Letters to the Editor: 'For Lyra, The Oak Tree City'
Has she really died Cries the Oak Tree City? Has she really died, Has a bullet stopped our dreams? The fools, the fools believe That death’s the seed of freedom, The ancient blood-soaked lie From our old murder machine.
When will it end
Weeps the Oak Tree City?
When will it end
This poison in the stream?
With their guns and drums
And their heroes in dead heaven
Can no one hear
The sound of the children’s screams?
What have we now,
Asks the Oak Tree City?
What have we now,
In the darkness what can be seen?
We have fine headstones
And lovely graves to nourish,
We’ll plant peace with your tears
Replied the murder machine.
No, we will sing
Vows the Oak Tree City.
No, we will sing
No bullet will stop our dreams
And our rainbows of light
Will blind your storm of hatred,
In the Springtime of our hearts
Lyra’s flowers of hope redeem.
Sean Brannigan, Dundalk
GAA’s own-goal over club ban
Sir — After the FAI captured headlines for scoring own-goals, the GAA decided to follow suit by putting the ball in their own net in proposing an eight-week suspension for the Naomh Colmcille club in Co Donegal, who took the “bold” move of staging a charity soccer match to raise funds for a member who is battling a serious illness.
The decision to pursue the ban has been rightly described as heartless, and obviously the lesson from the Liam Miller debacle in Cork a few months ago has not been learned.
The infamous ban rule about links with so-called foreign games was removed in 1971, but the ban mentality is still alive and sick.
While the powers-that-be in the GAA persistently display antipathy towards rival sports like soccer and rugby, there is no problem in hiring top pop acts to perform in fundraising concerts at Croke Park.
Supporting singers like Michael Buble, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and the Rolling Stones obviously takes precedence over aiding one of their own.
Bill McMahon, Navan,
Sight and sound not a problem
Sir — My experience of The Seamster’s Daughter was quite different from that in Emer O’Kelly’s review (Living, Sunday Independent, April 21).
The venue is very small but at no time did I find any line-of-sight difficulties. Also, in spite of having hearing aids, I managed to hear every word uttered by all four actors. Indeed, I turned off my aids at the interval as they were not needed.
I would agree with Ms O’Kelly that the play explored in detail the whole gamut of emotions and reactions of the characters in a difficult and demanding plot.
In my view, all four actors delivered excellent and nuanced performances and, though the content of the work was emotionally demanding, I left the venue satisfied with my overall experience.
Harry McCauley, Maynooth,
Lyra’s legacy: no life is worth losing for a flag
Sir — Lyra McKee was laid to rest last Wednesday. A young life taken by those undeserving to be called human beings
Fr Martin Magill’s words touched the hearts of all who attended the funeral — the lengthy hand clapping said more than words could say.
Members of government from both sides stood shoulder to shoulder, each showing their respect. Yet one has to question why these leaders cannot put their differences aside and do what they were elected to do, which is govern! The day of the gun and the bomb is long over, the people have tasted freedom and there’s no going back.
The loss of Lyra McKee’s life must remain a marker for all, that no life is worth losing for any flag. Those who follow in the steps of bitter men and women can only be on the losing side. Life is short, live it with kindness and decency within your heart.
Clonsilla, Dublin 15
DUP represents views of its voters
Sir — The DUP is represented continually in our (Republic) media as ‘‘intransigent’’, ‘‘obstructive’’ and even suffer ridiculous insults such as ‘‘dinosaurs’’. In the Irish Independent it was reported that Arlene Foster ‘‘admits’’ DUP policy on gay marriage has not changed in light of the barbaric murder of Lyra McKee.
The last time I looked, Ireland, North and South, participates in a democracy that cherishes free speech.
The DUP represents a significant cohort of people who absolutely share their views. Are we trying to say that because their views don’t align with ours, that they are not legitimate?
Arlene Foster did not ‘‘admit’’ that the DUP stance on gay marriage has not changed, she stated it bluntly. I absolutely disagree with almost everything the DUP stands for, ditto Sinn Fein, but I would readily fight to defend their right to hold to those principles!
Journalists, particularly in the ‘‘paper of record’’, should be made to study Eoghan Harris!
