Sunday 21 July 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Our forgotten heroes'

'Not only Anna Parnell (pictured), but all of the women of the Ladies' Land League are forgotten'
'Not only Anna Parnell (pictured), but all of the women of the Ladies' Land League are forgotten'
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - I refer to the article by Mary O'Rourke titled 'Mystery of the woman forgotten by Irish history' (Sunday Independent, January 27).

Not only Anna Parnell, but all of the women of the Ladies' Land League are forgotten. The most forgotten and overlooked, even though she played a central role, is Anne Deane, president of the Ladies' Land League.

After her husband died, she inherited her mother's family business, Monica Duff's, in Ballaghaderreen. She was highly educated - uncommon in the 19th Century - and provided leadership and gave a maturity to the women's organisation.

She was steeped in national politics - her uncle was John Blake Dillon, of the Young Irelanders, and also one of the founders of The Nation newspaper; her grandfather Luke Dillon was involved in the 1798 rebellion and took part in the Races of Castlebar. Luke later became a victim of land tenure and, unable to pay his rent, had to leave Lisyne and move to Ballaghaderreen. He died in 1825.

Anne entertained members of the Land Movement including Parnell and Davitt. The Ladies' Land League's first visit outside Dublin was to Mayo, where, in Claremorris, they were welcomed by the Very Rev Canon Ulick J Bourke PP and a large crowd - as recorded in The Connaught Telegraph in February 1881.

The editor, James Daly, was not impressed. He wrote: "We do not see how any man or body of men having Celtic blood coursing in their veins can be found to descend to or condescend to female leadership in Irish constitutional warfare."

In 1972 I founded the Michael Davitt National Memorial Association to commemorate the Land League and Life of Michael Davitt at Strade, Co Mayo, to prepare for the centenary in 1979.

We failed to get any government funding for the anniversary of events that marked gaining peacefully and by constitutional means, the land for a 32-county Ireland, through various Land Acts.

We had to depend on church-gate collections in Mayo and sponsorship to mount the event.

The Government did not formally mark the occasion.

When we went to Dail Eireann to seek even a stamp to mark the occasion, the answer was no.

Yet that year the Government gave funds for Pearse's museum in Rathfarnham and a stamp to mark his birth.

In 2016 we had a wreath laid at Anne Deane's grave in Straide, without any press or media coverage.

Nancy Smyth,


Co Galway


Smoke already rises to hide the damage

Sir - It seems we are about to be hoodwinked yet again on the new children's hospital. The smoke is already being generated for the screen behind which will lie the collateral damage and fallout caused by the shaving of financial resources off departmental budgets to compensate for the absurd overrun in this project.

It is now an absolute necessity that these 'savings', required this year and in following years, are not just accurately quantified but are related back in detail to the projects and services that will be affected and the impact of the consequences on citizens.

This will ensure that the trick of spreading the pain '"everywhere but nowhere" will not be possible; it will minimise the opportunism of politicians to blame everything, most of all their own inadequacies, on the children's hospital; and it will expose those who are to blame for this fiasco to an unremitting derision of their own making, from which they may not hide.

Michael Gannon,



Nurses fight for every extra cent

Sir - Gene Kerrigan (Sunday Independent, February 10) states that while executives flaunt their inflated pay, people who work hard are given excuses about "knock-on effects'' if they look for an increase in salary and conditions, like the nurses in recent weeks.

In a game of rugby, a knock-on is penalised by an impartial referee and a penalty is given against the offending team. It appears in this case the referee was on a day-off, or arrived pitch side without his whistle.

Mr Kerrigan went on to say that all around us professionals present unchallenged bills and are paid top rates as a birthright. When they screw up, as they often do, they're paid off and their replacements are paid even more to clear up the mess.

As with the children's hospital. Nurses and others must argue for every extra cent they earn. Bankers, builders, politicians and other professionals should not have free rein when it comes to salaries, bonuses and unchallenged expenses, while the coping classes who get up early in the morning have to march the streets to get an improved deal.

Tom Towey,


Co Sligo


My unease over attacks on Neeson

Sir - I feel uneasy about the barrage of indignant media-led attacks on actor Liam Neeson in the wake of his admission that he wanted to kill a black man following a rape.

