Wednesday 23 October 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Mother of all Parliaments faces the Father of all Battles – yet is full of infantile politicians'

Wave of uncertainty: A Union flag and an EU flag outside the Houses of Parliament. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Wave of uncertainty: A Union flag and an EU flag outside the Houses of Parliament. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

I was amused by and agree with David Ryan's assessment of the UK's sorry bunch of present political party leaders (Letters, Irish Independent, September 20). I also concur with him that Ireland's politicians are world-class by comparison.

I had the pleasure of meeting the late Albert Reynolds in London in 2002 and conducted a telephone interview with the late Dr Garret FitzGerald in 1999. I found both to be down-to-earth and straightforward.

The main difference between Britain's and the Republic of Ireland's politicians is that in Dublin, political foes are stabbed in the front, and in the UK, primarily London and especially within the Conservative Party, the preferred method is in the back as the first choice of combat.

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Look at how Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, Iain Duncan Smith, David Cameron and Theresa May met their political fates - William Hague and Michael Howard, too, were forced out after only one general election defeat, each against the odds on pain of the 'Julius Caesar treatment' otherwise. John Major didn't get an easy ride either.

On massively important subjects such as the UK's imminent departure from the EU, potential Scottish independence and Irish reunification, just look at the embarrassing, squabbling rabble - conducted before the eyes of the world - the UK has at the moment.

Far from possessing the 'Mother of all Parliaments' (untrue, anyway, when the UK has an unelected head of state via a monarchy and second appointed/hereditary House of Lords), Britain has the 'Father of all Battles' ahead just to regain its sanity when the EU issue is finally resolved. At this rate, Britain's official Monster Raving Loony Party is a viable alternative.

Dominic Shelmerdine

London, UK

Cameron shaped division  that is crushing the UK

AS I watched and read extracts from articles from Davis Cameron's years as prime minister of the UK, I wondered why a fairly intelligent individual would allow internal party politics to take precedence over country.

Unlike Jacob Rees-Mogg whose "imitate the action of a tiger - that is how you should behave towards our European partners, not like Bagpuss" view was in the minority before the referendum, Cameron's grip on power, at all costs, was a fatal flaw in his armoury.

The loathing between the backbenchers and those in the front benches before Brexit was quite palpable and shaped the debate on the future of the UK within the EU.

The difficulties within the Conservative Party, Cameron felt, stemmed back to when it joined the EU. Some would say that Cameron was alienating those with concerns about how the EU was conducting itself.

Cameron and others were, as he stated, "small eurosceptics" who wanted power back from the EU, and needed to see "change and reform but didn't want to leave".

What he underestimated was, in his words, the "latent leaver gene" within the Conservative Party.

The 2009 financial and debt crisis was the catalyst which gave impetus to the Leave campaigners both in the Conservative Party and in opposition parties.

Being asked to contribute to eurozone bailouts was unacceptable to the British government at the time.

In 2011, the EU pushed for a new treaty to prevent eurozone collapse while at the same time the British government sought changes, and Cameron vetoed. The treaty still went through.

This is where the UK felt isolated from Europe, and former European prime ministers and presidents like Nicolas Sarkozy felt in hindsight that it was a mistake not to give more to Britain.

Cameron saw the instability of staying within the EU, where treaties could be rammed through without unanimity.

His vetoing of the changes to the treaty would never satisfy the eurosceptics within his own party and would lead to the disastrous referendum where the majority in the UK voted to leave the EU.

The 2012 meeting held by the Conservative Party for an in/out referendum was not favoured by all, but Cameron wanted his referendum.

Some felt that he was holding a referendum to manage internal problems within his own political party and for party management reasons.

Looking at Cameron's justification, I believe it was all of the above but primarily as a politician he wanted to ensure that he maintained control over the naysayers in his party by offering the referendum, which he hoped would go in his favour.

Cameron is quoted as saying the job of prime minister is to "see difficulties coming and try to resolve them and shape the country's response to them". Sadly he didn't resolve them but he definitely shaped his country's responses to them, which are isolationist and divisive.

Christy Galligan

Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Political will is needed if we are to achieve peace

AS WE mark the International Day of Peace, it is sad that today's peace has entered a labyrinth of deep tragedies and sorrowful events from civil wars, food insecurity and natural disasters to the climate emergency - all a threat to human health, peace and security.

But could you kindly ask the question, what can leaders do to alleviate mass killings, enforced disappearances, torture, rape, sexual harassment, violence, abuse, political repression and the suppression of freedoms?

Millions of children are being starved, emotionally, psychologically and physically abused, harassed, arbitrarily arrested, detained, killed and wounded worldwide. Such things cannot be solved via Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, letters of condemnation, attendance of international conferences and essays. Peace can only be achieved if concrete action is taken to build resilience, showcase real political will to bring everlasting peace and combat climate change.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, United Kingdom

If victims are treated like criminals, we all suffer

REDAS Jokna got the Probation Act after he slapped an 11-year across the face for pouring water over his wife following a long campaign of harassment against both in Shannon, Co Clare. More recently, a 66-year-old Cork pensioner was left scarred and shaken, afraid to leave his home after being assaulted by a group of kids.

He was lucky he didn't stand up for himself or he'd probably be facing a court and Probation Act as well.

Perhaps the judge in the case of the alleged assault of the child did his best within the limits of the law, but he should have dismissed the case and given Mr Jokna a medal instead.

He and his wife were making a real contribution to society while being harassed by a bunch of spoilt and out-of-control children.

That the 11-year-old declined to read out a victim impact statement is hardly surprising, as Mr Jokna and his wife are the real victims in this instance.

They've suffered prolonged gratuitous harassment and what redress have they had so far?

None. Nothing. Zilch.

The judge declared: "You can't hit a child, no matter what."

But apparently it's fine for children to verbally and racially abuse, provoke or even assault an adult - such as pouring water over someone is technically - repeatedly.

At any rate, children before the courts on such matters seem as untouchable as Al Capone.

If the law prohibits a citizen from responding as Mr Jokna did, the law also has an equal, solemn duty to protect people from such behaviour in the first place.

Non-private retribution is based on the principle that the State protects potential victims and applies justice on their behalf.

In this case, the legal system is most certainly not honouring its part of the social contract.

An Garda Síochána cannot be held at fault here - I have no doubt its members would move quickly to arrest troublemakers, if they felt there was any point.

The response of the legal profession to out-of-control children is apparently to ask their victims to shut up and put up until such time as the kids overreach themselves and end up before the courts on really serious charges.

They are then conveniently locked up and out of everyone's way for a time.

One wonders if Mr Jokna's timely slap might actually have been in everyone's best interest, even the child's.

Unfortunately, whatever lesson the child might have learned about personal culpability has now been lost thanks to the judicial system.

Nick Folley

Carrigaline, Co Cork


Irish Independent

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