Friday 18 October 2019

President Higgins was simply doing his job

• The recent furore over the words of our President has highlighted a fundamental flaw in the Government of our nation.

Our President has spoken on many things since his election and it has, on occasion, been noted deep within the pages of national newspapers under the heading 'other news'.

However, in the past week, this has changed and his words have become the stuff of headlines – how did this happen?

President Michael D Higgins was elected by the people of Ireland and his fundamental role under Bunreacht na hEireann is to "represent the people of Ireland at home and abroad".

With his recent comments he has done just this. He has not advocated the interests of the minority ruling class – and now totally discredited politics of austerity. Instead, he has reflected on the plight of our nation and its citizens. If that is not the role of a President as laid out in our Constitution, then it has no further use.

The flaw we suffer from is revolving-door politics: where each differently named centre-right group takes turns at 'ruling' the nation, passing go, and picking up a ministerial pension at the end of a term.

They are elected at the parish pump and aspire to nothing more than 'fixing' their own feudal back-yard. The office of the President of Ireland is, however, different in that it is the only office that is voted on by everybody.

How disappointing that we cannot have our ministers voted individually to their roles by the people of Ireland.

Anybody who wishes to run for office should be required to have the interests of the nation as a whole as their electoral agenda and let them lay out their stall on that basis.

Such a system should not have time for filling potholes and fixing a job for 'the cousin' – that job can be left to the county councils.

Has the President interfered in the politics of the land? No, unfortunately not; it will take a lot more than that to wrest the bone of power from our 'Odins' (God of the Norse) as they are, as always, well flanked by those Norse wolves 'Geri' and 'Freki'.

Glyn Carragher

Ballygar, Co Galway

Stamp of approval

• The recent speeches and media comments attributed to President Michael D Higgins – and the explanations that he and Labour ministers subsequently felt obliged to make – have unfortunately politicised an office that must be above politics if it is to retain legitimacy, public confidence and effectiveness.

The political bluntness of his remarks was a real barn burner. They are now a bellwether in advance of the local and European election campaigns next year, and have already been cited by SIPTU to bolster its perspective on public-sector pay proposals.

The independence of the President is guaranteed by the Constitution, which provides that the holder of the office is not answerable to either House of the Oireachtas or any court.

But it also provides that the powers and functions conferred on the President are exercisable and performable by him only on the advice of the government.

If the President chooses to exercise his right to address a message to the nation, every such message must first have received government approval.

Should the reputation and stature of this office not therefore be protected by each presidential speech bearing the government stamp of approval in advance of delivery?

Surely that would strengthen the mandate of Mr Higgins to dedicate his abilities to the service and welfare of the people of Ireland and facilitate a legacy free of controversy that will mature as a heirloom of wider universal acclaim.

Myles Duffy

Glenageary, Co Dublin

The abortion debate

• In 1992, the people of this country voted that a pregnant woman has a right to information and to travel even if seeking an abortion.

They also voted to confirm that 'risk of suicide' is a threat to life when considering whether a pregnancy can be terminated.

This was a nuanced and complicated vote but the people were neither confused nor unclear.

They voted to support the few women whose lives and health are threatened by continuance of their pregnancy.

We need to offer certainty of support to the few women who have to make the dreadful choice between their own life and that of their potential child.

To the TDs who are dithering, I say do your job and help this Government implement a particularly difficult piece of legislation that cannot please all, but about which the majority have clearly spoken.

Aileen Cox

Ranelagh, Dublin 6

• My father often laughed when telling the story of being excommunicated from the Catholic Church, twice.

The first time was during the War of Independence; the second was for taking the anti-Treaty side in the Civil War.

He would get a good laugh if he were alive today and hear of TDs facing the possibility of the same sanction over the abortion saga.

There is great luxuriating and intellectualising among the church hierarchy on this issue as they believe it takes a great deal of heat off themselves.

The mere woman at the centre of such a tragedy is hardly regarded in all of their pontificating.

I was claimed by mother church when I was a baby and had no say in the matter. Excommunicate me, also, please. I've done it for myself but don't know if this is considered kosher in Vatican circles.

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

Compelled to comply

• In relation to the government statement that 70pc of the population have been compliant in paying the household charge, I myself have 'complied', but only due to being 'compelled' by fear of the consequences.

Ray Dunne

Enfield, Co Meath

• Today I paid my half-yearly property tax of €112, with prejudice. That prejudice has been seeded by the fact that the two main politicians who were the architects of the financial tsunami that led to this tax and more now receive almost €6,000 per week in pensions plus other legal entitlements between them.

It is prejudice caused by the fact that not one banker has paid any kind of price for their part in our economic freefall.

Barry Clifford

Oughterard, Co Galway

Bumbling on bees

• Q. When is a drone not a drone?

A. When it's a bee, of course.

When the well-resourced lunatic fringe suggest that we replace the humble bee with manufactured micro-monsters, you have to think it is because they cannot understand how these wonders of nature can fly, contrary to all known aerodynamics; luckily, nobody told the bees.

No doubt that while this proposal would have devastating consequences for the bees, the effects on us would be even more catastrophic.

One would surmise that mother nature would display even less of an understanding of this plan than some supposedly serious scientists have on the flight of the bumblebee.

It seems that the notion of taking a one-way trip to Mars doesn't seem like such a stupid idea, after all.

Excuse me, while I seek out a travel agent.

Liam Power

St Paul's Bay, Malta

Irish Independent

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