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Your letters, your views...
Racism can not be tolerated
I was saddened to note the level of racist assaults from the figures reported in the recently published European Network Against Racism Ireland Report. Your editorial (Irish Examiner, August 3) described well the problems with reporting racist incidents and indicated a suggested methodology for dealing with them.
A major concern is that there is no effective legal or community structures in place to respond to the social impact on the victims — though the role of civil society groups and NGOs is acknowledged.
I have an interest in the issue for two reasons. As an Irishman I am disappointed, but not surprised, that racism has raised its ugly head in the Republic. It tends to become a pattern when a dominant group feels it is superior to incoming groups of different cultural backgrounds. This attitude has its roots in the growth of the economy, and the resulting need for labour to feed employment opportunities, particularly during the so-called Celtic Tiger period. In this respect the phenomenon is inevitable and not a surprise, even in the Republic. What should not be inevitable is to allow continuation of the occurrence of racist incidents.
My second reason for expressing an interest relates to my professional experience as a professional worker in the race relations field in the UK for twenty-five years. One of the major issues to be tackled in that time was a massive rise in racial assaults, racial attacks, and racial harassment. I do believe it may be helpful to draw from the applied solutions of that experience in an endeavour to find a positive way forward here at home.
In the UK there was national legislation which specifically defined racial abuse and harassment as a crime so that racist behaviour could be prosecuted through the courts. Cases now proceed successfully with, for example, sentences such as imprisonment being handed down to the perpetrators.
The incorporation of racist crime into the criminal justice system may not be sufficient alone without the existence of other structures to support the reporting of incidents. It is crucial that these structures create confidence with the victims to report racist incidents. A model adopted to enhance reporting was the setting up of local, community based-reporting centres. A key factor in these centres effectiveness was to ensure their independence from the public service agencies such as the police. Without this operational freedom victim confidence would not be sufficient to come forward to report racist crime. It is all very noble to have the law as a tool. It will not work equitably as a solution unless the balance to help victims is proportionate to their needs.
So here is a proposal for the State to consider, obviously tailored to Irish circumstances, if it is serious about tackling this evil behaviour which does no credit to the Republic’s reputation particularly abroad. Far better to show the world that the Republic is a place that demonstrates a practical commitment to rooting out racist behaviour. and by doing so recognising every human being resident in the State, whatever their ethnic background, has a right to a life free from fear and intimidation in getting on with their daily business.
Budget: The Next Generation
The next budget, with all its works and pomps, will soon fill our airwaves with noisy chattering.
‘The Neutral Zone’ was an episode in the popular science fiction television series of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In that episode, a salesman from late 20th century Earth is cryogenically frozen and sent into deep space. He is intercepted by the Starship Enterprise in the 24th century.
When resuscitated, the salesman immediately starts to estimate how much wealth his investments have accumulated in fiscal space over three centuries or so. He is shocked to discover that the concept of private property no longer exists in the 24th century.
The moral of this modern parable is that Ireland’s reliance on foreign investment will not provide a sustainable economic future. Diversification is becoming essential to our economy. We sleepwalked into the last recession. We owe it to posterity to wake up now.
It is time to abandon the economic heresy of embedded deficit budgeting. If not checked, it will become so infinite that money will eventually become worth nothing. We will all become equally poor. Are we there already? The camels are beginning to groan under the weight of all the straws.
Time to dump Mum and Mom
What ever happened to the Irish Mammy? Since when have we become a nation of Mum and Mom? Are we ashamed of our particular diversity of nouns for addressing that most wonderful and important person in our life: Mother, Mammy, Mam, Ma, and even the irreverent ‘Aul wan’.
Only within recent years has the description Mum and Mom crept into Irish usage and is promoted, in the main, by media presenters.
Mum and Mom are fine and endearing ways of addressing one’s Mater for British and American citizens but can we please have the Irish Mammy back?
St. Donagh’s Crescent,
Paying tribute to a musical legend
Ed Power’s column on Colm Mac Con Iomaire (Irish Examiner, Arts, August 12, ‘Have violin, used to travel’) paid due deference to an Irish musical protege.
While being a member of The Frames moulded him in his early years, it is since he has gone solo that he has come into his own.
His style is to blend recorded excerpts with live performance, with one fading in and out over the other.
Appearing on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show last June, as part of a promotion for Starboard Home, to which he contributed, Pat humorously compared him to an “octopus”. Colm replied that he liked to describe his playing as “the recession quartet”.
His latest solo album, Agus Anois An Aimsir, deserves special mention. Each track blends seamlessly into the next, creating a schematic whole. A musical wizard if ever there was one.
Home care system in need of reform
The ageing population has been abandoned by successive governments in this country. Public nursing homes, telephone allowance, people who wish to live at home — all have been neglected. Cutbacks in home carers’ hours and insufficient investment in nursing homes are a huge factor in this neglect. This Government’s priorities are simply saving monies — it is currently on a six-week summer holiday, of course.
We need a healthcare system for people who wish to live at home rather than a nursing home. It should be funded by the State and not by charity organisations who do great work in other areas. The home care system is badly in need of reform and standardisation because of the vulnerability of elderly clients. Service providers should be bound by statutory regulations always.
Hare coursing is affecting tourism
Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley says he’s concerned that a perception of corruption in Irish sport might have an adverse affect on our tourism industry.
I’m sure he stays up all night worrying about our sporting reputation abroad. Mr Dooley was one of 114 TDs who voted against a Dáil bill to abolish live hare coursing in June. I wonder if he and the other politicians who see fit to allow this cruel practice to continue have any concerns about the negative image it presents internationally.
Hare coursing involves an unequal contest between pairs of hyped-up greyhounds pitted against the gentlest creature in the countryside.
Since the rejection of the anti-hare coursing bill, video footage of hares being mauled, forcibly struck, and tossed into the air like ragdolls for fun at Irish coursing events have spread via social media. Some of the footage shows the terror in the eyes of the innocent creatures as they twist and turn and dodge on mud sodden or water logged fields in the depths of winter. And the childlike screeches of the hares can be heard in some instances... a pitiable sobbing that has failed to elicit a response from our political establishment.
People everywhere are now seeing what our national parliament endorsed as a legitimate sporting activity: A practice banned in almost all the jurisdictions that once permitted it…a “game” that shuns publicity. The events card at every fixture carries the stark warning: All unauthorized photography strictly prohibited. People have been beaten up and/or ejected from coursing events for attempting to gather evidence of what goes on.
Hare coursing has the potential to hurt our tourist industry in the long term. Animal welfare groups in several countries are already advising people to boycott Ireland over a “sport” that makes the doping scandals look harmless by comparison.
Lower Coyne Street,
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