Saturday 20 July 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Jobs market is not all it appears on the surface'

'Employment apartheid has crept in' Stock image
'Employment apartheid has crept in' Stock image
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

With an unemployment rate sitting at 4.4pc, one could say that Ireland’s employment kimono is embracing all within its fabric folds.

Pressing the jargon key allows us to open the kimono. Behold, all is not as it seems in the Irish jobs market.

Employment apartheid has crept in. On one side of the job coin are industries offering jobs only suitable for a particular worker type, with puffed-up job titles aligned with the air of self-importance on the societal import of their work.

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The flip-side has industries offering the vanilla-type jobs, ranging from office work to hospitality and retail. The work of the masses.

In this area, the quality of the jobs and terms of employment on offer are poor. The career route within an industry has been paved over.

Built on it are jobs that offer short working hours, elastic employment duties and a bias towards the single-use worker. Adding to the job pap are the various Government-sponsored employment schemes. These legally allow employers to obtain employees without the nuisance factor of offering a long-term employment commitment.

An office maxim tells a worker that a wage is a bribe given by your employer to forget your dreams. The worker could accommodate this state if the job offered had a foundation built on genuine work, long-term employment and an opportunity to use a person’s skills and talent for the development of the business.

It appears that the employment kimono is hiding more than fabric stitches.

John Tierney

Ashtown, Co Waterford

Not just Garda – the State should apologise as well

The Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation may be seeking evidence for the allegation that unmarried motherhood was considered akin to a criminal act.

If so, they need look no further than 1984 and the case of Garda Majella Moynihan. She was charged under Garda regulations with having premarital sex with another garda and “giving birth to a child outside wedlock”.

The charge and its relentless, cruel imposition had devastating personal consequences, as RTÉ radio’s ‘Documentary on One’ so chillingly detailed.

Ms Moynihan was saved from dismissal only because the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin told Garda Commissioner Larry Wren sacking her would encourage abortions in England, after termination became unconstitutional in Ireland in 1983.

Nevertheless, Ms Moynihan was successfully pressurised from all sides to give up her wanted son for adoption. Her child was, in effect, stolen.

In the Bethany mother and baby home in Rathgar, unmarried mothers and women sent there by the courts for crimes ranging from theft to infanticide were classed as ‘inmates’. All were there to be punished.

The Government has argued, falsely, that mother and baby homes were purely private institutions. Evidence demonstrates the State played a significant role in promoting their existence, harsh practices, neglect and exceptionally high infant mortality.

Originally, banishing women into mother and baby homes prevented embarrassment to male leaders of Church and State. Women were otherwise giving birth in England and were tagged ‘PFI’ – pregnant from Ireland. Eventually, the institutions passed their sell-by date in 1967, when abortion became available in Britain. Punitive official attitudes lingered in An Garda Síochána, which persecuted a dedicated new recruit for the ‘crime’ of having sex and giving birth outside wedlock.

The current Garda Commissioner has been asked to apologise in person to Ms Moynihan. The Taoiseach should simultaneously apologise to all persecuted unmarried pregnant women whose children were stolen.

Niall Meehan

Griffith College, Dublin

Another door to Ireland’s past some would like shut

The treatment of former Garda Majella Moynihan was indicative of the old conservative culture that permeated not just An Garda Síochána, but all the public service. Rights were trampled in order to maintain discipline and the ethos of an extreme conservative Catholic society.

While members of the public talk of the rights of the accused, this was not true of how gardaí were treated, as Majella’s case shows. This archaic system of discipline was meant to keep gardaí who stepped out of line, or brought the force into disrepute, back into line.

Gardaí who stepped on politicians’ feet for a perceived slight, or who were gay or, as in Majella’s case, pregnant, or in marital difficulties, were disciplined and in some cases transferred to the opposite end of the country. Some were hounded out because of these perceived breaches of discipline.

How many more Majellas are out there? How many more gardaí, or others in the public or civil service, were treated in the same fashion?

While we can only provide words of comfort to Majella and her family, she has opened another door to Ireland’s past that some would rather keep firmly closed.

Christy Galligan

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Irish Independent

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