If you would like to submit a contribution to our Readers Blog section then follow this link. Be sure to include your full name, address and contact number otherwise your submission will not be considered for publication. We will contact you prior to publication.

Dear Sir... Readers' Views (29/11/16)

Your letters, your views...



President should not be praising a dictator

President Michael D Higgins has made a political error in his praise of Fidel Castro, after the Cuban leader’s death.

Higgins’s statement came shortly after the announcement and seems like a knee-jerk reaction, and shows his true political colours and leanings. His statement smacks of hypocrisy. A simple message of condolence to the Cuban people would have been more appropriate.

Mr Higgins should be reminded that he is an elected president of a democratic republic that has a fully functioning constitution, which treasures freedom and liberty. Therefore, he should be mindful of the fact and reflect this in any statement, and not praise a dictator. He has ignored his constitutional responsibility by issuing a statement that is in breach of that responsibility.

What kind of ‘freedom’ was he refereeing to when praising Castro? Freedom, as we know it, means the right to your political views and opinions, without being censored or imprisoned or, worse still, murdered: freedom to practise your religion without being persecuted, freedom to assemble in numbers, freedom of the press, freedom to travel, and freedom to embrace your sexual orientation.

After the marriage equality referendum, the President praised the Irish people for their liberal approach and historic vote.

The man he is now praising as a freedom fighter considered gays ‘deviant’ and sent them to labour camps to be re-educated and rehabilitated, as he did with priests and political opponents, thousands of whom were tortured and many of whom were executed.

Even today’s Cuban communist party still does not accept homosexuality as a natural orientation. The referendum we held would never be allowed in Castro’s ‘paradise’.

The President’s views on freedom are skewered.

Yes, Castro did give the Cubans a good health service and reasonable education, but that does not make the man a saint. He did get rid of the hated and corrupt Batista regime, but to replace it with a dictatorial one takes away the little credit he had.

The president is man of letters, a poet, a man of words. He is free to poetically express himself, as he often does, without censorship, unlike the poets, writers and artists of Cuba, many of whom had to flee their homeland to avoid persecution, or worse. The President should make up his mind whether he’s a committed democrat, or just a pseudo one who admirers a dictator with an appalling record of human rights abuses.

Freedom, President Higgins, is to do exactly what I am now doing, expressing my opinion to disagree with you, without fear of reprisals or imprisonment, a treasured freedom, a freedom Cubans were denied by their so-called freedom fighter, and still are.

Jim Yates

Cill Cais,

Old Bawn,

Dublin 24

No smoking gun in Castro’s death

I remember listening to a radio interview, years ago, with a man who claimed he was hired to eliminate Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, in the mid-1960s. Every time they failed, they would say, “close, but no cigar.”

Kevin Devitte

Mill Street


Co. Mayo

Cubans freer than us in many ways

The death of the communist Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, has been acknowledged by world leaders, many of whom had contrasting views of his stewardship of the country since 1959.

Since it seized power, the Castro administration transformed the lives of the poor in Cuba, providing social services, education, healthcare and food for those who had, until then, lived lives of abject poverty under the regime of General Fugencio Batista.

Many people have called Castro a dictator, and, if I am honest, I cannot disagree entirely.

During his leadership, Castro imprisoned scores of human rights activists, brutally suppressed political dissent, and imprisoned his detractors in appalling conditions, in some of Cuba’s most infamous detention facilities.

He denied access to many international observers and human rights organisations, banned the free press and freedom of speech, and denied the Cuban people their most fundamental human rights.

Notwithstanding that, Cuba is the only country in the Americas without infant malnutrition and has the lowest rate of infant mortality (UNICEF). Since 1961, over 130,00 doctors have graduated from its universities and the country has developed four vaccines against cancer.

The Cuban health system is an example to the rest of the world. Over 54% of the annual budget is spent on providing social services to the population of Cuba.

