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Dear Sir... Readers' Views (17/11/16)

Your letters, your views

McClean a hero of our time for poppy stance

James McClean is more than just a brave footballer. He is alone among the foreign players and managers in the English league to stand up to what a growing number regard as ‘poppy hysteria’ in that country today. It is difficult to think of another spot on the planet where not just the native population but, also, all foreign residents, sportspeople, and visiting dignitaries on TV, are pressurised into wearing a symbol commemorating the dead of that country’s armed forces.

McClean made his principled stand in the most challenging of circumstances: As a rookie, foreign player trying to establish himself at the highest level in England. He had everything to lose.

Apart from abuse received from his own club’s supporters, as well as from those of the opposition, he had to endure death-threats. Through those long and difficult years up to today, McClean has received no moral support from the Republic of Ireland’s establishment and its scribbling classes, for whose national team he has elected to play.

One has to ask if ‘tipping the forelock’ to the British idea of political correctness is still an ingrained part of the Irish psyche?

The Derry man’s letters of explanation to successive club and fan bases in England are models of eloquence, reasonableness, and dignity and have helped, somewhat, to ease the pressure on him to conform. He has certainly raised debate about what veteran English newscaster, Jon Snow, unambiguously calls ‘poppy fascism’ in today’s Britain.

In this post-Brexit world, where right-wing militarism is on the rise again, his may prove to be a significant contribution. To borrow a phrase from the classic 19th century Russian novelist, Mikhail Lermontov, James McClean is “a hero of our time”.

Billy Fitzpatrick

Ashfield Park
Terenure
Dublin

Labour undermined democratic process

Gearóid Ó Coileáin is, of course, correct to take Aodhán Ó Ríordáin to task for his almost school-boyish outburst in the Seanad on the outcome of the US election. (Irish Examiner, 15/11) Aodhán — and his fellow Labour Party members — have a huge problem with both the Brexit and US election results, because they know that what is happening is nothing other than a kickback against the social injustice being endured as a direct consequence of neo-liberal economic policies implemented.

Once they admit that truth, they are then left with the glaring reality that they were in power this past while and enthusiastically helped to stitch this social injustice into the very fabric of our society. Indeed, we have reached that point where we have learned to step over people sleeping on the pavement and close our minds to the image and the suffering.

Mr Ó Ríordáin and the Labour Party are directly responsible for undermining the democratic process, which is what is at the core on these recent events. There is an urgent need for those in and near power to identify correctly the causes and take the necessary actions to create a society all are content to be a part of. That requires fairness and justice and the opportunity for everyone to live with dignity.

Recent policy decisions have delivered the complete opposite.

Time is wasting, as those in power dither and refuse to see the faults in their ideologies.

It is well documented that given sufficiently toxic social experiences, children grow into adults who believe that life does not primarily revolve around caring or fairness, but around power and domination.

US president-elect Donald Trump could be an angel when compared to what might be awaiting us down the line.

Jim O’Sullivan

Rathedmond
Sligo

The Winner Takes It All!

Suggest Donald Trump changes his name to Donald Triumph?

Anthony Woods

Marian Ave
Ennis
Co Clare

RTÉ should support Irish language

What would be the problem if RTÉ News were to cover reports directly affecting Irish speakers as Gaeilge or at a minimum bilingually?

Two weeks ago, the Six One News on RTÉ 1 carried a report on the Oireachtas Irish language festival in Killarney. Two children were interviewed and the entire report was in English.

TG4 on their news bulletin just after the Six One News carried a similar report, this time of course as Gaeilge. The same children were interviewed as Gaeilge and responded in the same language.

A similar thing happened on the two news bulletins last Monday. A report was carried on the Haka which the pupils of Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada in Lucan performed for the All Blacks, the Six One report was in English, the TG4 report in Irish.

While Gaelscoileanna and Irish language festivals try to foster a love of the language in children and encourage them to speak it, RTÉ insists these children speak English when interviewing them for their English-language news bulletins.

This demeans the language and actually contributes to the marginalisation of it. How can a child develop a love for it if they feel you can speak it at school or Irish language festivals, but it’s not acceptable outside environments like these?

RTÉ could make a very small gesture in carrying such reports as Gaeilge, which I believe would have a very positive effect on how children view the language.

Subtitles could be provided. How about it, RTÉ?

Tommy Roddy

Lower Salthill
Galway

Kenny must revise Trump response

The widespread protests across the United States following the outcome of the presidential election there are hardly surprising. While Clinton won the popular vote, Trump succeeded with the more archaic Electoral College system and it remains to be seen if elections in America are always going to be decided by the candidates crisscrossing States like Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina to the exclusion of other areas and the resulting media polarisation.

What is troubling, though, is that among some of the protests we have seen over the last number of days are Muslim women having their hijab ripped off their heads and attacked, people of colour being told this is “Trump’s America” and go back to their home countries, and LGBT persons being attacked, because “this is Trump’s America you faggots, so we might as well go ahead and kill you now”.

Among world leaders, it was left to Angela Merkel to resonate with fair-minded people everywhere when she said “Germany and America are tied by values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the law and human dignity, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. I offer the next President of the United States, Donald Trump, close co-operation on the basis of these values.”

Would it be too much for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to revise his unconditional response to the election of Trump and, instead, represent the views of fair-minded people in this country just as Chancellor Merkel has with her more cautious approval?

After all, history has told us that diplomatic appeasement, such as that practised by Britain’s Neville Chamberlain towards the Nazis, can have disastrous consequences.

Tom McElligott

Tournageehy
Listowel
Co. Kerry

Church should take responsibility

The Church of Ireland is distancing itself from the Patrick O’Brien child-abuse scandal. In 2005, St Patrick’s Cathedral stated to Kerry Lawless, who secured O’Brien’s first conviction in 1989, that O’Brien’s work on their behalf, and also presumably his prolific abuse, was carried out when he was acting in a voluntary capacity. For this reason, the abuse was not their responsibility.

This is a depressing, if familiar, Church of Ireland refrain.

The strategy has, to this point, been successful in warding off media attention. The church is institutionally indifferent to allegations of abuse and maginalisation.

There are two questions the Church of Ireland should answer:

  • When O’Brien’s abuse of a St Patrick’s grammar school pupil and member of the cathedral boys choir resulted in a conviction in 1989, what steps did the church take to ascertain whether children in its care, other than Mr Lawless, had been harmed?
  • When Mr Lawless brought to the church’s attention in 2004 that O’Brien was again working with them, however voluntarily, what steps did the church take to find out if children in its care had been harmed by a known convicted child abuser?

The church has praised victims who have come forward. So it should, in particular Mr Lawless, who did what the church did not do: Lawless contacted O’Brien’s victims and encouraged them to speak to gardaí. That is what secured O’Brien’s conviction and his 13-year sentence.

The Church of Ireland should stop dancing on the head of a pin and should address responsibility for abuse suffered by children in its care. The media should pursue this issue.

Dr Niall Meehan

Faculty Head
Journalism & Media
Griffith College
Dublin


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