Sunday 25 September 2016

Minister Varadkar needs to read up on life of Arthur Griffith

Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30

Minister Leo Varadkar speaks at Glasnevin Cemetery on Sunday. Photo: Maxwell Photography
Minister Leo Varadkar speaks at Glasnevin Cemetery on Sunday. Photo: Maxwell Photography

Minister Leo Varadkar's speech at Glasnevin Cemetery reminds me of British historian Bernard Lewis's statement that present-day politicians wished that "history was not as it was . . . but as they would have preferred it to have been". Reading Mr Varadkar's speech, one would be forgiven for imagining that Arthur Griffith drew up Fine Gael's economic policy - nothing could be further from the truth.

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Griffith founded the Sinn Féin party in 1905 as an alternative to the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP). His main criticism of the IPP was that they did nothing to alleviate the worst poverty in Europe at that time, which was in the Dublin slums.

Griffith promoted the idea of returning to the policies of Grattan's parliament which was to develop the Irish economy.

The IPP were totally against this as many of the members were extensive landlords, and had no intention of promoting Irish business to the detriment of Irish agriculture. This policy was rejected by Sinn Féin as, combined with the imperial taxation policy launched by Gladstone, it was unquestionably at the root of emigration and unemployment in Ireland.

There is widespread acceptance that the IPP became an instrument of 'Clientism', as was the case in all British imperial parliaments, of turning politics into a mere dispensary for private patronage networks. This made the establishments of platforms for reform of any kind almost impossible. This was particularly debilitating for those like Griffith who were attempting to do just that. Griffith proposed the development of the IDA, which lay dormant until TK Whitaker and Seán Lemass resurrected the concept in 1949. Whitaker's post-1949 arguments were exactly those proposed by Griffith and his Minister for Finance Collins in the first Dáil in 1919. Griffith argued that the Irish banks should end their unionist policies of directing that all Irish capital be invested in British stocks rather than in Irish Industry. Unfortunately, Griffith was dead and Collins murdered before the Free State was established in 1922.

Griffith believed that the railways should be nationalised as he saw them as the engine to drive economic activity in the country towns. It was cheaper to move goods from London or Liverpool to Galway than it was to move goods from Athlone to Galway. The railways - even post-1922 - were controlled by the Midland Bank.

I respectfully suggest that before Leo Varadkar writes any more speeches about Griffith that he reads Owen McGee's biography of Griffith. He should also read Griffith's 'Sinn Féin Policy' (1906) and 'Why Ireland is Poor (1915).

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway

A blind eye to ticket touting

Last week an Irishman on holiday in Majorca was brutally murdered in front of his young children. Prior to this happening, our radios, TV and newspapers continuously bombarded us with reports of the so-called ticket scandal in Rio, while the murder of an innocent man has long since gone from the front pages.

It's now close to the finals of both hurling and football, the Gaa will soon announce Croke Park to be sold out, yet if coming from Drumcondra rail station you will be bombarded with sellers of black market tickets asking double or treble the price from genuine followers, despite a high level of gardaí present.

Will a special unit within the force be set up to combat this crime that no ordinary garda can manage? When is the last time anyone was prosecuted in Ireland for selling tickets on the black-market? Are buyers of tickets from touts in Rio likely to be on social welfare or unemployed? Is it only a crime in Rio to ticket-tout? In Ireland, it's considered small potatoes when looking at all our other major crimes.

Fred Molloy

Dublin 15

With regard to the OCI, and the extraordinary events in Rio, I've heard a number of commentators say that it's unhealthy to have one person at the head of an organisation for almost 30 years.

Not surprisingly, none of them were Sinn Féin members.

Brian Ahern

Clonsilla, Dublin 15.

Poland and World War II

Dominic Shelmerdine mentions the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact as a crucial factor which led to WWII (Irish Independent, August 20).

I would add that WWII wouldn't have been possible without the USSR's cooperation with Germany (a result of the 1922 Treaty of Rapallo and its secret military provisions). Was Poland really "compensated by receiving German Silesia up to River Oder"? The Silesian infrastructure was dismantled and taken to USSR, often with the local workforce. As to his question "who should displaced Silesian Germans look to for compensation?" - only those Germans (and their families) who collaborated with the Nazis were forced to leave (that's why by 1950, 1,043,550 of them were naturalised as Polish citizens and 170,000 still remained).

By the way, Poland recognises the ethnic minority status of the Silesian Germans (and guarantees them one seat in the Parliament), while Germany refuses to do so for those Poles (but not Danes or Roma people) who had been living in Germany for centuries (the legal basis for their refusal is…a 1940 decree issued by H Göring).

As to Micheal O'Cathall's letter (Irish Independent, August 22) stating that "a large portion of Napoleon's army who invaded Russia in 1812 was composed of Poles and these barbaric invaders caused untold havoc" - can someone please inform him that Poland didn't exist at that time because it was divided between Russia (that massacred 20,000 civilians in Warsaw in 1794), Prussia and Austria, and that what existed was the Duchy of Warsaw, with its armed forces completely under French control (the obligatory time of service was set at six years and its war minister was also a Marshal of France)?

Grzegorz Kolodziej

Bray, Co Wicklow

Blood on the minister's hands

I wish to question the moral judgment of Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs.

I would like her to explain her reason for issuing a licence to allow bloodsports clubs to net thousands of hares from the wild for use as live bait for greyhounds to chase at 87 coursing meetings around Ireland over a 29-week period (six months and 22 days).

The minister has ignored appeals from Ireland and around the world and not only licensed the cruelty once again but allowed the coursers to start rounding up hares for their bloodsport a day earlier than last year's licence allowed.

Ireland's wildlife is a precious element of our heritage. It adds so much to this land and gives enjoyment to people of Ireland. Every time wildlife is hunted down and killed for recreation, a piece of our heritage is lost forever.

John Tierney

Campaigns Director

Association of Hunt Saboteurs

PO Box 4734, Dublin 1

Irish Independent

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