The heartrending story of Rebecca Saunders — ‘Support for Clarissa’s Cause ‘has truly touched my heart’, says mum’ (Irish Examiner, online, April 20) — and her wish to finally experience something akin to closure, struck a chord with me.
It reminded me of the death during Easter 1978 of my younger sister, Karen, in England.
Karen was ill with Hodgkins disease and died aged 25 years in University College Hospital London.
Shortly before Karen died she expressed a wish to be buried back in Ireland.
Unfortunately, Karen was buried in London.
As the years passed the memory of her wish remained.
In 2003, one sought to establish the whereabouts of her surviving husband and located him with the assistance of the British tracing service.
Having obtained his written agreement to have Karen exhumed and reburied in Ireland, the UK funeral directors then took over and completed all the legal requirements.
In 2004, Karen’s remains were exhumed and reburied in the family grave in Dublin.
On the day of Karen’s reburial in Glasnevin Cemetery, the lingering pain of her death from cancer years ago and the memory of her unfulfilled wish to be buried in Ireland evaporated knowing that she was now finally back with her family.
After many years, one had achieved closure and I hope Rebecca, when she has her child finally back in the USA, will achieve that same peace.
The conscious or unconscious partitionism which lingers within sections of the Dublin commentariat is on full display in that lazy labelling of Irish citizens in the North as “Catholic/nationalist” which invariably precedes a passionate defence of British identity there.
Having thus sectarianised their fellow citizens these same columnists will lament the sectarianism which endures in the six counties. This, we are to understand, is somehow to be overcome without removing the border which encloses and entrenches it.
There is no credible reason why respect for British identity in Ireland requires it to be elevated above Irish identity. Nor does it necessitate either partition or the diminution of Irish national identity in the North.
The real challenge for unionism is, therefore, to accept this and participate with others on an equal basis in defining citizenship and citizen rights in an Ireland that reflects this reality. It’s a pity there are not more columnists willing to point this out.
An Chúil Mhór
The new reality of 2021 with changing demographics in Northern ireland should be the tonic that would educate unionists to the fact that the old days of dominance over their nationalist neighbours are at an end.
Unionists can no longer be pandered to. The call for a border poll is well and truly justified as an integral part of the Good Friday Agreement.
Unionists can make claims that they are being marginalised and their concerns not listened to. But they should pay heed to the fact that nationalist republicans were trapped in an unwelcoming statelet born out of partition and the most undemocratic pencil line ever drawn up on a map.
Discrimination for them was an everyday occurrence and when they tried to protest in civil rights marches they were shot dead and beaten off the streets.
In a united Ireland unionists will have the same rights as everyone else.
The UK ambassador to Ireland Paul Johnston, commenting on the lowering of the tricolour to half mast as a mark of respect on the death of Prince Philip, thanked the Irish Government for what he described as “this very special gesture” — ‘Tricolour at half mast on all State buildings for Prince Philip’ (Irish Examiner, online, April 17).
It is important that Ireland’s relationship with Britain should be close and friendly but if that relationship is to prosper into the future it must be strong enough to confront and reconcile the past.
I refer to Britain’s persistent refusal to cooperate with the Barron inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974 which left 34 people dead.
The British government has ignored two all party resolutions passed unanimously by Dáil Éireann in 2008 and 2011 urging the British authorities to make relevant undisclosed documents available to an independent, international judicial figure. It is regrettable this policy remains unchanged.
It is further regrettable that successive Irish governments have displayed little political appetite to pursue this matter with much conviction.
Inexplicably, it was 25 years before any taoiseach would agree to meet with the families of those victims.
The families of those killed and injured must still be wondering why they have been treated so shabbily over the years.
The late taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, who was in office during this period in 1974, was invited by the sub committee on the Barron report to defend his government’s actions in regard to the bombings, but he declined. Nobody was ever charged, arrested or questioned in relation to this atrocity and if past actions by governments in Dublin regarding the bombings are an indicator of future actions, then those innocent victims will never get justice.
Although the issue of Dublin and Monaghan has cast a long dark shadow on our relationship with our nearest neighbour, the government must continue to demand the release of the files which have been withheld by the British government pertaining to these bombings. The possibility that this demand may cause diplomatic tensions between Dublin and London must not be a deterrent from our pursuance of justice for the innocent victims.
Who will be burdened with the bill for energy efficiency? Migrating to biofuel is a matter of urgency to reduce challenges caused by climate change and to mitigate further destruction to the natural environment.
However, the cost of transferring to renewable sources of energy will be significant and exorbitant for the average household.
Taxpayers, consumers and industries will be burdened with increased supplementary costs associated with the clean energy revolution. It would be sensible, judicious and prudent to enforce laws that ensure behemoth industries and corporations, mammoth producers that contribute significantly to emissions, are responsible for waste disposal, particularly carbon dioxide. However, this may result in inflated costs for consumers.
It is dispiriting that economic yield dictates and determines climate change action. Therefore, government investment is essential to achieve an imperative net zero target.
We need practical resolutions that are adequate and competent for all stakeholders to preserve the environment.
Article 13 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union stipulates that, as sentient beings, full regard should be paid to animal welfare requirements. Yet the Irish Government continues to allow the live transport of 250,000 live animals (mostly cattle) from these shores every year.
They endure horrific conditions on their journeys that last for weeks, crammed inside filthy vessels. They suffer dehydration and a lack of ventilation with many dying en route.
Moreover, the Covid pandemic has confirmed what virologists have been telling us for years: that the livestock industry (particularly the mass transport of live animals) leaves us vulnerable to zoonotic diseases and further pandemics.
It is high time for Ireland to follow the recent example of New Zealand and ban live exports for our own good, if not for the benefit of the poor animals themselves.
Party for Animal Welfare
Regarding the 45 mass shootings which took place in the US within a month, I would like to make a few comments.
When asked by CNN about gun control Mitch McConnell, a high-ranking Republican, replied: “This is not the time.”
What? How many massacres must occur before he acts on them? Another Republican congressman said: “It’s not guns that kill, it’s people”
With this low concern, I guess it will be a long time. It’s already some years behind. Comparing the US with Europe, it’s very obvious that it’s the US’s gun control laws or the lack thereof that’s the kernel of the problem.