Monday 14 October 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Learning from the Liberator'

Daniel O’Connell
Daniel O’Connell
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Olivia O'Leary's recent scholarly RTE programmes on Daniel O'Connell will have touched the hearts of many Northerners.

O'Connell was a man of the highest political ethics, just like our own John Hume. Both advocated non-violence as a means of achieving change in Ireland and both found themselves dealing with militant Irish republicanism.

Both O'Connell and Hume led their people from the front with the noble rule that they would put themselves before the death of a single supporter. No one needed to die, they argued, and they made that their guiding assertion. No one needed to be sacrificed for Ireland's cause.

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At Clontarf, O'Connell, like Hume opposing the march before Bloody Sunday, was following his belief that no one need die achieving their goals - rather than Sinn Fein's Eoin O Broin's assertion that they were blaming the people for gathering, rather than the British army, who would go on to shoot dead so many of them.

Militant republicanism, on the other hand, can really only be seen as anti-Christian. Sinn Fein and the IRA may have organised themselves into pole position, in terms of the number of votes they receive in Irish elections, but they will never again be the force they were under Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

Indeed, much of the growth of Sinn Fein from the beginning of this century for the next two decades to this point came from their gradual, almost begrudging, adoption of SDLP policies, albeit on a superficial level. So the growth of votes can be described as an increase in the SDLP mandate - and any return to armed struggle would see Sinn Fein's vote return to pre-Good Friday Agreement levels. The SDLP would then return to being the dominant party. Thus Sinn Fein's domination of the SDLP in recent years cannot be regarded as a mandate for armed struggle or a retrospective vote for the war effort during the Troubles.

John O'Connell,



Boris should ditch provocative rhetoric

Sir - The rhetoric of British prime minister Boris Johnson really needs to be challenged - does he really want to be found dead in a ditch?

A ditch is defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as "a long, narrow open hole that is dug into the ground, usually at the side of a road or field, used especially for supplying or removing water or for dividing land". Johnson is a former journalist, newspaper columnist and wordsmith. So what did he mean by using that particular word?

Why didn't he use the word hedge instead? One might have thought that somebody with his privileged background might prefer to found dead in a box hedge rather than a ditch - after all, were a prime minister to end up dead in a ditch, they might never be found. Perhaps such a prime minister may have a political martyr complex!

Extremely provocative rhetoric doesn't serve anybody, though it does make politics most entertaining.

Johnson's attempt at prophetic rhetoric is dangerous and confrontational. What is really going on behind the scenes in No 10? Who is actually controlling the spin?

Paul F Horan,



Churchillian spirit of a true leader

Sir - When Boris Johnson said he'd "rather be dead in a ditch", he expressed his true Churchillian spirit of nailing his colours to the mast, yet again.

Johnson is a true leader. Bring on that election and witness him land the largest majority ever seen in British politics.

Robert Sullivan,

Bantry, Co Cork


UK has never been our friend

Sir -Brendan O'Connor says that we should not now turn on our English friends. This in spite of the harm that many of them in the highest UK office are trying to inflict upon us. The Swedish foreign minister says she will never forgive them for the harm they are doing.

Individuals have friends. Countries have interests. Big powerful nations dominate their smaller weaker neighbours... it is the way of nature. England has never been a friend of Ireland. I would not expect her to be. Our proximity to her has been our curse all through the ages.

The world never saw previously an institution such as the EU where big and small subsumed their respective interests in a common endeavour. Does Brendan O'Connor honestly believe that the UK (our English friends) cares about any harm they are about to inflict upon us?

Anthony Hanrahan,

Renvyle, Co Galway


Ireland will not take Britain's path

Sir - In a letter in last week's Sunday Independent, Robert Sullivan wrote: "If Ireland ever got the same opportunity we would follow Britain out of the EU."

Absolute rubbish! If this were true then Irexit - the organisation set up to persuade Irish people to leave the EU - would not have sunk without trace, as it has.

Brendan Casserly,

Bishopstown, Cork


Stand united in face of this lunacy

Sir - Robert Sullivan on your Letters page suggested last week that Ireland should "cosy up to Boris. He will prove to be Ireland's true ally at the end of the day".

Really? The Central Bank of Ireland estimates that, in the event of Johnson's desired Brexit, Ireland can expect "a loss of 34,000 jobs by the end of 2020, and more than 100,000 over the medium term". How would Ireland be better off by leaving the EU? To leave the EU means leaving a market of 440 million; abandoning years of trade deal negotiations. The people of Ireland have an obligation to stand united in the face of the lunacy that Johnson, and his selfish cohorts have embraced.

Declan Foley,

Berwick, Australia


Sinn Fein should protect our rights

Sir - A spokesperson for Sinn Fein has stated that although they will be putting forward candidates for the forthcoming election to Westminster, they will not take their seats due to the fact that "Westminster does not protect Ireland's rights"!

Surely, with the likelihood of a minority government, the presence of Sinn Fein there could make an enormous difference in ensuring that it does?

When will they face reality?

Michael O'Connell,

Listowel, Co Kerry


Bar on buying alcohol-free beer

Sir - I was in Galway recently and called into a local shop after Sunday Mass to buy alcohol-free beer only to be told I could not pay at the till until 12.30. I said to the assistant, it's not alcohol. It's as if I'm buying 7 Up or orange. However, she said that's the law. So I'm assuming that Centra sell alcohol-free beer but in their heads it's alcohol.

