Monday 26 September 2016

Ticket scandal has tarnished our participation in Olympics

Published 16/08/2016 | 02:30

Showdown talks in Rio: Sports Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Tom Burke
Showdown talks in Rio: Sports Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Tom Burke

The explanation for the Olympic 'ticket touting' scandal has come very late in the day. Why has it taken so long for the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) to come up with the explanation that the individual at the centre of the controversy was allegedly an agent?

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It also seems that safeguards regarding taxpayers' money are not good enough and a Garda inquiry should now begin, given the OCI's refusal to accept an independent person on the OCI's investigation team. There are also many other unanswered questions.

The OCI's funding should be suspended or cancelled until all questions have been fully and satisfactorily answered.

In relation to boxer Michael O'Reilly, who was sent home after taking a banned substance, the public has yet to know what that substance was, despite the passage of weeks.

The Olympics for the Irish so far has been a very ugly state of affairs. Let us not be surprised at all if other Irish athletes test positive.

The signs are not good. It is time our Government took a very strong stand in the world of sport, which can be a very strange business indeed.

Maurice Fitzgerald, Shanbally, Co Cork

Bethany Home 'a stain on State'

Like all who value principles of freedom and justice, I believe the absence of a fair and speedy trial for Irishman Ibrahim Halawa is a serious breach of these principles.

The Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan expressed disappointment at the protracted delay in the trial process, which has been postponed for the 14th time. This is not to suggest the Government has been silent in this matter. To date, Mr Halawa has received in excess of 50 consular visits, in addition to visits from members of the European Parliament, Oireachtas members, Amnesty International. The European Parliament has also passed a resolution calling for his immediate release.

However, while the Irish Government has been vocal in its denunciation of Egypt's record on human rights, I suggest it is engaged in politics of double standards. It is demanding justice for Mr Halawa, yet denying justice to children of the Bethany Home.

Successive governments have obfuscated and filibustered on the issue of children who were incarcerated in the Bethany Home. Despite being the principal facility for single Protestant pregnant women deemed in need of institutional care, Bethany was not considered a State residential institution and therefore the children born there have been excluded from the Residential Institutional Redress Act 2002.

In this special centenary commemorative year, it seems the Proclamation, which guarantees to cherish all the children of the nation equally, doesn't apply to children of Bethany. Why does the Government remain equivocal on cherishing all the children of the nation equally?

In her address to the MacGill Summer School on the Children's Referendum, former Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said that she accepted that Ireland had a "nationally shameful record on protecting children".

Ms Fitzgerald, speaking on the referendum to strengthen children's rights, which includes legislative changes, said it "will be the most important set of reforms that have ever been made in child protection in Ireland". While acknowledging the attempts that have been made to heal the scars and wounds associated with institutional child abuse by way of the Ryan Report, I nonetheless believe the exemption of those former residents of the Bethany Home from appropriate redress is indefensible.

In failing to address this issue satisfactorily, the State has utterly lost its moral compass. We are fast approaching a point when the ravages of time will silence forever the few remaining victims of the Bethany Homes and these abused children will cease to be a potential burden on the State's balance sheet. However, the stain of the wilfully immoral neglect of these children will remain on the conscience of this State for ever.

Tom Cooper, Dublin 6W

Enslavement of today's women

In three minutes on Sunday night, RTÉ assailed me with advertisements for 'The Rose of Tralee' and the child-obsessed Aldi Mammy. I then stumbled on the Meryl Streep film 'Suffragette'. These great women could not have envisaged the self-imposed enslavement of their sisters in 2016.

Dr Florence Craven, Maynooth, Co Kildare

Soaring insurance premiums

I think we may take it for granted that car insurance premiums will continue to rise. Indeed, it looks a dead cert.

Tom Gilsenan, Beaumont, Dublin 9

Austerity even hits the retired

Since the start of the recession, the imposition of austerity has been the hallmark of present and past government policy affecting people's lives in many different ways.

Even though we are being told we are in recovery and that we have seen the last of austerity measures, the opposite is the case. One of the most recent instalments of austerity has been the raising of the retirement age for the state pension, which will initially mean a loss of income to present retirees of €2,500 and it will cost a qualifying couple €3,700 for the year they are on jobseekers' allowance after retiring while waiting to receive the state pension.

Many of our retirees could have been working for almost 50 years, with the expectation of being able to retire with dignity at 65 instead of being forced on to the dole queue after a lifetime of work and paying taxes.

Of course, some people may look forward to staying on in the workforce for longer if allowed to do so by their employer, but that prospect may not suit everybody. It ought to be optional for people to retire at age 65 without incurring a penalty to their pension entitlements.

It ought to be recalled that during the past five years, this Government, along with the previous Fianna Fáil government, has raided and squandered the €25bn National Pension Reserve Fund to bail out banks and those who gambled on our economy and lost.

Christy Kelly, Templeglantine, Co Limerick

Irish Independent

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