14 Irish Examiner Saturday, 14.09.2019 Forum FORUM Established 1841 Idealism first casualty in an auction election In a more idealistic world, an election campaign might focus on how society is evolving, how it has reached agreed objectives and delivered essential, enriching services. In our demand-democracy world, an election is a transactional process close enough to an auction. Politicians outbid each other even if they know that what they promise will never be delivered. The electorate — us — happily plays its part, comparing one implausible gift list with another. In an Irish context that might be called the Drain The Shannon Syndrom. Generations of politicians have promised to do it but the prospect remains as remote today as it was when it was first promised decades upon decades ago. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar stirred those shark-infested waters when he suggested that May 2020 was the right time for a general election. It may well be; after all, Bertie Ahern’s record suggests May is a good month to go to the country. He, before careerending ignominy intervened, won two of his three record back-to-back general elections in May, a month that can seem to make everything possible and plausible. In 2002, polling day was May 17 and the next one, in 2007, was on May 22. Though anything could happen in the intervening eight months — will Boris Johnson still be prime minister? Will Brexit be resolved? — Mr Varadkar added grist to the mill by offering that “if the shoe was on the other foot” and Fianna Fáil held more Dáil seats after a general election than Fine Gael then they would have to consider a confidence and supply agreement. Indeed, Fine Gael might prefer to renew arrangements with Fianna Fáil, irrespective of who mans the bridge, rather than try to do a deal with the Greens. Should recent electoral trends continue, that courtship would be volatile and spiced by Fine Gael’s poor environment record. All of that is speculation and may, in eight months time, seem as daft as promises to drain the Shannon. It is not necessary, however, to speculate on what issues that will animate an election. Housing will be a lead issue. Costs and availability will dominate as will the growing reliance on institutional landlords. The plight of those facing huge, unexpected bills because buildings sanctioned by the relevant regulators are falling down will be another flashpoint. Health will be another though it is very hard to imagine that any government of any hue could untangle the web powerful groups have woven to protect their specific interests. Garda reform, and the extent to which Government supports — or otherwise — Commissioner Drew Harris’ plans is another. Better support for carers, a more humane system for refugees, and, if the looming crisis is finally recognised, pension provision are all real, live issues. So too is environmental protection and the need to match our education spending with our peer countries and RTÉ’s survival. All of these issues, and many more will be in play and once an election is called the public sector unions will dust off the tumbrils and exploit any opportunities presented. At that point idealism will be cast aside like a compromised candidate. We will focus on the gift list rather than the snags list which means, unsurprisingly, business as is usual. FROM THE ARCHIVE the type associated with the early Bronze Age. One of the curiosities of the district for many years has been the stone circle and druids’ altar on the land of Mr. Batt. Whelton. Drombeg. The stone circle is 30 feet in diameter while some of the standing stones are 6 feet high, the altar stone being 7 feet in length. Excavations at the circle on Wednesday last revealed a hand-laid floor of gravel, which indicated that the place was of special significance. The gravel floor was removed and almost in the centre of the uncovered surface underneath were found the cremated remains of a human being, probably a man in his early thirties. The remains—a charred skull and bones—were in a clay pot which pointed to the dedication of the site involving, as it did. the burning of a body on a pyre and ritual burial later. The pot was of the type of pottery associated with the period 1700 B.C. or early Bronze Age in this country. Old folklorists in the district recall the stories of Cliona, the Queen of the Fairies, whom mythology states was drowned off Glandore Harbour, and they point to the proximity of Cliona’s Strand and Cliona’s Rock to Drombeg. Tradition, they say, points to Drombeg as the burial place of the dead Cliona whose body the waves washed in on the nearby coast. SEPTEMBER 1957 Jack Lynch opens new Ballyphehane school The new 16-classroom, £70,000 school of the Sisters of the Presentation Order at Ballyphehane, Cork, was yesterday blessed by His Lordship Most Rev. Dr. Lucey, Bishop of Cork, and formally opened by the Minister for Education, Mr. Jack Lynch. Adjoining the Presentation Convent of Maria Assumpta and the recently opened Church of the Assumption, the new