Tuesday 15 October 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Leo's Irish language gaffe'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald both call for the British government to have a plan B - that if the DUP don't agree to an Irish Language Act, the British government should force it on them.

The Irish language has been forced on the people of the Irish Republic for a long number of years and it has not resulted in a lot of good for the Irish language.

Forcing the language down the throats of the Irish people has created a large number of people who hate it. The Irish language was used down here to discriminate against non-nationalists in jobs, especially government jobs and in boosting nationalistic people's entry to university.

The language will be used to discriminate against Protestants in jobs and university education in the North, giving nationalists a big advantage over Protestants.

Michael Collins said the Irish language should be compulsory in our schools to 'make little nationalists out of Irish children'.

Our Taoiseach should be careful not to use the Irish language as a weapon against northern Protestants.

John Hyland,

Dun Laoghaire,

Co Dublin

Time to slow down on broadband issue

Sir - I think our Government is jumping in far too quickly on this broadband issue. When only one company tenders and the cost has skyrocketed from €500m in 2015 to €3bn in 2019, with technology vastly improving in the interim, it does not seem to be value for money.

It is easy to spend other people's money - just remember our voting machines, bailouts, PMPA, ICI and banks, as your esteemed journalist Gene Kerrigan (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, April 28) pointed out. Also when a senior civil servant questions if it is the viable proposition for our country, surely one would reconsider all possibilities.

Robert Watt has said also the National Development Plan is a more affordable and a better option, so maybe after the elections there would be more time to reconsider.

This is not a 'he who hesitates' scenario! There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Ken Maher,


Co Wicklow

Government must hit pause button

Sir - This broadband investment of €3bn is a big deal. I think the Government should press the pause button and have a rethink before committing to such an outrageous amount of money.

Minister Paschal Donohoe says he has agonised about this decision - but to be honest it's not his money; it's our money. And after the children's hospital fiasco, the electorate is seriously tired of all this wastefulness.

It really is too big a gamble. With the advancement of technology, the whole system could be obsolete within five years and wouldn't we look so foolish then.

So I say, back to the drawing board. There has to be a better and more prudent way.

Eamonn Kitt,


High-speed homes

Sir - The Taoiseach promises to put high-speed broadband into every home in the country. Whatever happened to all the promises to put people into homes at high speed?

Chris Fitzpatrick

Dublin 6

Support research into miscarriage

Sir - As we come to the first anniversary of the abortion referendum, perhaps we should remember that one in five pregnancies will end in miscarriage or stillbirth.

Perhaps if the pro-life organisations chose equally to channel their energies and funding into support and research on this issue, then I might believe that they were actually concerned about foetal life, rather than about controlling women's lives.

Marianne McDonald,



Are some people 'there' to be seen?

Sir - A few years ago, State Pathologist Marie Cassidy commented about some Irish people's obsession of attending funerals and wakes. On arriving in Ireland, it did not take her long to come to the conclusion that some prolific sympathisers would not be satisfied if not turning up at two or three going-away events per week.

Indeed, it does seem that some folk feel obliged to 'be there' and that funerals and wakes might not run as smoothly without their presence. While the motives of many of the attendees are obviously sincere, I can't help but feel that quite a few go more to be seen.

I only go to pay my respects to those that I knew well and send sympathy cards to the family of other faithful departed. Perhaps the time has come for the formation of another FAI group, namely the Funeral Attendees of Ireland, with branches in different areas and regular meetings held.

Bill McMahon,


Co Meath

Why no mention of the Christians?

Sir - Some weeks ago, 49 Muslims were killed in mosques in New Zealand. Our Government correctly went on record loudly condemning this horrible crime.

Last week our Government complained to the French authorities about the reported ill-treatment of Irish calves exported to France.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Christians have been murdered in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Kenya and I can't recall any record of our Government complaining about these crimes.

It seems our Government is prepared to protest at the murder of non-Christians in New Zealand and the mistreatment of cattle in France, but remains silent about the killing of our fellow Christians in Asia and Africa.

They should be reminded that Ireland is still a Christian country.

G Field,


Truth is not so pure and simple

Sir - What if aviation pioneer Orville Wright was spot on when he said, "If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true, is really true, there would be little hope of advancement"? And what if what another free-thinker, Anatole France, had to say, which was, that "Without lies humanity would perish of boredom and despair" was also correct?

The perceived truth, like most other inventions of the human mind, is not as pure or simple as it is often made out to be.

The likelihood, therefore, is that the bearers of it are the same people of whom Shakespeare says: "The Devil has the power to assume a pleasing shape."

The sorting of an issue such as this would seem to come within the ambit of a few doctors of philosophy such as Micheal O Muircheartaigh and Joe Schmidt, both of whom were conferred with honorary degrees recently at Dublin City University.

While I await the outcome to their deliberations, however, I will remain content in assessing the situation from the perspective of Joseph Heller's novel entitled Catch 22.

For others, such as the practitioners of Islam, answers to many perplexing questions remain unresolved also.

When Muhammed, for example, repeatedly ordered the mountain to come to him, it refused to budge, whereupon the assembled people became restless and cynical.

Muhammed remained calm however, and succeeded in reassuring them that "If the mountain will not come to Muhammed, then Muhammed will go to the mountain".

Pat Daly,


Co Cork

Funding for volunteers critical

Sir ­- The funding crisis revealed last week by RehabCare is unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg.

