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Graduates without a vote

Letters to the Editor


'Graduates of Dublin City University, Limerick University, and the new Technological University of Dublin are denied parity with their peers' (stock photo)

'Graduates of Dublin City University, Limerick University, and the new Technological University of Dublin are denied parity with their peers' (stock photo)

'Graduates of Dublin City University, Limerick University, and the new Technological University of Dublin are denied parity with their peers' (stock photo)

Sir - Changes to the Constitution which governments initiate seem costly exercises in throwing shapes; they're often not implemented.

But now that the Senate elections are nearly upon us, there's an opportunity to make them take remedial action.

In 1979, we passed (92pc for) a referendum to allow graduates of universities other than the University of Dublin (TCD), and the several colleges within the umbrella of the National University of Ireland (UCD etc) to elect six of the 60 senators.

Forty years on, not one Government has given effect to the will of the people.

Graduates of Dublin City University, Limerick University, and the new Technological University of Dublin are denied parity with their peers. Between them they have over 60,000 students.

Today, about a third of all young people are graduates, far more than in 1937 when the Constitution was (barely) passed.

Graduates of these three universities ought, with some crowd-funding, to take legal proceedings to forestall the pending elections to the university seats of Seanad Eireann until the Government honours the people's decision of 1979.

John Colgan,

Dublin Road, Leixlip


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We put too much stress on the young

Sir - It was with great interest I read Niamh Horan's article last week where she spoke to UCD president Andrew Deeks about the intense pressure young people face to secure a place at third level. I was glad to see this subject written about by your talented journalist.

I am a stay-at-home mum of three, none of whom have reached third-level education yet. Last week, my daughter, who is in sixth class, went into her chosen secondary school to complete two trial days. While a little daunted by her upcoming transition to secondary school, she enjoyed both days.

Over the weekend our task was to make a decision on her subject choices. This was not so enjoyable for either of us.

I understand that choices have to be made and that all subjects cannot be studied. I was saddened to see her struggle to try to make the 'best choices' rather than the subjects she would enjoy. She struggled to choose the ones that would give her the best chance of 'high points' in the Leaving Cert.

Many of the subjects she would enjoy were slipping to the bottom of her list. As she is only 12 and still in sixth class, I am saddened to see her subject choices influenced in this way. This 'high points' pressure has been forced on all of us it seems by the current 'college culture'.

Of course, education is wonderful and it is your passport to the future - but there are many forms of education. I don't think college is a 'rite of passage' for all our young people. Yes, it is our duty as parents to educate our children as best we can - but often college is seen as 'life experience' with all the fun it brings and at a high price tag.

So many of our young people put themselves and their families under such enormous pressure during their school years - mentally and financially - to secure high points to gain access to college.

So much hard work, hours of study, grinds and extra tuition and its high cost to their parents, the hours missed playing sport or enjoying many other activities. The family time that cannot be relived, the fun, the joy of just being young often missed out on. This is so often replaced by hours of homework and study to get those points, to get access to that college course.

And we all know parents who are under enormous financial pressure trying to get their children through school and college - parents who have put their own lives on hold, taken second jobs and even sometimes re-mortgaged their homes.

Sadly for some, all this hard work and pressure for both parties does not yield the results they had once hoped for. So often after a short time, one year or many years into their chosen course, it is discovered that this was not the correct course for them.

I know many thousands of young people work hard in school to achieve their goals and do go on to college to complete their chosen course and to work in a career they thoroughly enjoy.

Unfortunately, the pressure is enormous on the young and on their parents - and from my experience last weekend it seems to start in sixth class.

I really think the education system needs to look at its model, there must be other ways. The pressure of the Leaving Cert must be eased. There must be another way to guide our young people to use their talents to their full potential rather than 'pointing' them on a certain route with our current points system.

I hope there is, but I am not so hopeful that I will see it before my daughter sits her Leaving Cert.

