Friday 24 October 2014

Letters to the Editor: Revolution, and soon

Published 29/06/2014 | 02:30

Dail, Leinster House, Dublin, Ireland
Dail, Leinster House, Dublin, Ireland

Madam - The place to start the new politics is here - at home, so to speak.

Having been involved for more decades than I care to remember in the mundane nitty-gritty of 'real politics' I look with horror at any suggestion that we should start to try to build a 'new' political movement from scratch. One of the lessons of the so-called 'Arab Springs', is that quick-fix, emotion-driven 'cardboard revolutions' almost always end in disaster.

But if our political elite does not provide the equivalent of the 'Velvet Revolutions' which freed much (but not all) of Eastern Europe, we are going to have to provide our own. Soon.

Being of a somewhat left-of-centre tinge, I have placed my confidence consistently, in the 'potential' (sic) of Labour to deliver in the broadest and most fundamental way. Given that the Irish voter does, every now and again (since the foundation of the State), make a lunge to the left - with very positive, (if electorally short-lived), results, this is not an entirely witless policy.

However, whatever small chance there may be of re-electing a reasonable 'critical mass' of coherent Labour TDs and Senators to the next Dail and Seanad to keep the Plough and the Stars flying in Leinster House, it will be minimal, if not non-existent, if the next Labour leader cannot enter a credible dialogue with us, the people.

If our citizens want to live in a Republic, every individual among them must take that Republic back into their homes. They can start by engaging the new Labour leadership in serious debate during the few months remaining for this Government. If that turns out simply to be a 'dialogue of the deaf', then they will have to look at and engage with those among their fellow-citizens who share their views. Take whatever means are necessary to ensure that there is at least the makings of a genuine pragmatic social democratic presence in Leinster House.

Maurice O'Connell, Tralee, Co Kerry

Mother and Baby homes hysteria

Madam - Having been away for the last few weeks it's a relief to return to a slightly less hysterical/deranged Ireland. Of course genuine abuse is to be deplored. It's just that the stories emanating from the Mother & Child Home issues were becoming more far-fetched and downright implausible by the minute; a perfect example of mass hystertia.

For example, we were shown photos of the Bessborough House home in Cork and a group of children in a west of Ireland home in the 1920s. The only problem was the pictures didn't really fit the accompanying narrative. The Cork home looked positively palatial, definitely nothing remotely like the Communist-run orphanages of Eastern Europe of the 1980's; likewise the 1924 orphans compare favourably with a picture of yours truly and a few of my wayward friends from sometime in the early 1970s. We could be mistaken for a group of Dickensian urchins; we were probably just exhausted after a day's orchard robbing and street football.

One was reminded of the Monthy Python Four Yorkshiremen sketch, where one upmanship in misery was the idea.

Eric Conway, Navan, Co Meath

McCarthy's bank inquiry plan

Madam - I have always been impressed by the articles of Colm McCarthy in your paper. His cool, calm, analysis of the Irish economic and financial scene should be required reading by all who have an interest in Ireland's economy.

For that reason, I was not surprised to read and enjoy his article 'Party politics threaten progress of bank inquiry', (Sunday Independent, June 22, 2014). As a blueprint for the proposed banking inquiry it could not be bettered.

In easily understood language Mr McCarthy laid out the modules that should be addressed by any inquiry to get to the bottom of what happened to the financial and banking system.

Together with the easy credit international situation, the over-confident monetarist approach to macroeconomics adopted by all the more important economies, Anglo Irish Bank started the ball rolling in Ireland. When the other banks saw the profits that Anglo were making they followed suit .

Colm McCarthy's "dull, boring bankers" changed to clones of their Anglo counterparts 29EN20 and we were off and running. Hindsight is always 100pc, they say, but if McCarthy or somebody like him had been in charge of matters before this happened Ireland would not be the financial car crash it is today.

I remember articles by Shane Ross extolling the virtues of Anglo's approach against that of Bank of Ireland and AIB. He got his wish and with the complacent lack of regulation, Ireland was headed for one of the worst crashes in financial history.

Liam Cooke, Coolock, Dublin 17

Gaybo's courage on road safety

Madam - I wish to take issue with Mr Robert Sullivan's (Sunday Independent, June 22, 2014) mean-spirited remarks 
regarding Gay Byrne, 
Chairperson of the Road Safety Authority.