Independence not always on show
Sir — I have just finished reading Gene Kerrigan’s Soapbox (Sunday Independent, April 21) — as usual, a very well-written article on the death of the young journalist Lyra McKee.
In the course of the article, Mr Kerrigan went through the reasons journalists should be admired and respected and he was, as usual, spot on in almost everything he said. Unfortunately, in one paragraph, he wrote: “The old media retains a sense of stubborn independence not visible in anything that might replace it.”
Pity then that Mr Kerrigan and his fellow journalists didn’t remember this during the recent referendum on the Eighth Amendment, when they rowed in fully with the Yes campaign.
Sir — The murder of Lyra McKee must surely be a wake-up call for all who are complacent about the current state of the peace process on this island.
How prophetic were the words of Fergal Keane who, writing in your newspaper two months ago, all but foretold this very happening. He wrote (Sunday Independent, February 10): “The Good Friday Agreement would be unimaginable without TK Whitaker. The question now is whether the agreement remains imaginable at all. The agreement is imperilled by an absence of will.”
In ominously prophetic words, he continued: “I want to say until I am hoarse: it is not over. The war can come back.”
Fr Iggy O’Donovan, Fethard,
Name the thugs
Sir — Can we stop giving some quasi legitimacy to the murderous thugs of all shades in Northern Ireland? Can we use the same language used in the rest of the world — that is, how are young people being ‘‘radicalised’’ in their communities and by whom? Name them for what they are — terrorists — terrorising their own people.
Teaching history has value for today
Sir — Eoghan Harris (Sunday Independent, April 21) points out that the failure to make history a compulsory subject in the Junior Certificate leaves the way open for alternative narratives to inform the beliefs and attitudes of students. Events in social media show how easy it is for myth to become the common belief.
In 1973, at the height of the Troubles, the History Inspectors drew up a statement of objectives for the 1976 Intermediate Certificate Examination which wrestled with this problem.
Their answer fully justifies the major role that history should take in the curriculum.
They required that “pupils should feel a responsibility (i) to be objective in interpreting historical material, (ii) to find rational explanations for historical events and developments, (iii) to understand what it is like to be in someone else’s position, (iv) to respect the right of others to be different and to hold different points of view”. Without history, the pupils will not develop “the ability to examine critically and discuss statements on historical matters encountered in their textbooks and everyday life”.
Industry often complains that students cannot think critically. History, appropriately taught, achieves that goal, thereby justifying its place in the curriculum. But it will require a revolution in the way history is taught, assessed and the time allocated to it, as the research unit of the Committee on the Form and Function of the Intermediate Certificate demonstrated.
The value added would be immense.
Director of Research,
Committee on the Form of the Function of the Intermediate Certificate, 1973-1977
Sir — In an excellent piece (Sunday Independent, April 21), Philip Ryan describes how the Seanad has blocked the Judicial Appointments Bill for more than 10 months. Along the same lines, retired judge Nicholas Kearns laments the slow progress (682 days) in passing the Judicial Council Bill (dealing with compo culture). The independence of the judiciary and the very existence of the Seanad ostensibly protects the rights of the Irish citizen but this small group of misfits is effectively governing the country.
The only significant legislation passed by the current Government relates to drink-driving and this was dragged through the various stages by the tenacity of Shane Ross (Independent) and intensive lobbying by the victims of drink-driving. We are urged to exercise our right to vote but I feel helpless and see no point in voting to elect a representative to what is, in effect, a neutered Dail.
A class apart
Sir — Zozimus’s most interesting piece (Sunday Independent, April 21) on
John Betjeman’s visit to
Ireland with his wife Penelope reminded me of the response Penelope received when she
told her mother, Lady Chetwode, that she was getting engaged to the poet John Betjeman — and I can just hear her saying this: “No, no, my dear, we invite these people to tea. We don’t marry them!”
Brendan Casserly, Bishopstown,
Sir — It is only fitting that the Together for Yes co-directors were named on Time’s list of 100 most influential people. The referendum campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment represented a movement we have never really seen before in Ireland. A true grassroots movement led by women — and supported by men.