Letters to the Editor: 'We're a more tolerant society but we have a long way to go'
When a person has spent most of one’s adult life (as I have since 1963) studying, researching, lecturing and publishing on the subject of social prejudice and tolerance, concern for the current state of pluralism in Irish society is worrying.
The rise of economic success and the advance of science and information technology have failed, as far as I can see, to create a universal and integrated pluralist society in Ireland.
Integrated pluralism may be defined as the recognition of, and support for, the cultural, personal, religious and social differences of people on the basis of total intergroup equality. The failure of universal and integrated pluralism is not restricted to Ireland only. It seems, for instance, to extend to many of the members of the European Union with their fortress disposition towards fleeing migrants.
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Examples of the failure of universal and integrated pluralism in Ireland include our prejudice towards, and discrimination against, our Travelling people, which is a case of ‘Irish apartheid’. Our reluctance to welcome refugees into some of our neighbourhoods in recent times sadly reflects our level of selective tolerance and the absence of universal charity.
It is time for community, political, religious and social leaders to re-examine and take note of what appears to be a growing level of prejudice towards, and intolerance of, certain minorities in a country that is becoming more socially and culturally diverse. The findings of three major surveys which I directed in 1972-73, 1988-89 and 2007-08 (see ‘Prejudice and Tolerance in Ireland’ , ‘Prejudice in Ireland Revisited’  and ‘Pluralism and Diversity in Ireland’ , where the findings of the three surveys are published) trace the changes in Irish prejudice over a period of 35 years.
Advances in intergroup tolerance in Ireland in the recent past which have been in certain personnel areas, ie gender and sexual orientation, are to be welcomed. Regretfully, such progress does not seem to have taken place in the areas of ethnic, racial, religious and social-class groups or categories. Selective tolerance can co-exist with selective prejudice and discrimination. The challenge facing Irish society in its goal of universal and integrated pluralism is serious. Our citizens and immigrants are becoming more diverse. It is time for wise reflection and decisive action. Minority rights legislation needs to be updated. Let us aspire to bring about a truly integrated pluralist Ireland.
Micheal MacGreil, SJ
Cathair Na Mart, Co Mhaigh Eo
Exhuming Franco’s body is an affront to Spanish history
Emmet Fahy recently (Letters, Irish Independent, October 28) made an excellent point about the re-interment of Spain’s late fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. I lived, periodically, in Spain between 1968-75 and clearly remember people being afraid to openly discuss his name.
However, it was morally wrong (in my opinion) to remove his corpse after it had lain in peace for nearly 44 years in Valle de los Caídos. It was part of Spanish history. Even Zimbabwe’s late dictatorial leader, Robert Mugabe, denied requests to exhume the bones of Rhodesia’s founder, Cecil Rhodes, from Matobo National Park, stating it was ‘part of Zimbabwe’s history’. Similarly, there would be an outcry in Paris if Napoleon’s body was removed.
Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, wants to deflect attention from Catalonia’s valid independence aspirations while at the same time demanding Gibraltar back, whilst holding onto Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco.
By exhuming Franco’s body you cannot rewrite history. His followers will only gather at his new grave instead.
Poorest will be hardest hit by the unjust property tax grab
Your report on decisions of councils outside Dublin to increase Local Property Tax (LPT) is timely (‘Property tax grab: a million homeowners will pay more’, Irish Independent, November 4). Allowing councils to vary the tax is grossly unfair and exacerbates inequity. It sees citizens paying more simply based on where they live with no regard whatever paid to the financial circumstances of the homeowner.
An example of the unfairness being created is the recent decision of Sligo County Council to increase the tax by 15pc while citizens who live in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area will continue to enjoy a reduction of 15pc.
Because the LPT pays no regard for “ability to pay”, inequity is worsened by the fact the residents of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown enjoy one of the highest average household incomes, standing at nearly twice the Sligo average. A clear case of the Government pursuing a policy that sees those with the least being forced to pay the most.
It is now urgent the Government addresses these anomalies and, at least, immediately removes aspects of the LPT that allow such discrimination and injustice to be created.
Rathedmond, Co Sligo