Silence of the lambs in Leinster House
Published 13/04/2015 | 02:30
The debate on the same-sex marriage referendum has seen vast swathes of the public telling pollsters that they favour a 'Yes' vote, while at the same time displaying an extraordinary reluctance to engage on the issue in any way. This, in turn, has allowed a small but vocal group to monopolise the campaign for a 'Yes' vote.
The most extraordinary example of this was the Dáil debate on the bill to call the referendum itself. Incredibly, despite the enormous significance of the proposed referendum, just 28 of our 166 TDs spoke in the debate - including just nine of Fine Gael's 49 backbench TDs.
The vast majority of the largest party in the Dáil - and of the Dáil itself - maintained a stony silence as the bill was passed without a vote, let alone any kind of meaningful legislative scrutiny.
Love them or loathe them, our TDs are certainly well aware of public opinion on any given issue. If a particular cause is popular in their constituencies, they generally clamour over each other to be associated with it.
So how should we interpret the fact that so few of them wanted to speak on the issue of same-sex marriage, let alone publicly support it?
Actions may speak louder than words, but the silence of a vast swathe of political and public opinion must surely be a cause of extreme concern to the 'Yes' campaign.
Harold's Cross, Dublin 6
The equation of equality
In response to the letter by Niall Ó Murchadha ('How can one vote for an equality where none is possible?', April 11) I have a few points to raise.
First, Niall, I'm delighted to put an end to your plight and indeed struggle. While I don't know a single person of my acquaintance who would take issue with the your use of the word 'straight', I am delighted to inform that an alternative exists. I think you'll find the word 'heterosexual' will perfectly describe your orientation.
Second, I am delighted to assist you with your complex mathematical problem. I would like to preface this with a reassurance that many people struggle greatly with turning real world word problems into algebraic terms, but I hope to help. Your query addresses how can a+b = a+a in the context of equality. As with any mathematical problem we much first seek to define our terms.
At first glance we could say 'a' is a woman and 'b' a man. However, we must not forget that rascal that is 'context.' The importance of context is clear with simple problems - eg fruit cannot be viewed in the same way as people (an equation calling for dividing of people into halves could be problematic!)
So, what is the context? Equality. So let's apply this to our equation and we can see that 'a' cannot be a woman, as that discriminates on grounds of gender. Perhaps 'a' is a lesbian. But then we're talking about sexual orientation.
You have inadvertently written the perfect equation for equality but, for some reason, you fail to define your terms and in turn your solution.
a=b=1 human being.
This is what the referendum is about.
You cite some reasons why you feel discriminated against, so I'll briefly address them. If you have a group you are part of that is interested in marching, please feel free to apply to the relevant committee. If you are rejected for simply being heterosexual, please contact me and I will personally assist you in righting this wrong.
Do not be afraid to wear pink. Colours cannot be owned. No one has held a referendum on gay rights in general either, and if you can show us a reason why you are discriminated against because of your sexual orientation alone then you have equality and the nation on your side. That's the point of equality. Its purpose is to help and protect us all from having our human rights taken away. It is not there to protect the status quo or to elevate one group over others. It seeks only to make us all equal. A thoroughly achievable aim.
Dysart, Co Roscommon
Irish Water torture
The interaction between two Government departments, Irish Water and the public continues to be a farce. As I understand it, Paddy Public plus One will pay €260 this year. Then he will have to apply to the Department of Social Protection for an application form to qualify for the €100 conservation grant, fill in the form and return it to the Department of Social Protection. I understand that the latest costing for this exercise is €113m plus.
What a waste of time and money. Wouldn't it be simpler and far less costly if, instead of paying €260 to Irish Water, customers paid €160. Irish Water could then forward the names of those who had paid to the Department of Social Protection. This department could then issue a cheque for the figure to Irish Water.
This should satisfy everyone, including the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government - and save €113m. This is almost sufficient to cover the trolley crisis in our hospitals. In terms of time and cost the proposed outlandish method of dealing with Irish Water financing is similar to travelling from Newbridge to Dublin via the Giant's Causeway.
Address with editor
The past need not drag us down
Regarding a recent letter writer's concern about particular visible remnants of British rule in Ireland - ie some of our green post boxes with peculiar symbols on them. Pragmatic individuals in the 1920s solved the problem of red Royal Mail post boxes by simply painting them green and attaching Irish State insignia to them. This was better than wasting precious money on replacing alien boxes, money that was needed to rebuild and administer the newly independent state.
I do not feel my Irishness diminished when I use these post boxes, nor when I consider may other great achievements of Ireland and England during our reluctant union, such as our railways, roads, buildings and bridges all over the country, not forgetting our civil service, our judicial and court system, our canals, sewers, drains and water pipes.
Hazelwood, Co Sligo
Bad taste at restaurants
The recession must be over. I recently went to book a restaurant and I was told I could have the table from 5.30pm until 7pm because they wanted to have another sitting. Hearing this I declined to book.
Another annoying point about Irish restaurants is that in some cases there is an extra 10pc charge for groups of more than 10 people and, in some cases, six people? And what do Irish restaurateurs do? They penalise their customers for bringing large groups to their restaurants.
I can only conclude by saying our lower standard of hospitality is a recipe that undervalues the customer.
Clondalkin, Dublin 22