Thursday 27 November 2014

Looking forward to the miracles of St Martin

Published 13/09/2013 | 05:00

* Now most of the Irish sports media, and top commentators such as Eamon Dumphy and, to some extent, Jonny Giles can gloat over the dismissal of Trapattoni, a very costly national football coach for the last four years, following pressure from all sides, primarily from the fans fraternity in Ireland.

As a former longstanding correspondent from Ireland for Italian sports papers, I have witnessed the ups and downs of the Republic of Ireland, especially before and after the Charlton era.

If it is true that every town in Ireland should have a statue dedicated to big Jack for his triple achievements from 1988 to 1994, it is also true that ever since, with the exception of Mick McCarthy and Brian Kerr's tenures, the Republic of Ireland did slide down into insignificance until Trapattoni took over. This is something that the Irish fans fraternity, which is notoriously a ruthless judge of the national team's affairs, has forgotten in Ireland's case.

Under Trapattoni, in spite of the language barrier, his supposed stubbornness in terms of players selection, I saw the boys in green capable of passing the ball in a way that was rare under Charlton who solely believed in speed and long balls. There have been some matches played under Trapattoni's time which showed all the seeds of high-class football. Thanks to this quantifiable, qualitative improvement in the game, the Republic of Ireland got very close to qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, had it not been for the disgraceful Henry's handiwork, and got in amongst the greats in the 2012 European championship. If Trapattoni's luck ran out, as some cynical observers would like to put it, it is hardly his fault really. The point is that, having finally found reasonably good young players to nurture for better things to come, the more urgent matter of qualifying for 2014 wrong-footed him as it didn't allow him enough time to put the team to a more timely test. Lastly and foremostly, the players Trapattoni had to work and produce results with were and still are not the ultimate in terms of skill required for major international competitions.

Players of the calibre of Liam Brady, Paul McGrath or Roy Keane and very few others are in short supply these days.

Having said this, I am curious to see the miracles which the likes of Martin O'Neill, as the mooted new manager, will perform.

Concetto La Malfa

Dublin 4

TRAP – THE OVERACHIEVER

* Ireland has no professional football league worthy of the name and the world's self-appointed 'greatest football fans' have no interest in their 'real' local teams. The majority of Irish football supporters wear an English premiership football team jersey underneath the green jersey of their nation. The country has no world-class players. It relies on a foreign country to develop what decent players it does have, the majority of which are not good enough for the Premiership. But notwithstanding all of this, there is still a mythology which pervades the press and the media that all that is needed is yet another manager and everything will be all right.

When one considers the above, Trapattoni actually overachieved and did what any sensible manager would have done in cutting the suit according to his cloth. And to cap it all, we have to listen to the disaster that was Brian Kerr criticise Trapattoni who literally speaks a different footballing language from the man whose years of studying his manuals took him no further than the Faroe Islands!

Derek Ross

Blessington, Co Wicklow

SIMPLY NAUSEATING, JIM

* Can Jim fix it for me? Since hearing Jim Stafford's words of wisdom on Mary Wilson's 'Drivetime' (September 9, 2013 concerning Personal Insolvency criteria), I have been suffering a professional and perhaps existential crisis.

Jim said: "In practice, the PIP (Personal Insolvency Practitioner) will also have to assess the type of house that might be needed for a professional person such as a solicitor, accountant or a hospital consultant as opposed to a house that's needed by someone who is in the PAYE sector for example, so that, as a PIP, I would be making a very strong case, for example, that a solicitor should have a bigger house that accords with his professional status in society so his neighbours and clients can see that, yes, this person is a good solicitor who is living in a good house etc."

My problem is that I live in a relatively modest (well by Jim's standards it is terribly modest) non-trophy semi-detached house with a small garden. Jim is a clever man, he must be, he knows how the professional classes (whatever the hell that means) should live, how they think and what their clients expect. So in the interests of protecting my clients from being represented by an inadequate semi-d dweller, I propose to go to my bank and ask them for a few million euro to buy a trophy house.

And Yes, I do resent your comments Jim. I resent them because they cast a slur on decent, hardworking people, be they PAYE, self-employed, unemployed or members of the "professional class" who do their best to pay their debts and cut their cloth according to their means. They also ascribe a toxic set of values, along with a nauseating sense of entitlement, to professionals, which most do not hold. I read the apology on your website. Unfortunately, the horse has bolted and we all now know what you (and apparently your clients) think of the "little people".

Maurice Dockrell

Blackrock, Co Dublin

ONE OF US HAS GOT TO GO

* This week the Dublin Civic Trust is hosting a conference to celebrate the heritage of our five Georgian Squares, Mountjoy and Parnell on the north side and Merrion, Fitzwilliam and Stephen's Green on the south side. However, the suggestion that these once great squares could, with investment and care, stand comparison with the likes of Amsterdam's MuseumPlein or London's Exhibition Road, fall wide of the mark when you consider Merrion Square. It's probably closer to London's Victoria, with the volume of double decker buses that have turned it into a glorified parking lot.

As a regular visitor, I can vouch for the fact that the oasis of tranquility that is Merrion Square Park has been disrupted by the incessant revving up of engines, while the scents of the many beautiful flowers are overwhelmed by the reek of diesel.

The never-ending gaudy queue of Dublin Bus's yellow and blue dominates the entire southside of the square, ruining the excellent vistas of the Pepper Canister Church, the Georgian facades of the square itself and the view of nearby Leinster House (the building, not its inhabitants!). As one of the most famous residents of the square, resplendent in his green smoking jacket, trimmed in crimson, might opine of this vulgar intrusion – "One or other of us has got to go!"

Mark Lawler

Kilmainham, Dublin 8

PAYING FOR THE SEANAD

* It is difficult to argue that the Seanad is fit for purpose when the only purpose it seems to serve is as a pecuniary-advantaged bolthole for declining or aspiring members of the Dail; it certainly does not augment the country's democracy.

The danger is that once the Seanad is abolished, governments will surreptitiously resort to employing former (or aspiring) senators as 'special departmental advisers'.

At least whilst they are in the Seanad, we have a chance of seeing what salaries and expenses they are receiving.

But perhaps we are missing a trick. A slogan of settlers in North America 250 years ago was 'no taxation without representation'; surely it is equally valid to proclaim that there should be 'no representation without taxation', so perhaps the elite entitled to elect senators should pay for the democratic privilege they are enjoying by way of an income tax surcharge of, say, 5pc?

Roger A Blackburn

Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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