'Discerning Irish electorate' has been badly let down
The behaviour of the main political parties since the February 26 election - now almost six weeks ago - has been nothing short of contemptuous towards the will of the Irish electorate. I seem to recall, in the past, both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael having referred to this same electorate as "discerning" and this same "discerning electorate", on February 26 showed quite clearly their will by returning a depleted Fine Gael and a Fianna Fáil who, essentially, did a little better than expected.
I think it's fair to say that the smaller parties and Independents performed, more or less, as anticipated and the end result was that the outgoing Fine Gael/Labour coalition had no realistic chance of returning to Government.
Had both the main parties any real respect for the electorate then they would have taken their final decision on board and quickly formed a Government. Instead, their every move since the result was announced has clearly indicated that their sole motivation has been personal and party advantage and this has been displayed in a fashion which has been even more blatant than the electorate, long used to political cynicism, has witnessed for some time.
From a historical perspective, it's worth reminding ourselves that on two occasions in the late 1980s - 1987 and 1989 - Charles Haughey's Fianna Fáil found itself in a similar position. In the former case, Alan Dukes's Fine Gael gave its support for Haughey's government in the so-called 'Tallaght strategy'.
This Government lasted no longer than two years, whereupon Fianna Fáil formed a coalition with the Progressive Democrats.
None of this was, perhaps, ideal and it certainly didn't result in an entirely stable government.
But it did set in place policies which paved the way for the economic upturn which occurred a few years later and it certainly illustrated that, for all his documented opportunism and cynicism, Haughey showed, arguably, a more reasonable attitude toward the "discerning Irish electorate" than any of the current opportunists have done.
Stillorgan, Co Dublin
Living without cheap alcohol
Having read Eamon Delaney's article (Irish Independent March 31) it would appear that fourth place in the EU Nanny State Index is not a good position to be in. Why should it be seen as wrong for a government to try and protect its citizens from the effects of cheap alcohol?
What about the children whose lives are destroyed because their parents' whole lives revolve around cheap alcohol?
Who looks out for the welfare of these children? What about the parents who wait up all night for their sons or daughters to come home, only to be told that, in many instances, they won't be coming home again.
What about the alcohol-related suicides, the drunk drivers . . . need I go on? Would all these be included in the 'sins of the few' category? If living in a nanny state means these issues are being addressed then I, for one, have no problem with that.
Ballina, Co Mayo
'Bowing to intolerance'
Like many other Belfast citizens, I was terribly disappointed that President Michael D Higgins had withdrawn from the civic event at Belfast City Hall commemorating the Easter Rising. Apparently, his decision was motivated by so-called "democratic" unionists who declined invitations to the event. In that light, advisers felt his attendance would be controversial. Might I offer a piece of advice to our President? Bowing to intolerance is not the way to build an inclusive society.
Did those well-paid advisers even consider the feelings of the people of Belfast who regard Michael D Higgins as their President? Those citizens of Ireland who were left behind after partition and condemned to endure decades of state-controlled sectarian discrimination and forced emigration but nevertheless maintained their sense of nationhood? Those same people would have been delighted to have seen the President of Ireland at Belfast City Hall.
Belfast contributed in no small part to the Easter Rising. Charlie Monahan from Short Strand was the first Volunteer to die in Easter Week. Two of the seven signatories, James Connolly and Seán Mac Diarmada, had strong connections, having lived in the city for many years. The same is true of two of the most prominent women to take part in the Rising - Winifred Carney and Margaret Skinnider.
Perhaps in this centennial year it is time the Government in Dublin started to acknowledge the responsibility, and indeed, the debt of gratitude it has to Irish citizens in the North rather than kow-towing to the ungraceful bluster of the ne'ersayers who claim allegiance to another state?
Laurel and Hardy
The photo of the wonderful Laurel and Hardy published along with your main letter (Irish Independent, April 4) was just mesmerising. It literally brought the two boys back to life. I do hope you find many reasons to publish it again.
Glenties, Co Donegal
Awards for gallantry
Hugh Duffy's letter of March 31 is incorrect when it states that no cases of Irish gallantry were ever rewarded by a "Mention in despatches". Major Vere Ponsonby, (Suffolk Yeo) and Viscount Duncannon, (later Earl of Bessborough) December 1917; Lt Col Frederick William Evans Johnson (RIF) five mentions and a DSO and Bar in 1915; Second Lt Patrick Fennelly (RIR) DCM & MID; Cpl John Boyd (ACC) 30 May 1916; Col Alexander John Donald (RAMC) four times and a CBE in 1919; Major Garret Brennan (RGA) April 7 and November 8, 1918; Sgt Joseph Atkinson (RMF) by Lord Kitchener in 1902 while serving in South Africa and he again served during the Great War; Cpl John J. Boyd April 30 and June 17, 1916. There are other numerous examples from the Great War and before. Lastly, I think it unfair to laud the men of 1916 while denigrating the achievements of John Redmond. I cannot help but wonder where Charles Stewart Parnell and Daniel O' Connell stand in Mr Duffy's estimation.
John Kirwan (archivist)
Inistioge, Co Kilkenny