Friday 28 October 2016

The quest for justice

Published 01/05/2016 | 02:30

Family members of the Hillsborough victims attend a commemorative event at St George's Hall in Liverpool last week, to mark the outcome of the Hillsborough inquest which ruled that 96 Liverpool fans who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA
Family members of the Hillsborough victims attend a commemorative event at St George's Hall in Liverpool last week, to mark the outcome of the Hillsborough inquest which ruled that 96 Liverpool fans who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

Sir - The Hillsborough inquests show that with perseverance, citizens still maintain their good hearts in the quest for justice.

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This is largely forgotten within the corridors of power, both in the political and civil authorities. We are always liable to be bullied into holding with the official line on everything.

The families of the Liverpool deceased have shown, in the face of cover-up and many downright lies, that people-power can make justice win in the end.

There is little satisfaction that this had to be so hard-fought for.

Robert Sullivan,


Co Cork

Bravely facing the reality of cancer of

Sir - I have just read Ben Morgan's article ('Stigma equals bad, cancer equals not always bad, and comedy equals good', Sunday Independent, April 24) and wish to applaud him hugely. Two points he made struck a chord with me.

1. The stigma of cancer. Specifically Ben's point that not talking about a subject is more insulting and hurtful.

I can relate to this, having gone through the grief of my husband dying. Quite extraordinary how people somehow think by not mentioning 'the war' they are saving you. When in fact as Ben says not mentioning cancer or whatever only serves to alienate the sufferer more.

2. Men don't cry. Yes what a sad misnomer this is. I am sure the world would be a far better place if people could acknowledge their vulnerability and their emotions. Less of the macho thugs ruling the world? And that is not restricted to the male species. Unfortunately females seem to think they have to lose their 'feminine', emotional sides in order to advance in the world. Lovely world!

Finally I would like to congratulate Ben for his strength, his honesty and his bravery. More people like Ben in the world would make it a far better place. Go Ben!

Caroline Stephenson


Co Kildare

Wonderful life of peacock butterfly

Sir - "Uplifting" is the word I'd use to describe Joe Kennedy's tributary article on the life cycle of the decorative Peacock butterfly (Country Matters, Sunday Independent, April 24).

This large and colourful insect, a leader among its fluttering species, is a metaphor for nature's complex evolution - fragile and vulnerable yet tenacious and beguiling. I understand that it can survive for up to 11 months (700 butterfly years!) and stave up the hungry pangs of titmice, fly catchers and even predatory owls. Wow! Country walks, picnics and nature rambles have suddenly got more interesting...

Damien Boyd,


The swallows are back earlier

Sir - I had a few days break in Easkey Co Sligo over the Easter Holidays.

It's a beautiful area where I saw the first sign of summer. Our swallows are back, first sighted on April 7. This is earlier than usual.

Joe Kennedy.(Country matters, Sunday Independent) always says one swallow does not make a summer. They are making their home in our stone building's galvanised roof. The same place every year. I wonder if it is unusual to see them so early.

They seem so overjoyed to be back home. Is this a sign of a warm summer to come?

In the past people would say "Wherever you lay your eggs that's your home".

Bernard Rafter.



Just switching type of imperialism

Sir - Many people like Pat Daly, (Letters, Sunday Independent, April 24) decry what they see as a move from British imperialism to church imperialism arising from 1916 and the subsequent war of independence.

But did the electorate elect TDs who facilitated that perceived church imperialism. Is it that democracy is great so long as it doesn't deliver something we don't like?

Joseph Mackey



The basis of Sinn Fein's support

Sir - Dr Eoin O'Malley (Sunday Independent, April 24) is fully entitled to his view of Sinn Fein - apples after all do not fall far from the tree - but if he wishes to sign himself as a political scientist rather than a bar-room orator then he should pay more attention to his evidence.

Dr O'Malley does give Sinn Fein credit for not being anti-immigrant, but then tries to blame the party for the views of some of its voters and put them into the same category, on that basis, as Trump and Le Pen. These voters are young, male and angry, O'Malley claims. However if he had bothered to look at the evidence he would have seen than many far right or Trump voters are not so young - they are certainly white and angry but as likely, and in some polls more likely, to be older, often made poorer or redundant from traditional industries by austerity.