school, with its modern design and layout, is one of the most attractive of its kind erected in this country in recent years. “The people and children of Ballyphehane may well be proud at this school”, said the Minister. Mr. Lynch said that the people and the children should realise that it was really their school and they should resolve to maintain it in the years to come in. as beautiful a state as they saw it to-day. “The children will receive here a sound general education under ideal conditions. They may not fully appreciate now what this means, but they will in the future.” Continuing, the Minister paid tribute to the Presentation Order which, since its foundation by Nano Nagle in 1775. has had a long and honourable record of service to the cause of charity and Catholic learning in Ireland and in the City of Cork in particular. “May I also suggest, and I doubt if suggestion from me is indeed necessary, that particular attention be given to voice production. The Cork accent is famous; let us preserve it, but in the name of our fair city, let us use it well and properly in speaking our own language and in speaking English. To this end, I would exhort the children to organise inter-class and inter-school debates, so that they will be well equipped in speech, bearing and composure to take their places in an ever-increasingly difficult adult life.” Important archaeology finds in West Cork Important archaeological discoveries have been made at Drombeg, Glandore, Co. Cork, where excavations were undertaken some weeks ago under the supervision of Mr. E. M. Fahy, M.A., who is acting for the Cork Public Museum. The discoveries, during excavations on the site of a stone circle and druid’s altar, include the cremated remains of a human being which wore found In a clay pot of LETTERS TO THE EDITOR EU mortgages €80k cheaper than ours The Irish Examiner, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork. 021-4272722, fax 021-4275477, firstname.lastname@example.org @irishexaminer /irishexaminer www.irishexaminer.com Ireland can be a ray of light in an intolerant world its work land then to its birth land. For me this is true, because I have got so much love here that it became my home. I came to Ireland for six months because I wasn’t sure of how will I survive away from my people, my country and my family but with time this country became my country, its people are my people, and friends that I made here are my family. returns and giving jobs, it’s not stuffed into a mattress). It reminds me of something G. K. Chesterton said: “Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists”. Maybe there would be more of them, if Marxists would get out of their way. remember? Plague and scarlet fever have been eliminated, yet no vaccines were introduced for these diseases. The herd immunity Mr Carroll refers to is not hard science. In 2012, Great Britain had its worst epidemic of whooping cough in 20 years: “Vaccination rates for whooping cough have remained consistently high and the outbreak is not due to parents shunning the jab, experts have said” (telegraph.co.uk/news/ health/news/9711738/Whoopingcough-cases-highest-for-20years.html). And in July, 2015: “70 diagnosed with Whooping Cough in Reno County”, published in Eyewitness News. We are told: “The district tells us all of the people who’ve contracted it have been vaccinated.” Mr Walton, who objects to mandatory vaccination, in his letter quotes a Harvard study and the Nuremburg code. Mr Carroll, however, can only refer to the controversial Snopes outlet. So if Mr Carroll, a Labour representative, wants to medicalise and enforce medication on people, as his tyrannical communist cousins did in the former Soviet Union, he needs to review his reasoning. During the abortion referendum, his colleagues were known to shout “my body, my choice”. Now we have a new diktat. But what does it matter, so long as the State can do as it likes to children — before or after birth. And here’s another point: many are deliberately aborted to produce the MMR and other vaccines and drugs, providing religious grounds for objection. defeated nations of Europe and viewed it as distinctly foreign. However, by the late 50s when all efforts to sign trade deals with various countries around the world proved difficult and with its empire fast crumbling, it began to view the Common Market in a more favourable light and soon initiated negotiations for membership. These were to last about 12 years (and had to survive de Gaulle’s infamous ‘now’) before finally succeeding. Negotiations were painstaking and painful but on January 1, 1973 Britain became a member of the Common Market (as did we). Now, after 45 years Britain wishes to exit the EU and it is only to be expected that negotiations will again be painstaking and painful. Despite several opt outs and reservations, continued membership seems beyond the wishes of the British people and negotiations will be protracted. History is a compass in navigating your way forward. It is a sure guide to understanding the significance