For people like us, in the west, with our venerated liberal democracy, capitalism, and consumer-based society, the Cuban system seems totally alien to us and brutally oppressive. While we vilify the Cuban government for this, 6,000 Irish people are homeless and 750,000 people live in poverty.

Our healthcare system is a shambles, the consumer price index is rising faster than salaries, public transport outside of the capital is substandard, our schools still discriminate on the basis of religion, and the Irish tax payer is still paying for the reckless actions of Irish and European banks.

I am not suggesting that Ireland should be like Cuba. On the contrary, I abhor communism, but one must ask the question: between our two island nations, who are the oppressed and who are the free?

Philip Jones

Meadow Park Lawn



Right-wing or left, fascism is fascism

One can love Fidel Castro or one can dislike Fidel Castro, but what one can learn from his life is that left-wing fascism and right-wing fascism are similar.

Vincent J. Lavery,

Irish Free Speech Movement,


County Dublin

Irish should opt out of the Lions’ tour

Having beaten the All Blacks, Springboks, and Wallabies this year, Ireland could well have quite a few representatives on the Lions’ tour to New Zealand next year.

But should the IRFU let our top players go? Most of them could do with a rest this summer and those who do go risk being injured and will miss the start of next season, in any case. Players often lose form and confidence for much of the season following a Lions tour, for lack of a rest and proper pre-season training.

They are the IRFU’s prime assets, for which the Lions pay the IRFU very little.

The IRFU and provinces stand to lose millions of euro, if the Irish team and provinces do badly next season because our top players are too banged-up to play or to play well.

They may then lose those top players to English or French clubs, because they can’t pay as high wages, and any downward spiral of Irish rugby would be exacerbated. Is that a risk worth taking? Some up-and-coming and fringe international players may benefit from the experience of a Lion’s tour, but what have O’Brien, Heaslip, Best, Murray, and Sexton got to gain from being coached by Warren Gatland and perhaps not making the test team, if he favours Welsh players? Is the Lions’ concept past its sell-by date for Ireland, and should we let it continue as a British Lions’ team only?

Frank Schnittger

Red Lane


Co. Wicklow

Enda should put phone on silent

The meeting of our Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, with Pope Francis, should be interesting, if not welcome. We trust that our leader’s mobile phone will be left at home to avoid a repeat of Enda’s moment at that forgettable audience with Pope Benedict.

Ted O’Keeffe,

Sandford Rd



The territory of ancient Palestine

Concerning the area of ancient Palestine. Most of ancient Palestine today is called the Kingdom of Jordan.

Today’s Israel is less than 20% of what was once called, under the Turkish and British occupation, Palestine.

Maerton Davis

Hermon Street

Kfar Vradim

Western Galilee

The aborted have no voices

The Irish Examiner’s Breaking News website reported, on November 26, that Ailbhe Smyth, of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth, expressed the hope that the abortion debate and the Citizen’s Assembly would be informed by women who have had an abortion.

The injustice here would be that those other lives that have been aborted aren’t around to give their viewpoint, having already become victims of what has been described as ‘the extremest form of censorship’.

Rory O’Donovan


Co. Cork

Glib addiction claim

Florence Craven’s recent letter likened her addiction to ice-cream to being addicted to drugs and alcohol. Really?

Just... really?

Frances Nic Charthaigh,


Co Tipperary.


Des O'Sullivan previews the diverse items that will spark interest among collectorsAntiques: From a sword to crystal chandeliers and a dictionary

Kya deLongchamps strikes up the band for some lesser copied American mid-centuryIt's July 4 so let's strike up the band for American designs

Blessed are the cheesemakers! Let’s all do our bit to support small Irish producers, many of whom are still experiencing real hardship.Darina Allen: Why we need to support the small Irish producers in our cheese industry

Courgettes are part of the squash and marrow family, they are available all year round but are particularly good in the summer. When buying courgette, look for smaller, younger ones as these will have the best flavour. Currabinny Cooks: From simple salad to quick loafs, here's how you should cook courgettes

More From The Irish Examiner