It's a flag of novelty for us, not of hate
Sir - Back in the 1990s, I remember seeing the Stars and Bars flying in batches from the Blackrock End of Pairc Ui Chaoimh to Hill 16 in Croke Park. No one uttered their disgust. Throughout the 2000s the flags were still seen, along with many others such as Che Guevara, the Rising Sun Flag of Japan and the Stars and Stripes. Only in the past few years, and in the age of social media, are people offended by flags flown on match days by fans from the rebel county.
Cork GAA fans have been lambasted online for flying the so-called Confederate flag. But let me tell you this - we are not white supremacists; we are not neo-Nazis; we are not racists; and, by Christ, we are not advocates of a Trumpian ideology. We use the flag as a point of novelty and let me explain that to those of you not acquainted with Cork humour.
We are known as the rebels, so therefore we seek out symbols and flags associated with those of a rebellious streak, especially if they have a bit of red in it. Che Guevara is the quintessential rebel and his face adorns many a flag and T-shirt seen at Cork matches.
I've also seen a North Korean flag at Cork matches and I suppose that country could be considered a rebellious one, in its own peculiar way. I've seen Catalonian flags, Basque flags and Palestinian flags.
I've even seen a road cone once lofted up high by a rebellious young fella during a league match down in Pairc ui Chaoimh some years ago.
Those of a certain vintage will remember The Dukes of Hazzard and how Bo and Luke drove around in their Dodge Charger with the Stars and Bars splashed on its roof. The same flag was sported across Burt Reynolds's car in Smokey and the Bandit, which was another light-hearted tale of good ol' boys in the Deep South having a rollicking, rebellious time.
The rebel flag was also used on the album covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd and on some bottles of bourbon, including Rebel Yell Kentucky whiskey.
The novelty use of the rebel flag is being lost in those who view today's world through a stringent order of political correctness.
Yes, the ghouls in the KKK use the flag to spread their hate and, yes, brain-dead neo-Nazis use it to offend. But to categorise Cork fans in the same league as those morons is wrong. Just because we fly the rebel flag, the same one we see as a novelty on TV shows, does not mean we are the same as those who want to bring rotten prejudices from the past into the present.
If a ban is placed on the rebel flag, then it will more than likely steam-roll other flags and banners. Che Guevara might offend capitalists, the Stars and Stripes might offend North Koreans, the North Korean flag might offend Americans. The Basque and Catalonian flags might offend Spanish loyalists and the Palestinian flags might offend Israelis. And all will have to be banned. Who knew the troubles we would have at inter-county matches? Perhaps the central council might consider introducing UN peacekeepers at Croke Park and other stadia for next year's championship.
Without doubt we live in tetchy times in this world, but people of a nervous disposition with regards to political correctness are painting decent Cork fans as fascist, racist langers.
Among those calling on Cork fans to drop the rebel flag are the Rubberbandits, but I doubt the vast majority of Corkonians would take any advice from a pair of Limerick lads who wear plastic bags on their heads.
We all saw the scenes from Charlottesville, gobsh***s waving the Stars and Bars as a glorified piece of cloth to suppress people of different colour and creed. Cork fans do not wave that same cloth with the same intentions.
Those fascist fools whistle Dixie; we whistle De Banks. They cause terror on American streets; we create craic in the terraces. They see the world through a narrow gauge; we see it through red and white. They fly a flag of hate; we fly a flag of novelty.
The All-Ireland final between Waterford and Galway now takes centre stage and the issue of the rebel flag will fade away as Cork retreat and rebuild for next season when the rebels shall rise again.
Those piers without peers
Sir - As Dun Laoghaire Harbour bicentenary is being celebrated, may I share with readers my thoughts on a recent ramble.
The east and the west piers are solid siblings, different and each with its own personality, like the many people who enjoy them now, and all who have done so for some 200 years. The piers share so much, welcoming walkers in their warm embrace.
