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Ethos of a heroic airline


Aer Arann

Aer Arann

Aer Arann

Sir - As the families of the original founders of Aer Arann in 1970, we are in total agreement with the people of the Aran Islands, who want the Aer Arann service to continue as a tried and tested service that they have relied on for the last 46 years.

The ethos of the company was to be of service to the Aran people and to link them with the facilities of the mainland, particularly the medical services, to which they were entitled. The ferry service was often subject to vile weather and regularly left them stranded for days.

The main founders were Ralph Langan, a Galway businessman and fruit wholesaler, Jimmy Coen, a Galway entrepreneur and publican, and Colie Hernon, a far-seeing islander and coxswain of the Inis Mor lifeboat, who dreamed of an air service to Aran. The two men bought into Colie's dream and together they were a force to be reckoned with.

In retrospect, it seems like an impossible dream. How do you land an airplane on a rocky island? Undeterred, they set about building a landing strip on Inis Mor, an island with only three cars and no machinery. They procured a World War Two landing craft and transported all the machinery and other necessities out from Galway!

This is the stuff that movies are made about and the stories are legends. They put their own money up front - no handouts or subsidies in those days, just plain old blood, sweat and tears!

Fast forward 10 years to Aer Arann's visionary progress. They now had landing facilities on all three islands, all with regular flights to the mainland, four Britten-Norman twin-engined aircraft to cater for a burgeoning charter business, plus the first ever scheduled daily flights from Galway to Dublin, as well as their core business, which was the Aran Island service. In the mid-seventies, they were the proud winners of the much-coveted UDT tourism award for Ireland.

In 1980, having brought Aer Arann to its peak under the guiding hand of Jimmy Coen, they sold the company to Roscommon-born, UK-based businessman Tim Kilroe and moved on to other ventures.

Those great pioneers have now passed on but their families and friends and the people of Aran request the Government to continue the ethos of a heroic little airline founded in 1970 to provide a regular and, most importantly, reliable fixed-wing air service to the Aran Islands.

Nancy Coen

David Coen

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Michael Langan


DNA of Fianna Fail's founders

Sir - In his article 'This FF FG divide runs much deeper than a mere civil war' (Sunday Independent, April 10), Eoin O'Malley returns to this thing of culture, genetics, DNA differences between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael with FF having the upper hand in terms of 'Irishness'.

One might be forgiven for asking what does he think of the DNA of founding fathers like De Valera, Lemass, Gore Booth Markievicz etc? A quick perusal of many Fianna Fail leading lights, such as Childers, Cowen, Blaney, Briscoe, Goldberg and Mansergh might tell a rather different story.

Of course, Senator Margaret Pearse of Fianna Fail was a sister of Padraig and their dad was an Englishman of Anglican faith who converted to Catholicism in late 1800, some would say to help him acquire contracts for marble rails, altars and pulpits then being installed in many Catholic churches being built at that time. Other well-known figures in Fianna Fail included Lionel Booth, Carrie Acheson and Senator William Sheldon of Donegal.

But in a small island, this DNA thing is really a distraction and it ill beholds folk who should know better engaging in it.

Trahison des clercs?

Wait until we start getting the new newer Irish in the Dail!

Brendan Cafferty

Ballina, Mayo

The vision of the 1916 leaders

Sir - Ruth Dudley Edwards, as a historian, should check the basics before rushing to print with factual inaccuracies ('Red pencils for Sinn Fein's ersatz cultural revolution', Sunday Independent, April 10). Reclaim the Vision of 1916 is a non-party political initiative organised by trade unionists and members of cultural and civil society groups, in order to have a fitting and relevant commemoration in Dublin on April 24 to commemorate the actual 100-year anniversary of The Rising.

We have received not one penny of any kind from any political party, inside or outside the State. Our patrons include the late Brian Friel, trade union leaders Jack O'Connor and John Douglas, academics Declan Kiberd and Terry Eagleton, historian Margaret Ward and poets Gabriel Rosenstock and Catherine Anne Cullen.

Taking part will be some of the many people excluded from the realisation of the dreams of the Proclamation, such as the homeless, people trapped in direct provision, the Clerys workers, Travellers, women and the unemployed.

And far from being trapped in what Ruth Dudley Edwards calls "narrow cultural nationalism", the celebratory pageant will include readings from prominent Irish actors, such as Adrian Dunbar, Sinead Cusack and Stephen Rea, and music from Damien Dempsey, Sibeal ni Chasadaigh, Frances Black and Don Baker.