Mr Byrne has allowed his public profile to be used in a very positive manner to give the RSA and road safety in general the status and recognition they deserve. Gay Byrne has shown leadership and courage in holding up a mirror to all who use our roads, encouraging all of us to become more responsible on our roads.

Mr Sullivan says "accidents on the roads just happen (which is why they are called accidents)". The term collision is, in fact, more accurate and appropriate as it is non-judgemental and allows for an investigation by trained Gardai to determine if speed, alcohol, drugs or dangerous driving was involved, particularly if there has been 
serious injury or death 
involved.

It may come as a surprise to Mr Sullivan that his opinion that a reduction in Garda Monitoring has no negative effect on road safety flies in the face of research not just in Ireland but right across Europe.

Susan Gray, Culdaff, Inishowen, Co Donegal

Judged by their acts, Jack

Madam - So the President of Siptu, Mr Jack O'Connor, believes that Labour should withdraw from Government if it fails to prevent any more cuts to working families and those dependent on public services. That statement speaks volumes.

He obviously believed that it was the right thing to do for previous governments to implement all of the austerity measures that have been thrust on the people. Mr O'Connor is, of course, correct when he says that Fine Gael is not fit for office, but then the party of which he is a member entered government with them and participated in implementing cuts. In addition to this, Siptu stood idly by and allowed it to happen. He also believes, apparently with tongue in cheek, that the new Labour leadership has to immediately challenge the vile and slanderous lie that the party has reneged on its election promises.

The old maxim of let you be judged by your actions comes to mind. The new Labour leadership is part of the old guard of the party, who were involved in the cuts, and therefore no matter what they may have us believe, nothing will change.

It has been shown in 
the recent elections what the people thought of Labour's participation in government and its continuous adherence to austerity policies carried out by the government of which it is a part.

Dr Tadhg Moloney, Gouldavoher, Limerick

Three magnificent Mna na hEireann

Madam - Mary Leland contributed a very informative article (Sunday Independent June 22, 2014) reflecting on the media reports around the mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway. She reminded us of how some did succeed in making a difference to improve society, like Senators Mary Robinson and Catherine McGuinness and the late Nuala Fennell.They passed the 1987 Status of Children Act, which removed legal discrimination and confered that all children were equal regardless of their parents' status (married or unmarried) at the time of birth. This was 27 years ago. There was a 1930 Act whose purpose, Mary told us, was to legally force fathers to financially support their baby born outside marriage, but was rarely used and not widely known of.

She told us of an organisation called Cherish set up in 1972 with Mary Robinson as its first president, which helped to bring in the Unmarried Mother's Allowance in 1973. I read elsewhere this was changed to Lone Parents Allowance in the 1990s as a payment for single, widowed and separated parents. It is important to know what a brilliant, campaigning lawyer was the young Mary Robinson, who was elected our first female President of Ireland from 1990 - 1997.

An Irish government presented in 1931 with the Carrigan Report was so unprepared by its findings of the abuse of children in Ireland's institutions, that they did not publish it and did not act on its recommendations.

Social change and improvements came faster in the 1970s, when we joined the European Economic Community. They are inter-linked and Mary Robinson was one of many who made a difference. She campaigned for the right of women to serve on juries. In her 1990 inauguration speech, she spoke of Mna na hEireann, women of Ireland. It was a great moment.

M Sullivan, Cork

Was not AIB itself insolvent?

Madam - It was sad and somewhat ironic to hear Sir Anthony O'Reilly described by AIB bank as "insolvent". Was not this bank itself "insolvent" a few years ago?

Brian McDevitt, Glenties, Co Donegal

Mary McAleese can have an input

Madam - When selecting a candidate for President of Ireland what criteria do voters use to decide the attributes for such a high position? The ability to change the spark plugs on a State car perhaps? Hardly. Yet Mary McAleese seems to believe that a bishop who hasn't changed a child's nappy is incapable of offering insight into family life. Granted, the former president has a qualification in Canon Law from a prestigious college in Rome, but she still needs to present her arguments in a scholarly manner, based on sound philosophical reasoning and correct exegetical interpretation of Scripture. Calling a synod of Bishops "bonkers" isn't the best way to win friends and influence people. (Declan Lynch Sunday Independent June 22, 2014).

