Thursday 12 December 2019

Letters to the Editor: Collins's legacy represents a victory for common sense

Commemoration marking the 98th Anniversary of the 1916
Commemoration marking the 98th Anniversary of the 1916
Michael Collins

* Some time ago I had the chance to read an excellent piece written to commemorate the "death" of common sense which, I think you'll agree, is very apt given that we live in the age of ubiquitous reality television and increasingly intrusive social media yet complain about government surveillance. We might then also mourn the passing of another age-old companion: realism. In my opinion, this long-time check on fantasy and delusion is sadly 'knocking on heaven's door'.

Several instances of this have been seen over the past few weeks and months but I would like to single out the British reaction to the MH17 disaster and US foreign policy towards the Ukraine crisis as being exceptional. In the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines' Flight 17, the international community is expected to do something to bring the perpetrators to some kind of justice. And rightly so. Those who commit such acts should be punished. But the politics of the situation in eastern Ukraine are taking precedence over law. No European state wants to annoy Russia. Yet governments are still desperate to be seen to be "doing something".

US foreign policy on Ukraine is remarkably toothless. To put it simply, they are letting a bully get away with tearing up a state based on ethnic lines – something that most enlightened liberals would tell us no evolved state should do. A forceful response, perhaps the deployment of peacekeepers to the region would be a welcome sign of US resolve. Instead we have been treated to appeasement. Appeasement only makes the aggressor more aggressive.

Yet I do not think we in this country should get too cocky. Our history is saturated with examples of people who engaged in what common sense would state were stupid rebellions, determined to die romantic martyrs deaths with no thought given to a realistic prolonged struggle. The only one who bucked that trend was Michael Collins and he won.



* No truer words were expressed than those in the Irish Independent editorial (July 19) in response to the callous destruction of flight MH17. The absence of real leadership, genuine moral courage, or even a shared sense of humanity is sadly lacking across the globe among those who ought to abundantly demonstrate these qualities.

Regrettably, the bland and anaemic statement from our own Foreign Minister, Charles Flanagan, offered little to inspire. He remarked that Ireland "fully supports calls for a full, independent, investigation" to establish the cause of the destruction of MH17, without any elaboration. He advised that he is continuing to "monitor the situation closely through our embassies in Prague and The Hague". But he did not state that he was actually going to do anything in response to this grotesque atrocity.

Are his remarks really the best possible expression of Ireland's leadership, values, moral courage and shared sense of humanity in response to such a grievous attack on humanity by anonymous, camouflaged cowards? If so, our foreign policy has not advanced from the era of the 'Skibbereen Eagle', which, from time to time, admonished the British prime minister, the Russian emperor and the German emperor and reminded them that the Eagle 'had its eye on you'.

The difference that ministers make is judged by what they do and accomplish; not by passive gestures and empty rhetoric.



* The recent comments of Senator Ned O'Sullivan should be put in a historical context.

The O'Sullivan name is said to be inherited from an ancestor, whose wounds in an ancient battle left him with only one eye.

The Irish for one eye is: suil amhain from which the name O'Sullivan is derived. However, the truth about how this injury was obtained is more prosaic. He was pecked in one eye by a seagull – a Dublin seagull! The Irish for seagull is Faoilean. Ever since, there has been enmity between the Dub O'Faoileans (seagulls), and the Kerry O'Sullivans (one-eyed Kerrymen). The accusation that a Dublin seagull stole a child's lollipop, which was made on the floor of the Seanad, was a new low (oh the calumny!) in this long-running feud.

No detail was given as to the nature of the lollipop. Was it red, orange or yellow? Was it strawberry, raspberry or orange flavoured? The description of the child is also vague. Was it male or female? Did the child have flaxen, raven-coloured or red hair? Why haven't the guards been told? Perhaps the reason for the lack of detail in his account is that one of Ned's eyes ain't so good. Ned also complained that the seagulls were making a racket on the roof of his apartment. One can only infer from this that Kerry seagulls are quite different. They do not engage in unseemly squawking and cackling as those Dub seagulls do. No, they engage with each other in soft melodic Kerry tweets.

No doubt the good senator has been overcome with homesickness for his native Kerry where the seagulls are more convivial company.



* Seamus French wonders why nobody has been held accountable for the current economic crisis (Letters, July 19). Has he not heard that Fianna Fail were decimated at General Election 2011? Does he not know that the flawless hindsight brigade decided Fianna Fail wrecked the economy and bankrupted the country?

We love a scapegoat in Ireland and Fianna Fail fitted the role perfectly. Labour as we all know is the scape-goat for having the neck to enter government to continue the harsh economic corrective measures started by Fianna Fail after the 2008 collapse.

Remember two reports provided in recent months. One was that €30bn had been borrowed on the equity of homes and €50bn borrowed by SMEs (50pc impaired) during the period we call the Celtic Tiger. These jaw-dropping reports spread the need for accountability a lot wider than the scapegoats we have already selected as our outlet for venom.



* Eamonn Meehan's condemnation of Israel is full of inaccuracies (Letters, July 18). For one thing Israel is not "occupying" Gaza; it left Gaza in 2005. Over the years Gaza has received massive amounts of international aid but much of this has been dissipated through corruption by Hamas and on rocket sites for terrorist operations against Israel.

It is a sad state of affairs that a so-called human rights organisation like Trocaire never bothers to criticise Hamas for its treatment of Palestinians: its murder and torture of other Palestinians, and its oppression of Christians and women who are second-class citizens.

Israel is not "collectively punishing" Gaza as Mr Meehan suggests. Israel is fighting in Gaza solely and purely because Hamas is in control of Gaza and is in a state of war with Israel. It is Hamas which is inflicting collective punishment on the civilians of Gaza by using Palestinian civilians in Gaza as human shields. It is Hamas which began this latest conflict, it is Hamas which rejected a ceasefire brokered by Egypt on Tuesday, and it is Hamas which pointlessly keeps this conflict going.


Irish Independent

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