Sunday 22 September 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Ireland has forgotten its history when it stands idly by while children starve to death in Yemen'

Horror: A Yemeni mother holding her son (5), who weighs 5kg, in the western province of Hodeidah. Photo: Getty Images
Horror: A Yemeni mother holding her son (5), who weighs 5kg, in the western province of Hodeidah. Photo: Getty Images
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

In 1847, the Choctaw Indians donated $170 toward famine relief in Ireland.


Also in 1847, Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I personally offered £10,000 in aid to Ireland, but British diplomats advised him that it would be offensive to offer more than Queen Victoria, who had only donated £2,000. It was suggested that he should donate £1,000.

Genuine humanitarian efforts recognise no ethnic or religious divides.

Why then is Ireland doing so little to address the suffering of the Yemeni people who are undergoing a similar famine which is caused by foreign aggressors?

Some 85,000 children under five years of age have starved to death in Yemen, yet Ireland and the international community have stood idly by and continue to support oil-rich Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE), who are perpetrating violence and famine on the Yemeni people.

In February this year, the UN Security Council renewed sanctions against Yemen, exacerbating the famine, which is further exacerbated by a blockade enforced by Saudi Arabia and UAE, yet no sanctions have been imposed on the main perpetrators, Saudi Arabia and UAE.

The Houthi rebels in Yemen are defending their people against internal corruption and external aggression, yet because they are Shia Muslims they are being attacked by their more powerful Sunni Muslim neighbours.

The answer as to why the Irish Government is doing so little to help starving Yemeni people is probably that we do a lot of trade with Saudi Arabia and UAE and none with Yemen.

Ireland is also complicit in these famine deaths by allowing US military to resupply Saudi munitions through Shannon Airport.

Dr Edward Horgan

Newtown, Castletroy, Co Limerick


Time for Zappone to back up her 'upset' with action

As the Scouting Ireland abuse scandal deepens, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone finds the reports "deeply upsetting".

This is not the first time that Ms Zappone has been moved to express such sentiments and one always senses her frustration at not being able to reach back and undo the harm done.

But it seems only appropriate that Ms Zappone's attention is drawn to the suffering that children are being exposed to, even if of a different order, that is happening on her watch and much of which is a direct result of a policy by a Government that she helps to keep in office.

A recent report by Brian Harvey and Dr Kathy Walsh, 'Finding a Home: Families' Journeys Out of Homelessness', warns of the great harm that homelessness is doing to citizens, children in particular.

As the Government continues to refuse to initiate a programme of social house construction to remedy the problem, thousands of children are having their life chances negatively affected - many will have their lives destroyed as a consequence. The Department of Housing figures show there were 1,500 families, including 3,124 children, in emergency accommodation in September.

Is it not time Ms Zappone intervened and demanded that Government take meaningful measures to address this scandal and save future ministers from having to endure the "upset" of reading the many reports that will undoubtedly abound about the harm inflicted upon a generation of children currently caught up in hostels, hubs, etc?

Talk is cheap. Actions speak.

Jim O'Sullivan

Rathedmond, Co Sligo


'Backstop' will not solve all our Border problems

We are told that with the weakness of sterling, shoppers are crossing the Border ('Break for the Border - grocery shoppers heading North again', Irish Independent, November 20). The number of households making the trip for groceries is 207,000 and the amount spent over the past year €65m, of which a quarter was on alcohol.

While the amount spent is not very substantial as a national figure, it will represent a serious diminution in grocery shops' turnover adjacent to the Border and a serious loss of excise duties and, in the future, Vat.

No other Border in the EU offers a lower currency conversion rate in the adjoining country except the border between Gibraltar and Spain, and the Spanish customs authorities exercise a rigid examination of all purchases made in Gibraltar and impose fines, in addition to confiscating goods purchased in excess of allowances set out by the Spanish government.

The most serious drain on the Republic's turnover in the long term must be in the high-ticket items like kitchen appliances, computers and other technical appliances, and of course new and second-hand cars.

Irrespective of 'backstops', because of the weakness of sterling and the fact that the Republic is losing out on Vat and excise, there must be a case for some sort of customs on the Border to collect these monies.

The online purchases, much of which will come from the UK - which in the long term will be no different from purchases from the USA and China - will need to be examined and Vat charges imposed.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway


UK must realise all the ways it's tied to the EU

It is absurd for anyone to claim that the extension of the Brexit transition period is bound to tie the UK to European laws and regulations. As we live in a fluid and globalised world, there must be an urgent need to transcend the traditional liberal thinking of governance and espouse instead a new vision that envisions the embeddedness of subjects in complex, relational processes and inter-relationships.

The UK is already tied to the EU and the wider global community in the war on terror, international and sustainable development, climate change, global warming, environmental issues, cyber conflict, international security concerns, humanitarian interventions, disaster risk reduction, conflict prevention, social, economic and institutional development.

Failure to realise these things would drag the UK towards isolationism, nationalism, populism and more protectionism.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, UK


If the EU cedes any more, it'll be hurting its citizens

With regard to John Downing's article ('EU leaders must give May political cover as she seeks to sell Brexit plan back home', Irish Independent, November 22), unless there is something odd out there, there is not much wiggle room left.

The EU can't agree to anything that discriminates against its citizens, which the draft deal demands for EU immigrants to the UK. In violating a Fundamental Right (Article 21), it violates the Treaties. Any deal must be acceptable to the Treaties.

How can EU leaders give to the UK what they couldn't give to Norway, Switzerland, and Canada on the 'four freedoms'? It cannot allow its citizens to be discriminated against in their fundamental right to freedom to travel and work. Allowing non-member states to trade freely with the EU makes EU workers, businesses and economies uncompetitive.

Spain's foreign minister has also said that Germany, France and Spain would block any deal that did not respect the four freedoms, Leo Varadkar said virtually the same, while Switzerland had to ignore its referendum on limiting EU immigrants.

Michael McPhillips

Ballymun, Dublin 9


Big FAI wages would pay for lots of good coaches

Irish soccer has always been a Ford Cortina masquerading as a Ferrari.

Despite our acquisition of a shiny new stadium, a team of vastly experienced, highly paid managers, and fans so loyal they'd make the inhabitants of the Alamo look like cowards, we achieve only the highest standards in failure.

The FAI pays itself vast salaries, despite the fact that we are a small country with a semi-professional league.

If money hasn't brought success, perhaps a different approach is needed. What if we knocked two-thirds off the salaries of all FAI management staff and used that money to hire the best Spanish and German coaches to teach our youngest players?

Then build many small, five-a-side-size pitches across the nation. It is only by letting youngsters play in tight, small pitches that they will ever learn to play the game. That's a fact!

Maybe then Irish soccer might resemble, if not a Ferrari, perhaps a reliable off-roader.

Billy O'Riordan

Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Irish Independent

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