Varadkar mistaken on Fine Gael's origin
Sir - In the course of his election speech as the new leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar said he was proud to be elected as leader of the party of Collins, Griffith and Cosgrave.
A basic history lesson would have revealed that Arthur Griffith died on August 12, 1922, and Michael Collins was killed at Beal Na Blath 10 days later, on August 22, 1922. The Fine Gael Party was formed on September 8, 1933, 11 years after the death of Collins and Griffith.
The Fine Gael party that was formed in 1933 was effectively a merger of existing parties, including Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Guard and the National Centre Party.
No conclusive evidence exists that Griffith and, to a greater extent, Collins would ever have engaged with this perceived right-wing political mix if they had lived.
Anthony O Gorman,
Prejudice a reality for many people
Sir - "Prejudice has no hold in this Republic," said Fine Gael's new leader Leo Varadkar. Yes, Leo, if you are of a certain position in Irish society. There is still prejudice if you are from a different standing, such as:
On social welfare,
A child in care,
A drug user,
Living in emergency accommodation,
Living in direct provision,
Living with a disability,
Living in a nursing home,
In hospital long term,
From certain addresses, suburbs, towns, or rural areas,
Non-conformist in Irish society.
Will DUP leader ever reflect society?
Sir - It is nice to see Leo Varadkar being elected as the next leader of Fine Gael and the next Taoiseach of Ireland.
I wonder how long it will be before an openly gay man or woman, or even someone who is transgender, becomes leader of the Democratic Unionist Party?
It is time for the DUP to come to terms with the fact that some people are gay. The DUP's stance on same-sex marriage makes the Irish Republic look like a modern and progressive country and Northern Ireland look like a puritan backwater that belongs to Oliver Cromwell's English commonwealth of the 1650s.
The days when unionism and Presbyterianism could dictate morals and what people could think are over. Unionism and Presbyterianism must adapt to a new world in which people, particularly the young, are no longer differential to either.
Popular Unionist (London),
Many FG 'faithful' didn't bother
Sir - The media seem to have missed the big surprise in the FG leadership election, which is that only half of the FG party membership, 10,842 out of about 21,000, voted. Why so?
Either the logistics were screwed up, 10,000 votes were 'misplaced', or the FG loyal party faithful could not be bothered to vote. It is barely conceivable that party loyalists, the core activists and paid-up members, would not exercise their right to vote in the leadership contest. Imagine if only half of the parliamentary party had voted - would this have gone largely unreported?
How are we, the public, to interpret this? Does it mean half the FG party members rejected the two candidates on offer? As the average age of party members is reported to be 55, maybe one of the elder party lemons should, after all, have run?
Duties of drivers and cyclists
Sir — I thought Campbell Spray’s article on cyclists was a breath of fresh air (Motoring, Sunday Independent, June 4). Like him, I am a cyclist as well, both weekend and commuting, and am appalled at some of the behaviour I see. I actually had an argument with a cyclist for cycling on a pedestrian walkway the other day.
However, in the grand scheme of things, I think cyclists’ bad behaviour has been blown out of all proportion in relation to other road issues.
I also think that the majority of motorists now believe that cyclists have no rights at all on the road.
To cap the bad media coverage of cyclists, they are now criticising their use of some cycle paths as being too fast.
I think pressure must be kept on all cyclists to follow the law and motorists to stop using mobiles and on drink-driving.
At the end of the day, I am
not aware of any pedestrians killed by cyclists this year, however, six cyclists have been killed by motorists so far.
Anyway, thanks for your coverage of cycling, and I hope the roads get safer for everyone.
Worst leaders in the world
Sir — The instability of world politics has been illustrated, yet again, with the result in the British general election.
About 18 months ago, the British economy was in a great position, but David Cameron and Theresa May, purely out of selfish Conservative Party considerations, have now left it in chaos. They have damaged their own party with their arrogance and stupidity.
Mrs May has shown no evidence of a concrete plan (just cliches), wouldn’t debate, and brought dementia into politics. She is a classic “lame duck”, which means another election is probable.
The volatility and motives of voters across the world is a very specific sign that nothing can be taken for granted (look at Jeremy Corbyn). Whether that is a good or bad thing for the world is the big question.
Events might help Ireland in relation to a “soft border”, but it could be very damaging regarding Brexit, the economy, and the future of Northern Ireland. It confirms, yet again, the distinct possibility that, presently, we have either the worst or the most dangerous leaders in the world since the 1930s.
‘Hot sex’ last thing on minds of elderly
Sir — Ciara O’Connor (‘One plus one? It adds up to a life that’s no longer right for all,’ Sunday Independent, June 4) should really stop hanging out in online chat rooms with closeted new age sexual libertarians if she is looking for insights into the realities of ageing.
She sounds young, so she must have older relations to tap into for hard information. Dragging in the harmless musings of social engineers such as Sarah Harper and taking same out of context doesn’t bolster her thesis that the traditional man/woman monogamous marriage is threatened by the upward trend in life expectancy.
Shakespeare nailed the ageing process pretty well 500 years ago with his seven ages of man. Nowadays, our biological clock ushers us through the various stages of the maturing process and, while we can influence the transition by lifestyle choices or big pharma, the process is unstoppable. Eventually, mum and dad, having bought the house, paid off the mortgage, raised and launched the kids and seen the last one out of the door, stand and look at one another and ask: “What now?” Not likely. At that stage they have discharged their obligation to the species by placing the next generation in place and become, like same-sex married couples, just another “non-breeding pair”.
It’s hard to believe that “hot sex” would be high on their immediate priority list. If all of this coincides with pensionable retirement and halfway-decent health, the golden age has arrived. Throw in free travel and it gets better.
