Wednesday 26 October 2016

TDs' anti-Trump antics come at a cost to the tourism industry

Published 20/06/2016 | 02:30

Donald Trump: there is uncertainty over his proposed trip to Ireland Photo: REUTERS/David Becker
Donald Trump: there is uncertainty over his proposed trip to Ireland Photo: REUTERS/David Becker

Thanks to the juvenile show-boating antics of Richard Boyd Barrett, Ruth Coppinger and other so-called hard-left socialists, the people of the southwest, who have no other meaningful industry other than seasonal tourism, are in danger of being well and truly shafted.

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Tens of millions of dollars in priceless free tourism publicity which the Donald Trump visit - accompanied by half of the United States media - would bring may now be lost to this very poor part of Ireland, which depends on tourism. Make no mistake, this lark may cost the region tens of thousands in lost tourists.

By denying the people the chance to showcase this beautiful corner of Ireland, Boyd Barrett and Coppinger - who enjoy lavish Dáil salaries - risk ensuring that there will be no end to the local people's austerity.

What was the point of their big anti-Trump protest anyway, other than another opportunity for them to behave like demented 'X Factor' contestants hogging a microphone in front of a crowd of their 'right-on' friends?

The 'protest' was nothing more than a cynical brand-building media opportunity for Boyd Barrett and Ruth Coppinger to preen and simper in front of US TV cameras and nothing else.

Incidentally, the rent-a-crowd - glorified unpaid background extras - would have had to pay €29 to get to County Clare by bus and thereby lose a day's wage for the sake of the aforementioned Pied Pipers' egos.

That would be small change for the highly remunerated deputies.

When China's President Xi Jinping, the leader of a nasty communist totalitarian government, visited Ireland in 2014, there wasn't a peep out of either Boyd Barrett or Coppinger.

William Miller, Cork

Children lacking kitchen skills

The recent report in relation to overweight mothers risking birth defects and miscarriages continues the long-running debate on obesity. There is no doubt that obesity is a complex and sensitive topic and the solving of it requires a multi-pronged approach.

I have been teaching home economics for over 30 years. When I began my career in the mid-eighties all the students had well-developed skills and know-how in the chopping, peeling and slicing of fresh food and a basic sense of the use of kitchen equipment. Students referred to dinners being prepared from fresh ingredients and they observed this and were usually involved in helping out in this process from an early age. Knowledge of nutrition may not have been what it is now but practical food-preparation skills were excellent.

Over the past five to eight years, home economics teachers have observed that there is a growing number of students( aged between 12 and 18) who lack the basic skills required to cook food using fresh ingredients. Some have never even seen, never mind know how to prepare, some common fresh vegetables.

I would strongly appeal to the Ministers of Health and Education to make the subject of Home Economics obligatory for all second-level students, especially as part of the new Junior Cert. This would ensure that all young people would gain a basic knowledge of nutrition and practical skills of fresh-food preparation.

I would also encourage parents of young children to elicit the help of their children with age-appropriate tasks/chores around the home. This could also be part of the jigsaw to help combat the problem of obesity.

Anne Byrne, Kentstown, Navan, Co Meath

Bruton's proposal has merit

On May 25, President Michael D Higgins heaped praise on the Educate Together model of education and at the weekend Leo Varadkar joined in that chorus of praise. Richard Bruton's community national school proposal is under attack from heavy hitters.

To be fair to the Educate Together model, it does represent a cross-section of the community. The Department of Education's programme for disadvantaged schools, DEIS (Delivering Equality Opportunity In Schools), is the yardstick used to measure the needs of a school in relation to disadvantaged pupils attending it.

DEIS band 1 signifies a school in severe need of extra support. Data from the department shows that around 7pc of mainstream schools receive support, while 5pc of Educate Together schools do so.

DEIS band 2 signifies less demand for support. The data here shows that around 5pc of mainstream schools receive support, while 13pc of Educate Together schools receive DEIS band 2 support. All of the Educate Together schools in DEIS band 2 are in major urban centres - Carlow, Ennis, Letterkenny, Lucan East, Skerries, Belmayne, Castaheany, Tralee and Mullingar.

The major difference lies in DEIS rural school support, where 11pc of rural mainstream schools receive support, while only 1pc of Educate Together rural schools get support.

The data clearly indicates that there is a major divide between rural and urban demand for Educate Together Schools. In fact, only one DEIS rural school is an Educate Together school.

Mr Bruton's plans to introduce community national schools may have more success in the rural community than in large urban centres where Educate Together is making major inroads.

However, this begs the question, are we now introducing a more divisive system, where children from rural communities will receive a different education from their urban counterparts? Having two opposing systems will only create more of a divide, which runs contrary to the Educate Together philosophy.

I suggest the minister's proposal of community national schools is the way forward, giving parents of all religious persuasions the opportunity for their children to obtain a decent state education and have their children participate in a religious programme if they choose to do so.

Dr David O Grady, Killarney, Co Kerry

Denuding of local government

The helter-skelter destruction of local government in Ireland, inadvertently begun in 1977 with the removal of domestic rates, has now presented yet another fine fiasco from Fine Gael, this time on bin charges.

Accountability in local government has been removed entirely. Democratically elected councillors are today more akin to 'extras' on a film set; their only role is to be in the background, smiling and nodding. A wonderful achievement for the Republic in the centenary year of the Rising.

Declan Foley, Berwick, Australia

Irish Independent

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