of the present and a certain aid to surmising the future. Viewed in its historical context, the present Brexit confusion can be seen as the reverse of the complicated negotiations to joining all these years ago. Buying a house or buying a car is a major cost. In both instances, we pay far more than most of our European peers. This gap last year led to ever more used cars being imported from the UK and a continuing decline in new car sales. Motor dealers, who have warned of job losses, must look with envy at the banks operating in Ireland as they do not face imported competition in the mortgage market. Because of the difficulties faced by an Irish person trying to source a mortgage in another EU country new mortgage holders can expect to pay at least €80,000 more than their European counterparts on a €300,000 mortgage over 30 years. Analysis from Brokers Ireland, a group representing 1,250 brokers, found that on a rate of 2.98%, Irish mortgage holders can expect to repay €454,000 on a €300,000 mortgage while those in the euro area can expect to repay €374,000. This shocking difference pertains despite one of the European Union’s core principles — the free movement of capital. This gap has existed for many years. The Government has neither confronted Irish banks and forced them to come into line with EU norms nor invited European banks to offer mortgages in Ireland. This, and the light-touch response to the ongoing tracker mortgages scandal suggests that our government is more worried about upsetting the wretched banks than it is about protecting consumers. And we wonder why people like Trump are elected. Mark Hickey Irishtown Dublin Mahak Jhamb I came to Ireland around four years back. I clearly remember the first day here, as soon as I landed I realized the air around had a specific aroma of purity. Everything looked beautiful. It goes without saying I was scared, it was my first time travelling alone and outside my home country too. I passed the immigration with no hassle. I took cab to hotel and on the way all I could think of was how beautiful this country is. Next day was Sunday and I went out for a walk around the canal. I have been here for the last four years and have travelled a lot around Ireland and other countries all over but there is nothing more peaceful and soothing then that walk. I was surprised to see how people smiled at you when they passed by, just as a sweet gesture of greeting. I fell in love with this country then, its people, its beauty, its culture. Days have passed by and everyday there are things that make me fall more in love with this country because you cannot find these gestures and beauty anywhere else in the world — like how people make conversations with the bus drivers when they get in, how they greet them when they get in and walk out of bus, how when you give way to someone on the road they acknowledge it by thanking you, how when I fly to Dublin and have to pass though Irish immigration they receive me by saying ‘Welcome Home’. Trust me, it’s the most compassionate thing that you could say to someone who is living far away from their family and country. ‘People make a country great’. When the whole world is moving towards intolerance, Ireland is a ray of hope. It can set an example of acceptance, tolerance and love for all the nations around the world. When I talk to some of my friends in other countries or back home and they mention Ireland, it makes me feel proud, I feel the same way that I feel for my birth country. In India we have a saying in Sanskrit — Workland is greater then birth land. A person owes more to Waterloo Road Dublin Vaccine lobby needs to review reasoning There’s a lot not to like about Marxism I’m amused by Luke Carroll’s bias in his attack on Shane Walton’s objections to mandatory vaccination (‘Compulsory vaccination goes against human rights’, September 3). To begin, Mr Carroll’s letter is ironically titled “Vaccines and the outbreak of reason” (September, 05). He draws the wrong conclusion from the Snopes article: homeschooled children are less likely to suffer medical issues, not because they report less often to a doctor, but because they are healthier, probably because they haven’t had as many – or any – vaccines, which interfere with immune systems. The failure to eliminate measles today, as with recent epidemics in the US and Europe, is not due to a scare in the 1990s because, for example, in 1989: “Major measles epidemic in the region of Quebec despite a 99% vaccine coverage” www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ 1884314 In April this year, the reported: “The employee at the McGill University Health Centre who contracted the measles — and who might have inadvertently exposed dozens of patients to the highly contagious virus for several days at the end of March — had received the standard two shots...”