Geraldine Morrin,

Co Galway


No, the IRA has not gone away

Sir - It would appear from what we read in all the papers that the young Sinn Fein voters do not believe the IRA influences that party. They consider the IRA to be history and irrelevant. What do you think that tells us about them? They blot out their minds to what the security forces say about the existence of the IRA. These sinister people control the nationalist population in Northern Ireland.

Could you imagine the young people of Israel saying they don't believe all this stuff about gas chambers and mass murder of Jewish people in Germany? It would never happen.

Or could you believe that young people in Japan could laugh off details of atomic bombs wiping out two entire cities and killing millions of innocent civilians? It is unbelievable.

No, young Irish people, the IRA has not gone way.

Raymond Kernan,

Castleblayney, Co Monaghan


Five years too long for them to govern

Sir - The problem with elections in this country is that it takes five years to have one. It gives the party which gets in all the time in the world to languish at the taxpayers' expense for dubious results. And often no results.

A 'four-year' Government by referendum, not by legislation, is more sensible, as it puts a Government under more pressure to deliver within a shorter time frame - which is what the people want. Promises down the line don't cut it any longer.

A referendum is needed also to restrict the number of days a caretaker Government can be in power before there is a requirement for another election, which currently is undefined.

Constitutional reform can make a real difference. We as a nation should never cease to reform an antiquated document, which has defined our lives, and dates back to 1937 with troublesome and outmoded clauses belonging to a long-gone age in our difficult history.

Maurice Fitzgerald,

Shanbally, Co Cork


Such a poignant account of the lost

Sir - I sat in tears last Sunday evening watching Lost Lives on BBC1 Northern Ireland, a poignantly moving representation about the circumstances of the killing of individuals whose lives were cut short during the Troubles.

I only wish this powerful film had been aired before the general election and had been seen by those who thought they were voting for change.

I am thankful that there is a generation in our country which has no lived memory of those terrible atrocities - however as I watched I was reminded of Edmund Burke's line: "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it."

It has a certain resonance in these uncertain times.

Burke's statue still stands today as if on sentry duty outside Trinity College Dublin to the left of the entrance.

Paul Horan,



Let second election speak more clearly

Sir - The beauty of democracy is that when the people do not "speak clearly" in an election, what they actually vote for is what the nation needs - another election, until such time as the people speak with a clear voice.

So let us have a second election as soon as possible and allow the Irish voters to revaluate their first vote.

Vincent J Lavery,

Coliemore Road, Dalkey


Bring down rents with tax changes

The only way to bring down rents, is for the Government to exempt tax on all properties under a certain figure - say €1,000 per month.

Rents are going up and up and landlords are paying half of the rent in tax. The Government is paying out more and more in HAPS payments to sustain rent increases. Give an incentive to people to supply affordable housing and it will have the effect of bringing prices down.

Brian Lube,

Co Meath


Cheaper way to stamp out email

Sir - The postage stamp increase is a case of killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

I would say it's time to reduce the price of a stamp. Would it not be better to have 40 people buying stamps at 90p than 10 at €1.10?

Wouldn't this encourage people to use the service? One can get fed up with emails all the time, particularly when it comes to greeting cards.

Martin Concannon,

Ballinrobe, Co Mayo


Fr Kelly's critics are out of step

Sir - I'm saddened by the nasty reaction from some sections of the public to Fr Ray Kelly on Dancing with the Stars. Okay, he hasn't been the greatest-ever contestant on the show and is better at the singing, but he has brought a sense of fun to a contest that risked becoming a bit too serious.

God forbid that anyone would take the show too seriously after seeing how the public vote can tread on the dreams of dancers who possibly deserved not to be eliminated, while others, so obviously less talented, remain.

The entire show is a farce, so let's not single out Fr Ray for unjust criticism, let alone the cowardly messages he's received from idiots hiding behind pseudonyms.

On an even more serious note, we cannot forget what happened to Caroline Flack. Some people these days seem to regard celebrities as legitimate targets for their bile.