Even if we dislike the route they have taken, in responding to offensive anti-emigrant rhetoric, we can hardly blame them for being angry at the consequences of austerity polices perused by among others the 'liberal' Fine Gael of O'Malley's analysis. While historically Sinn Fein voters were more likely to be male, recent polls show that gap has almost closed (it is less than Fianna Fail's gender gap, for example). The exit polls of the recent election also showed that Sinn Fein did relatively well in the 25 to 34 age bracket (with 25pc support) and has average support in the 36-49 category.

On the European Social Survey, Dr O'Malley compares Sinn Fein voters unfavourably to Fine Gael voters on a range of issues. First of all such survey results have a very strong class dimension across Europe.

The first critique is really saying, statistically, that Sinn Fein voters are not as middle class as Fine Gael - a charge they would happily accept. Secondly it is to the party's credit that they do not respond to populist pressures. Sinn Fein have also, unlike the "liberal" Fine Gael of Dr O'Malley's article, called for the repeal of the eighth amendment, in order to safeguard women's lives.

Dr O'Malley says Sinn Fein gets fewer transfers than it should, and that some voters will never vote for it. Both are true but do not add to his argument.

Repeated surveys on attitudes to political parties, show that every party has a cohort of citizens who will never vote for it. Sinn Fein got approximately 12pc of transfers and 14pc of first preferences this year so the difference is relatively small and closing with each election.

Dr Sean Marlow

Dublin 11

Bleak picture of SF's fiefdom

Sir - Willie O'Dea paints a rather bleak picture of life 'In the Sinn Fein fiefdom of west Belfast' (Sunday independent, April 24). He furnishes the article with startling raw statistics with regard to child poverty, drug-related crime and poor educational attainment.

Sinn Fein, he asserts, are making no inroads on these issues, though they hold five of the six Northern Ireland assembly seats in the constituency. Why?

In Goldsmith's poem, The Deserted Village, he attributes his clergyman father's lack of high office to the fact that he was "more skilled to raise the wretched than to rise". It would appear that Sinn Fein representatives in west Belfast are more skilled to rise than raise the wretched.

Jim O'Connell

Dublin 7

Making best use of available lands

Sir - I refer to the article concerning the introduction of a site valuation tax and wish to dispute the comments by Ronan Lyons (Property, Sunday Independent, April 10) regarding the Dublin Industrial Estate attributed to Dublin City Council. These comments were taken out of context as they were made at a workshop convened by the RIAI in relation to the merits or not of introducing a site valuation tax.

It is misleading to characterise the Dublin Industrial Estate as "half-used". While it is an older-style industrial estate with some retail uses at the Finglas Road end, it is simply erroneous to suggest that the market value of "this industrial land is close to zero". The property sector has reported that activity in the industrial market in 2015 was at its highest level since 2006.

As was pointed out at the workshop, the realities of processing a compulsory purchase order for industrial estates with multiple ownerships such as the Dublin Industrial Estate, would be extremely challenging and costly for any local authority. Existing businesses would have to be compensated, not just for the property's market value, but also for business disturbance and all attendant costs.

The impression is often given that if only industrial lands - similar to the Dublin Industrial lands - were converted into residentially zoned lands, the housing problem would be solved.

However, not only do such lands provide employment close to established residential areas, but they comprise only 6pc of all the zoned land in the city, and as such are a resource that must be carefully managed.

It would be far more appropriate for these lands to be developed for modern intensive forms of economic employment uses rather than residential, as it would not require any change of land use zoning and would benefit from the infrastructural provision that is being proposed nearby and referred to in Mr Lyons's article.

Jim Keogan

Assistant Chief Executive, Dublin City Council

Planning & Property Development Department

Wishing joy to serene Elle

Sir  - Congratulations to Elle Gordon on her wonderful article in LIFE (Sunday Independent, April 24). It made me sad to think such a kind and beautiful person could be treated so cruelly.

The people who treat her so unkindly may not have a physical disability but are much worse off. They lack kindness, understanding, social skills and probably contentment and happiness in their own life. Hope Elle can eventually ignore "The hardest slap of all". She looks such a beautiful serene person. I wish her joy in her life.

Marie O Sullivan

Co Kerry

Driving penalties not harsh enough

Sir - Having read Brendan O'Connor's piece on a young girl's tragic death, ('When a tear means goodbye', Sunday Independent, April 24) I wish to add my thoughts on the continuing needless loss of life in our roads. So many motorists continue to flout the law; speeding, drinking, texting, ignoring warning signs and much more. The repercussions for those guilty of dangerous driving are simply not harsh enough.

