Tag Archives: Irish Times letters page

Houses on Inis Mor overlooking the Atlantic towards Connemara, Co Galway

For as long as I have been reading the pages of this newspaper, and observing political debate more generally, public discourse has been gripped by the trials and tribulations of a place called “Rural Ireland”.

While nobody ever defines where this place actually is, by common consensus it seems to be somewhere, or everywhere, out there “beyond the M50 motorway”.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was the latest to incur the instant wrath of “Rural Irelanders” by having the temerity to suggest that the radical lifestyle changes, which every major political party agrees will need to be brought about in response to climate change, may require a future with fewer cars.

The reality is that the narrative of “Rural Ireland” is now often deployed as a catch-all euphemistic trope to camouflage the deeply reactionary, car-based culture that we have allowed to develop over the past half-century.

We know from the census data that, in general, the vast bulk of “Rural Ireland” is located within 10 kilometres of a large town or city; those commuting greater than 30 minutes to work typically have higher incomes; and live in much larger houses.

“Rural Ireland” has a lot of genuine challenges which need urgent, sustained attention, but it is not a homogenous space.

North Leitrim is not the same as north Kildare. Much of what we class as “Rural Ireland” is, in fact, the sprawling geographical extension of “Urban Ireland”, or what is more pejoratively referred to as middle-class flight.

As the debate on what we do about climate change intensifies, so too will the prominence of “Rural Ireland”.

It therefore behoves us to have more nuanced media reporting. This will require a recognition that; not only does its car-dependent legacy create very many real and practical problems for decarbonisation; it is also a state of mind that needs to be challenged.

Gavin Daly,
Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place,
University of Liverpool.

FIGHT!

Finding ‘Rural Ireland’ (The Irish Times letters page)

Previously: It Takes A Village

‘We Deeply Regret The Hurt That Has Been Caused’

Rollingnews

Senator Ivana Bacik

Brian Dineen takes issue with Mia de Faoite’s article supporting the 2017 Irish law criminalising the purchase of sex.

However, he has missed her crucial point about decriminalisation of the (mostly women) sellers of sex.

It is true that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 did not repeal some ancillary offences that can criminalise those engaged in organised prostitution or in pimping, such as the offences of brothel-keeping or of living off the earnings of a prostitute.

Most rational people would agree that these clearly exploitative behaviours should remain criminal offences.

But the 2017 Act did repeal the critical provision in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 under which many individual women had been prosecuted for the offence of offering their services as a prostitute in a street or public place.

This change has effectively decriminalised the practice of selling sex in public, as we suggested on the Oireachtas Justice Committee which recommended the introduction of the 2017 law.

Mr Dineen also suggests that the criminalisation of the (almost invariably) men who buy sex has led to increased violence against women engaged in prostitution.

However, there is no evidence for this assertion.

Indeed, on the Oireachtas Justice Committee we heard strong evidence from Sweden that criminalising buyers can have a significant effect on reducing demand for prostitution and thereby reducing the harms caused to women through prostitution.

Mia de Faoite and others have spoken powerfully from their own personal experience about these harms, and about the grim reality of selling sex; it is inherently dangerous.

That is why, as legislators, we sought to tackle harm through reducing demand.

Our law, like the 1999 Swedish law, is also premised upon the core principle of equality.

Laws that facilitate the purchase of sex undermine women’s equality by enabling men to buy sexual consent.

But if consent is bought, it is not freely chosen. Those who take issue with our 2017 law tend to overlook that reality.

Senator Ivana Bacik,
Seanad Éireann,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2.

Criminalising the purchase of sex (Irish Times letters page)

Alternatively…

Meanwhile…

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland tweetz:

We are looking for sex workers to participate in a study into the lived experiences of sex workers in the Republic of Ireland in relation to prostitution law, conducted by SWAI.

Please email linda@swai.eu if you are interested in talking to us

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland

Previously: “It Is An Extremely Dangerous Piece Of Legislation”

Why is it that we say that two men rescued a child from drowning, or two men won a Nobel Prize, but we say that two males were arrested for burglary, or two males were brought to hospital after a traffic accident?

Is a man only a “male” when he does something bad or comes to the attention of the emergency services?

