Letters to the Editor: Racism and unequal treatment exist here too

'Taking the knee' is not a Black Lives Matter invention and certainly not a “frivolous gesture”
Letters to the Editor: Racism and unequal treatment exist here too

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and teammate 49ers free safety Eric Reid (35) kneel during the playing of the national anthem before a NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium in 2016.

Robert Sullivan says that Ireland is not the place to ‘take the knee’ —
No place for BLM gestures here
(Irish Examiner, Letters, June 11). He calls it a “frivolous gesture”. 

The knee gesture is not a Black Lives Matter invention. 

On August 26, 2016, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers sat on the bench during the playing of the national anthem. 

He later began taking the knee, to protest the oppression and unfair treatment of Black Americans.

Mr Sullivan states that “there is nothing brave” in this gesture; Colin Kaepernick was blacklisted from profession football. 

On October 16, 1968, Tommy Smith and Juan Carlos, winners of the gold and bronze medal (respectively) for the 220 metres, stood on the podium in Mexico City and raised their fists in protests against the injustice, inequality, and poverty among black Americans and people of colour.

They, along with Australian Peter Norman, the silver medal winner, who supported them, were out of professional sports after the protest.

Racism and unequal treatment exist in every country on Earth. Ireland too.

Should athletes ignore or keep silent about it because some people just want to watch the game and not dwell on social issues? 

Are people to shut up at work, and not speak about these issues at work?

What if an athlete ‘took the knee’ or raised their fists in protest against
unequal treatment and discrimination against the Traveller population, or people of colour in Ireland? 

These things take courage and integrity.

Paul Meuse



What’s the problem with taking knee?

Last week, several readers took the trouble to write to the Irish Examiner, claiming that taking the knee is anachronistic to sporting events in an Irish or European context.

But if the gesture is allegedly irrelevant to sporting events over here, one has to wonder why certain people find it so unsettling, infuriating, or threatening? 

Why is a momentary, wordless gesture such a raw nerve for some?

I propose that those who are driven to write to national media excoriating sportspeople for showing solidarity with victims of police violence should dig a little deeper, and explain exactly what it is that they find so triggering.

Brian Ó Éigeartaigh


Dublin 4

Time to separate Church and State

I am astounded at the bravery of your correspondent who talks so movingly of the abuse he suffered as a very young child, and the effect it has had on his life subsequently.

I would just like to tell him that I hear him, I believe him, and I value him.

He is most certainly not a failure. 

The only failure evident in his letter is that of a church which has refused, for almost 2,000 years, to acknowledge the error of covering up such abuse. 

A further error is in our continuing to allow these people to control our schools.

It’s time, for the sake of our children, to separate Church and State.

Bernie Linnane


Co Leitrim

UN peacekeeping must continue

Regarding retired Irish Army Colonel Dorcha Lee’s article Ireland’s Defence Forces in the last-chance saloon (Irish Examiner, June 3), I have served in many peacekeeping operations in the Middle East and Balkans. 

I served also in the Mission of Finland to Nato and EU for three years. 

There I have met very many professional officers and had good co-operation on the force level in Unifil Lebanon. 

I am very surprised to read what is now happening in Ireland, but the suggestion, even said in jest, that Ireland ends the UN peacekeeping services, is unthinkable. 

Ireland cannot be a free-passenger in this dangerous world, relying on the other friendly states in the EU and the UN to do the dangerous tasks for the peace in the world? 

Ireland’s Defences Forces must be bolstered.

Col (ret) Lauri Ovaska



Fake polling — they have some neck

The Constitution and the Electoral Acts could not be clearer: Votes are cast in complete privacy. 

There are very good historical reasons for this. It seems that there are very good modern reasons for it now. 

Political parties engaged in deceptive polling methods seem to be saying “whoops, my bad, pulled a bit of a fast one there, what am I like, but sure everyone was at it and you can trust us now not to collate the data to your name and

Pull the other one lads. 

These guys have some neck.

Michael Deasy


County Donegal

Must referee in spirit of the game

I write in reference to the article Stop whinging about the referee (Irish Examiner, June 10).

Martin Fogarty, the GAA’s national hurling director, talks about “throwing the shoulder into the opponent’s chest”. Nobody disagrees that is a foul, this or any other year. He talks about “playing on the edge”. 

I’m sure as a selector he interjected with Kilkenny manager Brian Cody many times and said: “Now lads we must not play on the edge.”

He says: “Coaches encourage systematic fouling.” Well, obviously that is ridiculous.

He says: “Systematic fouling is killing our game.” Well, that depends on the referee also. 

No game, indeed no sport can be accommodated rule-wise without the spirit of the game being comprehended by referees or anyone else, or you would need an infinitely long rule book.

There has to be discretion and common sense, in hurling as in the world at large, when officiating regarding on-field conduct. It is not easy of course, impossible even, for referees to get it right all the time.

The GAA’s national hurling director Martin Fogarty says: “Coaches encourage systematic fouling.” Picture: Piaras O Midheach
The GAA’s national hurling director Martin Fogarty says: “Coaches encourage systematic fouling.” Picture: Piaras O Midheach

He writes about the reactions of spectators at refereeing decisions. Nobody is completely rational at a hurling championship match when their team is involved. I’m often a quivering mess. Also, all referees make mistakes (as in all sports). So people will emotionally and rationally react at matches.

He asks do we want “prop forward- type hurlers being the future?” Ah, … no. But we do not want players stepping out of the way of a player in front and coming toward him either. 

He also asks what do people mean by ‘playing on the edge?’. Answer: Look at Kilkenny during his own tenure.

Hurling is not perfect. No sport is perfect, and none will be, ever.

The problem is, perhaps, that there is no (big) problem with hurling. 

There was no major outcry at the end of last year, no general commentary at all, other than that thankfully we had a championship. 

Nor was there any outcry at the end of any year I remember going back a long time. 

Perhaps jobs (and commensurate salaries) have to be justified nonetheless — that might be the real problem. 

But surely roles on high could be better energised in other aspects of directing hurling, other than try fix the unbroken, perfect what is inherently imperfect, something incidentally that is also inherently beautiful and irresistibly compelling when it flows with full vim and vigour.

Sean Heffernan



God-given right to know who you are

As an an adoptee sent to America, I read with interest the results of investigations and subsequent responses from both the Irish government and the victims of the Church and State’s narrow and defensive conclusions.

It is my position that no one has the right to deny others their God-given right to know who they are. 

Furthermore, those who engage in, or support, efforts to do so are guilty of a crime against humanity; and should be charged and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Ireland as a whole society has to answer for the unspeakable damage done to those who needed them most.

It is a stain on the whole population of what is otherwise a wonderful country.

How the citizens handle this grievous violation of decency will tell the world just what the Irish stand for. 

I can only hope that they are as caring as I believe they are.

Mary Stebbins




Hair here for the heads of state

The G7 is on and they all have nice hair. Draghi’s head looks like a grizzly bear.

Biden’s looks like an arctic fox,

Yoshihide went and trimmed his locks.

Trudeau has hair like a model,

But Macron says that’s just twaddle.

Merkel’s has a bit of a mop

And Boris’s? Well that mad stuff goes flip, flap, flop.

Adam Cotter, age 11


Co Cork

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