Tuesday 16 July 2019

Haughey did not invent 'cute hoorism'

Former Taoisigh Charles Haughey and Dr Garret Fitzgerald
Former Taoisigh Charles Haughey and Dr Garret Fitzgerald

Eamon Delaney's balanced article on Charles Haughey's position in Irish politics gave a different perspective from the generally held view of him. In fact, as Mr Delaney states, Mr Haughey did not invent 'cute hoorism' in Irish political life.

That term dates back to the enactment of the Local Government Act 1898. Gerald Balfour, responsible for its passage, introduced democracy into the Irish countryside.

At one stroke, Mr Balfour had destroyed the political and economic power of the old Protestant ascendancy.

Their successors -- the plain people of Ireland -- carried the tradition of 'jobs for the boys' inherited from their 'masters' over the previous hundreds of years.

This was not unique to Ireland as one has only to look at the governance in the former colonies of Africa where the now ruling classes there learnt their trade from their former colonial masters.

On another matter, that Mr Haughey destroyed Anglo-Irish relations similar to how Jose Manuel Barroso seems to believe that our last government destroyed the eurozone.

However, it now seems from the state papers that Garret FitzGerald spent his energy trying to make Margaret Thatcher happy.

People should read her autobiography in which she states that she found Mr Haughey easy to get on with -- "less talkative and more realistic than Garret FitzGerald.

"Charles Haughey was tough, able and politically astute with few illusions and, I am sure, not much affection for the British."

She also states as a matter of interest that she explained the question of the hunger strike to the Pope when she met him in Rome and, as a result, the Vatican brought pressure on the Irish hierarchy to call on the prisoners to end their strike which they did, although it did not please her that the hierarchy urged the government to show flexibility.

Finally, she states that Mr FitzGerald had "little time for the myths of Irish republicanism and would like to secularise the Irish Constitution and State, not least -- but just -- as a way of drawing the North into a united Ireland".

"He was a man of as many words as Charles Haughey was few," Mrs Thatcher wrote. And he was inclined to exaggerate -- much more than Mr Haughey -- the importance of essentially trivial issues, she added.

HUGH DUFFY

CLEGGAN, CO GALWAY

BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

* Clearly the writer of the letter 'No men allowed here', (Irish Independent, December 28), doesn't know how well off he is. He decries the sexism of the Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA).

Would he consider for a moment that the female-only members of this organisation may have male partners at home -- happily, I opine -- bereft of their spouses on the occasions of local guild meetings and their ancillary keep fit classes, Zumba dancing, and other events too numerous to mention?

Does the above writer wish to deprive the multitude of males left behind on the above occasions their freedom to enjoy the peace and serenity of home and the meals prepared and labelled in advance with microwave instructions for such absences? Let's have a bit of brotherhood here.

NAME OF ICA MEMBER'S HUSBAND WITHDRAWN FOR OBVIOUS REASONS.

BETHLEHEM'S BEAUTY

* Referring to Saturday's letter on Bethlehem, yes it is beautiful -- I spent nine days there a few years ago and really enjoyed the experience.

I visited the manger at 6.30am one morning and the atmosphere was magical but, later on in the day, it was ruined by the Israeli army corralling the Palestinians into pens as they got on to buses.

It was harrowing for them and they have to put up with it every time they wish to leave or re-enter their town. Surely the PLO are not responsible for that as Len Bennett seems to think? Anybody who has visited the area will be aware of the continuous harassment the Palestinians have to endure as a daily consequence of the Israeli land grab.

It is unfortunate that so many Christians have left the area but, perhaps if pilgrims stayed in the West Bank rather than Jerusalem, it would provide a livelihood for some Christians.

GEMMA HENSEY

WESTPORT, CO MAYO

1014 MUST EQUAL 1916

* The millennium of the Battle of Clontarf occurs next year. The year 1014 was a momentous one in our history, and should be comparable to 1916 and its proposed commemoration in 2016.

Yet, apart from my letter -- which you published in your newspaper on December 1, 2010 -- I have seen nothing about it since. How about it Bord Failte? Tom May

BALLINA, CO MAYO

MATTER RESOLVED

* My new year resolution is not to make a new year resolution.

Tom Gilsenan

BEAUMONT, DUBLIN 9

QUESTIONING THE ECB

* Colette Browne's review of the year (Irish Independent, December 27) was both witty and insightful. However, I was surprised that she attributed blame to the IMFs Ajai Chopra for Ireland not burning the bondholders as part of our bailout deal.

The reality is that, from the very beginning, the IMF was in favour of the bondholders taking a hit. It was our good friends in the ECB who insisted upon us taking on the burden of debt by paying the bondholders.

Now that any chance of a retrospective deal on our bank debt looks increasingly unlikely, is it not time for the Government to ask the Attorney General to examine the letter from former ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet, which forced us into these payments in the first place?

John Bellew

DUNLEER, CO LOUTH

 

MUCH FOOD FOR THOUGHT

* I got through two of three books during the Christmas festivities. The first tome, 'I am Malala' concerns the story of a young girl living in the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan.

Malala (12) dreamt of being able to educate herself and have a life rather than follow the traditional route of an arranged marriage at the age of 14.

She tried to make her dream a reality and attended school until she was shot in the head by the Taliban.

Education for women was shunned by the Taliban who were imposing a strict version of Islamic law that forbade the education of women. They started a campaign of bombing schools and beheading teachers.

Another tactic was to throw acid in the girls' faces for attending school, so they had given the 50,000 girls being educated in the Swat Valley an ultimatum, or suffer the consequences.

Malala survived the assassination attempt despite being shot in the head at close range. She has met world leaders, appeared on television screens worldwide and continues her aim of trying to convince factions in her home country of the benefit of educating their daughters.

Words of wisdom that jumped out from the pages uttered by this girl were: ignorance allows politicians to fool people and bad administrators to be elected.

The second book, 'The Escape', by Gerry Kelly MLA, pieces together the story of one of the most audacious prison breakouts in modern history.

He played a lead role in the meticulous planning and organisation of the escape from Long Kesh prison in 1983.

According to sources in the British government, it was escape-proof. The words that stuck in my mind after reading it were: it always seems impossible until it is done.

J Woods

GORT AN CHOIRCE, CO DONEGAL

Irish Independent

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