There will be foot-tapping salsa bands, as well as traditional marching bands and fun for all the family. A lot of people have put their time into organising this colourful parade on an entirely voluntary basis.

We hope we will be rewarded by a sunny day to celebrate the vision of the inspirational leaders who gave their lives for the ideal of a free and inclusive Ireland.

Mags O Brien, Secretary,

Betty Purcell, Press Officer,

On behalf of Reclaim the Vision of 1916.

Extreme sports and coursing

Sir - The death of Joao Carvalho following the Total Extreme Fighting event in Dublin is a shocking reminder of how vile this so-called sport is. Every week, we read reports of youngsters engaging in street brawling that is almost a carbon copy of what passes for entertainment in these 'championships', including vivid descriptions of teenagers or men in their 20s being repeatedly kicked in the head while late-night drinkers urge on the combatants.

When the perpetrators of such assaults come before the courts, they are referred to as "louts", "scumbags" and "thugs" by tabloid journalists.

Yet their "sporting" counterparts who rain punches and kicks on each other in a ring, also with drinkers urging them on, are hailed as heroes and their brawling receives major corporate sponsorship

I have been campaigning against hare coursing for years and highlighting the cruelty of dog-fighting and badger-baiting. I would put Total Extreme Fighting on the same level.

It is an anachronism that harks back to the days of the Roman Coliseum, where a sadistic mob cheered and roared as human beings fought each other to extreme injury or death.

It is demeaning and belongs in the eternal Hall of Shame reserved for blood sports.

John Fitzgerald

Co Kilkenny

Roger Casement's 'Black Diaries'

Sir - In a review of the recent book on Roger Casement's Berlin diary, One Bold Deed of Open Treason, by Angus Mitchell (Sunday Independent, April 10), JP O'Malley, referring to different diaries, states: "The infamous 'Black Diaries', which revealed his appetite for casual sexual encounters with men and teenage boys on his earlier humanitarian missions as an employee of the British Empire."

He went on to claim: "These diaries were seen by Irish Republicans for many years as forgeries used for propaganda purposes. But it is now almost universally accepted by historians that the diaries revealed the truth."

It appears O'Malley was unaware that the author, whose book he was reviewing, was a researcher who challenges the authenticity of these diaries.

Such people are, and were, much more numerous than O'Malley seems to be aware.

Mitchell is the son of a senior British Army officer who later became a Conservative MP.

In place of the mindless presumption that those who leaned towards a suspicion of forgery consisted of "Irish Republicans", investigation would reveal that many writers who expressed sympathy with the forgery position had their roots in the neighbouring island.

Names such as the English poet and literature professor Alfred Noyes, who wrote a book on the subject, and Christopher Hollis, whose brother Roger was head of MI5, come to mind.

Tim O'Sullivan,

Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Reform of 'archaic' abortion laws

Sir - Barbara McCarthy (Sunday Independent, April 10) refers to Amnesty International taking open-top buses to Dail Eireann wearing organic, cotton t-shirts in support of greater abortion access. I assume she is referring to our recent two-week daily demonstration outside Government Buildings.

Of course, there were no open top buses nor organic cotton t-shirts. Instead, we gathered on a daily basis to stand in solidarity with the 12 women and girls who would leave Ireland to travel to the UK each day to access abortion care there. #

Over the period of our demonstration, 168 women and girls from Ireland undertook that journey. More than 450 people braved the wind and rain to join us over the two-week period, including representatives from all political parties (with the exception of Fianna Fail), three party leaders and many Independents.

Our recent Red C poll found that when don't knows and those who were neutral were excluded, 69pc of Irish people agree that this must be a priority issue for the next government.

If a referendum were held today, 80pc would vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment. We could not wait on the sidelines while negotiations towards a new government took place; we need to demand this issue's rightful place on that agenda.

Ms McCarthy calls for a common-sense approach to this issue. I agree, as do 87pc of people in Ireland, who favour some expansion to access to abortion in Ireland.

We are calling on the State to comply with its international human rights obligations by legislating for abortion at a minimum in cases where the pregnancy is as a result of rape or incest, where there is a fatal foetal diagnosis or where the woman's or girl's health is at risk. For this to happen, the Eighth Amendment must be repealed.

As Ms McCarthy rightly says: "Abortions are a fact of life and will happen whether they are illegal or not, so they need to be made safe and available."

