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What’s in a name? Nothing to manufacture outrage about

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Northern Ireland prime minister Terence O’Neill, Kathleen Lemass, Jean O’Neill, and Taoiseach Seán Lemass in 1965. Picture by Tom Burke

Northern Ireland prime minister Terence O’Neill, Kathleen Lemass, Jean O’Neill, and Taoiseach Seán Lemass in 1965. Picture by Tom Burke

Ian Paisley jnr

Ian Paisley jnr

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Northern Ireland prime minister Terence O’Neill, Kathleen Lemass, Jean O’Neill, and Taoiseach Seán Lemass in 1965. Picture by Tom Burke

Sir —The discussion of whether we should use the term ‘Northern Ireland’, instead of ‘The North’ or ‘The Six Counties’, constitutes more manufactured unionist indignation, most recently from Ian Paisley Jr.

Unionists are not historically wedded to ‘Northern Ireland’. In the 1950s, the unionist regime sought to delete the word ‘Ireland’ from the territory’s official title. No alternative was found.

‘Ulster’ was out since three counties outside NI are in Ulster. ‘West Britain’ was unsuitable also since NI is not in Britain, it is in the UK. Unionists were stuck with being Irish, irrespective of how British they feel.

Unionist terminological indignation is a post-’Troubles’ phenomenon with a political purpose. It was not always so.

When he welcomed Seán Lemass to Stormont in 1965, ill-fated unionist prime minister Terence O’Neill said, “Welcome to the North”. T

he leader of the Orange Order during that decade referred to the ‘Six Counties’.

The British monarch used the same term inaugurating the territory in the 1920s.

Unionist harrumphing at US congressman Richard Neal’s use of the term ‘planter’ (a term once celebrated by unionists) is part of the same phenomenon.

During the 1950s and 1960s, unionists bemoaned the fate of white British ‘kith and kin’ in Kenya, Rhodesia and South Africa — planters all.

A transition to a non-planter unionist perception of themselves and the world around them shows that identity is not fixed.

Rejection of the term and a view that it is insulting may indicate a gradual if not entirely conscious shedding by unionists of a planter political identity.

The value of Irish identity is that it inclusively absorbs those who live on this island, including unionists.

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As unionists are rooted in Ireland and have a valuable contribution to make to this island’s future, this makes a united Ireland more and not less likely.

After all, we are all planted here.

Tom Cooper, Templeogue, Dublin 6

To hell with inflation... it’s the Munster final

Sir — Eleven minutes is all it took to sell out the terrace tickets for next Sunday’s Munster Hurling Final. Semple Stadium will be bursting at the seams for this eagerly anticipated match-up between Limerick and Clare.

But I want to take your readers back to 1977 and 1978, when it was Clare took on Cork in both of those Munster finals.

I was young lad back then, and a barman in Hayes Hotel — where the GAA was founded.

The 1970’s was a wretched decade in Ireland, economically. But on each of those Sunday mornings the crowds began spilling into Liberty Square from early morning. In no time at all, it became evident that there was three times more Clare supporters than Cork rebels.

Thousands of excited Banner diehards came to Thurles, without even a ticket to the game. While the final was being played at the stadium, Liberty Square remained thronged with Clare supporters, gathered around radios and transistors.

It was an incredible sight. The shouting was so loud, I was afraid the noise was going to bring the buildings tumbling down around us.

I was manning a makeshift outside bar for the hotel — selling only dannos (pint bottles of Guinness). On both those Sundays, over 3,000 cases of dannos (12 bottles to the case ) were sold by the hotel.

We were throwing them out to them, cases at a time

It’s heartwarming to now see that the modern day hurling supporter is also putting their economic worries aside and going out to support the game so many of us love so dearly.

To hell with inflation. There’s a Munster final being played in Thurles. They’ll worry about inflation afterwards.

How I would love to be there for it, if only to listen to the game from Liberty Square.

Pat Greene, Brooklyn, New York (but a proud Limerick fan)

Grace and favours in the U20 All-Ireland

Sir — The epitome of integrity and graciousness that should underpin all sport was seen last weekend in the aftermath of the U20 All-Ireland hurling final between Kilkenny and Limerick.

In the first-half, Kilkenny won a point — though the sliotar clearly seemed to have been prevented from going over the bar by the Limerick goalkeeper.

