Wednesday 18 September 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'EU must let Britain leave with pride intact or it risks an extremist reaction'

Ill feeling: Brexit protesters continued to demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Ill feeling: Brexit protesters continued to demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Politicians don't ever seem to learn. Almost 100 years ago a humiliating and vindictive treaty was imposed on a broken and weakened Germany with the result that within a generation, extremist politics led to the most destructive war ever seen.

At present, a humiliating and vindictive treaty is being imposed on Britain which if implemented will almost certainly ferment extremist politics in a humiliated and weakened world power, causing untold hostility, strife and retributive action in the not too distant future.

So much damage has already been caused by protracted and bitter negotiations that Britain is far less likely to swing towards extremism if separated from, rather than subservient to, an increasingly dictatorial and very smug EU.

We can only hope that Britain will be allowed to leave peaceably with as little interrupted EU commercial interaction as possible. If forced into a humiliating climbdown or banished with shut-out hostility, extremist politics are likely to flourish. Should this happen, Ireland, the EU and Britain itself are likely to suffer great upheaval.

As for the Irish Border, it is likely to be the EU which insists on its revival to prevent American beef flavouring the dinner tables of Europe.

Padraic Neary

Tubbercurry, Co Sligo

Study of history is crucial to build a vibrant nation

The move by the new Education Minister Joe McHugh to review the decision to make history an optional subject at Junior Certificate is very welcome.

History should be restored as a core curriculum subject without delay, as this academic discipline has essential values relevant to modern Ireland and to promoting an understanding of the importance of active citizenship, social inclusion and diversity in our society.

In post-Good Friday Agreement Ireland, a progressive approach to the teaching of history and an inclusive spirit towards historical commemoration should be viewed as key tools in underpinning peace, tackling deep-seated social problems and building a new shared understanding. There is a significant body of international academic research that shows that the role of history education, in developing a sound knowledge of the history of one's own country and of the wider world, can contribute to progressive, democratic citizenship.

In a world where we are often bombarded with a wide range of electronic information of varying degrees of intellectual rigour and quality, and in a world where there are real concerns about the phenomenon of 'fake news', it is important that our young people have the ability to evaluate source material and to develop analytical skills, which the study of history teaches us.

The last census showed that persons born abroad accounted for 17.3pc of the population in the Republic of Ireland. In the space of roughly a generation, our country is in the process of making the transition from a relatively homogeneous state to a pluralist nation. The progressive teaching of history can foster a sense of inclusion, a respect for diversity and also strengthen awareness of civic responsibilities in the emerging generation, now in our schools and colleges, that will help shape the future of this island.

Division, rancour and conflict are themes that emerge from Ireland's long history that we do not want to repeat or relive in a new era. Minister McHugh is correct in noting that it is through "learning the lessons of our past that we can plan for the future". As Ireland now prepares for our second century of independence, the inclusive study of history is a means to build stronger communities and a vibrant, peaceful nation.

Dr Brian Murphy

Access Foundation Programme, Dublin Institute of Technology

McDonald has to take action before it's too late

Mary Lou McDonald is great at telling anyone who listens to her that she has all the answers to the woes of this country, north and south. Well now is the time, Mary Lou, to make a big decision that will help the whole of this island. Get your MPs to take their seats in the House of Commons and help to get the draft Brexit deal passed.

Your "principled" stance to abstain will be of little use to the people of this country if we get a hard Border because the draft Brexit deal on the table is defeated. You very well know that a hard Border will only allow the IRA to go back into business.

This is your and Michelle O'Neill's opportunity to show that you are the 'real' leaders of Sinn Féin, and not just the puppets of the 'backroom boys'.

Leadership means leading, not following. Your crocodile tears will be of little use to anyone if the Border comes into play. You argue with Mrs May that the North voted No to Brexit. That is a mandate to be carried into the House of Commons if you are genuine representatives of the people who voted. You canvassed for a No vote but now your MPs sit on their hands (and collect their expenses) and do nothing. It must be unheard of to lead a party with elected representatives in two parliaments and none of them attends to their duties in either.

Get off the pot now, Mary Lou.

Donough O Reilly

Kilmacud, Co Dublin

Prawn-sandwich fans were well out of tune

In the final minute of the Ireland v All Blacks match, when New Zealand were gaining momentum through phase after phase, and history tells us a try is coming, the Irish supporters (corporate, social-occasion drinkers) are singing 'Fields of Athenry', when yesteryear fans' hearts were in their mouths. That is not a support fan-base that is tuned into what is happening on the field.

One of your colleagues wrote an article on the people going to these matches for a social outing. Has the original fan been turned off participating in this charade as in Munster, being out-priced by the corporate brigade, not knowing the shape of the ball being used on the day?

There was a time you knew the way a game was panning out by the expression on the faces of the audience. Now the whole stadium is watching the match on the screen waiting for their five seconds of fame. Don't tell me the fans are the 16th man, they know as much as the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.

Tony Murphy

Limerick

Irish Independent

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