Wednesday 16 January 2019

Is Trump listening to voices of reason?

Donald Trump. Photo: AP/PA Images
Donald Trump. Photo: AP/PA Images
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Donald Trump's recent contentious remarks and subsequent retractions highlight a significant change in the American president's public disposition. Within the space of a few days, Trump's outspoken style can be seen to be curtailed by the reaction of popular opinion. This came to light first in his visit last weekend to the UK where outrage at his initial criticism of Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of Brexit saw him subsequently retract it and offer the view that her soft approach was ''fine with me''.

Similarly, and perhaps more noticeably, Trump's disapproval of America's failure to create a more positive working relationship with Russia and his high praise for President Vladimir Putin were also corrected by Trump after "considerable backlash" from the public.

These recent events may indicate that the Trump administration is beginning to credit the old belief that, in order to succeed in politics, you must conform and play the game - something which Trump has largely refrained from doing so far.

The backlash voiced through protesters on his foreign visits and through the media has seen the Donald carefully retreat to the status quo, aligning himself with Britain not Russia, in co-operation with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan.

As significant as these events are, they also serve to prove the talents and foresight of one of your most admired columnists - Brendan O'Connor. In February 2017, I wrote to you commending O'Connor's long stance on Trump.

When journalists here and abroad were being seduced by hysteria, O'Connor wisely advised us that ''this madness will burn out, Trump will calm down or be broken''.

Whether or not Donald Trump is succumbing to the pressure of public opinion or conforming to the political norm in an effort to achieve future political gain is unclear. However, what is beyond doubt is that O'Connor's much-needed moderate and balanced views are as essential now as they were in February 2017, not only to ensure good journalism but because his approach is crucial to accurately inform the masses, whose views Trump may now be coming to heed.

Cheith O Riain,

Craobh Chamara,

Co Luimnigh

Dangerous naivety over Putin threat

Sir - There is much to worry about after reading 'Mixed messages and a policy disconnect as Trump sets out for US/Russia summit' (Sunday Independent, July 15 ). Ireland, located at Europe's western-most point, does not border on Russia. Yet rumblings from Moscow can be felt here.

Ireland is not a member of Nato but the people of this country understand the importance of having a strong defence in order to ensure national security. An adverse history with a too-powerful neighbour still reverberates.

Many informed people here find it difficult to understand Donald Trump's willingness to be accommodating to Vladimir Putin. Russia is not (cannot be?) America's ally, partner or cordial diplomatic associate. Russia is America's adversary.

Trump's seeming refusal to acknowledge this fact places America and Europe - including non-Nato members such as Ireland - in a precarious position. Perhaps the time when Red Army tank battalions were a physical threat to democratic Europe are gone, but the danger to European democracy has not receded.

Too many central and eastern European nations only recently liberated from Soviet occupation are now under the rule of Putin-friendly populists.

Freedom can die from a thousand cutbacks from autocrats as well as from blunt force invasion.

Any future meeting between Trump and Putin should be watched with trepidation by the peoples of Europe and America. Putin does not have "friends"; he has accomplices and victims. Trump is dangerously naive if he believes he can get the better of any deal with Putin. His meeting with Kim Jong-un showed Trump is too willing to accept shallow, stage-managed set pieces as a form of worthy accomplishment.

Dan Donovan,

Dungarvan,

Co Waterford

Roy for President

Sir - Eilis O'Hanlon's article on Roy Keane (Sunday Independent, July 15) in which she states ''he doesn't want comfort or consolation'' and ''like every prophet he just wants the truth, and he thinks you're weak for being fobbed off with less'' is a most interesting summary of man who, as she says ''annoys all the right people''.

Like Ms O'Hanlon, I too consider ''that's more than enough to celebrate in this age of sentimental conformity''. Oh that we had his like on the political stage here!

What about a run for President, Roy? Although I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy, never mind on one whom I have always admired for his commitment and integrity.

Mary Stewart,

Donegal Town

Telling the truth

Sir - Eilis O'Hanlon's piece on Roy Keane was refreshing. We live in a time when most people seem to put telling the truth very low on their list of priorities.

