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Letters to the Editor: Protests show that America's greatest threat comes from within

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A woman holds a sign reading ‘Hands off my healthcare’ during protests. Photo: Reuters/Stephanie Keith

A woman holds a sign reading ‘Hands off my healthcare’ during protests. Photo: Reuters/Stephanie Keith

REUTERS

A woman holds a sign reading ‘Hands off my healthcare’ during protests. Photo: Reuters/Stephanie Keith

Less than five hours after he was inaugurated, US President Donald Trump was ridiculed on Irish national television during the 'The Late Late Show'. Coverage of Mr Trump's first days in office has been entirely negative, both in his own country and throughout the world.

Very well organised demonstrations have enticed millions onto the streets to de-legitimise this democratically elected president across the globe. These demonstrations appear to be organised by a well-heeled celebrity liberal establishment apoplectic with rage that their preferred candidate was not elected.

Those who stoke dissent and trouble in the world's greatest superpower, which is already greatly divided, play a very dangerous game.

Some have done very well over the last quarter of a century, while others find their avenues of securing a better life snatched from their grasp as they and their families are abandoned to penury and despair.

Now, the first time they play the democracy game successfully and elect someone who appears to understand their plight and wishes to help them, democracy itself is being challenged and thwarted by the very ones who passionately advocate this form of government only when it appears to favour their own aspirations.

There is enormous and increasing inequality in the United States, and indeed in most democracies. Many feel elected government works only for the well off and if they now find their worst fears confirmed by concerted opposition to their successful participation in the process, the outcome could be horrendous.

The United States will never be conquered or destroyed by external forces but unimaginable internal conflict could rip this great country asunder. People should pull back and give democracy a chance, remembering Abraham Lincoln's dire warning: "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

Padraic Neary

Tubbercurry, Co Sligo

Following the Trump triumph, a whole new language is making its presence felt. We are now getting accustomed to such terms as 'post-truth society' and 'alternative facts'.

However, lest The Donald claims these terms to be original, let me inform him that he has come on the scene too late. The Vatican has been using such terms for generations - we in the Church call it "mental reservation". To other folks, the term is simply "untruth".

Fr Iggy O'Donovan

Co Limerick

Noonan and pension deficits

I don't suppose yesterday's news about deficits in Irish pension schemes soaring to more than €4bn has anything to do with the €2bn extracted from them in recent years by Finance Minister Michael Noonan by way of the pension levy?

No doubt politicians will be expressing shock and horror in due course when companies start to close their defined benefit pension plans and look for someone to blame (other than themselves, of course).

Roger Blackburn

Naul, Co Dublin

Pedestrians are not at fault

Seven people were hit and killed by seven two-tonne-plus vehicles over the three weeks.

However, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) says that pedestrians should make themselves more visible and, secondly, that cars should slow down.

How about telling cars to slow down on roads first rather than victimise the victims?

Cars kill people. In the last 10 years, 400 plus pedestrians and cyclists have been killed by vehicles. One pedestrian has been killed by a cyclist.

The RSA needs to change its focus on the drivers in the first instance, and then on vulnerable road users.

Liam Clear

Naas, Co Kildare

Irish and Americans not that close

I would respectfully point out to Kevin O'Malley the anomalies in his observations (Irish Independent, January 20) that there are cultural, linguistic and DNA ties between us and the people of America.

While 10pc of Americans claim to be of Irish extraction, the majority of Americans do not share a common culture, except to espouse independence. That continent is not a nation, it is a federation of states, a multi-cultural melting pot of civilisation where 10pc of the population possess 90pc of the wealth, and 47pc possess the other 10pc of the wealth.

Mr O'Malley does, however, sound like a good man with his heart in the right place.

Daniel Teegan

Union Hall, Co Cork

Bus drivers must be punished

I was appalled, but not surprised, to hear Bus Éireann drivers on Joe Duffy's 'Liveline' radio show giving their opinions of the elderly (especially) and their use of the free travel pass.

These guys - vehement in their opposition to pensioners and others who enjoy free travel - took it upon themselves to somehow influence political thinking regarding the non-issue of people, for whatever reason, being entitled to this welcome and small concession.

How dare bus drivers hold such animosity towards those who, in their younger and working years, have paid their taxes and now should be free to enjoy a free spin on the bus or train - every day if they wish. Bus staff who articulate publicly their personal views on free travel ought to and must be disciplined by their superiors. Our politicians should also intervene, insofar as to declare that people are not going to lose their travel pass, regardless of the obvious disparagement of a section of society in an industrial relations environment of pay demands from bus drivers.

I worked on the buses as a conductor decades ago, and too many staff back then held the same views but were very careful to keep such hurtful thoughts to themselves. Now, it seems, they wish to dictate policy themselves within Bus Éireann.

Incidentally, the people of which I speak hated the job as a whole, and the drivers who are now complaining cruelly against free travel and its use are of the same ilk, yet think they are on safe ground to do so. This must not be allowed.

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

We could learn from the Dutch

I wonder if the Department of Education ever considered following the Dutch model of not giving primary students homework?

After all, these young children of six, seven and eight years of age will have long enough to work and stress in their young lives when they are in secondary school.

A recent survey of 29 countries showed Dutch children are the happiest - not giving their young children homework didn't seem to disadvantage them. Almost all Dutch children speak four languages when they leave school.

Worth thinking about?

Noel Skinner

Santry, Dublin

Irish Independent