Monday 16 September 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Object to racist ‘Paddywhackery’ – but let us remember our liberal nation is up for a laugh'

Stereotype: A racist anti-Irish cartoon from ‘Punch’ magazine in England in 1869
Stereotype: A racist anti-Irish cartoon from ‘Punch’ magazine in England in 1869
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

We Irish tend to be unaware of when we are the object of racism; sometimes unwittingly colluding with it by exemplifying the stereotypes in which we are trapped, unlike Mr Trump, who is unaware of when he is being a racist.

Whenever I appear at a social occasion, the guests in turn tend to offload their pent-up collection of Paddy jokes; the eponymous character, Paddy, is assumed to embody the essence of the Irish character.

Any suggestion these are unashamedly racist automatically triggers the assertion they are innocent, with no malice attached.

Paddy-jokers have attributed to Paddy a language that has a passing resemblance to Pictish or possibly some early versions of the Viking tongue.

Our colonial masters came to the conclusion that language use in Ireland provided clear evidence that the inhabitants had almost human intelligence. The Irish were still a work in progress.

The alleged excessive use of "begorrah" and "bejapers" was clearly indicative of an inferior class, with the consequence that the Irish could not appeal to the full range of basic human rights.

In America, similar reflection on the rights of a slave informed the framers of the American constitution, who concluded that a slave could be deemed to be half a person.

'Paddywhackery' is the definitive stereotypical set of the ways of thinking, talking and acting exhibited by 'Paddy', a character of others' imagination.

This kind of stereotyping ignores the range of subcultural differences that constitute the Irish way of life.

More significantly, it seems unaware of the extraordinary expressive quality of the use of language that has earned the highest levels of respect for so many contemporary Irish writers.

It is time to re-imagine Ireland, not as a victim of an imperial past but as a vibrant liberal-minded modern nation, yet always up for a laugh.

"Top of the mornin'," to all our well-intentioned Paddy- people.

Philip O'Neill

Oxford, England

Your privacy protected - unless you're on Facebook

Lunatics at long last have been given charge of the asylum. I refer of course to the recent announcement from the Data Protection Commission. The public services card seems to be the villain of the piece. It would appear the privacy of each and every citizen is at risk from this piece of plastic with God knows what private details hidden within its depths.

GDPR has spawned its own industry, with most organisations of any size having to appoint a data protection officer.

Small voluntary and sporting bodies never know the day when they will receive a summons regarding the manner in which they hold their membership details.

I regularly receive texts regarding meetings, etc, all of which I am reliably informed are in breach of GDPR with a possible fine of €20m (that puts paid to the new dressing rooms).

So Irish citizens' privacy seems to be in good hands. However, there is one problem and that is Facebook, to which the majority of people between eight and 80 subscribe, not just giving their name but often the most intimate details such as holiday plans, details of close friends and even the most minor family events.

All this information is freely available to all from Abbeydorney to Zanzibar with a click of a mouse. In the meantime, all the data collected at huge public expense will have to be deleted with God knows what consequences for social welfare recipients ant others attempting to interact with our public services.

Dickie Power

Grange, Kilmallock, Co Limerick

Another unfair advantage in the Dubs' drive for five?

Martin Breheny informs us fresh grass from north Dublin was used on the pitch in Croke Park last month.

Does that give Dublin an unfair advantage in the All-Ireland final?

Colm O Fatharta

Rath Garbh, Ath Cliath 6

Green future should be driven by electric bikes

YOUR report ('Rich people benefit most from electric car grants', Irish Independent, August 16) shows just how shallow is Government thinking, and even that of some 'green' opposition TDs on how to tackle climate change and promote environmentally friendly transport.

If the State wants to subsidise anything other than public transport it should be electric bikes.

They reduce pollution and congestion and encourage people, especially older citizens and those with disabilities, to opt for a healthier alternative. They also cost a fraction of e-cars.

Padraig Yeates

Portmarnock, Fingal, Co Dublin

Irish exemption pupils aren't 'lazy' or 'dim'

I take great exception to Sean O Doibhilin's letter (Letters, Irish Independent, August 15) regarding Irish exemptions, particularly where he asserts "many are too lazy or too dim to learn and speak it".

Speaking as someone who had an Irish exemption throughout secondary school, I can assure Mr O Doibhilin my exemption had nothing to do with being dim or lazy.

My teachers and parents simply saw no point in forcing me through a subject causing me considerable distress at the time, and more pertinently, a language it isn't necessary to learn. The reality, whether we like it or not, is that Irish is now a fringe language.

Unlike subjects such as maths, English or other major foreign languages, Irish has few real-world applications beyond translation services or teaching the language oneself.

I don't see the point in forcing students through a subject they are struggling with when there is no need for it. I can assure Mr O Doibhilin I am very much connected to my country and its history, regardless of not "learning the meaning of my Irish-language derived townlands".

Sean Slattery

Newport, Co Tipperary

Sinn Féin MPs should quit or go to Westminster

Ian O'Doherty (Opinion, Irish Independent, August 13) pens a more than apt essay on the mythic and dangerous thinking of Sinn Féin. One of the reasons De Valera broke from that party in 1927.

Nothing was learned from the inane 1957-1962 "border campaign" in which a small number of gunmen tried to defeat the combined might of the British army/ RUC/'B' Specials to "reunite Ireland".

The dreamers wrote ballads such as 'Sean South' to keep the ideology going; split into 'the stickies' and 'the pinnies'. From 1970-88 they walked right into the traps set for them by MI5/6. This 'war game' ended when the British government finally awoke to the fact they were dealing with not one set of myth makers, but two: SF/PIRA and their own rogue group.

Attempting to distance themselves from the horrific violence, they issued statements denying any link to PIRA. Straight out of the 1921 empty logic of De Valera. In 1921, when asked to help prevent a civil war, he replied: "I am only a soldier in the IRA!"

The post-1927 Sinn Féin, like it or not, will be associated with the violence of the PIRA for another generation of Irish people. For Sinn Féin to be relevant to Ireland, north and south, from here on it needs to take the seats it won in the Westminster parliament, or resign from them to allow men and women of Ulster who will sit in Westminster and truly represent the people of Northern Ireland there.

The ideology of (Northern) Catholic 'good' versus Protestant 'bad' or vice versa has no place in the ethos of any who claims to be Christian.

The tragedy of Sinn Féin is that a coterie in the party set itself up as being "the anointed ones" - their way was the only way. No elected representative was permitted to think, let alone utter, other than the party's 'propaganda'.

The world has evolved since 1927 and information is available within seconds around the globe. The Republic of Ireland is different to Northern Ireland, yet there are many similarities in the needs of the populaces.

For Sinn Féin to be a relevant political party, north or south, it requires to shed itself of the bullyboy coterie; allow for a greater exchange of ideas within its membership; allow democratic election of its leaders.

Threats of a renewal of violence over Brexit will allow the Tories of the world, who abhor Ireland for leaving the 'Union', to say as they have said in the past: "The Irish are incapable of governing themselves!"

It used to be said "the British have the ear of the world's press". Alas, in 2019, one owner of a large section of the world press doesn't just 'lend' an ear to the Tories: he writes what they think, before they even think it.

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

Irish Independent

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