Kilkenny eventually won the game by one point.

When interviewed after this agonising loss, Limerick manager Diarmuid Mullins might well have engaged in a broadside against match officials and a doleful spiel of “if only”.

Instead he was munificent in accepting Kilkenny as “worthy winners”, in not going to “make excuses” around the dubious score and in affirming that if the umpire did make a mistake, “nobody goes out to intentionally make a mistake like that”.

I suspect that as much as anything else, such candour, propriety and composure is what prevails and underpins this golden age of Limerick hurling.

Michael Gannon, St Thomas’ Square, Kilkenny

Hire Myers… our country needs him

Sir — It was great to read Kevin Myers again in a national newspaper with his sharp review of Terence Dooley’s new book, Burning the Big House in your People & Culture section.

Please hire Myers as a permanent columnist.

John Kenny, Blackrock, Co Dublin

Ditching religion’s moral framework

Sir —With respect to Julia Molony (‘Rites of passage matter — but it’s time to rewrite the wrong ones’) in last week’s Sunday Independent, I think she should rewrite the article, beginning with a sincere apology to the thousands of Catholic children who have made or will make their first holy communion this “season”, as she so crassly puts it.

Referring to young girls as “brides of God”, being “married off to Christ” shows no respect for the beliefs of the vast majority (78.3pc in the last census) of people in this country.

Of course some of the church’s treatment of women in the past has been reprehensible, but to suggest that this was redressed by the introduction of abortion is effectively saying that two wrongs make a right — which they don’t.

Good luck trying to create a “moral framework for society” which reflects the liberal values you tell us the majority of Irish people believe in.

If it ain’t broke…

Helena Byrne, Bunclody, Co Wexford

Petrol so dear even the grass is half-cut

Sir — As petrol has got so expensive, I decided to put vodka in the lawnmower. Now the grass is half-cut.

Noel Skinner, Santry, Dublin 9

Murphy quotes on UL used out of context

Sir — In his letter last week, Jeremy Callaghan quoted comments made by PAC member Verona Murphy about the University of Limerick. However, the context in which the comments were made was entirely omitted.

In her opening statement to the PAC on May 12, UL president Prof Kerstin Mey reported a sustained reduction in the percentage of UL expenditure deemed non-compliant with public procurement protocols.

The PAC was advised that UL is one of the top two Irish third-level institutions regarding procurement compliance.

It was in the context of this statement on improvement in procurement practices that Verona Murphy’s comments were made, not as represented in Mr Callaghan’s letter about the university in general.

Gary Butler, University of Limerick

Climate awareness not yet in the bag

Sir — I was amazed to discover the lack of awareness in society with regard to behaviours and the impact on climate change.

Professor Pete Lunn, head of the behavioural research unit at the ESRI, recently conducted an online climate quiz of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults which covered the basic causes of climate change.

One of the findings was that people think using a reusable shopping bag for a year would have a greater impact on the climate than eating a plant-based diet.

But all is not lost, as an individual can reduce their carbon footprint in food by 73pc, according to a peer-reviewed study (conducted by Oxford University and published in The Lancet) by eliminating dairy and meat from your diet.

Certainly a lot more efficacious than carrying a reusable shopping bag.

Robert V Hastings, Rathgar, Dublin


Young fellas in offices are killing farming

Sir — I am a 75-year-old farmer trying to keep the farm ticking over to the best of my ability — which is not easy.

I am in a few schemes and never had any problem with them, having a very good consultant looking after my affairs in the Glas agri-environment scheme and so on.

In the Beam scheme (which is about farm emissions), I was told to cut back on the amount of stock, as the emissions were above my farm’s entitlements.

On account of Covid, there was no way I could cut down on stock as I couldn’t go to marts and I’ve no experience of selling online.

However, when things settled back I sold 12 cattle — only to be told that it was no good at that stage, the letter stating that “you can’t export emissions”.

So the department is stopping €1,300 from me. I appealed, only to be told by letter that I’d every chance of going to a mart and disposing of stock prior to the date which I had done.

I would like to find out…

1. How can somebody sitting in a comfortable chair in the farming centre know how much emissions come from a bull or heifer? No two would be the same.

2. How many cattle emissions equal that of a massive jet, and how many from cars, too?

3. Is there no respect for older farmers anymore, or can a youngster in an office tell them in no uncertain terms what they can or can not do?