Last week, I popped into a shop where I live and asked about the Heineken Alcohol Free Beer and was told much the same as in Galway and I was also told that it cannot be sold to teenagers. So is there alcohol in it or not? Are the manufacturers telling lies? I'm missing out on something. Its either alcohol-free or it's not.

Terry Healy,

Kill, Co Kildare


US view of Brexit is being distorted

Sir -I was so annoyed and offended by US Vice President Mike Pence's comments on Brexit during his recent visit to Ireland.

How dare he tell us to negotiate "in good faith" with Boris Johnson and to "respect the sovereignty of the UK".

Obviously, Trump instructed his deputy to speak in these terms. We have always negotiated in good faith on this issue and our respect for our closest neighbour has never been in doubt. Trump's admiration of and friendship with Johnson is colouring the US view of Brexit.

Pat Burke Walsh,

Ballymoney, Gorey


Trump's aim is to break up the EU

Sir - I am amazed it has taken so long for Irish politicians to realise that the current US administration has little interest in the Irish problem.

They have no more interest in the British problem either - but Washington has decided to give the impression that the EU is being unfair to Britain.

Trump's aim is to break up the EU as a major trading rival.

The recent remarks of US Vice President Mike Pence should cause no surprise, as he is merely repeating the sentiments of his president.

Tony Fagan,

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford


Values we learn from education

Sir - Professor Philipp Rosemann's article on the funding and role of our universities deserves a wide readership.

His questioning of the current tendency to see all aspects of human life and existence - university education included- in terms of the contribution they make to the economy is to be welcomed.

A key role and function of all education - university education in particular - is surely to contribute to the social, personal and intellectual development of the person.

The humanities in general, and philosophy in particular, develop skills of critical analysis and intellectual understanding which enable a person to function well in pretty well every aspect of human life and existence - including economic life.

Those interested in following up on these ideas would be well rewarded by reading Edith Hall's book Aristotle's Way or Susan Neiman's Why Grow Up?

Harry McCauley

Maynooth, Co Kildare


Let's set the record straight, Eamonn

Sir - I've had enough, I'm throwing in the towel. And I'm so disappointed that it's Eamonn Sweeney who drove me over  the edge.

I have enjoyed most of his articles - actually the vast majority of them - for the last number of years, but in the sports section of the Sunday Independent last week (that is, the Dublin vs Kerry football All-Ireland section) Eamonn stated that Dubs boss Jim Gavin should be told that it would only be another four years before he equals the record, referencing the Kerry women's nine in a row in the 1980s. Also he mentioned the Grand Slam won by the Ireland women's rugby team etc.

What absolute PC nonsense.

If we were to go by Eamonn's logic, then every All-Ireland - be it under 12, under 16, minor, under 20, junior, intermediate, senior, camogie, men's and women's (if we're still allowed to use those terms) should be counted as All-Irelands.

As we speak, I am revising Limerick's All-Irelands - and it is rising at an alarming rate... Look out Tipp and Kilkenny!

Pat Duffy,



Up for the camogie final as well, please

Sir - RTE television has been screening Up for the Match on the eve of the All-Ireland hurling and football finals for many years now. But surely it is past the time for our national broadcaster to put on a similar show on the night before the camogie decider?

There would surely be a big audience for such a programme. Perhaps not as big a viewing public as for Mrs Brown's Boys - an umpteenth repeat of which was on after the news last night - but a camogie preview would surely be more entertaining than the bald Dublin drag artist.

And, while I'm at it, Dublin GAA bosses deserve to be criticised for not allowing Jack McCaffrey to be filmed receiving his RTE man-of-the-match award after last Sunday's drawn football final.

Dublin may be the best team over the last few years but such an action was petty and insulting.

Dympna Wilson,

Waterford city


What a waste of taxpayers' money

Sir - Have they lost the plot? The Data Protection Commissioner prosecuting the Department of Social Protection - one body of civil servants prosecuting another?

Who pays? The taxpayer. Who benefits? The legal profession.

Life is costly enough - and, with Brexit, likely to get more costly - without wasting already over-stretched resources.

Cal Hyland,

Rosscarbery, Co Cork


RTE decision has gone to the dogs

Sir - Is RTE serious about televising greyhound racing again, just a few weeks after they aired one of the harshest documentaries ever seen, exposing the sheer cruelty and vulgarity of this so-called sport?

I fail to see how they can show something so barbaric and four weeks later, try to legitimise it.

Mike Burke,

Sixmilebridge, Co Clare


Bertie worship? Remember Mahon

Sir - Can someone explain to me the apparent devotion of Eoghan Harris to Bertie Ahern?

Last week in the Sunday Independent, Harris declared that when it comes to Brexit and backstops and all the rest of it, Bertie - like the pint of plain - is your only man. "To save us from destruction we need a politician with the social and personal humility of Bertie Ahern."

It should be obvious by now that there is a concerted effort being made to rehabilitate Bertie, to make him a voice in Irish politics or, at the very least, an eminent commentator.

This requires, one should think, a selective memory and a conscious mental erasing of the Mahon Tribunal.

Fred Johnston,

Circular Road, Galway


Was Harris just being sarcastic?

Sir - Did Eoghan Harris just write "we need a politician with the social and personal humility of Bertie Ahern" referring to the Brexit negotiations?

As the young people like to say now, WTF?

I sincerely hope Eoghan wrote those words from the dizzying height of sarcasm.

If not, God help us all.

Daire McWey,

Ballyroan, Co Laois


Final comment: no comment

Sir - I read the 'Harris' article most weeks - but I know my limitations when it comes to commenting.

Brian McDevitt,

Glenties, Co Donegal

Sunday Independent

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