With St Patrick’s Day approaching I hope the anti-refugee “Ireland is full/get them out” lobby will reflect on what it really means to be Irish.
We are a welcoming people. We are not conquerors. We haven’t invaded other countries or enslaved their citizens. The Irish have settled on all the continents, sharing our unique culture, literary prowess and sporting ethos.
Our emigrants weren’t always welcome, but they overcame prejudice, xenophobia, and outright racism to make their mark in ways that have brought credit to our nation.
People landing on our shores, frightened, stateless, fleeing conflict and persecution as our own did over the course of eight centuries of oppression (as the songs remind us!) are coming to a land that clearly appreciates the value of freedom, justice, and common human decency.
Of course we weren’t always perfect, as evidenced by the horrors of the industrial schools and de facto slave camps for single women. But we closed them down...eventually.
And we wouldn’t want to inflict similar torment on another set of people – regardless of their ethnic origin or the colour of their skin – would we? So let’s wrap the real flag of Ireland around ourselves this St Patrick’s Day and say to those people of other ethnicities and far off-places: Welcome to Ireland. Have no fear. You are safe now because this, the land of the harp and the shamrock, is a racism-free zone.
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Might I suggest that the Burke family devote a little time to an analysis of the basis of their ethical position?
The four classical sources of morality, known as the cardinal virtues, were fully endorsed by Christian theology. These include not only justice and fortitude, which are abundantly present in the family’s attitude, but equally temperance and prudence, which seem to be entirely absent.
Temperance in Ancient Greece was known as “phronesis” – a term recurrent in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. It might be glossed as “common sense”, which is known in Latin as “sapientia” and usually translated as “wisdom”.
Prudence was regarded by no less a figure than Plato as the most important virtue. The behaviour by the Burkes does not at any level accord with either temperance or prudence.
My assumption is that it is not only possible, but on occasion desirable to invoke all four virtues together.
Cornelscourt, Dublin 18
We are widely regarded as a remarkable nation for talking about the weather but surely we’ve now taken it just a bit too far.
In early February the cyclorama was set when we were alerted to a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event, similar to what birthed the Beast from the East in 2018. Immediately one could sense a deathwish undercurrent, in the media especially, for another visit from the Beast.
February’s welcoming of spring stubbornly reneged on such a scourge. As March dawned, there on the weatherman’s horizon was the ghostly outline of a Beast. It bore a signal sufficient for all media forecasters and sundry weather speculators to go into meltdown.
That the Beast did not eventually assume a physical corpus as of five years ago was of no matter – news headlines, newspaper banners, talk-show schedules and professional and amateur forecasters alike have left us thunderstruck with multi-coloured warnings that sparingly materialised.
Could I respectfully suggest that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is your only man.
St Thomas’s Square, Kilkenny
At the Chinese Communist Party’s recent ard fheis, nearly 3,000 delegates unanimously returned Xi Jinping to a third five-year term as president of China.
This unprecedented tenure of continuous and unopposed party leadership nearly matches that of Micheál Martin.
The attractive (ahem) whirring sound of lawnmowers these days heralds the approach of spring.
For anybody putting down a new lawn, one should sprinkle whiskey on the grass seed. Your lawn will then grow half-cut.
Beaumont, Dublin 9