Sunday 23 October 2016

TDs' jail saga is a waste of taxpayers' money

Published 11/12/2015 | 02:30

Mick Wallace
Mick Wallace

What a fantastic waste of resources we witnessed yesterday in the administration of justice. TD Mick Wallace was carted off to prison in Limerick for non-payment of a fine.

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In the same week that the Garda Inspectorate lamented that far too many gardaí are chained to the desk, we had further resources wasted by gardaí arresting Mr Wallace, bringing him to Clontarf Garda Station and then transferring him to prison in Limerick, where he was to spend not so much as one night.

Imagine the cost and expense involved here. If it was known that he would not spend a night in prison, surely a quick jaunt to Mountjoy would have served the purpose? Unbelievably, TD Clare Daly was sent separately on the same day to spend just two hours in Limerick prison. Twice the expense on a fool's errand.

The FG Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald needs to get her house in order and deploy scarce resources where they are needed: on the beat on our streets, patrolling the countryside, etc. Closing the garda stations in rural areas only saved €1m. Perhaps those savings could have been realised by eliminating wasteful and pathetic events such as the Mick Wallace and Clare Daly jail travel saga. What a joke!

Killian Brennan

Malahide Road, Dublin 17

Baptism and schools admission

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan is to be applauded for her decision to get rid of "Rule 68", which gives strong priority to religion in primary schools. She is absolutely correct in describing such rules as archaic. Citizens of all persuasions should support the minister in her efforts to reform not just the rules governing what goes on in our primary schools, but also entry procedures.

As parents will know only too well, this is not just a matter of sweeping away some embarrassing leftovers of the John Charles McQuaid era. Ensuring fair access to primary education is fundamental. We have a primary education system that is almost entirely funded by the taxpayer, yet access to which is rationed by denominational considerations.

Arguments that children who do not hold that "baptismal passport" should go elsewhere do not wash in huge parts of the country, where it is neither feasible nor desirable to duplicate the public provision of a primary school. If the State can fund only one school in a community, that school should be there for all the community.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said that "baptising children simply to be able to attend a specific school is an abuse of baptism". He is doubtless correct, but is it not also an abuse of public education to exclude children simply because they are not baptised?

Ms O'Sullivan has courageously identified several issues which go to the heart of Irish primary education. Glacial progress on "divestment" of religiously controlled schools is not the answer. Her (and our) ambition should be to give practical effect in schools to the provisions of Article 44 of the Constitution: freedom of conscience, no endowment of any religion, no discrimination on religious grounds.

Edmond Riordan

Carrigrohane, Co Cork

Red carpet welcome for Trump

We love Donald Trump in Ireland. Why, we even sent our Finance Minister to welcome him off his plane when he came to Ireland, creating a few jobs here.

There'll be no bad-mouthing old moneybags in the land of the leprechaun as long as he is appreciated in the corridors of power. I hope the councillors of the various political parties showed him a good time when he was over here lately.

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

'Steps of the GPO' a myth

Gerard O'Regan's piece on what the men who signed the Proclamation would make of us now was excellent (Irish Independent, December 5).

However, he fell for our apparent belief that important messages must be delivered from an elevated position. Thus, for example, the plinth at Leinster House and the steps of the High Court.

But there are no steps in front of the GPO. I can speak with authority on this, as I spent two Decembers in the 1960s singing Christmas carols for St Vincent de Paul. This was with fellow pupils from Synge St CBS in front of that illustrious building.

It was always regarded as the best pitch in town and was known simply as"outside the GPO". We defended that pitch jealously for years. There were then and, as far as I know, never were, any steps.

John F Jordan

Brussels, Belgium

Alcohol law could harm tourism

One has to question the proposed new legislation being mooted by Health Minister Leo Varadkar. Ireland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe for alcohol; we also rely heavily on tourism. Big price increases do not make sense.

Mr Varadkar's proposals of €2 for a can of beer and €7.40 for a bottle of plonk sounds like a solution akin to putting a plaster on a wound that needs stitches. It will fail, minister, and you cannot afford to price us out of the tourism market. It is a pathetic attempt to reduce hospital queues and disguise the problems in the health sector you and those before you have failed to solve.

Taxing the Irish consumer out of the market is not the answer.

Dave Meehan

Address with Editor

No crying in public

Evidently, Environment Minister Alan Kelly has never read WB Yeats's 'Autobiographies', otherwise, he would have recalled John O'Leary's words to Yeats in 1907.

"'There are things a man must not do to save a nation,' and when I asked what things, (O'Leary) said 'To cry in public.'"

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

Councillor's antics beyond satire

Last Tuesday night I watched an episode of 'Irish Pictorial Weekly', which I had recorded from the previous Sunday night. The show is described in the listings as a satirical sketch show. To me that means I might have got some laughs out of it. However, sadly this was not the case.

The previous night I watched 'RTÉ Investigates' which I had understood to be a factual programme. I have never laughed so much in my life, especially when Councillor Hugh McElvaney did his peculiar performance, saying he wanted sterling.

Might I suggest that in the future RTÉ labels its programmes more appropriately from here on!

Tommy Roddy

Salthill, Galway

Irish Independent

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