Thursday 27 October 2016

We need a clear-headed, realistic response to the refugee crisis

Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30

German President Joachim Gauck, second left, visits an asylum seekers' centre in Berlin, Germany
German President Joachim Gauck, second left, visits an asylum seekers' centre in Berlin, Germany

The refugee crisis has triggered much emoting, with little tolerance for arguments that compassionate treatment of individual genuine cases must be accompanied by rational thinking and decision making taking into account the long-term, broader picture.

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To a degree, this has been driven by a manipulative media selectively using mostly images of crying children and not the many young men who perhaps should be home fighting for their country, as well as the many people who are clearly economic migrants.

In Ireland, many have mentioned the Famine and how millions were welcomed into the USA.

Maybe they should visit a Native American reservation and ask how they feel about the consequences of the policy reflected on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free".

No country can call itself independent if it cannot control its borders, and given the Schengen Agreement and desire for free passage within the EU, there must be a coherent policy implemented to control the EU's outer borders.

There must be a clear definition of what constitutes genuine asylum seekers and the countries or conflicts currently relevant, and these should be warmly welcomed and cared for.

Economic migrants can also be welcomed, but only on the basis of a rational, points-based system taking into account demographics and skills shortages.

And this can only be done after the unemployment problem in Europe has been addressed.

To tackle the current and future problems at source, the West must stop interfering, even with the best of intentions. Emotional responses to the Arab Spring just resulted in dictators being replaced by chaos.

The UN should do its job in resolving the armed conflicts, using local regional troops only on the ground, because Western countries who put 'boots on the ground' are regarded as invaders.

Western companies should be encouraged to create employment directly or through trade in poorer countries, as this is more effective than aid in raising living standards.

Alan Hope

Castlebar, Co Mayo

Old civil servants never die

I read with interest the article about civil servants and their dress code. In my years in the 'service' I always wore a collar and tie. Mind you, since I retired a few years back I seldom seem to have the neck to wear a tie.

Of course, a major consolation about being a civil servant is knowing that you never die - rather, you're simply filed away.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Give a little bit

At the end of a week in which Government ministers engaged shamelessly in a vote-buying exercise, making budget pledges that amount to at least €1.5bn, social campaigner Sister Stan brought us all back to Earth - 85 families were made homeless last month and the policies being pursued by those same Government ministers are to blame.

Methinks they promise much to evade giving little.

Jim O'Sullivan

Rathedmond, Co Sligo

Don't make same mistakes again

The images from continental Europe of police tear gassing and battering poor, dispossessed people remind me of scenes from Northern Ireland in the late '60s and '70s.

Is this generation about to make the same mistakes again?

Tom O'Brien

Dungannon, Co Tyrone

What's so radical about Corbyn?

Anyone concerned about the dangers of the "hard left" to the economy might reflect on the fact that the greatest economic catastrophe of our time, the banking collapse of 2008, was the direct result of hard-right, unregulated, free-market policies.

New British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is a politician who is not in favour of continuing to kill people through resource-grabbing foreign wars, and does not want to impoverish millions more through increasing inequality.

That he can be considered a radical is a sign of how inured we have become, in a neo-liberal world, to accepting social and political injustice as the inevitable price we have to pay for "the economy".

Maeve Halpin

Ranelagh, Dublin 6

The joke's on male drivers

With regard to reserved parking spaces for women, I would prefer to see spaces for men because the dents on my car were made by a man and his van. He banged his door on my car getting out of his, and another dent was made by another man coming out of a shop.

My husband cannot drive properly and no one likes to be in the car with him, so I had to teach our son to drive. We all know the jokes about women drivers but there is a reason insurance is cheaper for us, so they can joke all they like, the joke is on them.

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Japan's raw courage

At its best, sport rises to the level of the spiritual. What Japan did to the Springboks looked like the hand of a high power was in play. In terms of the odds, it was like pitting the Fir Bolg against the armour-clad Normans.

If there was ever a demonstration that the size of the fight of the dog, as opposed to the size of the dog, is what matters, then this was it.

For once, the zebra was able to put the head of the lion in its trophy room.

Courage, precision, passion, raw guts and fearlessness made Japan a formidable force to be reckoned with, and the Big Game beasts of South Africa wilted in the ferocity of the fray.

This was the most remarkable contest I have ever witnessed in five decades of following the sport of rugby.

I've seen the dull, the gifted and the lucky, but what Japan did defied description.

Munster might have defeated the All-Blacks, but Japan beat the whole world.

Ed Toal

Galway city

Irish Independent

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