Yes, it was a cruel sentiment, but he has apologised for it. How many of us are really 100pc innocent of harbouring racist notions, feelings, or impulses at one time or another, even if we don't act on these dark thoughts, as Neeson clearly didn't?

None of us is as pure as the driven snow when it comes to reacting to the alleged behaviour and attitudes of our fellow human beings.

When Neeson started taking the heat over his remarks, I thought of that other famous man from Ballymena.

Some of the language he used in his fiery oratory over the years was shocking, inflammatory, and deeply offensive to many, but Ian Paisley put aside his strongly held beliefs and prejudices to reach out to his arch enemy, Martin McGuinness...thus helping to create the magnificent peace process that has saved God only knows how many innocent lives on this island.

When it comes to racism, I'd be more concerned about arson attacks on buildings in this country earmarked for asylum seekers and about the rising tide of prejudice and xenophobia directed against "outsiders", "foreigners" and others deemed by some not to be endowed with the basic human right to be treated with dignity and humanity in our supposedly civilised Irish society.

Education is surely the key to battling racism; not silly, sensationalist attacks on a decent man who said some silly things that went viral.

John Fitzgerald,


Co Kilkenny


Leaders must reach out to other minds

Sir - For a long number of years, I travelled North, even during the height of the Troubles, and got to know, as general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, many workers who were unionists.

All had a strong attachment to the union and a strong commitment to their trade union. But most also had the depth, the capacity and the willingness to work for better relations on this island.

That is why, I welcome DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson's important article on Brexit (Sunday Independent, February 10). I fully agree with him that engagement and leadership from Dublin and Belfast is now urgently needed to help find constructive solutions and a sensible way forward.

The Good Friday Agreement, once you accept it as the current settlement for the foreseeable future and not as an open future, does provide, as Jeffrey Donaldson points out, a pragmatic framework for reconciliation not only between the two communities in Northern Ireland but also for better relations north-south and east-west. But based on my experience, a key step on the road to reconciliation and restoring better relations, post-Brexit, will be getting to know and respect our unionist and loyalist neighbours.

After all, peace, reconciliation and better relations is not just about politics. It is also about attitudes, a sense of empathy, taking risks to reach out and trying to enter the minds and feelings of others.

Peter Cassells,

Edward M Kennedy Institute for Conflict Resolution,

Maynooth University


It's the same old: my way or no way

Sir - I welcome you accommodating Jeffrey Donaldson some space (Sunday Independent, February 10) to put his points of view, but it's the same old rhetoric again: his way or no way. Brexit will not give hope or bridge the "orange and green" divide but the opposite.

The DUP has not been listening to its own people or business and farming communities who have been saying staying in custom union makes sense and Brexit is silly. He says it does not want a hard border separating the north from the south, which we all agree would be disastrous, nor a border in the Irish Sea which is a natural border and it makes sense to everyone else.

He also says we must find a sensible solution to the problems to preserve the peace process and the political and institutional arrangements, also to avoid a no-deal scenario. But the DUP has been the party insisting that Theresa May keeps the no-deal option always as a leverage tool. So we read and listened to Mr Donaldson and his visions, so now how about he and his party start listening to their own electorate and the Irish people over the entire island and do what is best for them and not for him and his party? The bitterness, hatred and untrustworthiness has to be overcome so people on all sides of the divide can live peaceably together and enjoy life on this beautiful island.

A small part leaving to look for customers on the other side of the world does not make sense. He said: "If the political will is there on both sides we will find a solution." Actions speak louder than words, Mr Donaldson, so show us.

Ken Maher,


Co Wicklow


We should listen to what Fergal says

Sir - Fergal Keane's article 'Now more than ever, we need reasonable folk' (Sunday Independent, February 10) is I believe the most perceptive and realistic piece of writing to appear in the media in ages.

After several decades commenting on conflicts round the globe, he has focused here on the home scene and brought a personal and human touch to his subject. As he reminds us of horrific events which were perpetrated in our name, he avoids broad generalisations but hones in on specific names dates and places. As he memorably phrased it: "We need to keep naming these names. What else can make a better claim for peace than these remembered names, dates and places?"

