Monday 21 October 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Etch their names for ever'

Allied forces storm the beaches on D-Day in 1944
Allied forces storm the beaches on D-Day in 1944
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - As the 75th anniversary of D-Day passes, we should not only acknowledge the significant role of Irish soldiers in that major historical event, we should also express our heartfelt thanks to them for helping to liberate Europe from one of the most horrific tyrannies the world has seen.

We should also, as a State, formally apologise for the disgraceful way so many were treated when they returned - many battle-scarred and traumatised - to our ostensibly neutral nation at the end of World War II.

We honour our heroes of 1916 and the War of Independence - and rightly so. They fought a regime that sought to compel the Irish people against their democratically expressed will to remain part of an empire, upon which the sun reputedly never set.

But we need to remember, had the Nazis invaded and occupied our Emerald Isle, the worst excess of Cromwell or the Black and Tans would have paled into insignificance beside what the Nazis would have done to us.

It wouldn't have been only a case of a few suspected rebels arrested, roughed up, or shot following an ambush. Entire towns and villages would have been torched and their inhabitants murdered. Balbriggan and Cork but far worse. People of allegedly "inferior races" would have been rounded up and killed.

The 800 years of British oppression would quickly be forgotten as the Master Race set about enforcing its own version of how a civilised society ought to behave - and, as we know from the well-documented chronicles of Nazi occupation in other parts of Europe, the consequences of Ireland being incorporated into the Third Reich would have been catastrophic. Neither would there have been many opportunities for revellers in the pubs to sing ballads with titles like: "We killed SS Captain Stasser down the old boreen."

The soldiers of Ireland, who waded ashore on the Normandy beachhead, on June 6, 1944, were heroes of the highest order. Likewise, the Irish planners and backstage actors who all lent their shoulder to that extraordinary operation.

Their names should be etched in perpetuity, alongside those of the men and woman who sacrificed themselves for the cause of Irish independence.

For, let's face it: the D-Day soldiers were the ULTIMATE FREEDOM FIGHTERS!

John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co Kilkenny

Leaving Cert reform would benefit us all

Sir — The recent change in the Leaving Cert Examination by Education Minister Joe McHugh for students who suffer a family bereavement immediately before or during the examination period is a very welcome development and he has to be congratulated for this. Unfortunately, it was a family bereavement of a student that prompted this change. The additional two days for the examination process are most welcome also.

I think the minister needs to go much further in his reform as the ‘‘traditional’’ Leaving Certificate Examination system has not changed substantially over the years, despite some reform. There is almost universal acceptance that the Leaving Certificate Examination puts enormous stress on students. I suggest the time is right for fundamental change with a view to improving the assessment process and reducing stress on students. I suggest the following.

Currently students are assessed mainly by written examinations in most subject areas and some of these assessments are over three hours long. For example, this Tuesday students will sit Gaeilge at higher level for three hours and five minutes — and in the afternoon of the same day take Biology for three hours. How fair is this to the students or the disciplines?

I suggest the ‘‘traditional’’ Leaving Cert programme be modularised and assessed over a two-year period. An obvious time to do these assessments would be at Christmas time and summer each year. Most second-level schools carry out assessments at these times in any event. The subject specialists are the people best placed to decide what to assess at each stage and what weighting should be allocated to each assessment. The weighting could vary from subject to subject and should be agreed by the relevant parties — the DES, the NCCA, school management and teachers. Four assessments over a two-year period would allow for the use of different assessment methods as well as examining a greater cross section of each subject area.

We hear much talk about the importance of feedback to students. I suggest students are given the results and feedback after each assessment to enable them improve where necessary. What feedback other than a grade did most of us receive after doing the Leaving Cert? This arrangement would remove the current mock assessments, which may be misleading and disrupt students’ study patterns. 