However, even the hierarchy can be persuaded to change their minds. St Catherine of Siena, a doctor of the Church was instrumental in bringing the papacy of Gregory XI from its displacement in Avignon in France back to Rome. Mother Teresa of Calcutta pointed out to Pope John Paul that Saint Damien of Molokai required only one miracle for canonisation since he was also a martyr for love. Mary Margaret Alacoque was the agent responsible for the Church inaugurating the Feast of The Sacred Heart. Perhaps Mrs McAleese can yet become a decisive influence within the Irish Church.

James Hogan, Thurles

The real value of our IDA jobs

Madam - The IDA and successive governments have all nervously averted their gaze over many years on the threat of losing multinational jobs if they demanded the full 12.5pc CT due. The multinationals now know that they have the upper hand (in an economic downturn) and are pushing their advantage.

If you park outside any multinational, it would be difficult to spot many Irish-born citizens going to work - they are mainly eastern Europeans and Asians.

I have no problem with immigrants working here, but the IDA was established to grow Irish based industry and jobs for Irish people.

The quoted reductions on the dole figures still smack of Irish citizens emigrating, passing the next wave of young incoming foreign call-centre workers in the airport.

It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the citizenship of the IDA "client" employees by country of origin and the average wage per employee at those companies.

I have a feeling it may not be as good as we all have been lead to believe.

Meanwhile, we are still haemorrhaging local, well paid Irish jobs and companies.

It's time to see what's actually been happening, who's been fibbing, hiding the facts and dressing up their conquests.

Robert Daly, Cork

D'movie's great, thanks Agnes

Madam - Campaigners battling to save Moore Street from planned demolition very much welcome the support of Brendan O'Carroll and his wife Jenny Gibney for its preservation.(Sunday Independent, June 22, 2014).

'Letting Moore Street go would be like knocking down Kilmainham Jail' they say.

From first reports it appears that 'Mrs. Brown D' Movie' is, as Brendan O'Carroll wished it to be, 'a love letter to Dublin'. In this case, however, the letter may well be marked 'return to sender' given the plans to obliterate the very street upon which the movie is primarily set.

For over a century its shops and stalls have fed generations of citizens and now it stands as the only street market left in the north inner city. Commemorated in song and story, and now on screen, its profile is international. More importantly, it is, of course, also the birthplace of our Republic.

Held by volunteers in 1916 as the last stand of the Provisional Government, five of the signatories to the Proclamation spent their last hours of freedom here before execution.

The area historically is 'beyond price' according to the Imperial War Museum in London. Our National Museum describes it as 'the most historic site in modern Irish history'.

Despite this, Moore Street is set to be destroyed and lost forever through public funding, courtesy of NAMA, to make way for a Celtic Tiger shopping centre development! Mrs Brown herself could not have made this up!

Through Brendan O'Carroll's efforts we and future generations will at least have the pleasure of watching on screen what was once the heart of Dublin City in the rare old times.

James Connolly Heron, The Save 16 Moore Street Campaign Committee, Dublin 2

Woolly logic on Sinn Fein

Madam - I wouldn't normally respond to a letter from a member of the public, but 
Emma Deane's critique of 
Eilis O'Hanlon's piece on 
Sinn Fein (Sunday Independent, June 22, 2014) strikes 
me as representative of the woolly logic that appeals to so many of today's less experienced voters.

Sinn Fein may indeed be evolving, but it is naive in the extreme to say that that party has a real determination to make Ireland a fairer place. Is it fair to give false hope of a speedy recovery to a nation grasping at straws? Sinn Fein thinks so! The reality is it will take years of tight budgeting to achieve that goal.

The galling thing about the SF mantra of quick-fix economics is the fact that they know well the numbers don't add up.

As Ms Deane and many like thinkers seem utterly inured to the moral aspect of SF's murky past, let us consider for a moment how that party intends to secure approval for its dictatorial, anti-business policies and its ability to govern on behalf of the people.

Basically, SF says it can extract sufficient taxes from large corporations, multinationals and high earners to make up for the loss of revenue from home, water, PAYE and other taxes. A schoolchild would know that the resulting withdrawal of investment and international confidence in Ireland Inc's ability to pay back loans would land us all back in 2007 - but this time without the safety net.

Educated people like Emma Deane should be aware of sirens who preach the gospel of free dinners in return for votes.

Niall Ginty, Killester Dublin 5

Sunday Independent

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