John Fitzgerald,

Callan, Co Kilkenny


Let the judges decide on dancers

Sir - One wonders if is wise that the method of choosing the winners in the Dancing with the Stars contest is left to the whims of public opinion.

Using the present system, is it not possible that a not-so-deserving pair could actually come out on top?

Is it not reminiscent of the time back in the day when the public voted to have a turkey sent to represent us in the Eurovision Song Contest? We know how that one ended.

Should it not be left to the judges alone to decide who is best?

PJ McGuire,

Athlone, Co Westmeath


Thanks for a spell on the rich list

Sir - Reading the Rich List in last week's Sunday Independent, I was pleased to see my surname spelt correctly... ahem.

Tom Gilsenan,

Beaumont D9


Even if they don't win, they can't lose

Sir - The Hold The Back Page column last Sunday captured the opinion of many - and jolted the opinion of many others.

There is no doubt Irish rugby support and media coverage exist in a parallel universe.

While the national soccer team, GAA county teams and other high-profile athletes are one bad performance away from a lashing, the critique barometer for the Irish rugby team goes no lower than "system malfunction".

It seems that a carefully orchestrated narrative, controlled by current players, ex-players/pundits and rugby journalists dictates analysis from the top down, and governs the opinion of supporters. A classic case of the tail wagging the dog.

Hype overload after a successful 2018 was followed by sympathetic comment during the disastrous World Cup 2019, and is now being followed by an 'all is right with the world again' consensus for 2020. The exact same cycle occurred during 2014, 2015 and 2016. You can bet it will almost certainly repeat itself through 2022, 2023 and 2024.

Regardless of the result and performance against England, Irish players and coaches will sleep easy as, only in their domain, is 'win/lose' spun to 'win/we love you anyway'.

Paul McKeogh,

Killaloe, Co Clare


True fans through thick and thin

Sir - Eamonn Sweeney is to be commended on his excellent article on Irish rugby fans.

He may, however, have missed the point that they stick by their team despite the roller-coaster ride from heartbreak to joy.

Indeed, the 2007 team had the temerity to aspire to win the World Cup - only to be derided by non-rugby fans after the disappointing tournament.

Great Irish sports people such as Sonia O'Sullivan, Katie Taylor, Roy Keane, Brian O'Driscoll, Ruby Walsh, Johnny Doyle, DJ Carey and others have given this fan and thousands of true Irish sports fans pride and enjoyment throughout their careers.

True Irish sports fans have to be eternal optimists. Sometimes being a true fan is to love your team no matter what.

Joe Osborne,

Naas, Co Kildare


Murders cannot just be forgotten

Sir - In last week's Sunday Independent, Niamh Horan laid down an argument why the "most caring generation" are solely focused on the homeless crisis and should not be asked to care about a murder which happened over a decade ago.

I invite Niamh to fast forward 13 years. Let's say that there is an election looming and someone brings up the perhaps unsolved murder of Keane Mulready-Woods; the Special Criminal Court has been abolished; and relations between gardai and government are at an all-time low. Perhaps this future younger generation would say we should only focus on the here and now and not dredge up old murders - maybe a family should sacrifice justice for the greater good. But I think Niamh might feel a bit of revulsion on remembering that brutal murder.

Michelle Alford Lambert,

Shannon, Co Clare


No contest with these sad victims

Sir - Niamh Horan raised two questions last Sunday.

Question 1: What could be worse than a lout (my description) complaining about tents near where his group were having a Christmas drink and how could souls long dead compete?

Answer: A widow with 10 children being dragged out of her house, "disappeared" for years and spreading the rumour she had eloped with a soldier. For the benefit of millennials, she had been brutally murdered.

Question 2: What could be worse than a child eating his meal off a cardboard box?

Answer: Children being maimed and killed by IRA thugs. Like Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry in Warrington.

Phil Mooney,

Delgany, Co Wicklow

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