Sunday 20 January 2019

Lifting Good Friday booze ban helps to hollow out our country

Victory for the drinking culture?
Victory for the drinking culture?
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

So the Good Friday alcohol ban is to be lifted. Cue great jubilation and party planning nationwide. For 91 years we have suffered and suffered greatly.

Not being able to buy alcohol on one Friday of the year? Dear God (who the Licensed Vintners Association, or LVA, quite obviously fears not), how have we survived until now?

I say all of this with tongue firmly in cheek. I am so saddened to see yet another sacred, solemn day flushed down the toilet into the annals of history.

Was there anything wrong with having two days out of 365, regardless of religious beliefs, where one cannot buy alcohol?

This country is fast becoming a vacuous hole packed with 'celebrities' advising us on what to wear, eat and think, and politicians who lose their way ethically faster than a baby Guinness downed on Good Friday 2018. There is now the implication that as a nation our tongues are literally hanging out for "the drink". We should be rightly insulted at such insinuations.

I'm trying to raise my children to have some sense of integrity and spirituality and connection with this beautiful world. Yet it is proving difficult.

My five-year-old daughter asked me recently, "Mammy, why is everybody looking at their phones?" I couldn't answer her. "Because they're zombies?!" may have sufficed.

We have sold out - our children's right to not have their innocence robbed by social networking sites and 'celebrities' telling them what to think and feel and follow; buying into a culture where a very young child 'needs' internet access on their own phone; where five-year-olds are being brought 'tablets' from Santa.

What's happening? Are we losing the run of ourselves? When they're old enough, they will be adults in a country with no identity, no beliefs, no depth, no backbone, a hollow shell which once housed something real but now echoes of emptiness.

Which brings me back to the lifting of the Good Friday alcohol ban, another sell-out.

It is lazy and sad of the LVA to imply that this lifting of the ban is for the greater good of our country, and for the many tourists who apparently find themselves forlorn on that particular Friday night due to the lack of alcohol for sale.

And it's nothing to do with keeping people happy - it's all about the money. We have become the soft targets of consumerism and materialism.

So Good Friday has now become a great Friday for anyone who stands to make money from the sale of alcohol and emptiness.

Róisín Conroy

Castlebar, Co Mayo

Amnesty's role is to challenge law

Martina Devlin questions Amnesty International's position regarding a donation we received from the Open Society Foundations, a US-based human rights foundation (The Week, Irish Independent, January 13).

In November, we received correspondence from the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo)instructing us to return the grant, despite it previously (in August 2016) accepting the work covered by this grant was not for a "political purpose" and therefore does not fall within the remit of the Electoral Act.

Ms Devlin is incorrect that our concerns relate to countries prohibiting foreign funding for influencing elections and referendums. On the contrary, we object to laws which target wider human rights advocacy.

The Electoral Act goes far beyond prohibiting foreign donations to groups involved in elections or referendums. Its 'third party' provisions are so broadly drawn that they capture any advocacy work undertaken at any time by a wide range of civil society organisations. Sipo itself has stated this concern.

The Act doesn't just ban overseas funding for important and legitimate advocacy, it imposes near-impossible restrictions on domestic funding sources. We do not object to restriction or regulation of funding for civil society groups where it is fair and reasonable. This law is neither. So we are not "flouting Irish law". We believe Sipo's decision is not only unjust, but illustrates the serious threat to civil society rights and freedoms posed by this law.

We are not above the law, but we cannot comply with Sipo's instruction without first challenging what we believe is an unjust decision based on a bad law. We have a responsibility to challenge a law which violates civil society's human rights such as freedom of association and expression.

This threat is not imagined. Just this week, the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU found civil society is under threat across the EU, and identified Ireland's Electoral Act as one such threat.

This law also conflicts with the values Ireland promotes in the UN and internationally on the important role of civil society and its funding. Ireland leads resolutions on 'civil society space' at the UN Human Rights Council.

The 2016 resolution states "the ability to seek, secure and use resources is essential to the existence and sustainable operation of civil society actors, and restrictions on funding to civil society actors may constitute a violation of the right to freedom of association".

It "underlines the importance of the ability to solicit, receive and utilise resources for their work". It calls on states to "ensure domestic provisions on funding to civil society actors are in compliance with their international human rights obligations".

This is what we are asking the Irish Government to live up to.

Colm O'Gorman

Executive director, Amnesty International Ireland

Don't count on Eighth repeal

We hear commentators say that we need to have a respectful and dignified debate around the upcoming referendum on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

But as I watch the debate, you can't help but notice the attitude and body language of the pro-choice people. They cannot understand how anyone could hold a different view to theirs.

For my part, I think we should have a referendum on the matter and let the people decide. It is undoubtedly a very complex and emotive issue. I also know there are people who would understand why a termination might take place in certain circumstances, such as fatal foetal abnormality.

But I also recognise many people are uncomfortable with suggestions that terminations might be allowed at up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Even though there is, in my opinion, a general media bias in favour of repeal, it wouldn't surprise me if the referendum was defeated.

Eamonn Kitt

Tuam, Co Galway

Let's bin nuclear Armageddon

A recent news item informed me that one fully armed nuclear submarine contains the destructive power of seven World War IIs. Yes, seven.

Think about how much more 'defensive' damage all of these combined submarines can cause when contemplating the fallacy of unintentional man-made global warming and the 'dangers' of plastic, which is also down to the citizens of the world, and not the fault of plastic manufacturers who appear blameless in the reports we are bombarded with.

Stop making plastic perhaps - and those lovely nuclear weapons?

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

Irish Independent

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

Don't Miss