This would mean final results should be available much earlier than the current arrangement of mid-August. This would allow third-level institutions the time to use additional or alternative selection mechanisms other than points only if they so wished. It would facilitate also the processing of rechecks before colleges open as the current system does not serve students well. Up to this year students got the results of rechecks in late October — resulting in a huge financial cost to some parents and a huge education cost to some students who may have to change from one university/college city/town to another. However, I know improvements are planned in this area. For students who are not sure if they would like to take ordinary or higher level, I suggest each subject area should decide at what point in the assessment continuum this decision should be made.

This system would be fairer and give a more accurate assessment of students’ abilities — not to mention a significant reduction of pressure on the students.

It may cost a little more, but I think our young people are well worth that investment.

Sean de Brun,

Senior Lecturer,

Mary Immaculate College,


Poor performance from Fianna Fail

Sir — Jody Corcoran (Sunday Independent, June 2) thinks the next government will be Fianna Fail, Labour and now Social Democrats, Greens and, you never know, a few more rag bag Independents propped up by confidence and supply Fine Gael, — the party who led the country out of economic ruin.

I note with interest how Jody zones in on the positives of May 24 for Fianna Fail, but isn’t inclined to zone in on how the party did so poorly in the more national election — the European elections. 

I might remind Jody that when Fianna Fail did emerge five years ago as the largest party in local government, they were not the largest party in the general election because the Fianna Fail front bench are not government material in waiting.

Thomas Garvey,

Claremorris, Co Mayo

Columnist with a supporting role

Sir — Declan Lynch has used his column as a Liverpool fanzine for the last two months.  Will the Editor be extending this freedom to all journalists who support other teams?

Mick McMullen,

Co Tyrone

Rough justice for hard workers

Sir — I was astounded to read last week of the hard-working Polish couple, both labouring away cleaning a shopping centre, probably on minimum wage.

She was verbally and physically abused by young brats of children, who poured water over her head and threw things at her as she worked.

Her husband, in answer to his wife’s distress, slapped one of them. And now he is in court charged with assault — while we are left awaiting a victim impact statement. 

No! Not from the abused cleaner — but from the slapped 11-year-old! 

Margaret O’Connor,

Naas, Co Kildare

A level playing field for the GAA

Sir — It looks like the powers that be in the GAA are in the process of restructuring the Senior Football Championship, and in the process depriving half the counties of ever winning an All-Ireland by creating a two- or three-tier championship

How about an alternative approach? If a Division 1 team is drawn against a Division 3 or 4 team, the Division 1 team plays with 13 players; Division 1 versus Div 2. Division 1 lines out with 14 players; Division 2 v Div 3 or 4, Div 2 lines out with 14 players

Division 3 or 4 teams will always play with 15 players?

Justin Brady,

Newbridge, Co Kildare

Disrespectful show at the altar rail

Sir — The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin’s advice to his parish priests to try to prevent ‘‘bling’’ funerals in their churches is laudable, but almost impossible to police.

It’s also dangerous. Priests, in some parishes, have already been ‘‘advised’’ against interfering in funeral arrangements. And these incidents have occurred, even before the archbishop’s statement was issued.

Here is something the priests can try to do immediately: ban people from leaving personal items on the altar. This ban should apply to both ‘‘bling’’ and ‘‘non-bling’’ funerals.

Currently, some people are leaving all sorts of objects from whiskey bottles to various articles of clothing at the altar rail. Leaving such items is disrespectful.

Jim Walsh,

Templeogue, Dublin 6W

Come back anytime, Donald

Sir — If I may, I’d like to use your pages to address the recent visitor to our shores:

Sorry to see you go home Donald, you gave us all a bit of excitement. You lifted us from the bad weather, bad silly politics in such a small country. It was fun having an exciting visitor to our shores.

I like good businessmen. I’m not interested in politics, but love a bit of a party and something to brighten the day. Don’t tell me about the Mexican wall, immigration and serious stuff which usually amounts to nothing.

No, you came with your lovely wife and family and entertained us all for awhile.

You gave Doonbeg and the country a buzz — come back anytime. Life is too serious here. We need a bit of brightness in our lives.

