Thursday 19 September 2019

Jo Cox was the embodiment of resistance to xenophobia

Floral tributes and candles are placed by a picture of slain British Labour MP Jo Cox at a vigil in Parliament Square, London. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas
Floral tributes and candles are placed by a picture of slain British Labour MP Jo Cox at a vigil in Parliament Square, London. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

How ironic is it that Labour MP Jo Cox, one of Britain's leading campaigners for a more compassionate response to the Syrian refugee crisis, should be killed, not in the midst of that conflict, but in the streets of her own home constituency, where she had just come from working on behalf of her constituents on the practical problems of their daily lives.

She was not some starry-eyed idealist, but someone acutely aware of the difficulties faced by communities with large immigrant populations.

The Brexit referendum has become a plebiscite on turning back refugees and immigrants that are coming for reasons largely removed from the EU, and, if anything, reasons more due to the aggressive Middle Eastern policies pursued by Tony Blair and successive British governments.

Perhaps more than anyone, Jo Cox was the embodiment of resistance to the xenophobia now sweeping the United Kingdom.

As a European, I am ashamed that she was killed for her beliefs.

I hope the vast majority of British citizens feel the same.

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, Co Wicklow

Politicians and public service

The murder of Jo Cox was a brutal act of savagery. When you listen to the messages from all parties and friends, you realise how much of a special person she was.

It should also make us realise, both here and in Britain, that the default phrase "all politicians are in it for themselves" does not refer to Jo Cox and the majority of politicians.

Perhaps it's time to appreciate the time and energy they give on behalf of their communities.

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

Powerful pro-life testimonies

The testimonies of two women are relevant to the Ivan Yates article 'Enda and Micheál collude to ensure we do nothing to change absurd abortion law' (Irish Independent, June 16).

The 'Celebrate the 8th' pro-life gathering in Dublin was addressed by Melissa Ohden from the US. In 1977, she was born alive after a failed abortion and left for dead.

She said: "You have every reason to be proud of the 8th Amendment. Passing this provision in 1983 was a hugely positive step forward for authentic human rights. As an abortion survivor, I applaud your country for it."

The second lady is Rebecca Kiessling, a family-law attorney from Michigan. She was conceived in rape and her mother made two attempts to abort her.

Some years ago, she said: "The fact that I'm alive today has to do with choices that were made by our society at large, people who fought to ensure abortion was illegal in Michigan at the time, even in cases of rape, people who argued to protect my life and people who voted pro-life. I wasn't lucky. I was protected."

Ivan Yates would rejoice that these two women are alive and thriving. But does his article say anything other than that their lives were arguably dispensable?

Neil Bray

Cappamore, Co Limerick

All over bar the shouting

I read that the National Hollerin' Contest, held annually in North Carolina, may be suspended due to decreasing participation (Irish Independent, June 16). However, organisers may run one last contest in 2018, so the event may still be in with a shout.

Otherwise, would-be contestants may feel they have missed their calling.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

The best and worst of America

The recent massacre of 49 people with another 50 or more injured in the US by a man said by some who knew him to be full of anger is in complete contrast to another American, who gave a life-affirming speech a few weeks ago to young people in New York on June 3.

Michelle Obama is in her final year as US First Lady and her time in the role will end when her husband President Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017 after two terms.

Her speech was at graduation day at the City College of New York (CCNY). She congratulated students of over 100 nationalities speaking over 100 languages on their graduation from CCNY. She congratulated those who attended college in difficult circumstances and who moved forward through these difficulties to achieve their goals. She said they had experienced the tough side of life - but it would give them that muscle of resilience.

She spoke of how her father was determined to pay the cheque when her college registration fees were due and how proud he was to make that payment. She said she lived in the White House, which had been built by slaves, but now how proud she was to see her two beautiful daughters waving goodbye as they went to school to their father, the President of the United States, and the son of a man from Kenya who went to America in the 1960s to receive an education.

She urged the students to take the virtues of inclusion and diversity they learned at the college to make their lives better and to help others in going to college.

It was in contrast to those, who, out of fear of a fast-changing society, want to build walls. She believes in bringing walls down and encouraging others to do the same.

The massacre in Orlando, Florida, showed a terrible side of America, but there is the good side, as shown by Michelle Obama - the first African-American to be First Lady of the USA.

Mary Sullivan

Cork city

A 'Brit' on the Brexit poll

Technically, I am a Brit living in Europe. I have to say that the only people who are anti-Brexit seem to be those irrationally scared of somehow losing their nice lifestyle.

The major fact is that the EU has a budget of around €145bn per year.

Few people seem to understand that that huge amount of money has to be extorted from decent, hardworking taxpayers.

We are not in some financial wonderland. If the EU controlling organisation was to disappear, every single person in Europe, except the bureaucrats employed there, could be better off.

If the UK leaves, its people will be better off. We will be better off.

All we need is competent politicians with some backbone.

Richard Barton

Tinahely, Co Wicklow

Irish Independent

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