Thursday 13 December 2018

Not much of a bright side to Western policy in Ukraine

People loosen parts from a burned-out Ukrainian armored personnel carrier in the village of Hrabske, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.
People loosen parts from a burned-out Ukrainian armored personnel carrier in the village of Hrabske, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Like a lot of people, I love the classic Monty Python film 'Life of Brian' and no part of that comedic masterpiece contributes to the overall hilarity more than the fact that the so-called revolutionaries respond to Roman provocation by endless and rigidly controlled meetings that produce next to no tangible results.

I have to say that the recent crisis in the Ukraine has produced pretty much the same thing on the part of the world's leaders. Russia simply keeps provoking the world to do something. It bullied Georgia into submission and division years ago and that sort of behaviour has continued. It has destabilised the entirety of eastern Ukraine, played the eastern European equivalent of the "race card" like a political Johnny Cochran and annexed the Crimea. It also now looks set to do the same to the rest of eastern Ukraine.

And yet, in spite of this medieval behaviour, how does the likes of the EU, NATO and the UN (the supposed guarantors of global peace and mediation) react? Endless rounds of meetings and statements.

It seems that, like the People's Front of Judea from 'Life of Brian', they are content to respond to such brutal provocation with pointless meetings and meaningless statements that do nothing but state the obvious. It seems that when it comes to these three organisations, their idea of global peace means keeping the peace in peaceful places or endless mediation, as opposed to strong action.

It might be funny, if Ukraine wasn't being carved up along ethnic lines like the Balkans.

Maybe at the very end, we'll have the UN make another statement and then we can all sing 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life'.

Colin Smith

Clara, Co Offaly

We pay public sector pensions

Neither the public nor the private sector can exist without the other. We have created a State which employs doctors, teachers, engineers and the people who process our licences. Some are highly qualified and some are not. The private sector needs these people and their willing work.

Comparing salaries in a straight line against the equivalent worker in the private sector is very difficult and when it was tried led to a benchmarking process which became cumbersome to the point of uselessness.

The real issue here is that the people of this country are using their taxes not to create new work or adequately pay doctors or carry out research and development. A vast portion of tax money is being used to pay inflation-protected pensions to a non-working sector.

For a member of the public to gain the current pension of a teacher who retired in recent years, having worked for 40 years, they would have had to invest €1m. And even if they did that, the value of the pension they purchased would still depend on market forces. The teacher, hard-working and deserving of a decent salary and pension, did not contribute this amount and nor did her employer contribute and invest anything like this amount in any scheme on her behalf.

The pensions of the civil servants are being paid out of tax being taken from the public.

What's more, public servants benefit from a regime which encourages education and there are generous allowances, including study leave and fees paid, for state employees who improve their qualifications.

If a member of the public wishes to improve their qualifications, they have to study at night, pay their own fees and take holiday leave in order to study and take exams.

People in the private sector enjoy few if any of the benefits afforded to public sector workers. Ideally, they should and most employers would love to provide them, but they cannot be afforded in the real market.

Aileen Lebrocquy

Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Kenny's return to our screens

The fact that Pat Kenny will soon be back on our TV screens is surely good news, due to the skill and style he brings to his programmes. His loss to RTE remains a major one and the last year has seen little improvement by his replacement team.

Happily, Newstalk listeners can hear the gems of interviews he conducts, which often are more akin to essays than mere news reporting.

Anthony J Jordan

Sandymount, Dublin 4

Do the maths

I hope I'm not going off on a tangent, but I feel that Donegal's score yesterday of 3.14 plays an important part in explaining how to come full circle.

Ian Cahill

Mullingar, Co Westmeath

An Irish honours list?

Following the recent death of the former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, several commentators rightly pointed out that the contribution which Mr Reynolds made to peace in Ireland was not sufficiently acknowledged during his lifetime.

This raises the question of how this country should honour individuals who have greatly contributed to our country's progress.

Whilst the awarding of the freedom of a town or city provides an opportunity to recognise a person's work, this does not represent national recognition.

An independent, non-party-political and unpaid national commission, drawn from leaders of civic society and under the nominal auspices of the President of Ireland, could succeed in facilitating such a national recognition system. It would provide the country with an inexpensive means to recognise those who have contributed to the social, political and cultural life of this nation.

Mark O'Keeffe

Clontarf, Dublin 3

EU's twisted logic

If ever we needed an example of the sort of devious and twisted logic that permeates the EU, we got it over the weekend from Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.

Speaking on the situation in Ukraine, Ms Grybauskaite said, "It is the fact that Russia is in a war state against Ukraine. That means it is in a state of war against a country which would like to be closely integrated with the EU. Practically Russia is in a state of war against Europe."

Leave aside, for a moment, the fact that the current Ukrainian government only sought closer ties to Europe after the US and EU supported the overthrow of the previous government, which was democratically elected. Ms Grybauskaite's attempt to rope the whole of Europe into a war with Russia by attempting to make some tenuous connection between Ukraine and the EU is dangerous and inflammatory.

Having fomented the overthrow of an 'uncooperative' Ukrainian government through insidious means, we now have EU leaders attempting to whip up support for military action in a country that is not an EU member state.

Is this the sort of Europe that citizens want? I would suggest not, based on the record low percentage of voters who turned out for the recent EU elections.

Yet we get one arrogant and hypocritical statement after another from EU politicians, demonising Russia while lauding its own actions in supporting the overthrow of a democratically elected Ukrainian government.

One of the arguments that is often put forward by advocates of a united Europe is that closer integration has stopped wars in Europe.

However, we see now that since the EU has evolved from a community of countries into a self-perpetuating, power-hungry organisation, the risk of war on an even greater scale has increased.

Simon O'Connor

Crumlin, Dublin 12

Irish Independent

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