Terry Healy

Kill, Co Kildare

How Mick Wallace showed them all

Sir — Eight years ago on Tonight with Vincent Browne, Mick Wallace announced he would contest the general election, much to the amazement of the panel. I remember PR consultant Terry Prone saying to Mick: “You are nutty to stand. Even if you do get elected, you will be able to do nothing.”

Well, the rest is history...

Pat O’Callaghan,

Mallow, Co Cork

Does Trump only have the one suit?

Sir — Am I correct in thinking that Donald Trump only possesses one suit? That blue one?

I would have thought that the wardrobe budget of the President of the United States would extend to at least several different coloured suits.

Liam Power,

Blackrock, Co Louth

Sinn Fein needs to get real things done

Sir — The most enlightening piece I’ve seen on Sinn Fein’s losses at the polls was written by Eilis O’Hanlon in the Sunday Independent (June 2).

She makes it clear that, among the many other deficiencies Sinn Fein suffers from, it makes the mistake of thinking being good at the guff is a substitute for good leadership.

That requires taking responsibility and getting real things done for real people —rather than focusing on getting up the noses of Northern unionists with talk about road signs in Irish and border polls.

Most people in this Republic have no time for noisy hurlers on the ditch — even if they have a cosy relationship with RTE.

Pat O’Mahony,

Dalkey, Co Dublin

Party has lost its extra strong punch

Sir — I think both Eoghan Harris and Eilis O’Hanlon, in their articles (Sunday Independent, June 2) about the poor showing of Sinn Fein in the recent local and European elections, have completely missed the point in their analysis.

They are good articles and it is great to read them at a time when the North is often being forgotten about south of the Border — but, in my view, they haven’t quite hit the nail on the head. The biggest factor in the loss of votes for Sinn Fein is the loss of Gerry Adams — and, to a lesser extent, of Martin McGuinness.

Sinn Fein relied on these two men to give the voters the impression that their vote had an “extra strong punch” when they voted Sinn Fein.

Voters have told me, personally, over the years that they’re changing from the SDLP to Sinn Fein because of this “extra strong punch” that no other party had. Other parties could not match this is as it came directly forward from the IRA’s campaign during the Troubles.

It also came forward from stupid comments like one by British prime minister Tony Blair to then SDLP leader Seamus Mallon, when he said that “the problem for the SDLP is that you have no guns [to trade with]”.

Nevertheless, the “extra strong punch” has largely gone from Sinn Fein now with the loss of Martin McGuinness and the retirement of Gerry Adams — and I expect that no party, not even Sinn Fein, really wants it to return. But, you never know, this may even be a sign that things are improving up North.

John O’Connell,


Yates shows RTE how it’s done

Sir — Eoghan Harris correctly sees RTE’s “flawed news culture” as being the root cause of its failure to properly report the meltdown of Sinn Fein, the relative success of the Greens and the huge success of Fianna Fail in the local elections (‘Is RTE colour blind to the two different shades of green?’ Sunday Independent, June 2).

Leaving aside RTE’s often blatant bias towards the hard left and Sinn Fein, compare Ivan Yates’s interview style on Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder and Virgin Media’s The Tonight Show with that of any of the legion of RTE news and current affairs stars. Ivan Yates asks hard questions of all his contributors and is always respectful of the audience’s right to clearly hear all points of view. This can sometimes result in him switching off a shouty person’s microphone.

RTE prefers a Punch and Judy-style approach, whereby a Fianna Fail or other moderate politician is confronted by the presenter and/or opponents peddling instant, often wildly Utopian, solutions.

Invariably a shouting match ensues and the listener is left none the wiser. This of course suits the hard left, environmentalists and the bogus leftists in Sinn Fein, for whom the solution to every problem is to throw more taxpayers’ money at it. Come to think of it, that’s RTE’s solution to its perennial budget problems as well.

Karl Martin,

Bayside, Dublin 13

Sunday Independent

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