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Russian actions belie democracy

Deasun Grant (Letters, August 29), wrote that Russia, which was the only country that recognised Ireland's Declaration of Independence in 1919, "rightly pointed out that Ireland had democratically voted for independence and had a right to self-determine our own affairs".

At that time, Russia was anything but democratic. The Bolsheviks, who had come to power in Russia in 1917, did not respect the right of the Georgians, the Armenians and the Ukrainians to self-determination.

The Bolsheviks also committed atrocities against Christians, including the massacre of the Russian royal family in 1918 and the massacre of Polish citizens at Katyn, which was part of a genocidal campaign.

The Soviet Union also annexed the Baltic states.

Furthermore, the difference between Great Britain and Georgia is that Georgia is a small democracy that is under threat from Russia.

Therefore, his comparison of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Ireland is inaccurate.

Challenging the aid ideology

I HAVE just read Kevin Myers' article 'Africa and the $700bn foreign aid question no-one dares ask' (Irish Independent, August 29). Once again, his forensic critique of the futile 'aid industry' nails straight on the head all the double-thinking, sentimentality and evasion implicit in the world of African aid.

We need Kevin Myers' brand of rigorous honesty, intellectual clarity and contrarian free thinking if we are to haul ourselves out of the politically correct swamp into which we have sunk.

I doubt that is ever going to happen though; the purer-than-pure, ideological gurus of the Multicultural Mafia will continue to dictate the agenda and few of us will have the courage to put our heads above the parapet and cry 'Humbug!'

To do so would risk, firstly, the opprobrium of these self-appointed guardians of the national conscience and secondly, as in Kevin Myers' case, a bizarre and sinister threat of criminal prosecution for daring to stray from the bogus "consensus".

Keep it up. A gust of Kevin Myers' truthful clarity is like a refreshing breeze.

'Yes' voters must listen to 'No' side

I am excoriated by A Leavy from Sutton (Letters, August 29), for wanting to "underline the perceived elitist and undemocratic nature of the European project", whereas in fact I was criticising Minister Dick Roche for running the risk of doing so.

Far from opposing Lisbon, as she alleges, I argued strongly for the Treaty as any perusal of my website, http://wwweurotrib.com/user/Frank%20Schnittger/diary, will confirm.

However, if the 'Yes' side doesn't learn from the mistakes of the Referendum campaign and the manner in which the Treaty was presented, there is no prospect of any positive outcome to this debacle.

'Yes' voters would be well advised to listen and read more carefully what 'No' voters and others are saying, before adopting a hectoring tone and misrepresenting what they are saying.

The rest of my letter (Letters, August 27) set out what needed to be done if the concerns of 'No' voters and abstainers were to be taken on board and if there was to be any prospect of a successful outcome to our current stand-off with the other EU governments.

The EU is a political union and power-sharing arrangement, run in partnership with 26 other democratically elected governments, and for Libertas, Coir, and Sinn Fein to seek to undermine their democratic legitimacy by claiming to better represent their peoples' views on the future of Europe is hardly the best way to maintain friendships and influence people.

Cardinal's speech ignores the facts

The comments by Cardinal Sean Brady made at the Humbert Summer School on Tuesday, August 26, in which he said: "The Orange Order deserves credit for what I believe are sincere and convincing efforts to promote dialogue and understanding. These should be acknowledged and reciprocated", certainly don't tally with the facts.

It is my belief that such unsubstantiated statements embolden certain fringe elements of orangeism and unionism, and endorse a boastful victimhood which the Orange Order likes to project of itself.

Cardinal Brady displays a generosity of spirit which is sadly missing in the Orange Order.

Recent media attempts to portray the Orange Order as misrepresented liberals or misunderstood pluralists, and the 12th of July marches as Europe's largest folk festival, have been a resounding failure.

All the soft focus media airbrushing or high powered spin doctoring cannot disguise the true nature of this sectarian organisation or its supremacist reason d'etre.

This is the same organisation that former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Patrick Mayhew in 1992 said: "Would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals," as some of the marchers in an Orange Order parade gave a five fingered salute in mockery of five men who had been murdered in a bookies shop on the Lower Ormeau Road by members of the UDA.

The good cardinal should not lose sight of the fact that this is the same organisation that expels any member who enters a Catholic church.

The nature of the membership oath of the order which seeks to ensure that there is no genetic contamination of the loyalist bloodline is reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan.

I regard these comments by Cardinal Brady, made with the best of intentions, as an endorsement of sectarianism.

Such sectarianism has no place in a civilised, diverse and multi-ethnic society.

War years forces photos wanted

I am working on a book dealing with the war years (officially known as 'The Emergency') in a Kilkenny town and district.

The book is almost complete but I would like, if possible, to acquire some wartime pictures of LDF (Local Defence Force) and/or LSF (Local Security Force) members who served or resided in any part of Kilkenny.

While the book focuses mainly on Callan and district, the sections recounting the activities of the defence forces and the colourful anti-invasion military precautions in the county necessarily cover a wider area.

May I appeal to any readers who might have such photographs to send me any of these that they are willing to see published?

All pictures used in the book will be acknowledged, unless the owners wish otherwise.

Pictures can be posted to me at the address below or emailed to jfitzg3@eircom.net.

Any pictures received by post will be copied and returned immediately. I can be contacted by phone at (056) 7725543.

Needless to say, contributors will be invited to the book launch at the end of this year.

Forum needed on education

Who benefits if primary teachers, Catholic leaders and the Department of Education fall out over primary education? Certainly not the children.

Enormous change in our schools is required to respond a changing society, a changing Catholic Church, changing attitudes to religion and changes in the process of education.

Introducing this change will require a great deal of skill, wisdom, good will and mutual respect from the stakeholders involved.

It is surely long past the time for a round table gathering on the future of primary education in Ireland where all the stakeholders are invited to participate.

The aim of such a forum should be to chart a path forward, that builds on what has already been achieved.

Respect for what has been achieved and those who have contributed to that should provide a foundation for coming together.

But respect for the past should not prevent us from confronting the need for change. What worked for a different time and a different context will not work now.

It is up to the Minister for Education to lead the way in developing such a forum.

Carrying out the debate through the media or through pamphlets is a very poor substitute.