4. Am I losing it completely or is it time I gave up this crazy lifestyle dictated by office staff most of whom never stood on a farm?

Murt Hunt, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo

Can unionist stance still be tenable today?

Sir – It is surely interesting to speculate as to how the situation would develop if Sinn Féin got their wish for a Border poll.

Would it lead to reunification by agreement and consent?

Probably not. Regardless of whether the majority in favour were one or one hundred thousand, the unionists would react as they did in 1912-14 when they said they would not have home rule in any shape or form.

As far as they are concerned, the status quo is set in stone. Is such an attitude still tenable?

Maybe, maybe not.

If Dublin was acquiescent, London would find some excuse for ignoring the referendum result. If Dublin insisted on the wishes of the majority being respected, a Plan B would be needed. Perhaps repartition along the River Bann. Unionists on the west side of the river and nationalists on the east would not be happy with that.

Thus, the six-county problem would seem to be an insoluble conundrum.

Theobald Wolfe Tone is remembered for his ambition to reunite Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter under the common name of Irishman. Arthur Wellesley was inspired by a similar sentiment when he was chief secretary in 1807.

Writing to prime minister George Canning, he declared, “In my opinion the great object of our policy in Ireland should be to endeavour to obliterate as far as the law will allow us, the distinction between Protestants and Catholics — and that we ought to avoid anything which can induce either sect to recollect or believe that its interest is separate and distinct from those of the other.”

Wellesley sailed from Cork on July 12, 1808, en route to the peninsula and several years of war with the French. He was successful in that, but not in his desire for conciliation in Ireland.

James Harden, Adare Village, Limerick

Remembering RIC dead is still taboo

Sir — At the recent Garda Memorial Day, held to commemorate the 89 members of the force who have died in the line of duty, it was entirely appropriate that prayers were included for deceased officers of the RUC and PSNI.

Clearly though, any invocation on behalf of the dead of the RIC was, yet again, judged to be a ‘bridge too far.’

So much for inclusiveness!

John O’Donovan, Ballon, Co Carlow

Stop allowing public vote to decide on Eurovision

Sir — Many people were disappointed when Brooke Scullion didn’t make it to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

But it seems it’s going to be like that until the system of voting is changed.

Now that the public is involved, there are many people voting who wouldn’t know a high doh from a low doh. They just vote for the country nearest their own. The merits or demerits of the song or singer are irrelevant.

What with Ireland being an island perched on the periphery of Europe, it’s difficult to see how it can achieve very much unless they revert to the old system of jury only. Here’s hoping.

PJ McGuire, Athlone Co Westmeath

Glad to read there are good places to work

Sir — I was heartened to read in last week’s Sunday Independent of the many positive experiences employees now have in their chosen workplace.

I was bullied into premature retirement, after 25 years of loyal, unblemished service. My only ‘crime’ was to raise an issue of health and safety. This issue was never investigated. Those who could have vouched for me were silent.

It is good to know that in some cases women and men’s wages are on a par for the same position. That of course, should be the case in all cases.

Fair play to the non-Irish firms who are leading the way in this regard. We, as a nation, have a lot to learn from them.

Name and address with editor

We can’t shoot Putin so let’s try ridicule instead 

Sir — Vladimir Putin is a menace to the world. Any little we can do to topple him, we should try. As long as he’s successful he’s invulnerable on his dunghill. When he blunders the picture changes.

In invading Ukraine, he has miscalculated badly on many levels. And though we cannot shoot him, we can mock him.

Many people, even powerful people, do not know how to deal with ridicule.

Now that Vlad has got his knickers in a twist, the gang who surround and support him may secretly be considering their options. It would be good to incline them towards the best option of dumping him.

Dictators don’t step down. Hitler became an assassination target only when the tide of war turned against him.

John O’Sullivan, Farranfore, Co Kerry

Seeking input for new film on GAA

Sir — We are producing a new series for TG4 about the history of depictions of Gaelic on film.

Hollywood Hurling will be the first screen exploration of this — and we are seeking contributors to the series, including past players, and fans of GAA who may recall the screening of Gaelic games on film in the decades between the 1940s and 1970.

We’d be eternally grateful to your readers with memories to share and contributions to make if they’d contact us at lmdocdub@gmail.com.

Mac Dara Ó Curraidhín, An Spidéal, Gaillimh


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