Sinn Fein/IRA were a blight for 30 years
Sir - As an opponent of Sinn Fein/IRA for the past 50 years, I cannot praise the Sunday Independent and its excellent journalists highly enough, in particular Willie Kealy and Brendan O'Connor, for their articles and indeed also the editorial last week (Sunday Independent, February 11).
You all pointed out the dreadful history of Sinn Fein/ IRA, the murders, atrocities and the damage to our economy, the mayhem caused in our communities for 30 years by that organisation.
Our Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has on many occasions stated he would not go into a coalition with Sinn Fein.
Before the next election, he must make it unambiguous that he will not go into coalitions with Sinn Fein.
I am not a member of Fine Gael but I have canvassed and voted for them over the past three elections.
If there is any indication they will go into coalition with Sinn Fein, as Eoghan Harris thinks may be the case, I will not vote for Fine Gael and I am sure thousands of Fine Gael voters will do the same.
Mary Lou McDonald is not a suitable person ever to be in Government, thanks to her disgraceful behaviour in the Dail attending commemorations of members of the IRA who carried out dreadful atrocities.
I sincerely hope the young, decent people in Sinn Fein have read the various articles in the Sunday Independent and follow the 12 councillors who resigned recently.
Noel Peers, Malaga,
Keep on exposing that murky past
Sir - A big thank you to your team of writers for mounting a moral and sustained critique of Sinn Fein/IRA (Sunday Independent, February 11) and for challenging the lazy consensus of most of the broadcast and print media, who have been giving that particular party and its murky past a soft pass mark.
Thank you, too, for including a great piece on political psychologist Jordan Peterson in LIFE magazine who critiques the dominant academic politically correct paradigm which is wrecking our universities.
Dr Stephen J Costello,
Unionists have done evil as well
Sir - I note the comments on all media relating to Gerry Adams's retirement. Most of the comments were similar. They were a vitriolic attack on Gerry Adams.
The articles made scant reference to the role of the British Government in Northern politics. The articles made scant reference to the evil perpetrated by unionists in Northern Ireland.
Have we forgotten no nationalists to be employed in Belfast shipyards?
Have we forgotten the rigging of votes to make Catholic votes less important?
Without this historical context, the attack on Gerry Adams means nothing.
Markievicz cost the working class dear
Sir - I'm not sure I agree with Jody Corcoran's painting of Countess Markievicz (Sunday Independent, February 11) in a more favourable light than the new Provo cheerleader, Mary Lou McDonald.
In 1916, Countess Markievicz shot dead an unarmed policeman in Stephen's Green, whooping and hollering as she ran from the scene.
Ten years later in 1926, the Countess, along with Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, Mary MacSwiney, and Frank Ryan (waving rosary beads) stormed the stage of the Abbey Theatre in a bid to shut down Sean O'Casey's play, The Plough and the Stars.
Later, so-called republicans hounded O'Casey out of his beloved city to which he never returned.
Following on from O'Casey's exile, and supported by these "revolutionary" women, was the introduction by Church and State of some of the most repressive laws, decrees and censorship ever enacted in peacetime Europe which had the effect of returning the Irish people to the dark ages for almost three-quarters of a century and led, without protest of any kind from these middle-class women or their supporters, to thousands of mainly working-class women having their lives blighted and destroyed behind the high grey walls of the Magdalene Laundries and the mother and baby homes.
This coronation cuts no ice at all
Sir - Sinn Fein's new delightful leader, Mary Lou McDonald, says with puzzling authority that "the war is long over".
Her "let's forgive and forget" nod to the terrorist long war instigated by Sinn Fein/IRA, might be considered not over when great uncertainty remains as to the intentions of the real leaders of SF in places like Belfast and Derry.
Her coronation cuts little ice with those who remember the horror of those "Tiocfaidh ar la" days when bawled out by the same gunmen she quotes with such love today.
Moral fudge to call a baby a foetus
Sir - Eoghan Harris (Sunday Independent, February 4) writes: "The right to life is not an absolute right. It is subject to the context of the greater good. The same holds for conscience."
If Mr Harris is correct in his assertions, it logically follows on from them that the right to choice is not an absolute right either. In the interests of the greater common good, individuals are not given the right or the choice to take the life of other human beings.
As Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence (1776): "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Inalienable rights are ones that are not the Government's to either grant or deny.
We had a referendum in 2001 in Ireland to abolish the death penalty and prevent the Oireachtas from legislating to kill anyone.
This is Ireland's "context of the greater good".
The other fact that Mr Harris might like to face is that every abortion is not just "about an individual woman", it is also about the life of another living human being. The real fudge in the debate is in ignoring it or calling it a foetus, an ancient Latin term, rather than a baby.
Charade in the Dail, but who is to blame?
Sir — As an ex-pat, I admire a good story bashing the politicians as much as the next person, and when a UK friend comments on the ‘charm’ of the Irish political process, I remind them of their foreign secretary and that the UK voted to leave the EU — which is enough to make them blush.
But what Gene Kerrigan (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, February 11) doesn’t do is provide a solution to the catch-22 that the Healy-Raes and Marc MacSharrys of this world (and the charge applies to politicians inside the Pale, too) are a reflection of the people who elect them and the system within which they have to operate.
The system can’t or won’t meet the needs of the entire country, so people have to elect parish pump local politicians to the national parliament, as that’s the only way they can have any leverage to get the system to respond to local needs. In turn, the governing system is put under pressure by localised lobbying and it responds.