The ever-popular east pier, three-quarters of a mile long, with smooth, safe paving, several special features, some recalling noble brave events and early history, an elegant band stand, - giving shelter in a shower -public lighting when necessary and an interesting red-capped attractive lighthouse.
The fan club of the mile-long west pier enjoys green grass and youthful maritime activities, as fishing folk, standing tall, line the end harbour wall, by the green-capped old lighthouse. A younger "pierin" provides a longer walk for fitter folk.
We enjoy both piers, and both levels on each pier. We appreciate the hard work of the gifted craftsmen, the chief engineer, John Rennie, and all those who toiled for us 200 years ago - a superb job well done.
Looking after the mothers' pensions
Sir - Yes, Mr Varadkar (Letters, Sunday Independent, August 13), it is time you looked after the mothers whose children are working hard, getting up at 6am as you say, to get this country back to where it should be and have equality for all.
You were part of the Fine Gael/Labour government that decided one of the best ways to get this country out of financial difficulties was to deprive mainly mothers, who had no other choice but stay at home and look after their children in the 1970s/1980s of their full old-aged pension when they came to retirement age.
Children's allowance was only a pittance back then and child care wasn't heard of. Now these mothers have reached pension age, and many more will in the coming years, and will receive much reduced pensions because of changes made by Joan Burton in the 2012 Budget.
This also means when there is an increase of €5 in the pension we only receive a pro-rata amount. For politicians to say there is an increase of €5 in the OAP is untrue because it is a much-reduced increase for most.
I, like Mai from Galway, went back to work full-time after rearing my family until I was forced to retire at 65 because of company policy, so also receive a much-reduced pension.
It is time that the anomalies to the changes made in 2012 were looked at and that everyone was treated equally. The Homemakers Scheme of 1994 was brought in to make it easier for mothers/fathers to stay at home to look after their young families, but there is nothing in place for women of our age as our children were too old by then. More like discrimination than equality.
The fallout from Belfast massacres
Eoghan Harris (Sunday Independent,, August 13) correctly highlighted the sectarian motive of the local IRA volunteers who killed 13 Protestants in the Bandon Valley in April 1922.
As he pointed out, the republican Erskine Childers had no doubt sectarianism was the main motive.
The research I did for my book, Buried Lives: The Protestants of Southern Ireland, revealed that Michael Collins told the extremely worried Church of Ireland delegation that visited him following the killings that "the murders in Belfast had an effect on the present situation but that the Belfast massacres could not be considered any justification for the outrages".
Collins did not use the word 'sectarian', but it was clear he believed that the Bandon Valley 'outrages' were largely inspired by reprisals for the Protestant sectarian 'massacres' of Catholics in Belfast.
Taking lessons from children
Sir — Children will happily play with any other children belonging to any other nationality, religion or race until such a time when adults tell them not to do so.
It is the adults who are apt to find all the difficulties, obstacles and borders that must be put up to keep men, women and children from all over the world from coming together.
Again it’s adults who fight
and kill in international conflicts and put toy guns into children’s small hands to get them to practice shooting other children with these toys. But there is hope for this divided world of ours, because of what the prophet Isaiah once said which was “the wolf will live with the lamb with a small child to lead them”.
So, if children were put at the centre of society, the happy result of doing so would surely cause a beneficial ripple effect to reach all sections of society.
However, Isaiah’s wonderful prophesy, which describes a place that’s probably to be
found somewhere over the rainbow must unfortunately (because of the slowness of people to aim towards its achievement), take a good many centuries to come about. But perhaps if everybody in the entire world took up a brand-new challenge at the same time (at perhaps around some midnight hour), click his or her heels together three times while making a wish for peace in the world, then something really nice might start to begin to happen to all of us!
This challenge might be less uncomfortable to do than the ice bucket challenge that happened not long ago.
The need for hospital beds
Sir — It was a joy, as ever, to read the passionate and eloquent Gene Kerrigan article (Sunday Independent, August 13) challenge the logic of not matching aims with health care resources. There is no mystery, he tells us. Beds and nurses. And beds are bugger all use without nurses.