It is long past time for the Irish government to listen to the will of the electorate and prioritise reform of our archaic abortion laws.

Colm O'Gorman

Executive Director,

Amnesty International Ireland,

Dublin 2 
Killing the weak is not 'progressive'

Sir - I was somewhat confused reading Barbara McCarthy's article (Sunday Independent, April 10) but I believe that was her intention. She advocates taking "a common-sense approach" when it comes to abortion and gives examples of stories from two women who have had abortions.

Is this where we should be taking our lead from? Surely any common-sense approach should be preventative, rather than retrospective.

We all empathise with the women who have had abortions and mourn for their babies. But allowing it to take place on a whim is not the answer either.

There are two people directly involved - the mother and her unborn baby. Is it right or just to allow the older, stronger, bigger person to pass a death sentence on the weaker and therefore more vulnerable?

I'm sorry, Barbara, but everyone does need to get their oar in. It affects the whole of society if the principle of letting the strong rule over the weak is condoned by our people and our laws.

If you believe in equal rights for all, then it's vital that you get off that fence, Barbara, and fight for it before it's too late,

Rena Haverty

Birr, Co Offaly

Misplaced views on drug-smuggling

Sir - Vincent O'Connell (Letters, Sunday Independent, April 10) hit the nail right on the head in his observations of the Michaella McCollum case.

Well done to him for writing and well done to the Editor for publishing.

It can be so tiresome listening to the pandering to serious wrong-doers (on misplaced compassionate grounds) while ignoring the horrific outcome and tragedy caused by the actions of Ms McCollum and people of her ilk.

Henry Cooper,

Midleton, Co Cork

Feeling safer behind borders

Sir - British people, up to some weeks ago, looked like they were going to vote to stay in the EU but that all changed the day innocent people were brutally murdered in Brussels. British people saw how out of control these extremists were and were reminded that the police in countries like Germany, Belgium and France are not able to prevent or intercept these murderers.

The British people who were indecisive about which way to vote have made up their minds to vote to leave. They feel the only way to feel safe again is to have controlled borders, which will at least go some way to preventing these terrorists roaming around freely from one European country to another and making a mockery of law-enforcement agencies.

When Britain originally voted to join the EEC, as it was known then, the whole idea of the EEC was to allow free trade between European countries. There was no talk then of having policies where Europe was to become one state. What has happened in the last few years is not what British people voted for and this is why they will leave.

The central European countries who are making these policies are going to eventually cause the total break-up of the EU. The new Eastern European countries who joined the EU have already stated that they disagree with these policies and will not stand or abide by them.

This will eventually lead them to leave the EU.

Then we come to Ireland. I am old enough to remember when Britain was voting to join the EEC and Irish people were told that if Britain joins we have no real choice but to join.

When Britain leaves, we will eventually have to have a referendum on whether to leave or stay. But hopefully by then those central European countries will have seen the light and realised that they have gone too far with their polices and that countries want to fly their own flag and be proud of their own nationality.

David Hennessy

Rathnew, Co Wicklow

Forget gibberish and keep it simple

Sir - What has happened to the use of simple language? At one end of the spectrum, language has become coarse and offensive, as evidenced in some of our so-called 'comedy' shows; at the other end, it has become enmeshed in a spider's web of unnecessary complexity. The basic rules of grammar no longer apply.

News broadcasts frequently allow sentences that are ambiguous. A noted radio sports commentator recently remarked in relation to a manager's performance: "I think he done well!"

On Morning Ireland during the week, an 'expert' was asked about where the parties stood in relation to the formation of Government.

We were told that they were "focusing on the modalities of the mechanics of government". Even the institutional body of the Catholic Church has allowed such complexity, with terms like "oblation" and "consubstantial" being a regular feature of its public worship.

I believe it is time to establish a 'focus group' to examine the use of language. Its 'terms of reference' will need to allow its participants to 'drill down' as they dwell on the 'key performance indicators' of the 'strategic group' to determine if the 'operational' nature of the enterprise is in conflict with the 'ultimate outcomes' that the original 'task force' set out to establish.

Should they not arrive at a 'resolution', they might then set up a 'sub-committee' and have a 'conversation' to 'review the policies' and allow a fresh ethos to 'grow' and ultimately underpin future deliberations and narratives - 'going forward', naturally.

Would the corporate and media world please refrain from having us suffer this gibberish in news reports, conferences and meetings? Just keep it simple!

W Kevin O'Brien

Grangecon, Co Wicklow

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