(montrealgazette.com/ news/local-news/health-workerwho-caught-measles-had-beenvaccinated-muhc) Also this year (January), in Rockland County, New York, officials confirmed 124 cases of measles: 93 were vaccinated (https://web.archive.org/ web/20190130225819/https:// abc7ny.com/health/124-cases-ofmeasles-now-confirmed-in-rockland-county/5112825/). Yes, smallpox was eliminated, but long before the vaccine was introduced nature provided the perfect prophylactic in the form of the homeopathically similar cowpox, Alison Hackett (Letters to the Editor), asks ‘What’s not to like about Marxism?’. In short, my response would be “a lot”. To expand on that, it is worth noting that Marxism is a political and philosophical ideology. There was no such thing as “capitalism” until Marx came along. There was the free market, which is just an efficient means of allowing consumers to meet producers. The free market is not an ideology. Marxism is. And it is a false one. It contains the falsity that all differences and inequalities that exist and come about can and must be removed by force if necessary, through taxation, redistribution, centralisation of government, regulation, control to such an extent that it can undermine the incentives to build wealth and earn money in the first place, suppress freedom, impoverish, starve and destroy. The fullest implementation of Marxism finds its expression in Communism of which Mao’s China is but one example, where estimates of the number of people sacrificed to these lies in the range of 70m. Today, some of those cruelties remain, including the infamous onechild policy. As Peter Hitchens says “The problem of utopia is that it can only be approached across a sea of blood, and you never arrive.” In so far as prosperity has come to China to lift them out of absolute poverty, this has happened by what Marxists would call “capitalism”, with the advent of private business, consumerism, Western technology and investment (and a relaxation fo the single-child policy to a two-child policy). The inequalities Alison Hackett alludes to in mentioning that so much of global wealth is in the hands of a few is symptomatic of relative disparity and not necessarily a problem in itself (their wealth is in fact invested and producing President is right Even if Government ministers’ frustration at President Michael D Higgins’ remarks about the pressing need to improve Defence Forces pay were couched in the most diplomatic terms it is obvious that the intervention was unwelcome. That discomfort may have been exacerbated by the fact that Mr Higgins is right and that our Defence Forces have been treated poorly for far too long. One minister who voiced public concern was Agriculture Minister Michael Creed who said he found the President’s decision to comment “quite unusual”. This is the same minister who in recent weeks found €100m for beef farmers so a charge of gross hypocrisy seems apt. The Taoiseach, who said he had no problem with the President’s remarks, pointed to the domino effect a pay rise in the public sector can have. That argument only holds water if you believe Government can’t find the gumption to say ‘no’ to well-paid public sector workers who demand an increase just because poorer paid public sector workers get a rise. Maybe they can’t. J Coughlan Cork Correct language use counts for a lot As a person who is interested in words and regards language as a living thing, I would like to share a few p.c. thoughts and ideas with the readers. It is p.c. not to identify people by their colour or disability. The proper way to refer to coloured people is people of colour. This acknowledges that they are first human beings and worthy of respect and dignity. A new one which I have heard recently is that people no longer “commit” suicide but die by suicide. This may bring a little comfort to those afflicted. It is not correct to say Down syndrome children, but children with Down syndrome. The same refers to people with cystic fibrosis. There may be more, but the ones mentioned are the important ones. Stephen Blendell Montreal Gazette Castlebar Co Mayo History can explain Brexit confusion We view the Brexit chaos with wry amusement and a certain rueful smile but by placing it in historical context much of the confusion is more readily understood. At the end of the war Britain was bankrupt but being on the victorious side and with its empire still largely intact, it considered itself something of a world power. It sought to establish trade links with various nations hoping thereby to rebuild its economy. By the early 50s progress was slow and the Common Market was established. Britain’s response was negative, it saw this new coal and steel community as being comprised of the Press Council of Ireland The Irish Examiner always endeavours to be fair, accurate and honest in our reporting and in our relationships with our readers and customers. If you experience a problem with one of our stories please follow this procedure and we will respond to you at the earliest opportunity. 1) Telephone us on 021 4802101. Please provide your name, contact details, a daytime telephone number and a summary of your complaint or observation. 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