Aoife Lord,
Tankardstown,
Co Meath.

Anyone?

When is a man a male man? (Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Dreamstime

Meath TD and Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty

The resignation of Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, on foot of the very expensive Public Services Card debacle, is not “compulsory”, but it is “mandatory” if we are serious about the creation of accountable governance.

Jim O’Sullivan,
Rathedmond,
Sligo.

Public Services Card debacle (The Irish Times letters page)

Previously: House Of Card

Rollingnews

Cows cool off in County Cavan in the summer of 2017

Máire Geary is of course correct to point out that those who adopt a vegan diet “should be mindful of where food is sourced and grown when adopting this type of diet” because of the contribution of the relevant “food miles” to environmental harm.

It is indeed the case that vegans consume foods “not grown in Ireland and imported from long distances”.

However, the implication that vegans are significantly different in this respect from their fellow citizens is difficult to accept. Ireland is a country where more than 90 per cent of the agricultural land is used for grazing livestock.

Predictably, in order to give citizens even a moderately balanced diet, we have to import large amounts of nearly everything that is not meat and dairy. Indeed much of the crops we do produce are grown as feed for animals.

Those trying to reduce or eliminate their intake of animal products may not have emission-free diets, but at least they can hope that their behaviour will begin to change the pattern of demand, and that more than a tiny fraction of that glorious Irish soil will be used to grow some vegetables.

Christopher McMahon,
Oxford,
United Kingdom.

FIGHT!

Climate change and veganism (The Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Lorraine Teevan

Meanwhile…



NOMNOMNOM

Mmf.

Thanks Bebe

Further to the letter regarding water bottles at the Dublin Marathon, it would be great if the organisers were inspired by this year’s London Marathon.

A total of 200,000 edible water “pods”, made from an edible, biodegradable seaweed, were distributed to runners. Definitely something noble to consider for this island nation.

Orla Gilhooly,
Madison,
Wisconsin.

Anyone?

Plastic bottles at the Dublin Marathon (Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Sports Inquirer

Crowds celebrating the result of the abortion referendum in Dublin Castle last year

It’s almost a year since the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

It is clear that some of those who opposed the introduction of legal abortion services believe this decision can be reversed, and have brought their battle to the board of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP).

Breda O’Brien believes the board of the ICGP is “afraid of democracy” because it has not listened to the concerns of a small number of members who are vehemently opposed to the principle of abortion services being provided within general practice (“GPs are ignoring democracy on abortion issues”, Opinion & Analysis, March 30th).

It is important these views are listened to and the ICGP has done so extensively.

These members – some 500 – believe general practice is not the place to provide terminations. Your columnist notes the UK model of standalone clinics.

Let us look at the facts.

The Irish College of General Practitioners has over 3,600 members, of which some 500 have said they wish the IGCP to debate and vote on the provision of terminations being provided in general practice.

Over 300 GPs are now providing abortion services and have signed State contracts to do so. Over 500 have completed training in the provision of termination of pregnancy services. No GP who does not wish to provide such a service has been asked to do so.

The Government’s approach is that the contract is provided on an “opt in” basis and there is no change to existing General Medical Service arrangements.

The ICGP board, on legal advice, cannot hold an EGM on motions which it cannot adopt as ICGP policy. However, the ICGP is facilitating the debate of this issue at its AGM in May, via an extended deadline for motions through the normal route, ie its faculties.

There is no fee to attend the AGM of the ICGP. It is free for registered members.

On December 2nd, 2018, the ICGP facilitated a debate on termination of pregnancy at a general meeting which was characterised by a walkout and personalised attacks on the board members. The meeting in Malahide was in addition to an extensive online consultation process, six regional meetings and a full debate at a specially convened ICGP meeting last October which included faculty representatives.

The board of the ICGP acts according to the constitution of the organisation and company law. These rules do not contain any remit on conscientious objection. However, representations in this regard were made to the Medical Council on behalf of members. In light of the ministerial commitment to provide service and give effect to the referendum result, the ICGP engaged with the Department of Health.

The provision of a 24-hour helpline and an opt-in clause was secured to ensure those wishing to provide could, and those who did not wish to were not required to do so. The actions of the ICGP have been solely responsive to events outside the organisation.

