MMA and GAA's uncouth antics
Sir - I agree with Joe Brolly writing in last week's Sunday Independent when he said that Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) should be banned.
It should go the way of 'pugilism', which closely resembles MMA and was largely abandoned in the 1860s in favour of the Marquess of Queensberry's more humane and acceptable version of fighting.
Joe, quite rightly, frets about the "McGregorisation" of Irish society.
But, paradoxically, McGregor should not shoulder all the blame for this, or become the scapegoat for all of our society's ills.
A lot of what goes on in our home-grown games would not be out of place in the Octagon and its environs. I wouldn't want to overstate this, but it can't be denied.
Far too often, our games are marred by unedifying, uncouth and unsporting behaviour.
This did not start today, yesterday or indeed last Sunday. It existed before Conor McGregor uttered his first expletive.
So, by all means, ban MMA but if we don't get our own house in order, people like Joe and myself could find ourselves being associated with an old adage that features glasshouses and stones.
Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin
More games for all in new All-Ireland
Sir - Further to Colm O'Rourke's think piece on change in the GAA (Sunday Independent, October 21), surely the solution to the All-Ireland Football Championship is blindingly obvious.
Fortuitously we have 32 counties in this country - so two divisions of 16 each, played off in a Champions Cup format.
There would be the usual quarters and semis in both divisions, a substantial trophy for division two and promotion for the two division two finalists.
The four teams finishing last in division one would enter a round-robin playoff. Then third and fourth in the round-robin would be relegated.
All teams would get a minimum of six games.
Scrap the National Leagues which would give more time to club games.
Almost too simple.
Cedarwood Road, Dublin
Channel Islands not in UK
Sir — Your columnist Colm McCarthy is probably not the only person who persists in misunderstanding the United Kingdom’s political layout and landscape (Sunday Independent, October 21, 2018 — ‘A no-deal crash-out, a super-fudge or a political crisis are the only choices now’).
The Channel Islands (split between the two bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey), together with the Isle of Man, constitute the three so-called ‘crown dependencies’ within the British system. These dependencies — despite having British citizens holding British passports — are not now and, unlike Ireland, have never been part of the UK, contrary to Colm’s belief.
It is precisely due to the dependencies being outside the UK and largely unfettered by its controls that allowed them to evolve into offshore tax havens with attendant shadow banks, trust funds, hedge funds, foundations etc, and with more brass plates than you could shake a Jersey ‘cabbage’ stick at.
Crucially, it follows that no UK precedents are being set by the fact that the dependencies are in receipt of European Union ‘concessions’ — which undermines Colm’s contention that the same ‘concessions’ could be easily transposed to Northern Ireland post-Brexit.
Daingean, Co Offaly
Question of the hour takes us back in time
Sir — Will the clocks going back lead to more backhanders?
Beaumont, Dublin 9
Pupils pay price for Tiger costs
Sir — Last week, it was reported that more than 40 schools have possible structural defects resulting in temporary closure due to ongoing inspections.
I believe this whole episode could have been avoided by employing a full-time clerk of works on each site paid for by the client — the Government.
During the 1980s and 1990s, most government projects had a permanent clerk of works on site who oversaw the construction and had the authority to stop any works that was not carried out to high construction standards. The clerk of works would normally have had a trade background which gave them a solid knowledge.
During the Celtic Tiger period, due to costs, this position ceased to be. Instead, you had an engineer who would have overseen various sites.
This resulted in missing out on day-to-day progress, the result of which is now coming to light at the expense of the innocent party — our nation’s children.
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16
Blasphemy and the need for caution
Sir — As with drinking and the consumption of sugary treats, blasphemy is probably okay in moderation — and that’s why it was legalised last Friday.
Of course, I wouldn’t like to see people with a deep religious faith subjected to extremely hurtful verbal abuse that is clearly aimed at causing them distress or provoking them to violence. But I have no problem with works of art or movies or theatre that show up religions of all kinds in a negative light — it should not be shielded from critique or even ridicule.
I believe that whether or not one accepts the Gospel version of who Jesus was, his message of peace, love and charity is one that we can all learn from. But at the same time, I loved Monty Python’s Life of Brian. And despite the righteously generated furore over the movie, it was scarcely more offensive to Christianity than the spectacle in Father Ted of the irascible Fr Jack lying in state — wrongly assumed to be dead after drinking a home brew containing floor polish. You might remember the scene with a grieving priest by his side raging at God and telling everyone that Jack could have been Pope.
While I’m in favour of the right to blaspheme, I do think we should exercise caution and some sense of fair judgment in how, when, where we exercise that right.
That said, I hope that we Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Today’s children need our help
Sir — As a retired funeral undertaker, I am appalled at the decision of the Irish Government to rush into what is nothing other than political chicanery with regard to the exhumation of the dead babies of Tuam.
Playing on the emotional and vicious anti-clerical atmosphere by announcing the proposed exhumation and forensic examination of the skeletal remains in Tuam, there is a hint they may repeat the exercise in other cemeteries.