Most independent voluntary not-for-profit providers of disability services are facing exactly the same challenges as RehabCare - chronic under-funding of essential supports and services to people with disabilities, the unfunded cost of meeting regulatory and compliance requirements and the high cost of insurance.

Many organisations are challenged by the consequences of this under-funding, both in terms of the impact they see it having on the lives of people they support and the effect of cumulative deficits on the future sustainability of those organisations.

The reality is that some organisations are concerned about their future existence in light of the erosion of the financial position.

These funding challenges are placing the future stability of services for people with disability at risk and they must be tackled as a matter of urgency.

Thousands of people with intellectual, physical, and sensory disabilities, as well as many with mental ill-health, and their families depend on these services every day of the week.

All our member organisations are part of the not-for-profit voluntary sector in Ireland. As not-for-profit organisations, we came into existence to meet real and substantial needs of people with disabilities and their families in communities all over Ireland, when the State did not meet that need.

We are driven by our service commitment to support people with intellectual disabilities, which is the reason we exist. But it is now time to call a halt to under-funding so chronic that very many of our disability service providers are hanging on by a thread.

This is not fair to the people who use these services and their families who are living in the fear of the loss of their service, when they have a right to know and be assured that the services they need so badly have a future.

On the same day RehabCare announced its need for €2m extra in funding this year, the Government was announcing spending €3bn on the roll-out of broadband by a private company. The contrast is stark and will not be lost on the families of the many people with a disability whose civil rights, guaranteed under the Constitution and the UN convention of rights of the person with disabilities (ratified in April 2018), are not being delivered on.

The report of the Independent Review Group, established by the Minister for Health to examine the role of voluntary organisations in health and personal social care, published in February 2019, recommended a new funding model, as well as multi-annual funding.

We welcome that report and its recommendations, but it is now urgent that these recommendations be implemented, and we are asking the Government to urgently progress the implementation of the recommendations of that report.

Failure to do this will force organisations in the voluntary not-for-profit sector into making decisions to terminate services or face closure.

Sustaining and properly funding the voluntary sector is in the best interests of the people supported by that sector.

The thousands of people living with disability - and their families - rely on those services to live their lives and it is essential that the State commits to a long-term funding strategy to ensure the viability of this sector.

Bernard O'Regan,


National Federation of Voluntary Service Providers,

Oranmore Business Park,


Co Galway

SDLP did win the nationalist vote

Sir - Eoghan Harris was once again critical of the nationalist population of Northern Ireland (Sunday Independent, May 5).

He asked: "Why did nationalists not vote for the SDLP?" These articles are appearing quite regularly and do not reflect the reality of what happened during the Troubles in the North.

Sinn Fein contested elections for the first time shortly after the hunger strikes of 1981 when they put candidates up for the 1982 Assembly elections.

In that period from 1982 to 1994, the year of the first IRA ceasefire and when the IRA campaign was in full flow, the nationalist population never once voted in the majority for Sinn Fein.

In fact, the SDLP constantly out-voted Sinn Fein and normally got two-thirds of the nationalist vote, so Harris should stop saying they never voted for SDLP. In fact it took until 2001 before Sinn Fein out-polled the SDLP for the first time. The majority of the nationalist population never endorsed the IRA campaign.

These days Sinn Fein are comfortably ahead due to better party organisation and work on the ground, whereas the SDLP went stale.

I have no idea why Harris says nationalists are always playing the victim. If they did, could you blame them?

The unionists Harris is blindly a supporter of could not bring themselves to share the country with Catholics from 1922 until the late 1960s, when the Catholic population started campaigning and advocating for equal rights, which Harris agreed they were right to do since Harris was involved in the setting up of the Northern Civil Rights Association.

Harris puts the Protestants up on a higher moral plane than Catholics when neither are better than the other.

Michael O'Driscoll,


Co Cork

Too short a commitment

Sir - I was amused to read that the Law Society of Ireland is backing the upcoming referendum to cut the waiting times for a divorce from four years to two. To use a well-worn analogy, this is the equivalent of turkey farmers supporting the reduction of the waiting time between Christmases from 12 months to six.

It is hardly surprising that the only people guaranteed to benefit from the referendum - the legal profession - should support its introduction. Why would they oppose something that's guaranteed to lead to more divorces and more business?

If the State is to have an institution of civil marriage at all, then we should at least expect that it should be a serious commitment which people should give due consideration to before entering into it.

Two years seems to be an extraordinarily short commitment. I've had pairs of walking shoes that lasted longer.

So for that reason, I for one will be voting No.

Thomas Ryan,

Harolds Cross,

Dublin 6W

Move Champions final to England

Sir - The Uefa Champions League final between English clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur is due to be played at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on June 1.

It is expected that upwards of 60,000 English fans will travel by air and sea to Madrid to watch the game. With dire warnings on the consequences to the planet of carbon footprints and global warming, the playing of this match in Spain is an act of global vandalism. Both Fifa, the world governing body of football, and Uefa, the European governing body, should not kick this issue into touch, but lead by example and have the game played in England.

There is simply no logical reason why the venue cannot be changed, even at this late stage, if the will is there. Of course, many excuses will be floated about why it cannot be changed, and these will probably win out.

Big business will see to that.

Tom Cooper,


Dublin 6W

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