Points deducted for various offenses are not having the desired effect. What if points were replaced by months off the road? Three months off the road would be a far tougher pill than three points on your licence. I believe that would get people's attention.

Adds promoting road safety often focus on the shock element. Not having access to your car might shock people into driving with due care!

Jim O Sullivan,

Douglas ,


Two masterpieces in journalism

Sir - I do hope that the powers that be at the Sunday Independent realise, that two of the articles written by Brendan O'Connor recently in their newspaper - 'Our Rebel hearts', (March 27), and the introduction piece last week to '100 Defining moments of Ireland's past 100 years' (April 24), are masterpieces in journalism. Just a fact.

End of story.

Brian Mc Devitt,


Co Donegal

Suicide serves to feed Mammon

Sir - Patsy Lee's compassionate letter (Sunday Independent, April 24)) along with Brian O'Donnell's remarks in Maeve Sheehan's excellent piece 'The folks that lived on Gorse Hill': "Another friend of mine rang me and said there are 28 farmers in Meath who have actually committed suicide over the last number of years. And this is under pressure from the banks. But nobody talks about it," were, for me, at least, very sad reading.

Colm Lee took his life in the midst of depression: a place where many who enter imagine they are totally alone.

The 28 farmers in Meath, along with God alone knows how many others, since the fall of the 'papier mache' Celtic Tiger, were forced into that dark abyss of being alone by people of absolute immorality - whose only God is Mammon - solely for the purpose of cashing in the Life Insurance Policies they had given as surety for a loan.

In 1987, a young and foolish assistant bank manager held a policy in front of me saying, "this could clear it off". A paltry £6K loan, which was to be repaid from a Trust Account three months from that day.

I hope the lesson I gave him that day with his back pinned to the office wall prevented him from saying this to another client. As I said to that young man: "Do you realise that God would consider this an act of murder by you, if I was foolish enough to take any heed of your suggestion?" The blood drained from his face.

It is time the government of Ireland took very seriously its obligation to humanity. The cost of suicide cannot be ignored, nor can a price be put on it, nor can the executives of banks and insurance companies, imagine their immoral actions do not have personal repercussions for them.

Unlike Fr Peter Mc Verry, I prefer the teachings of the ninth century Irish scholar Eriguena, who wrote: "Punishment must be spiritual. Every impious man will be tortured as it were by the 'libido' of his vices as by a certain inextinguishable flame." (Eriguena, p. 58. O'Meara).

Suicide inflicts horrific life-long pain for the family and friends of those who commit this act in the depths of depression: but when it is forced upon a fellow human being - especially in a nation which alleges it is Christian - solely to serve the feeding of Mammon: then in the eyes of any loving God, or human being; it is bound to be consider a heinous act of unadulterated murder.

Declan Foley



Cage fighters should be offended

Sir - DJ Histon, CEO of the Irish Coursing Club (Letters, Sunday Independent, April 24) took John Fitzgerald of the Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports to task over his comparing of hare coursing to the Total Extreme Fighting event that claimed the life of Portuguese athlete Joao Carvalho.

I disagree with Mr Fitzgerald that the two sports are comparable, but I think Mr Histon has got things the wrong way round.

It is the cage fighters who ought to be offended at being lumped in the same category as a vile, cowardly practise where dogs are set upon defenceless hares.

While I'm not a big fan of cage fighting, I can acknowledge the courage of the men who fight. They know what they're letting themselves in for ... and they fight by choice.

You won't find courage in the ranks of the crowd of mostly pot-bellied onlookers at a hare coursing match.

They stand about in their snug winter gear while the hares twist and turn and dodge on a field or racecourse, desperately seeking to elude their pursuers. And muzzling doesn't prevent injury. Hares are severely injured when struck by the dogs. Even if they survive the coursing event they may die afterwards of stress cardiomyopathy, a condition arising from their unnatural capture and the whole coursing ordeal.

If human beings want to fight each other in a ring or cage, let them off. But what right do we have to terrorise and torture harmless wild animals that have no choice in the matter and have done nothing to deserve the suffering we inflict on them for "sport"?

Joe Burke


Sunday Independent

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