Sunday 25 September 2016

Letters: We should offer migrants a home – not just rescue them from the sea

Published 10/08/2015 | 02:30

The Irish naval vessel LE Niamh arrives at Messina port in Sicily, Italy, with migrants recused from the Mediterranean Sea
The Irish naval vessel LE Niamh arrives at Messina port in Sicily, Italy, with migrants recused from the Mediterranean Sea

Your editorial (Irish Independent, August 7), along with the article by Dominic MacSorley of Concern, is to be welcomed as a serious call for governments to show leadership and respond with humanity to the appalling circumstances in which migrants from Syria and sub-Saharan Africa are finding themselves.

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The LE Niamh did outstanding work in the Mediterranean last week but it is not enough for the Irish Government to organise the rescue of people, then drop them into Italy and leave that country to deal with their "processing".

No one who isn't utterly desperate would embark on the journey these men, women and children are making. It is less than 200 years since 2 million hungry people fled this country for America, Australia and the UK.

Our tribute to their sacrifice might best be represented by a willingness to take some of today's migrants, not just out of the water, but into the country, where they can build a decent life for themselves. Is it beyond the capacity of the world's leaders to devise a plan for sharing the acceptance of these people over several continents and countries - Europe (all of it), Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, other African countries and South America, for example?

The only yardstick for measuring our concern for their plight is the offer of a long-term solution in the shape of a safe haven and the possibility of starting a new life.

If the world continues to leave it to Italy and the French city of Calais to deal with the chaos, we should all hang our heads in shame. The ultimate solution lies in the ending of the conflict in Syria and the affected African countries but it is obvious that many of their traumatised citizens cannot wait for that ever more distant day.

Mary Lyons

Ardagh, Co Longford

A crisis of patriotism

I wonder if the centenary commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising might be a useful starting point for some reflection on the current state of patriotism in 21st century Ireland and the very relationship of our people with this State?

While it is inevitable that the drama of a country's struggle for independence will bring fame to particular events and individuals that will be long remembered in our folklore, it seems to me that the decades-long political dominance of the revolutionary generation, the bitterness of the Civil War and the longevity of the "Troubles" have been significant factors in the failure of our Republic to develop a broader sense of patriotism that was not founded on resistance to the foreigner alone.

For example, I understand that our country is almost unique in Europe for not having any form of public honours list. Furthermore, we need to ask ourselves if our current political system is capable of nurturing and sustaining a spirit of patriotism amongst a political class that is afflicted by localism and opportunism.

The pressures caused by the recent recession have contributed to rising levels of public cynicism and deeper anger with the efficacy of our public institutions.

A Republic without a critical mass of loyal citizens can soon become dysfunctional. In my view, the very sustainability of our State is dependent on us tackling this "patriotism crisis", and the upcoming commemorations can provide us with the necessary space to do so.

PJ O'Meara

Cahir, Co Tipperary

A sledgehammer to crack a nut

I read with disbelief about the plan to overcome the abuse of the penalty points system. To solve this problem, it requires the input of five (five!) government agencies.

Why is it that in Ireland we always need a sledgehammer to crack a nut?

I lived in California for over 25 years, where it is mandatory for all citizens to carry, at all times, an official form of ID - in the case of motorists, their driver's licence.

So I suggest we pass legislation making carrying ID mandatory, which means when appearing in court on a motoring charge, the alleged offender will be carrying his/her licence, to which can be applied the necessary penalty. Failure to produce the licence there and then will incur yet another penalty. It ain't rocket science.

Michael Dryhurst

Four-Mile-House, Co Roscommon

Tragedy of a real-life Donald

In his comic/tragic play 'And They Used to Star in Movies' (1976), Campbell Black brilliantly imagines the individual fortunes of well-known Disney cartoon characters in the years following their screen heyday.

In contrast to Mickey Mouse's slide into maudlin alcoholism, and hard times befalling others, Donald Duck is depicted as going on to become a hugely successful Broadway producer.

I can think of a real-life Donald, who sees himself as the lead character in a pantomime (commencing January 2017) entitled 'The White House'!

Oliver McGrane

Rathfarnham, Dublin

Ibrahim Halawa case

In your report in your paper (Irish Independent, August 7), on a statement from the family of Ibrahim Halawa, an Irish citizen imprisoned in Egypt, you wrongly claim that Senator Mark Daly travelled to Egypt with Ibrahim's sisters last week. You also wrongly name Mark Daly as an MEP.

Furthermore, you fail to mention that Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan did in fact travel to Egypt for Ibrahim's trial, which was postponed once again and that she facilitated the first open meeting for Ibrahim and his sisters in the two years he has been imprisoned there.

Shaun Tracey

Sinn Féin Press Office

Our clogged-up GP system

I am over 70 and now entitled to free GP care. What nonsense!

A year or two ago, I needed a doctor, as I could hardly walk with the pain in my back. So I phoned up to find out if he made home visits.

I was soon disabused of that notion and told to come to the surgery the following morning at a particular time. With a lot of effort I made it there on time, only to find the waiting room packed with patients ahead of me. Needless to say, I did not stay very long and trundled home. As far as I am concerned, therefore, the GP might as well not exist!

Instead of it being a free service, I pay on the double through medical insurance and taxation.

The whole system is clogged up and useless.

Niall Kinane

Whitehall, Dublin

Irish Independent

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