Friday 14 December 2018

Letters to the Editor: 'In remembrance of our young men whose treatment was truly shameful'

Rallying call: Political leader John Redmond adressing a public meeting in 1915
Rallying call: Political leader John Redmond adressing a public meeting in 1915
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Our politicians now stand commemorating the 50,000 young men seduced to their deaths by John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, who presided over the worst slums in Europe in Dublin, and widespread unemployment, by the ineptitude in failing to make British governments fulfil their promises made in the Act of Union 1800 of ensuring the standard of living in Galway would be the same as Somerset.

This landscape was ideal in recruiting starving young men who had not worked in Dublin since the lock-out of 1913, and thousands of men across the country whose only possibility of work was seasonal.

The economics of joining the army was the payment of the 'Soldiers Separation' allowance, which was 31 shillings and six pence, as against a labourer's wage of 12 shillings per week at the time.

Asquith, after much pleading from Redmond, on September 15, 1914, told the House of Commons that the Home Rule Bill would be enacted and suspended until the end of the war.

On meeting the new secretary of war, the Kerry-born Kitchener did not believe that the Irish volunteers would be of much assistance - "Give me 5,000 men and I will thank you, give me 10,000 and I will take my hat off to you".

Redmond recruited 150,000 men with such statements as "it was in that spirit her sons went through Europe 1,000 years ago that is the spirit her sons are illustrating upon the fields of war today".

I am not surprised there was no mention of the number of court martials inflicted on the Irish troops, which was completely disproportionate to their numbers. Twenty-nine were executed. Most of the executed Irish were teenagers, raw recruits who had never been away from home. They were tried, usually with no legal defence, and the trial usually lasted a few minutes.

The usual 'charge' was leaving their post, and 80pc suffered from dysentery and going to the toilet was not regarded as a reasonable excuse. When not executed they were tied to wagon wheels for weeks in disgrace. Probably the most infamous execution was Private Downey, from Limerick, who was executed for not wearing his cap when ordered to do so.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway

 

Recognition for deeds of the past is long overdue

Your editorial in Monday's paper begins, "Sometimes we do get things right in this country - even if it takes us many decades", in reference to the Armistice commemorations.

To be more precise it has taken us 100 years to properly acknowledge the 200,000 Irish people who fought with the British army during World War I and the 49,000 who died. The reasons for this have their roots in the Easter 1916 Rising, when a group of nationalists tried to declare an independent state.

Considering the fact that 2,558 people took part in the Easter 1916 Rising (figures published by the Military Pensions Archive) it could be argued that there was greater support nationally at that time for people joining the British army. In fact, because Ireland was part of the UK then, they were fighting for their own country. In London, Ireland's ambassador to Britain, Dan Mulhall, laid a wreath at the Cenotaph. This was the first time Ireland was represented there at the Armistice celebrations since 1949. My grand uncle, Eddie Costello, from Gortaganny, Castlerea, Co Roscommon, never returned from France while fighting for the British army. Finally he and the other 200,000 Irish are being properly recognised by the Irish State.

Tom Roddy

Salthill, Galway

 

Abortion vote shows peril of this brave new Ireland

Martina Devlin's article in Saturday's Irish Independent reminds us that last May, 66pc of the electorate voted away all constitutional protection of the unborn.

There is no arguing with that sad reality. However, her scathing criticism of the pro-life TDs is unfair. Some 33pc of the electorate voted to retain the Eighth. Why? Because we believe that "the grainy outline of what they're carrying" is a baby.

In spite of having been stripped of their fundamental right to life we, pro-life people must do all that we can to protect our unborn. It's very ironic to read in her article that she believes these politicians were guilty of abusing their power.

The stronger and more powerful acting in unison towards the ultimate goal of ending the lives of the weaker and most vulnerable is the real abuse of power.

As our Government, supported by the Opposition, is preparing to make abortion available for any reason during the first three months of pregnancy and then to full term, in certain other cases I fear we no longer live in a just society.

Now, in the brave new Ireland, might is right and it appears that the "survival of the fittest" is the rule of law. Let us not be surprised then when the new regime will march forward and choose to attack and remove other groups deemed to be inconvenient, all under the guise of compassion. The future is bleak for our nation if abortion is the best we can offer to help a distressed, expectant mother.

Mary Moriarty

Rathmines, Dublin

 

Women can end gender imbalance with their votes

All day, every day we see women rightly complaining about how they are under-represented in the highest levels of various professions and commercial organisations. That, however, only highlights the glaring anomaly of the under-representation of women in most of the so-called representative democracies of the world, in all of which women are the majority.

The defeat of a highly competent woman, Hillary Clinton, by an incompetent misogynist, Donald Trump, with the aid of the votes of more than 50pc of white women was a spectacular example of how women do not use their power in the one area in which they have the advantage to remedy their under-representation problem. Both the US Congress and the Irish Oireachtas have nearly 80pc male representation.

Women need to act more rationally when all they have to do is use the pencil on the ballot paper to remedy the gender-balance problem in the one area in which they have the power to do so.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

Irish Independent

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