This has also been the RTE narrative for the last 20 years. The OECD average figure of 4.8 hospital beds per 1,000 population has become common knowledge on all our current affairs and news programmes. Ireland has only 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 population — not enough nurses or resources, so we cannot open more hospital beds is the narrative. It is at this point that we must now (for our own self-respect and health) match the data with the narrative that seems to be more political than logical.
Roisin Shortall tells us that the Irish health budget at €19bn is the largest health budget in the EU for a population of 4.9 million.
The OECD report tells us that Ireland has 12.6 nurses per 1,000 population, compared with an OECD average of 9.1 nurses per 1,000 population. Ireland has “38pc’’ more nurses than the OECD average. The UK has 8.2 nurses servicing the same number (2.8 per 1,000) of beds. Ireland has 50pc more nurses than the UK and 38pc more nurses than the OECD average.
Gene is correct in claiming that Ireland needs to open 9,000 more beds in our hospitals. Voting for the left or right, however, is not the issue. To provide more resources and nurses, while accepting a worse outcome, is not the definition of madness, but sadness.
Ireland’s resources measure quiet favourable with our OECD counterparts. The distribution of resources is the problem.
In the words of Gene Kerrigan — “It’s hospital beds, or forget about it.”
Misandry and the silencing of Damore
Sir — Brendan O’Connor’s piece (‘That Google heretic might have a point,’ Sunday Independent, August 13) was a most misleading, misandrist piece of progressive propaganda.
He states that men are incapable of carrying on anything without fighting — “A group of men trying to complete any task can be a recipe for disaster... there will be a very real chance that the project will be done badly.”
Is it a wonder we humans ever stopped beating each other with clubs to create fire in the first place?
Much of civilisation was built on the co-operation and hard work of men and women. Most of the hard labour, dangerous work, countless deaths in wars, in sewers, down mines, falling of building, sailors drownings to name but a few were done almost exclusively by men.
Men have always been disposable and now that modernity is built well, progressives now demand white men be discriminated against and removed over fear they will mess it up. The insinuation that all tech people are loner white men (who have been responsible for much of modern technology and social media), and we do not want to trust the future of tech to them, is insulting and dripping in arrogance.
All manner of progressives last week came out, their “temple veins bulging” in one deafening “virtue signalling” chorus, all ignoring what former Google employee James Damore actually wrote, to condemn him for the perceived sin of wrong think, having the gall to state actual facts which he backed up with data about the real differences between men and women.
What was done to Damore was oppressive silencing of dissenting views and a clear case of authoritarianism for simply expressing his opinions in an internal company memo.
I worry for my sons growing up as it seems that to be a white male is offensive to progressives, academia and, most worryingly, the mainstream media.
The playing field for women in the western world has largely levelled over the past 50 years, yet the elitist liberal “know-alls” are not content because women are not taking up STEM and the high-status, high-stress positions to the degree that is decreed.
Maybe many women don’t want to spend their lives in front of a computer writing lines of code. Surely western women are free to decide what life choices suit them.
The arrogance with which progressives act as the mouthpiece for all women is staggering. They have now started the post-modernist, Marxist tactic of disregarding reality, truth and facts and instituting the “proper outcomes” by coercion, as Damore eluded to in his assertion that illegal practices are possibly being used to increase diversity at Google.
Anyone who has even the smallest questioning of the current dogma being spread is immediately branded racist, misogynistic etc. Fascist and Communist propagandists would blush and this behaviour is already leading to suppression of free speech which will inevitably lead to tyranny. To know who rules you ask who you’re not allowed to criticise.
Milton Friedman once said, “a society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both” and “one of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programmes by their intentions rather than their results”.
Corrosive identity politics and social justice activism are now sadly well on the way to undoing much of the great progress that Brendan mentions was made in the 1960s.
Innocent days remembered
Sir — Regarding the article on Taylor Swift (Sunday Independent, August 13), I know things have changed and are much more serious now, but I’m glad that when I was young if a fella put his hand on your bum you were made up! Ah the innocence!