Two years ago, Keane produced a magisterial work in his book Wounds. Its subject was the War of Independence and the Civil War as these tragic events played out in his ancestral North Kerry. Here, too, he names people and places, sparing no sacred cows in the process. It is indeed moving to read the story of Inspector Tobias O'Sullivan (RIC) shot dead in front of schoolchildren on the street in Listowel. A native of Cornamona, Co Galway, he died at the hands of fellow Irishmen, with both he and his killers believing they were serving a noble cause. Then there was the murder of helpless prisoners at Ballyseedy by our own national army in a dark episode of our Civil War.

As we continue to mark the centenary of commemoration, War of Independence, Civil War etc, Keane's Wounds should be compulsory reading for all. Also we are approaching a whole series of emotive 50th anniversary events in the North.

Fr Iggy O'Donovan,


Co Tipperary


Do not forget the ethnic cleansing

Sir - There is a danger of allowing Europe's worry about the Irish border being used as a tool against Britain leaving the EU. German car manufacturers are one instance where Europe needs the UK market. Eoghan Harris in an excellent article (Sunday Independent, February 10) outlines how Europe behaved towards us during the financial crisis.

One need only look at the Kosovo war which ended in June 1999 and how Serbia behaved and their subsequent "treatment" by the EU.

Serbia engaged in ethnic cleansing and in the process inflicted ferocious atrocities on the Muslims which accounted for 60pc of the deaths of 100,000 and the displacement of more than two million of people.

The single greatest atrocity was inflicted on the Muslims in the city of Srebrenica. This was a city placed under UN protection as a safe area for Muslims. It was guarded by a force of 400 Dutch UN force. While they and the EU looked on 8,000 men and boys were massacred in two days.

Yet in the year 2000 (one year later) the EU gave "autonomous trade preferences" to Serbia; by the year 2009 Serbia was visa free and part of the Schengen countries. Just as recently as 2018, Jean-Claude Juncker announced the start of strategy for "successful accession of Serbia" to the EU. The only condition was that Ratko Mladic (Europe's most notorious war criminal) be handed over to the International Criminal tribunal in the Hague, which happened in 2010.

With "friendly" companions like Serbia in our EU club, who needs enemies?

Hugh Duffy,


Co Galway


Telling it like it is

Sir - Just a short note to say how much I enjoy your writers, especially Gene Kerrigan, who tells it as it is. His piece on nurses' pay and BoJo (Sunday Independent, February 10) should be compulsive reading for all second-level pupils.

Brendan O'Connor is a natural talent with a brilliant ability to poke fun yet with a serious undertone contained.

In sport, Joe Brolly, Colm O'Rourke and Eamonn Sweeney say what most of us GAA fans are thinking, especially important when the Jones Road suits have lost their way.

Keep up the good work.

Jim Devine,


Co Tyrone


Madness to destroy hedgerows

Sir - Our hedgerows are our rainforests. If we gathered them all up, they would make a green unit in Ireland, about as big as the rainforest does in other places, as in South America, etc. Yet, we allow our farmers and councils to destroy them, flail them and reduce them to stumps.

Our politicians make this easier and easier, to the point now where they have no protection at all. As we allow this, we allow their shelter, food supply and habitat to be destroyed, things insects need.

We cut or spray our roadside verges, our river and stream banks and we have now started to remove the shrubberies from our city and town parks. It seems we all feel a duty to keep the green places down, or to remove them altogether.

Few, if anyone, seems worried about this, or issues a plea for a stop to this madness.

Now as we read of the imminent collapse of global insect populations and what damage that might do, we read of Irish concern: our media lowers its voice as if it is worried, while the men and women in political suits play shock or look to Europe for an answer.

Why is hypocrisy always our answer?

John MacBreg,


Dublin 9


Browne coach plea

Sir - Liam Collins's piece on Garech Browne's collection of coaches (Sunday Independent February 10) was most informative. It would be a shame if the collection was split up or sold abroad, like Harry Clarke's Geneva windows and also the Hugh Lane collection of pictures, nearly lost due to misjudgement at the time. My grandfather was a coach painter in the 1920s and perhaps worked on some of the collection. Let us hope some of our new entrepreneurs will step forward and save the collection.

George Walsh,


Dublin 6

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss