Governments will only fear the people when election time comes

In the opinion section on your paper on August 8, Gerard Howlin writes about Pat Rabbitte’s difficulty coping with being dropped from government. Paudy McMahon wrote a letter rebuffing Gay Byrne who expressed fears about the role of the EU in our lives and Tom Duffy stressed how our government is ramming through its wind energy programme with no regard to the health impact on residents.

Governments will only fear the people when election time comes

If I may add a fourth opinion, it is to highlight the trampling on our democratic rights... The UN Aarhus Convention, signed up to by the EU in 2005 and by Ireland in 2012, gives citizens a direct right to participate in plans and programmes which have a significant impact on their environment. The terms of the convention overarches and interlinks with the legal framework of the EU, and therefore Ireland, requiring the proper assessment of our energy policy prior to seeking planning permission. All of these democratic rights have been bypassed by the EU and by the Department of Energy presided over by former ministers Eamon Ryan and Pat Rabbitte.

Gerard Howlin rightly identifies Mr Rabbitte’s vanity, an attribute which was scarce in the committed democrats who shaped our world. Included in these I would name Robert Wilberforce, Charles Stewart Parnell, Daniel O’Connell, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Michael Collins and Nelson Mandela... Democracy lightens the human heart and those who love freedom cringe at how despots and dictators see it as barrier to achieving their objectives.

I and others met Mr Rabbitte and informed him of the denial of our rights in respect of the national renewable action plan. He quietly smirked. Efforts by environmental organisations such as mine to persuade the EU Commission and the European Court of Justice have failed to find a willing ear, while our present government have connived and schemed to frustrate citizen efforts. The depth of cronyism in Mr Rabbitte’s appointments to state bodies more than equals anything gone before.

Mr Rabbitte can take solace in the fact that the ministerial replacements show no willingness to engage in the democratic process either. Jefferson said, “when people fear government we have tyranny and when government fear the people we have freedom.” The balance between both sets of conditions are struck by the law in a civilised society.

The scourge represented by Mr Rabbitte and by certain elements in the EU can only be set aside when government fears the people. That can only come at election time.

Val Martin

Drumsallagh

Kingscourt

Co Cavan

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