People elect the likes of the Healy-Raes and others because they have little faith that the State will meet their needs. It’s why people resist paying water charges, for example. Anyone who lives, or has lived, outside Ireland knows full well the water charge issue is ridiculous but they also know that little of the money paid through charges will go towards providing a modern water system where most of it isn’t lost through leakage. Nearly all of the revenue generated by Irish Water was used up by the administration costs. So from that perspective you can start to see why people resent the charge. Similarly, the property charge.
So while it’s fun to smirk at the politicians and senior civil servants, that doesn’t fix the problem. The sad reality is that if the people of Kerry or Sligo did grow up and elect someone focused on the national interest, the decision-making to tackle local issues (like libraries and the state of back roads or country road lighting) isn’t devolved enough to local level — even though Ireland has a legion of local councillors.
Even though councillors can talk on these issues and sometimes even vote on them, the sorry reality is that the final say has to be rubber-stamped in Dublin, and only after the office of the relevant cabinet minister has made sure the demands from Kerry or Sligo don’t mean his or her own constituency is missing out, or is drawing attention to an issue there.
So where is the incentive for a voter in Kerry or Sligo or one of the many Dublin ghettos to take a chance and vote for a bigger picture candidate, when they know everyone else is voting for the ‘what about my backyard’ candidate. Which comes first, the devolution of power away from Dublin, or voters withdrawing all votes for any candidate seeking re-election and instead only voting for first-time candidates or those never elected?
We all know what went on in the Dail was a charade, but what’s not so clear is who is to blame. Is it the people involved, the people who elect them, the system that requires them to act that way — or all three? And how do you change it when Irish people refuse to take responsibility for the way they vote or when the decision-makers at political and civil service/public sector level have no sense of responsibility either?
The tattered, jaded, dull and dust-covered backdrop behind the Ceann Comhairle’s chair sums up Irish politics pretty well.
Canary Wharf, London
It’s all in the robin’s nature
Sir — Regarding ‘Robin, the murdering hoodlum’ (Letters, Sunday Independent, February 11), I would tell the writer not to get too upset about your observing a robin killing another robin. A robin’s lifespan is 18 months, and at around that time younger birds kill off the older ones. It is their nature of dealing with things. I hope it puts your mind at ease.
John P Burke,
Saving our native wild salmon
Sir — May I refer to Fiona O’Connell’s article (Lay of the Land, Sunday Independent, February 4), in which she points out that wild salmon face a chilling future in spite of all the “do-good” actions taken by the Government and fisheries.
I grew up by a river in which cattle had to stand during the summer to keep away from their terror of the gadfly and the Co-op washed out their milk troughs at 3pm every day, turning the river white — and yet it was full of salmon and trout. If these conditions happened today, the salmon decline would be blamed on these conditions.
What has changed since then is the introduction of salmon farms, the appearance of a large mink population, big rewards for illegal fishing, technological advantages in matters of catching fish, both in the sea and fresh water, and the tunnelling of upstream rivers, reducing the food available for the salmon fry when they hatch. Add to this the admitted lack of tertiary treatment plants in many towns, villages and cities and effluent disposal plants — what hope have our wild salmon?
The banning of drift-netting at sea was positive action, but it has only moved the netting into criminal activity. If it is to be reduced, rivers must be fully staffed by bailiffs with powers to arrest active poachers.
The spawning salmon must be protected while going to their spawning ground and, while there, protected from predators including mink, an invasive species which should be exterminated. Rivers should be de-tunnelled to allow the fly larvae to thrive and provide food for the fry, allowing them to grow into strong smolts. Leaving the river, many are small and weak.
When they go up the west coast, they pass the intensive salmon farming area and we are told that 39pc of them are killed by disease and sea lice propagated on fish farms. (A friend of mined found a dead smolt with 42 sea lice attached.)
When the remainder reach their feeding ground, they grow extremely fast and return to their river of origin. During their return journey, their numbers are greatly reduced by foreign factory trawlers while our Fisheries Protection ships are in the Mediterranean helping against the human smugglers. These trawlers should be stopped by Europe or the North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation, if not by ourselves. The survivors pass by the fish farms but are strong enough to survive the sea lice they pick up on the way this time.
One of the biggest problems will be that when farm fish escape they will follow the wild salmon up the rivers, breed with them and so the offspring will lose the ability to return to the rivers of origin. Thousands of farmed fish have already escaped and we will soon see the result on the wild salmon.
Immediate action needs to be taken if we are to save the native species. Protect the fish going to spawn at sea and in our rivers, reduce upstream predators, provide more food for the fry by de-tunnelling, minimise fish farming at sea and at least prevent expansion and prevent escapes.
Hare coursing is torture
Sir — Is it John Fitzgerald’s job (Letters, Sunday Independent, February 11) to constantly highlight the cruelty and absurdity of live hare coursing? Live being the operative word here, as the hare is hunted ‘live’ in a form of torture.
One simple search will inform anyone that the Irish hare is a protected species, but protected from what or whom?
I would like to know, surely not cruelty or how is cruelty defined in Irish law?
Hare coursing claims to be a sporting game, like hurling and football.
Hare coursing is firstly and secondly a money-making ‘racket’.
Besides the inept Government, spectators must take the blame for supporting this cruel spectacle, for without money this outdated practice would come to a complete standstill.
Would those same spectators go to a bloody cock fight or a bloody bull fight? Maybe so, as they obviously like to watch animals suffer.
Because of our ‘gutless’ TDs who are afraid to upset their rural neighbours by voting to outlaw this vile practice of barbarity, the likes of John Fitzgerald and others must continue to write letters of protestation.