Tuesday 25 October 2016

State's response to Olympic scandals was too slow

Published 11/08/2016 | 02:30

Boxer Michael O’Reilly admitted he took a banned substance Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Boxer Michael O’Reilly admitted he took a banned substance Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Last February, the former Sports Minister, Michael Ring, made an exuberant declaration in his native Westport that no less than €10m was being provided by taxpayers to support the Irish endeavour in the Rio Olympics and the Paralympic Games.

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To date, there has been a doping scandal and the embarrassment and disgrace of this has been compounded by some tickets allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland ending up in the control of an alleged ticket tout.

Why were there no immediate comments, explanations or observations from the current Sports Minister, Shane Ross, who built his reputation on being the guardian of taxpayers' interests?

Why is the State not represented at the Rio Olympics by a leader or a dignitary of greater international stature than a junior minister only recently appointed to that role for the first time?

Perhaps the flourish of Mr Ring's Westport announcement, made just before the General Election campaign, constituted an Olympian achievement for the last government, and what ensues afterwards is mere political trivia that requires neither ministerial attention, nor even a cheerleader in attendance at Rio.

Myles Duffy

Glenageary, Co Dublin

Boxer's failed drug test

My real disappointment with boxer Michael O'Reilly is that he didn't issue his statement admitting that he unintentionally took a prohibited substance last Friday, August 5. It was a further blow for Team Ireland.

As in Rugby Union, when you're shown the red card, you should apologise to your colleagues and walk off the pitch.

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

Should Olympic cheats get supplementary welfare allowance?

John Williams

Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Time for shared parental leave

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar's recent move to expand paternity leave entitlements falls far short of addressing the real needs of Irish families.

Whilst it is not the place of Government to interfere with the arrangements made by parents in relation to family welfare, it can and should play a role in creating a level playing field.

Equalising the entitlements of mothers and fathers would provide a clear and official signal to parents and the labour market that they can and should be treated equally.

Equalising entitlements does not necessarily need to burden the market or the State with significant extra costs. It could be achieved by a system of transferable entitlements in relation to parental leave. Sharing leave between parents is increasingly common across Europe, including the UK.

Equalised entitlements will also help pull the rug out from under gender-biased employers.

Children are an unspoken factor in the hiring and remuneration of women. The gender pay gap is a perfectly logical consequence of maternity leave entitlements and the choices that mothers make in the current labour market environment.

The OECD reported that the pay gap in Ireland between women with children and women without children is a massive 31pc.

This highlights what a crucial factor children are to women's earning power and the choices they make in relation to the welfare of their families. They are burdened with an enormous cost that is not being experienced by their partners.

Shared and transferable parental leave can help counter this effect. A more flexible system of shared entitlements will ensure that the decisions parents make in relation to family and work are done on the widest possible bandwidth of choice and pay equality. A bold move in this direction is overdue.

Bill O'Rourke

Crumlin, Dublin 12

Sky deal at odds with GAA values

The controversy generated by the GAA decision in 2014 to award Sky Sports the sole right to air 14 championship matches a year was manifest last Saturday when the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-finals were played at Croke Park.

As the tickets sold out early and the State broadcaster RTÉ was not permitted to broadcast the matches live, those of us without tickets had to either go to the pub or subscribe to Sky Sports. Such expenditure is out of the reach of many fans, older ones on fixed incomes in particular.

These older fans who were the backbone of the GAA throughout the decades were abandoned to sate corporate greed.

To sell the rights to a pay-to-view television company to broadcast championship matches is anathema to the values, aims and objectives of the GAA.

The GAA has prospered because it places community above narrow self-serving demands. It is the embracing of this diversity and loyalty which is the strength of the GAA.

The Croke Park hierarchy does not own the GAA, no one does. We are just the current custodians of an organisation whose sporting and cultural assets are worth protecting.

We have a collective duty to future generations to pass on our sporting heritage, as it was passed on to us, untainted and unsullied by individual and corporate greed.

Tom Cooper

Templeogue, Dublin 6

Not quite personalised plates

What's up with those Irish expats arriving back into Ireland on short vacations with personalised number plates that aren't quite personalised?

You know the ones: numbers double up as letters and even letters do double duty as other letters? All it tells me is that the owners couldn't quite afford the thousands of euro needed to avoid the guesswork of deciphering the letters and numbers into a name.

It's all a far cry from the day, 50 years ago, when a Rolls-Royce was spotted coming off a ship in Rosslare Harbour from the UK bearing the registration number FU 2.

Liam Power

Ballina, Co Mayo

EU cheek over water charges

The EU's insistence that we pay water charges is an example of totalitarian cheek.

Ireland has paid 42pc of the total cost of the European banking crisis, at a cost of close to €9,000 per person, according to Eurostat.

The average banking crisis debt across the EU is €192 per person, and the figure of €9,000 for each Irish person does not take into account the €18bn put in from the National Pension Reserve Fund.

After Ireland, the German people, at €491 per person, have shouldered the next biggest cost of bailing out their big regional banks, which invested heavily in hedge funds.

So we are entitled to a rebate. But will the puppets in Government tell that to the Eurocrats? No way, José.

We should tell the EU to put that in their Brussels sprouts. And if they don't like it, we should do an 'Eirxit' from the EU.

Anthony Woods

Ennis, Co Clare

Irish Independent

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