fairy tale. In the most part they teach the difference between right and wrong. But don't think for one minute, Ms O'Hanlon, that I voted for Sinn Fein because of my said fondness for fairy tales. I voted for Sinn Fein, not because I hero worship Gerry Adams, but because I believe SF is evolving and is the only party that is progressive. It has a real determination to make Ireland a fairer place.
This new breed of supporter and SF councillors Ms O'Hanlon refers to are, in my eyes, making the Sinn Fein of 2014 a dynamic political party. Yes, it does have its past, but it has a bright future and is not afraid to stand up for the underdog!
I would consider myself well read, worldly and well educated, And I would be fairly confident that I can make choices in my life that will have a positive impact on me and my family. So for me on May 23 there was no one else I could vote for. Yes, the work will be dirty, cleaning up the mess Fianna Fail left us in and holding this current Government to account for the cuts and austerity inflicted upon the citizens of this country.
If there ever was a fairy tale written about the last decade in Ireland, I can assure you that Fianna Fail, Labour and Fine Gael would be the baddies!
Emma Deane, Carlow
Shinners' brass neck unbelievable
Madam – Can you believe the brass neck of Sinn Fein spokespeople who jumped on the bandwagon in relation to the Tuam mother and baby home scandal? These are the people who are happy to turn a blind eye to the activities of the "brave volunteers" who tortured women and children in more recent times, and up to 2005 were still kneecapping children as young as 12 years of age or breaking their bones with bats.
And can you believe the free run they are given on the airwaves to peddle their guff, and the absence of outrage by some commentators who are ready to jump on the clergy?
Pat O'Mahony, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Time for Gaybo to hit the road
Madam – Thank goodness Gay Byrne is promising to stop preaching at us.
We never asked him to become the traffic cop he claims to be.
Accidents on the roads just happen (which is why they are called accidents), and it has nothing to do with his perceived lack of police on monitoring duty, which appears to be his current bugbear.
For so long people like this have had too much say in this old country.
They behave with the same arrogance as mother church of long ago, with too much respect shown to them by a cowed nation, waiting to be told what to think and do next.
Robert Sullivan, Bantry, Co Cork
Halt the sham of banking inquiry
Madam – I want to comment on Stephen Donnelly's article (Sunday Independent, June 15, 2014) in which he states why he has resigned from the Government-controlled banking inquiry and is willing to speak truth to power in Ireland. This inquiry if properly framed, way above party political interests, has the potential to get to the truth and to name the proportion of the €65bn debt legacy that is Ireland's and the proportion that belongs to saving the European project and the common currency.
A Government-controlled inquiry makes no sense in this regard and interferes with the democratic process.
Whether the Oireachtas Banking Committee of Inquiry has nine or 11 members is not as important as who controls the terms of reference of the committee, who writes the final report and who benefits from the findings.
Committees are never innocent neutral groups and their agendas are often stage-managed by a controlling elite who know how to bend the rules to their will and engage in acts of political fabrication and sabotage. Committee proceedings can readily present an image of openness, transparency and democracy while hiding their real purposes. They can be used as an instrument of micro-management that has nothing to do with truth-seeking and democratic engagement.
Since being elected, this Government has not missed an opportunity to play politics with the banking debt legacy and to regularly remind people that this fiasco was the fault of Fianna Fail.
No other factors, including the role Europe played in this, have ever been considered. I argue that this Government has far too much political capital to gain from a Government-framed banking inquiry that will simply confirm that they were right all along and we will not get near the truth of how this happened and where the chips fall in terms of Ireland/Europe culpability.
I hope for the sake of the country that this sham of a banking inquiry is dropped in favour of an independent inquiry where the Government is neither directly nor indirectly involved in the proceedings. This inquiry, if properly framed, has the potential to be a game-changer for Ireland as an independent nation and as a member of the EU.
Geraldine Mooney Simmie, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences, University of Limerick
Dunne foes from baron to barren
Madam – If one more person refers to Sean Dunne as the 'Baron of Ballsbridge', I'll scream.
So he buys a patch of land for a ludicrously inflated price – and borrows the money to do this. Then he can't repay the loan, so the taxpayer has to pick up his tab. And then, he then goes bankrupt and walks away.
I see nothing noble in that.
Barren, of Ballsbridge, would be a more appropriate moniker.
Alison Fergusson, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Spring in step on way to utopia
Madam – So Dick Spring is looking forward to living in Utopia (if Sinn Fein gets into government). I would have thought that Mr Spring, with his six-figure taxpayer-funded pension and his part-time well-remunerated position at AIB, is already in Utopia.
Peadar O Maolain, An Uaimh, Co An Mhi
Voting against double-jobbing
Madam – Over the course of the last number of elections and referendums, one thing in particular annoys me.
When I go to cast my vote, the officer at the polling station is none other than the principal of the school which is used as a polling station.
I'm sure that there are many people who would jump at the chance of having this day's employment, from unemployed to people on reduced working hours to senior citizens who have seen their standard of living reduced by various cuts.
It bugs me that taxpayers are already paying this lady for the day as school principal without paying her on the double for working at the elections.
Surely if the Government is serious about reform it could start with these situations. Granted the polling station staff work a long day, but the amount they are paid borders on the ridiculous.
Surely there has to be a more cost-effective way of doing the job. Many of the count staff are from the local councils. Granted they are experienced at doing the job. But could they not cover the count on the basis of time in lieu instead of the sums currently paid? The savings could be put to better use.
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