Paddy Phelan,

Co Waterford

A national treasure

Sir - What a wonderful account of Roy Keane. He is a brilliant, straight-talking person, much loved by everybody as he tells it how it is. Eilis O'Hanlon did a super job. He is loved by everyone - we are all lucky to have him.

Helen Walsh,

Watergrasshill,

Co Cork

Shopping surveys

Sir - Could someone give me a logical reason why, as I go about my shopping, I am confronted not with a weekly increase but a daily one, on numerous supermarket products?

Why is that tin of food 50 cents dearer on the same shelf as yesterday?

Could it have something to do with me being duped into parting with my Euro, monopoly, money, and being ripped off by yet another multinational making enormous profits on 'luxuries' like food?

Now I am wondering if I am the bad guy here, and asking myself if I should be meddling in the world of truth seeking? However, I still want to know why every shopping trolley survey in Europe has us as the most expensive.

The reality is we are too meek, and have not perfected the art of complaining, and demanding explanations.

Where did that old adage go that stated, 'The customer is always right?' As relevant today as years ago.

Anthony Woods

Ennis,

Co, Clare.

Recruitment of the new commissioner

Sir - In response to the letter by Brendan Casserly in relation to the recruitment and selection process for the Garda Commissioner (Sunday Independent, July 15) it should be pointed out that this was undertaken by the Public Appointments Service on behalf of the Policing Authority.

PAS has prepared a detailed report on this competition which can be found here: https://www.publicjobs.ie/documents/Report_on_appointment_of_new_Garda_Commissioner.pdf.

This report includes details of the selection board established for this competition, none of whom are members of the board of PAS.

The board members named in Mr Casserly's letter are members of the board of PAS. The responsibilities of the board of PAS are set out in the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004. The functions generally relate to giving advice and guidance to the chief executive.

The board of PAS, therefore, have an entirely separate function to the selection boards set up by PAS for the various recruitment competitions run by it, including the Garda Commissioner.

John Keegan,

Head of Corporate Affairs

Public Appointments Service

Dublin 1

Wisdom in a war of words

Sir - With customary candour and comprehensive concision, Eilis O'Hanlon  offers her "cautionary tale of how the #MeToo battle went from historic to hysterics" (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, July 15).

Such mature, prescriptive caution is well overdue at this stage, given the tsunami of claims, shallow, dubious and opportunistic, which have merely diluted and discredited the authentic campaign for respectful gender equity.

The patent overkill in this arena has clouded and cheapened the essential validity of the many genuine cases of male-dominated power abuse and manipulative disregard for women.

It is so rare that a female commentator has had the ''cojones'' to speak out to clarify the boundary between real abusive behaviour and innocent social banter - "now, having run out of genuine offenders, it seems that we're down to castigating innocent men for the crime of 'wrongspeak'".

Bualadh bos to Eilis for striking out for a sensible balance in the discourse, so that a standard glance of acknowledgement doesn't suddenly extrapolate to a full-blown ''eye-contact'' abuse claim.

Social intercourse deserves at least a modicum of sanity and workaday credibility.

Jim Cosgrove,

Lismore,

Co Waterford

Time to split Church and State

Sir - The benefits that would accrue to both Church and State and, more importantly, to the people of this land as a whole from the separation of Church and State are enormous. This arrangement has long since been put to the test in both the USA and in France with a degree of success that is irrefutable.

These two long-standing powers have operated hand in glove here to the detriment of the people both North and South and to the reunification of our country and its people for long enough and it is time to dismantle it.

Hasten the day also when the practice of idolising religious leaders who come here will cease to exist and be replaced with respect for everybody, a component that is sadly missing from our wherewithal since independence, especially where women and the marginalised are concerned.

Pat Daly,

Midleton,

Co Cork

Joxer's literacy

Sir - Loath as I am to cross swords with Emer O'Kelly (Living, Sunday Independent, July 15) over her less-than-enthusiastic review of my play Joxer Daly Esq; however, her contention that O'Casey's great scrounger was "barely literate (if that)" cannot go unchallenged.

