Thursday 27 October 2016

Letters: Would youth be wasted on our presidents?

Published 16/04/2015 | 02:30

If elected at the age of 21 would Mary McAleese have been as
effective a president?
If elected at the age of 21 would Mary McAleese have been as effective a president?

Perhaps a well-founded and acute apprehension prompted former President Mary McAleese to reveal how she intends to vote in the marriage referendum, notwithstanding the consistent backing for this proposition in opinion polls (Irish Independent, April 14).

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After all, opinion polls about voting intentions prior to the abolition of Seanad Éireann suggested that a 'Yes' vote of 64pc was assured, but the electorate rejected that proposition by a margin of 51pc to 48pc. Furthermore, five of the last 10 referendums proposals have been rejected by the electorate. Apathy, inertia, grave doubt and voter turnout of less than 50pc have been a recurring feature in referendums to change the Constitution.

However, it would have been immensely insightful if Mrs McAleese had shared her insight into the Government's other referendum proposition, the one to reduce the age of presidential candidates from 35 to 21. She is uniquely qualified to offer a credible opinion.

She began her widely-acclaimed double-term tenure as President of Ireland when she was 46 years old, having established a distinguished and broadly-based career. But when Mrs McAleese was 21 years old she had not yet graduated from Queen's University; nor had she been called to the Bar in the North or married Martin McAleese.

It would be immensely insightful were Mrs McAleese to advise whether she would have been as effective in the role of President of Ireland had she been elected 25 years before 1997. If youth is not a barrier to the successful execution of a high office would she, for example, recommend that candidates for positions appointed by the President, such as Supreme and High Court judges, diplomats and government ministers should typically be 21 years old?

Her observations on this issue would be valued as those of a trusted expert. Would her opinion not therefore be an immensely valuable input to the electorate as it attempts to make sense of the utopian mirage presented to them by the Government in this referendum proposition?

Myles Duffy

Glenageary, Co Dublin


Where is the love?

I was sickened to hear that the Catholic Church is yet again threatening its congregation by refusing to carry out the civil aspect of the wedding ceremony if the 'Yes' vote wins in the marriage-equality referendum. Are they not tired from bullying and manipulating the majority of Irish people? They should be ashamed of themselves.

They say they are followers of Jesus Christ, but they do not act as he preached. Did he not say "love your neighbour as yourself"? Is there no compassion and justice for gay people?

For years the Church covered up systemic abuse by some priests in Ireland. There were even paedophile priests being moved from one parish to another. Countless men and women have suffered - and as adults continue to live with the awful legacy of sexual abuse.

Women were also treated in a horrendous fashion - and are still treated as second-class citizens within the church. And we only have to think of the Magdalen Laundries and the Church's complicity in the horrors that went on there.

Now the Church has the audacity to try and bully its people into voting 'No' with its fear tactics.

I am sick of it, and of no one saying anything. I live in rural Ireland and I am speaking as a mother of a gay son. I get so angry when I hear my son being treated like a second-class citizen. Does he not have the same rights under the Constitution as everyone else? Is my son not as important as everyone else's son?

I have spoken to many parents who have gay children and this only makes prejudices and discrimination towards gay people worse. Again, shame on the Catholic bishops.

Anne Rigney

Co Roscommon


A soldier's poem

Colonel Patrick Mercer, who served eight tours of duty with the British army in Ireland, believes it would be the "ultimate reconciliation" if the Taoiseach were to visit the graves of British soldiers killed in the suppression of the 1916 Rising.

I'd have difficulty reconciling Mr Mercer's attitude with that of Tom Kettle, the ex-MP for an Ulster constituency who died leading a platoon of the Dublin Fusiliers in Ginchy in France in 1916.

Kettle's poem 'Reason in Rhyme' was a reply to an Englishman who urged that Irishmen forget the past. According to Irish writer Robert Lynd, a contemporary of Kettle, it expressed Kettle's mood to the last.

Kettle wrote that free, Ireland might be England's friend, but unfree could not cease from "the toil of hate" and when the time came to attend England's banquet -

"Soldier with equal soldier must we sit,

Closing a battle, not forgetting it,

With not a name to hide,

This mate and mother of valiant "rebels" dead

Must come with all her history on her head.

We keep the past for pride:

No deepest peace shall strike our poets dumb:

No rawest squad of all Death's volunteers,

No rudest man who died

To tear your flag down in the bitter years,

But shall have praise, and three times thrice again,

When at the table men shall drink with men."

Donal Kennedy

Palmers Green, London N13


Of kings and countries

If a member of the Bush family were to marry a Clinton and produce a baby, he or she could then be declared monarch of America, replacing the president. And we would all be spared seemingly-endless presidential-election campaigns.

Now if the same principle was applied to Irish politics, which two family clans would need to be involved? The Kennys and Martins? The Ó Cuívs and Adams? The Higgins and McDonalds? The Aherns and Haugheys?

Roger A Blackburn

Naul, Co Dublin


McWilliams has missed the bus

Is David McWilliams allowing his celeb status to presume he can dish up flabby and self-indulgent articles. The one on Dublin Bus is typical - 80pc guff establishing he is a regular guy and 20pc flabbily-reasoned economics.

The latter consists of telling us that a heavily unionised well-pensioned workforce has a God-given right to a near monopoly on the best bus routes, despite admitting earlier how Ryanair - despite the Davids of this life - gave us cheap airfares.

On economics, is David seriously arguing that our depleted health service, as an example, would be a less worthy recipient of the vast subsidies paid by the taxpayer to keep the 59 route and other routes like it open? I bet CIE management is trying to close it anyway. I am not surprised he says: "I regularly get lectures on economics on the bus".

Brian Kelly

Monkstown, Dublin

Irish Independent

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