Monday 26 September 2016

Misdeeds of the West are at the heart of current refugee crisis

Published 08/09/2015 | 02:30

A refugee waits to board a bus in Hungary with her infant
A refugee waits to board a bus in Hungary with her infant

Did we really need to see the dead body of an innocent child washed ashore on a Turkish beach to be convinced that we are dealing with a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions?

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There had been more than enough evidence to warrant an appropriate political response, but it took the heartrending image of little Aylan Kurdi to shame politicians into significant action.

There can be no greater need in the world than that of coming to the aid of our shattered and dispossessed brothers and sisters.

Here is an eminently clear case for a call to moral action, meeting the urgent demand for consistency between what we know about the world and what we do about it.

Globalisation was expected to create a world order where nobody was distinctively disadvantaged, where the poor, the victims of war and the politically oppressed would be rescued from their plight.

Sadly, in reality, globalisation amounts to an economic drive that works to the advantage of the richest countries who dominate world trade, leaving the poorest to gather the scraps that remain, while providing cheap labour and raw materials.

In the absence of enforceable international laws to protect developing countries from ruthless exploitation - or of a willingness to face up to the fact that the misdeeds of the West are at the heart of the refugee crisis - developing nations are persistently at the mercy of the greed of unscrupulous investors.

Investment in developing countries seeks to recast the world in the mould of Western unfettered capitalism, a move that is shot through with a total disregard for the lives and sensibilities of the people affected.

The world's response to the current crisis highlights the real contradiction between the free flow of capital across the world and the restrictions on the movement of people.

Political life, where the key considerations relate to financial loss or gain, has been cut adrift from moral considerations relating to respect for the lives of others.

Philip O'Neill

Oxford, UK


We must honour our own legacy

I am a 19-year-old student and I am currently at a loss as to what I, and we as a country, can do to help the humanitarian tragedy that is unfolding before us.

We must disregard the notion that these people would come here purely to claim State benefits and we must remember our history when our ancestors fled Ireland en masse during the Famine. It is not so far removed as it would seem.

They are coming seeking safety while we sought sustenance. Previous generations emigrated and were not welcomed with open arms. We now look with disdain on pictures of signs emblazoned with the words: "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish."

If we refuse these people solace and safety we are essentially placing signs in our windows proclaiming the same thing.

Whatever happened to the land of a thousand welcomes?

Moya Ní Dhúagáin

Moville, Co Donegal


Rural Ireland must fight back

Miriam Donohoe's article (Irish Independent, September 7) should be a major wake-up call to every rural community in Ireland. The article illustrates a Dublin-based Government completely out of touch with the people of rural Ireland.

Governments now rely on Dublin-based, overpaid advisers and consultants, while they ignore grassroots feedback.

It is past time the people of rural Ireland took it upon themselves to take care of themselves once again.

They did it when the Irish Agricultural Co-Operative movement was set up, and when the Credit Union movement was set up.

For example, in Sligo in 1950 two organisations were founded by Sligo business people. The County Sligo Tourist Development Association is still going strong 65 years on.

The other organisation was the County Sligo Industrial Association, which did create two industries. While they traded for a number of years they created local employment.

The problem was that in the 1960s the drive was not there to keep the momentum going. I tried on a number of occasions to have it restarted, to no avail.

Derek Foley

Berwick, Australia


Cats use heads as well as claws

The most authentic history of the term 'Kilkenny Cat' refers to anyone who is a tenacious fighter.

It is surely the most applicable and appropriate for each of the eager black and amber battalion at Croke Park on Sunday.

Manager Brian Cody's reinvention of himself and his team, year after year, continues to appease that avaricious appetite for success.

He must have picked his secrets from the English poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling's 'The Maltese Cat'. In it, Kittiwynk, the manager of a pussy polo team, is giving a pep talk to her outfit going into the final against a small pony polo team.

To encourage them, she said: "We have good reason to be proud and a better reason to be afraid, all of us twelve, for though we have fought our way, game by game to the final, this afternoon, we are now meeting the biggest and strongest of them all - The Archangels.

"We may not be playing the maxims," added the furry Maltese trainer.

"But, we're playing the game and have the great advantage of knowing the game. We may not have their style, but we've pulled up to a final against all those fellows on the ground here.

"That is because we play with our heads as well as our claws."

Galway maestro Anthony Cunningham didn't find the way to outsmart or match lucky Cody.

Living close to the border and having a half share of cat's blood, I would nevertheless have loved see the men in maroon end their 27-year All-Ireland hurling famine and leave Croke Park on Sunday evening with not just a half-moon smile, but a full one like the rise over Claddagh in 'Galway Bay'.

James Gleeson

Thurles, Co Tipperary

Irish Independent

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