The long dead, it would appear, are now more important than the living children in urgent need of health care in Ireland.
The estimated costs of €6m-€10m will more than likely end up nearer to €15m-€20m and there will be minimal, if any, information gleaned on how each and every infant died.
There are historical discoveries that are vital, but not when the children of today need urgent treatment. We should instead be doing something for the sick children alive today.
Contradiction in views of minister
Sir — Minister Katherine Zappone features twice in your latest paper (Sunday Independent, October 21). On one page there’s a story — told entirely from her perspective — about how she confronted the Pope about the Tuam babies. On another page, there is a picture of her in a Repeal jumper.
Zappone voices concern about the deplorable but non-deliberate deaths of hundreds of babies decades ago; however, she is also happy to see in the future thousands of unborn children being put to death by the State. She may not be able to see the contradiction between the two poses she strikes, but not all of us are so confused.
Donegall Road, Belfast
A talented writer’s wonderful read
Sir — I have been reading the Sunday Independent for many years and it’s always a wonderful Sunday read.
Last week I read Gene Kerrigan’s article, ‘You light a candle, I’ll kick the Travellers’, and found it very amusing and well written. But in all the years I have read the Sunday Independent, I’d never read one of Gene Kerrigan’s articles — maybe it was that his article was on a different page that I started to read it. I will certainly read more of Gene Kerrigan as he is a very talented writer.
Kill, Co Kildare
Welcome apology over ferry delay
Sir — Many families will carry this year’s holiday memories coloured with frustration and annoyance due to the ‘‘uncertainties’’ pertaining to air and sea travel that dogged almost the entire summer.
As one frustrated by the ‘‘no show’’ of Irish Ferries’ newest vessel, the WB Yeats, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a gift, accompanied by a card acknowledging and regretting the inconvenience, from the company on my eventually rescheduled sailing.
In a broader context, I suggest that it would not be too challenging to enumerate an extensive list of companies and institutions who, in recent years, have also failed
the Irish public but without ever offering any semblance of acknowledgement or apology, on the contrary, most likely sustaining an arrogance devoid of understanding or taking responsibility.
When an exception to this ‘‘norm’’ occurs, I feel it important that it be noted, to the credit of the company (in this case, Irish Ferries) and as an encouragement to others to reconsider their too often contemptuous stance.
Mob culture in US
Sir — Despite the despicable spate of attempted letter bombings in America, we last week still heard a baying mob of Trump supporters at various rallies, responding to his extreme rhetoric. And it does not surprise us any more. It is clear that society in this once respected country is breaking down to be replaced by a nasty and dangerous mob culture. Be very worried.
Listowel, Co Kerry
Targeting Airbnb will not fix housing crisis
Sir — The hatred against landlords, and even someone who has an extra house to let on Airbnb, continues unabated under this awful Government — which is now looking for the pocket money that can be made through the current system by householders who are simply trying to rise above the decade-long austerity years.
Passing the responsibility for the housing crisis to private property owners is an outrage.
The nonsense notion that homelessness will be alleviated by taxing to the hilt people who own a house or two is ridiculous.
This disgraceful move against landlords and home owners is about one thing only — screwing every cent from citizens through foul means when fairness is not an option.
Fianna Fail is a shambles, as it panders to this Government with its quasi-democratic novelty rule and blatant trickery.
Bantry, Co Cork
Cover-up advice from Trump
Sir — I was listening to the US president last week as he speculated about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey by agents of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
And I swear I heard Trump say: “They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups.”
The American president’s quote was quite unexpected, from a number of viewpoints. Yes, this was a poor cover-up — but the worst ever? Come on. What about Watergate? That cover-up was pretty slack, I thought.
Trump’s comment of course also implied that cover-ups can, and almost certainly have been done much better — and no, you can’t cite the moon landings as an example, humans did get there, and back.
Perhaps there is a need to provide some suggestions as to how to do it well. Over to you, Donald...
And by the way, the coverage of the CNN bomb scare showed a number of people racing into the building in their ‘Secret Service’ labelled uniforms. What part of ‘Secret’ didn’t they understand?
Missing the silent debates already
Sir — It’s sad to think that for the next few weeks we’ll be without the presidential debates, where so many opened their mouths and said absolutely nothing!
Clonsilla, Dublin 15
Remembering Paddy’s guidance
Sir — It was with great sadness that I read about the passing of Paddy Duffy in last Sunday’s edition. Liam Collins’s kind words in the obituary were fitting and deserved.
There was one omission however, which I’d like to put right. Paddy taught for a decade-plus at De la Salle Finglas in the 1970s. And I was a pupil of Paddy’s from 1974 to 1977.
Many of my peers were beneficiaries of Paddy’s encouragement, guidance, wit and creativity.
On behalf of all of those pupils at De la Salle, who were lucky to have had Paddy as both teacher and mentor, I wish to say one thing: Thanks Mr Duffy. Rest in peace.