UN has been indifferent while Aleppo has burned
Jens Laerke, a UN spokesperson, has called the events in eastern Aleppo “a complete meltdown of humanity”.
Eastern Aleppo is being ripped apart and its blood-stained ruins call out for help from the international community.
The responsibility lies primarily with the UN, for its indifference to the horror that has been unfolding since the increased Russian bombing of the area, which failed to discriminate between hospitals, civilians, and resistance fighters.
The UN looked on while Serbian forces massacred the young men of Srebrenica, in 1995, and, now, we are witnessing a worse massacre in eastern Aleppo.
No-one can say they did not know what was happening, as the media, especially social media, have been reporting daily on the horrors facing the civilian population and medical personnel.
What has occurred in eastern Aleppo, and which is compounded by revenge killings by the combined Iranian and Syrian forces, is a crime calling out to heaven and the conscience of the West — but neither heaven nor earth is listening.
Nerve-gas attack might not be Assad
George Osborne says Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the sarin nerve-gas attack in a suburb of Damascus in 2014.
The fact is, no-one knows who was responsible. The UN set up an investigation into it two years ago, and it has not assigned blame to anyone. There is a case to be made that it was not Assad.
Aleppo ‘cursed’ in Macbeth
Students who did’ Macbeth may remember Aleppo being mentioned by one of the witches in the opening act. The witch had been refused chestnuts by a woman and, as revenge, the witch said she would do harm to her husband, who was “the master of the Tiger”, sailing on his way to Aleppo. Was Shakespeare prescient in linking Aleppo with a curse?
Irish Water being used as distraction
The media coverage of water charges is hysterical and cynical, and has been since the issue was first proposed in the 2009 budget and included in the bailout agreement in 2010. Your article, ‘Irish Water has cost State €2bn’ (Irish Examiner, December 12), is a typical example.
Previous to that, nothing was said about an under-resourced water/sewage infrastructure that was losing up to 50% of its water and causing widespread pollution.
Because of this, the Environmental Protection Agency recently reported that the State is “not spending enough” on water/sewage infrastructure, nor on sewage discharges in 124 separate areas.
That is despite the need to find a sustainable method of delivering domestic and wastewater services.
Apart from the obvious, water charges result from the fact that the country was bankrupted by the reckless decisions of a small number of Ireland’s most powerful citizens pre-2009.
The issue should be urgently dealt with, so as not to distract attention from the serious threats to this country’s long-term interests caused by international developments.
Continuing to make water charges into a major crisis is irresponsible and indefensible.
Ex-TDs should not be in the Seanad
If a sitting TD fails to get re-elected in a general election, he/she should not be allowed to serve in the corresponding Seanad.
Unfortunately, this practice is widespread. Even seeking election to the Seanad is displaying pure contempt for the electorate.
However, you would think that those who crept in behind their constituency’s back might play it safe and stay out of the limelight. Not so for Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the former TD for Dublin Bay North, who is simply using his privileged position to get re-elected at the next general election.
His political stunt, on TV, in wearing badges about issues, such as abortion, that are offensive to many people, is beneath contempt.
He should slink back into his Senate seat, try and keep his head down, and stop embarrassing the electorate in Dublin Bay North, who rejected him at the last election for precisely such views.
Allow my mother to gift her carer
Two years ago, my mother, now aged 89, had a fall and broke her hip. After surgery and time in respite, it was agreed she needed home help. So a care package was set up which included a twice-weekly ‘meals on wheels’ delivery.
Over time, my mother has gotten to know Michael, who delivers the lunch-time dinners. He has become a friend, simply because he delivers more than a meal. In the minute or so he is at the door, he asks the right questions and also passes on wonderful pieces of current and past news.
So, this week my mother gave him a Christmas card with €10 inside. All good. However, my mother has phoned me to say that Michael contacted her to tell her that he is not allowed to take money from a client. He is not allowed to accept any gift, not even a voucher.
At 89, she does not understand.
Surely, the HSE can come up with a plan that allows a client to give a Christmas gift to a home-care friend. This must be happening all over the country. Older people like to say thank you, especially at Christmas, with a small gift.
Most vulnerable least able to lobby
We constantly hear of the needs of refugees, the difficult circumstances of those in ‘direct provision’ facilities, of housing for economic migrants, and of those who benefit from Ireland’s generous social welfare system. Whilst I am not unsympathetic to the difficulties of these groups, Ireland is crawling out of near-bankruptcy. It would be nice to facilitate everyone, but these limited resources must be prioritised.
Yesterday, there were 500 people with medical emergencies waiting on trolleys. The Health Minister’s plan is for no-one to have to wait more than 24 hours in an emergency department — that’s hardly world-class.
On Monday, at a meeting in Cork, parents were told that there were only half the required places in secondary schools for children with special needs who are coming from the ASD units in primary schools. The parents are pleading with the local public representatives to support an amendment to the current educational bill making it compulsory for schools to provide for these children. There was no government representative at the meeting. The HSE is not able provide essential speech and language therapy for children, with the system spread so thinly that a non-verbal seven-year-old averages one 45-minute session per year.
It is the people, and particularly the children, who are least able to lobby for their rights who are carrying the burden of our international largesse.
Pressure Egypt for Halawa release
Ibrahim Halawa has spent three years in prison in Egypt, awaiting trial. He has witnessed nightly tortures and beatings, and he faces the death penalty, if found guilty of taking part in an illegal protest in Cairo. When the Dáil and the Seanad passed motions calling for his release, the Egyptian parliament called it unacceptable interference in the case. If anything, there hasn’t been enough interference by the Irish government and its essential to keep up the pressure on Egypt for his release — after all, he has an Irish passport.
Super hero loses to politically correct
So, the PC brigade have chalked up another victory. They have managed to have Wonder Woman fired from her honorary post as ambassador to the UN. They claim that she is white, skimpily dressed, prone to violence — and American. She was appointed to promote the empowerment of women and girls. However, the critics took issue with her outfit. They believe that the world may not embrace a scantily clad character in a thigh-baring bodysuit with knee-high boots (perish the thought). Well, I guess there’s always an alternative. Marge Simpson, perhaps?