Thursday 27 November 2014

Letters: True legacy of our past is shameful as we approach 2016

Published 20/06/2014 | 02:30

Captain Eoin Rochford from the Irish Defence Forces reads the Proclamation outside the GPO in Dublin during the 97th anniversary of the 1916 Easter RisingJulien Behal/PA Wire
Captain Eoin Rochford from the Irish Defence Forces reads the Proclamation outside the GPO in Dublin during the 97th anniversary of the 1916 Easter RisingJulien Behal/PA Wire

Reading of the latest scandals arising from a past that seems to be growing darker by the day, my thoughts strayed to the 1916 Rising and the lofty ideals that inspired our Patriot Dead.

The Easter Proclamation pledged, among other things, to cherish all the children of the nation equally. In 1922, we got the chance to translate those ideals into reality but we didn't do that. Within months of independence, boys and girls in industrial schools were being subjected to a level of brutality far above that experienced in those same institutions before we won our freedom. The schools had been handed over to religious orders that ran them as they saw fit. Hence began a long litany of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

For so many women, the new Ireland proved to be a little piece of hell. Just as someone had quietly deleted the image of a woman patriot from a photo taken during the Rising, so were the human rights of women, especially single mothers, airbrushed out of the new order that replaced the power of the black and tan with that of the black and soutane. The Magdalene laundries filled up, and from the earliest days of Irish "freedom", babies were being snatched from their "fallen" mothers to be sold for adoption, while other babies were dying, as we now know, in large numbers in the mother-and-baby homes.

Countless babies that died without baptism were buried secretly, with no funerals as their souls were believed to have gone to Limbo, denied entrance into Heaven to atone for not having been christened. We'll never know how many unmarked graves lie beneath the fertile soil of Ireland.

Ideas abound on how we should celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Politicians and political parties will undoubtedly vie for the honour of laying claim to that proud patriotic legacy. Here's a suggestion. Directly facing the GPO, opposite the reviewing stand containing the politicians, celebrities and assorted pillars of society, a massive display board could be mounted with a series of murals depicting the truth of our dishonourable and not so distant past:

Children being flogged by grown adults in a grim institution, their voices unheard by an uncaring conservative society; women slaving in a Magdalene punishment centre under the supervision of God's chosen, having been signed in by their families or other "concerned citizens"; images of men and women wrongly consigned to mental institutions by their families because they didn't "fit in"; and a depiction of an innocent baby and her "fallen" mother in one of those homes.

JOHN FITZGERALD

CALAN, CO KILKENNY

MY PASTY THIGHS ARE PERFECT

Now that we are getting a bit of sunshine, there will be a slew of snide comments deriding men with white legs crisscrossed by broken veins, knobbly knees, sandals and socks, wearing shorts. I am that man. I celebrate the years of decrepitude and the iron will that resists the current obsession with the bland, perfect body.

TOM FARRELL

FOREST RD, SWORDS, CO DUBLIN

WATER CHARGES TO HIT FLOWERS TOO

As we drive around the country this summer we should all enjoy the beautiful array of flowers in our gardens, window boxes and hanging baskets.

With the unnecessary introduction of water usage charges later this year, this is the last summer we will be able to do so. Their absence will be yet another 'unintended consequence' of government policy.

A flat rate water charge would have been a fairer and more sensible method of getting the money which is needed to fix the leaking pipes which we all know are the real cause of water wastage in the country.

KEVIN CONRY

CLONKILL, MULLINGAR, CO WESTMEATH

'F WORD' HAS ME ALL FIRED UP

Eamon Dunphy's apology for using the 'F word' reminded me of when I was 10.

I used the word, to a certain extent, in conversation with friends. One day my dad heard me say the word and instructed me on how to stop using the word.

He told me to replace the word with 'firetruck', a word that has the first letter and the last three letters of the swear word in question. I used the word firetruck so often that at my last year of school everyone had to write down what we thought the other classmates' occupation would be when they got older. Nearly all of my classmates thought I would become a fireman.

KEVIN DEVITTE

MILL STREET, WESTPORT, CO MAYO

LET'S STAND UP TO THE IMF

"Anchoring the quantum of adjustment rather than the headline deficit would also avoid pro cyclical responses to revisions in growth projections," according to 'IMF-speak'.

In addition, the US-based entity strips Labour of its armour once more. It notes Joan Burton, contrary to a public statement to the Irish people regarding the need for the €2bn cuts, actually intends to back them fully.

Shades of Pat Rabbitte and election promises are things you state but don't intend keeping. Shades of Eamon Gilmore starting publicly no Lisbon II, but privately assuring the US embassy of his support for a re-run of same.

Reality, of course, is families picking whom to pay this weeks bill's to. With a water tax onstream, the local property tax already flowing, hospitals gutted, public services lain bare, tax takes up and the migration of thousands of Irish youth, where is our money going?

We worry and fret about the royals coming for the 1916/2016 celebrations. But in truth we have bigger worries and perhaps between now and 2016 we might unearth a hero or two to stand up to Ms Lagarde who, as IMF head, actually pays no tax. A case of do as I preach but not do myself.

JOHN CUFFE

MEATH

A LESSON FROM WORLD WAR II

Europe (and Germany in particular) should remember the damage done to it, after World War I, by the austerity programme imposed at Versailles.

The reparations bill was so onerous that it was used by Hitler as recruiting propaganda for his Nazi (National Socialist) party.

Now, I wonder, if the troika and the European Central Bank give a fig for those worried by the rise of the new fascism within Europe, or are simply concerned with the monetary dividend being squeezed from countries like Ireland by a patently unfair austerity agenda.

If there is little or no social dividend from this cosy political arrangement, then our established parties could face meltdown at the next general election.

But then, who cares, eh?

RICHARD DOWLING

MOUNTRATH, CO LAOIS

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

It is indeed heartening to see the farmers consistently standing up for themselves.

As soon as the EU or our pathetic governments try to introduce measures which will affect their sector's income, they come out the following day – fully organised – and take their demands and protests to the very door of their problem maker.

There are lessons always to be drawn from the fearless tactics of the farmers' organisations, which every trade union in the country should follow.

But they won't.

ROBERT SULLIVAN

BANTRY, CO CORK

Irish Independent

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