Friday 18 October 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Ongoing debate on a united Ireland could heal past scars'

Edward Heath. Photo: Reuters
Edward Heath. Photo: Reuters
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sean O'Donnell (Letters, Irish Independent, May 13) thinks it's too early to discuss a united Ireland, because of the Brexit mayhem.

The people of Wales and Scotland don’t think it is too early for them to discuss independence, because of the mayhem. They see clearly that Brexit is about the greater London area, and egoistic Tory Party members in that region.

It is long past time for a proper discussion on exactly what a united Ireland could and would be.

Since 1921, it has been nothing other than wistful thinking by a section of the population of the island. Many, sadly, of whose hatred for anything English has blinded them to reality.

In 1972, then UK prime minister Edward Heath allowed minister Willie Whitelaw to hold unofficial talks with Sinn Féin, with its one-line request: “We want you to pull out of Northern Ireland, and hand it back to the Republic, within three years.” Not an iota of consideration outside its own narrow view.

Mr O’Donnell mentions the Tricolour and the national anthem of the Republic being a difficulty for Northern unionists. There are many minor and major difficulties to creating a united Ireland: all the more reason then why the debate should be ongoing across the land.

As there is no Berlin Wall or Iron Curtain to suddenly fall, then ongoing discussion is the only solution. Two strands that could be explored, in my opinion, are a meeting of minds, of industry and trade, via the chambers of commerce, North and south; and the universities of the land should lead public debates on the many issues that need to be resolved. This would bring out much of the fears, and hopes, as well as helping to heal the scars of the past. If we don’t know how the other person feels, and vice versa, then we will never come to a proper conclusion.

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

Leaving Cert is one step of the journey – it doesn’t need hype

THE Leaving Certificate exams will start in a month’s time and there will be a lot of media coverage surrounding these exams. I actually think that most of this coverage is hype, and very unhelpful hype at that.

While the Leaving Cert is a big event, ultimately it’s just another step along the journey of life. I am now 53 and have completed three Leaving Certs in my time. I did the first when I was 17 and to be honest, it didn’t mean very much to me at the time. I completed the other two as a mature student, because I decided to go to college. I might never have succeeded in my return to education, had it not been for the experience of completing that first Leaving Cert, when I was 17.

Like I said, it was just one step on the way to my eventual success, when I graduated from university at the age of 28. I later completed two post-graduate diplomas, including a teaching qualification, and have been teaching for the past 18 years, as well as doing an interesting variety of other skilled work.

What all this has taught me is that education is (or should be) all about creating options, and that life is a series of choices and challenges.

Life also involves a lot of trial and error, and there is nothing wrong with that. Every experience in life has the potential to educate us (including the exams process, in its current form) and you can never have too much education, whatever its source. Everybody who is doing the Leaving Cert should be allowed to get on with it, without all the annual fuss in the media.

My experience has also taught me that stress (eg ‘exam stress’) is often a self-fulfilling prophecy, ie the more we talk about stress, the more we are likely to experience it.

Students and their parents should be encouraged to take a balanced and proportionate approach to the Leaving Certificate and to other exams. So please, let the students get on with these exams, without all that annual media cackle.

Tim Buckley

Cork City, Co Cork

We have no right to criticise politicians if we don’t vote

FURTHER to Gerry Kelly’s letter (Irish Independent, May 11) saying “no one deserves my vote”, if he cannot find someone who he can vote for then let him go into his polling station and put a big X in one of the boxes. Whilst I am not in favour of spoiling my

vote, at least he will be registering a protest vote which, from his perspective, is valid.

I would encourage him to spend a day from Monday to Sunday with any politician and see what their job entails, and then decide if they don’t deserve a vote.

We constantly give out about politicians, but very few of us know 10pc of what their day involves.

Gerry, if you don’t vote on the 24th then promise me publicly that you will not give out about the politicians who have been elected. In my opinion, you have lost that right.

Donough O Reilly

Kilmacud, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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