Hanging out with contemporaries, one quickly picks up a working knowledge of prescription medication, medical procedures (particularly those that didn’t work out), the relative merits of mechanical aids such as walking frames and wheelchairs, and a lot of other stuff.
Incontinence comes out of the closet as a condition that goes with ageing. In Japan, a country with a long-living and rapidly ageing population, nappies for seniors outsell baby nappies in the sanitary products sector.
We pray for contemporaries that die before us and look out for one another as best we can. It is a very serene stage in the ageing process. It deserves more thoughtful treatment.
We must carry on in the face of hate
Sir — The recent barbaric atrocities in Manchester and London have brought home to us all the huge threat to life on our planet in this day and age, in which we can no longer trust the person sitting next to us on train, bus or taxi, or more so in pubs, cinemas or concerts or any type of gathering.
What experiences must a person have, what level of disconnect must they have experienced, to be able to justify blowing up and stabbing innocent men, women and children? Can children be born into this world hating another human being, hating another race of people? Hate, just like love, has to be a learned emotion.
When I think of the few years I spent in Manchester working on team buses to Manchester United grounds, getting free admission to the grounds and watching probably the best forward combination in the world of Best, Law and Charlton playing on the one team, I remember distinctly the cheers of “United, United” from the thousands of multiracial fans all shouting in unison for their team, and celebrating with each other on the scoring of a goalby their team.
It was safe at that time to sit beside any person at any gathering, but what a change today when you are dubious about everybody in your presence, whether it be at a footballmatch, concert or whatever.
We can’t wrap our ownchildren in a cloak of fear and anger, we must try to show them thatthere is a way of us living all together on this Earth. We can’t stop them from going to concerts, from travelling the world and experiencing new cultures.
Of course, we will all be nervous and be more protective than we already are of our young people, for whom terrorist attacks are fast becoming part of their reality. Those young people killed in the Manchester attack could easily have been our own sons and daughters.
In a world fast becoming full of hate, we do our best to keep our children safe, but mMaking children scared of going about their dailylives is not the answer, and gives the advantage to the terrorists. All we can hope and pray for is a bright new day when we can all live in peace and harmony with one another, and come to the realisation that we are all God’s creatures and are all brothers and sisters, whatever our race or religion.
Politically correct Palestinian cause
Sir — I don’t understand how, on the one hand we are appalled and horrified by the recent atrocities in Manchester and London but at the same time we have no problem supporting the Palestinian cause, which for decades has being using the same murderous tactics against innocent Israeli civilians.
It is a fact that Palestinian fanatics, egged on by their leadership, often drive vehicles into crowds of unsuspectingIsraeli civilians, or attack them with knives in public places, such as at bus stops, or in the streets. Much of this we don’t hear about, of course, because it goes largely unreported by a biased Western media, weighed down by chains of political correctness.
What future for us here in the West if we keep pandering to these extremists, and allowing ourselves to be used and manipulated by them for their own malign purposes? Political correctness has gone rogue and must be reined in. Somebody, please bring back common sense.
I miss it dearly.
Need for diversity across healthcare
Sir — Ronan Mullen’s ‘Secular bullies have done nuns and mothers a cruel disservice’ (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, June 4) makes many valid points, but the most important must be the need to respect diversity in healthcare.
The idea that modern Ireland does not have a place for those with a Catholic or Christian ethos to contribute to the provision of publicly funded health or education defies any sense of fairness and smacks of an ideological intolerance to me.
Most fair-minded people will appreciate the contribution that many religious organisations have made and continue to make, particularly in relation to caring for the terminally ill or homeless. Ironically it is the Sisters of Charity, the victims of much abuse in relation to the National Maternity Hospital controversy, who have led in these particular areas.
I think many of our ageing Sisters, who have given a life time to the care of others, often entering convents as teenagers, taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, deserve a little more respect from all of us.
Savita’s death and link to legislation
Sir — Your article on Dr Peter Boylan (Sunday Independent, June 4) gave the distinctimpression that theSavita Halappanavar might not have died but for Article 43.3.3 of our Constitution. However, three inquiries (by the HSE, HIQA, and the coroner inquest) all said that our laws were not a factor in that tragic case. They were, however, very clear that the death was due to either incompetence and/or non-communication.
SubsequentlyThe HSE apologised and, in the face of legal actions, paid out hundreds of thousands in compensation — not because the law banned abortion, but because ofdue to the mismanagement involved.
Dr Boylan will be aware that no medical body has ever suggested that abortion could be needed in order to give all necessary treatment required by a pregnant mother, and that in the Joint Oireachtas Committee hearing, which occurred one year after Savita’s death, masters of maternity hospitals also stated that no woman had died due to our laws vindicating the right to life of the unborn.
I am sure Dr Boylan will also be aware that, given that abortion is normally understood as an induced miscarriage, and as Savita was already in the process of having a miscarriage, it would have been by definition impossible to induce a miscarriage, given that one was already under way. The appropriate action was to expedite that natural miscarriage. Thus to link her death in the popular mind with abortion perpetuates a cover-up of the deplorable laxity involved.
We need insiders like Dr Boylan to be willing to stand up and to openly express opinions but, more importantly, we need such people to be entirely open, frank, and give the facts surrounding situations which reflect poorly upon their own profession.
Tiger’s dedication, not medication
Sir — Declan Lynch’s article (Sunday Independent, June 4) on Tiger Woods is a wake-up call for sport writers and fans.
Declan talks of his focus on Tiger’s success as an athlete and golfer, not on his personal life. To paraphrase him: “Anyone can get divorced or fall asleep in their car from mixed-up medication, but few can reach the heights of 14 Majors in golf.”
To reach those heights requires a singularity which makes you a loner.
Just ask Roy Keane.