In Juno and the Paycock, O'Casey introduces Joxer as the 'Past Chief Ranger of the Dear Little Shamrock Branch of the Irish National Forresters', no small position this and one unlikely to be held by someone who is barely literate. And early in the play when he is encouraging 'Captain' Boyle to stand up to his wife, Juno, Joxer quotes historian and classicist Thomas Babington Macaulay: 'And how can a man die better than facing fearful odds/for the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods'. Illiterate? The evidence throughout O'Casey's masterpiece speaks to the opposite conclusion; an education. Being a drunk and a leech does not necessarily make one an ignoramus.

Ms O'Kelly's other comments about James Larkin are just plain wrong. It is quite clear from his narrative that Joxer's antipathy towards the great labour leader comes as a consequence of his dismissal from the Forresters for lending support to the strikers, a miscalculation that ruins his life.

Eddie Naughton,

Dublin 8

GAA must change or football will die

Sir - Last Sunday, I was among 30,000 people who went to Croke Park to see two of the inaugural Super 8 Gaelic Football matches, (Monaghan v Kildare and Kerry v Galway). Like the vast majority of those attending, I was bitterly disappointed and saddened by the sheer rubbish play.

There was a total lack of atmosphere or excitement that has traditionally been part of the GAA Championship. Both games were so bad that my only conclusion now is that gaelic football is dying as a viewing spectacle.

Supporters travelled long distances to witness the top players in the country performing at the highest level. Instead we were treated to a dull, boring and very frustrating experience where all four teams played a game of what could only be called 'Keepball'. The term 'Football' is now virtually obsolete in the game anyway as there is so little actual kicking of the ball. The game has now been truly transformed into an ugly monster farce where players just repeatedly hand pass the ball across the pitch to one another with little or no forward movement. In fact, it is now common to see teams actually playing the ball back into their own half of the field. All this of course is due to the so-called mass defence system that has been ruthlessly employed by inter county teams in recent years. It has truly ruined the fine game that gaelic football once was.

The authorities in the GAA must surely see what is happening. If they do, then it is incumbent on them to take remedial action and sooner rather than later. I would call on the GAA to organise an emergency congress to save Gaelic Football. If they don't sit up and take action soon, then the paying public will not attend the games. Already the negative mass defence and possession game adopted by the top counties is being taken up by the so called weaker counties. They feel they have no other choice. It is spreading rapidly to the club scene at all levels and is alarmingly being introduced by some into the juvenile game!

This current GAA season has witnessed some very poor fare from our Gaelic Football teams. This coincides with the fact that in 2018 we have never seen so many truly wonderful and exhilarating hurling games. The nature of the fine game of hurling (small ball travelling long distances) prevents it being contaminated by a mass defence system. Gaelic football is on its knees; it is no longer a spectacle.

The GAA has a simple choice. Do something about it, soon, or just let the game die.

Pat O'Connor,

Banteer,

Co Cork

Past beats present

Sir - Recently I watched a video of an All-Ireland Final (Kerry v Galway) that was played in 1965 and as the style of football played in this match took me back to my youth I have to say I really enjoyed it. The winning team on this occasion was that great Galway team of three-in-a-row fame.

Last Sunday, and 53 years later, the same two counties went head-to-head in Croke Park but the standard of football was atrocious. I think the GAA needs to alter the hand pass rule that was introduced in the 1970s and ban or confine the number of back-passes allowed.

Anthony Freeley,

Claremorris,

Co Mayo

Column 'poor taste'

Sir - What a extraordinary headline and article by Brendan O'Connor (Sunday Independent, July 15). In reading it, I half hoped that by the end it would be revealed as some rather obscure joke. But no, he was deadly serious picking up on Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath's suggestion that not only should there be a disability candidate but that we should elect him/her precisely because of a disability.

This is a gross insult to such an individual and to the electorate in general. We must always elect the most qualified and suitable candidate to represent us on the world stage.

I have usually enjoyed Brendan O'Connor's contributions to your paper but this one was in particularly poor taste.

Derek MacHugh,

Bray,

Co Wicklow

Sunday Independent

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