All decisions of the board of the ICGP were unanimous and have been based on solid ethical principles, ie the safety and care of the patient, which lies at the heart of general practice. This was the rationale for producing robust evidence-based clinical guidance, which is one of the core responsibilities of a specialist body.

We wish that those who oppose the provision of abortion services to women who need them would recognise the outcome of last year’s referendum, and accept that this is outside the ICGP’s control and or responsibility.

The ICGP is not a political organisation. It is the academic body for general practice whose remit is training, education, research and standards.

The board has acted in good faith, reflected the wishes of the electorate, put the needs of patients to the fore, designed excellent clinical guidance, were respectful to our members’ different views and demonstrated leadership.

The ICGP is not the instigator, promotor or provider of abortions in Ireland, nor is it the means of subverting the wishes of the population as expressed in the referendum.

Those who oppose the introduction of abortion in Ireland have a perfectly valid ethical position.

However, they do not have the right to dictate to others how they should act, be they either colleagues or patients.

No amount of repetition – and there has been a great deal – will alter the fact that the board of the ICGP has acted in an honourable and balanced manner. As a board, we take full responsibility for what we have done and stand behind our actions.

The board of the ICGP will continue to represent the needs of general practice which is under very serious threat from deficiencies in funding and manpower with resulting overload.

The democratic decisions of the Irish people will also be respected.

Dr John O’Brien,
President,

Dr John Gillman,
Chairman,

Mr Fintan Foy,
Chief Executive Officer,

Irish College of General Practitioners,
Lincoln Place,
Dublin 2.

Irish College of General Practitioners and democracy (The Irish Times letters page)

Rollingnews

Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers

While I was happy to see your prominent coverage about my husband Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers getting arrested at Shannon Airport, I was disappointed that there was barely a reference to why these two members of Veterans For Peace risked arrest and spent nearly two weeks in jail without bail.

There is no mention of the fact that the US uses Shannon Airport to refuel military flights, in direct violation of Irish neutrality, and that a US military-contracted aircraft was, in fact, on the tarmac the morning they were arrested, which was confirmed by the arresting officer at their arraignment.

Since 2001, Shannon has been a pitstop for flights of US soldiers, weapons, and munitions to its illegal wars in the Middle East and for rendition flights carrying prisoners to US torture sites.

Millions of troops have flown through “neutral” Ireland on their way to the US-created and supported murder and mayhem in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and other places.

The Irish Government is thus complicit in the war crimes and atrocities committed by the US military.

Authorities have turned a blind eye to the situation, and Ken and Tarak were trying to get local police to enforce Ireland’s neutrality and inspect the aircraft.

Tarak and Ken were treated well in prison and made friends among the guards and other prisoners, many of whom supported their action and encouraged them to “keep protesting”, and I hope they can also be given a fair hearing in Ireland’s leading newspaper as to the important motivations for the actions that landed them in jail.

Ellen Davidson,
Woodstock,
New York.

Shannon Airport’s US protesters (Irish Times letters page)

Previously: Meanwhile In Shannon

Pic: Popular Resistance

Trees recently cut on the main street in Fethard, Co Tipperary

Your editorial “Tree cutting – Let them stand” expresses dismay at the irresponsible and unnecessary tree-felling epidemic currently laying waste to the countryside.

The same edition also carries a report on the National Transport Authority’s compulsory purchase orders whose implementation will have the effect of mass tree-felling along three of the six proposed new bus corridors, in Rathfarnham, Terenure and Rathgar in Dublin.

This is an act of premeditated – indeed, officially sanctioned – vandalism, whose motive is to generate yet more space for yet more surface traffic which will, in short time, produce yet more congestion, and at the cost of irreparable environmental destruction.

This is blinkered, short-term thinking, and certainly not progress. What price beauty?

Tony Fitzmaurice,
Dublin 6.

Pic: Tipp FM

Trees – let them stand (The Irish Times letters page)

With the removal of history and geography as Junior Cycle core subjects, is the Government hoping for a new generation of citizens who don’t know who they are, where they are from, and why things are the way they are?

Louisa Moss,
Cabra,
Dublin 7.

FIGHT!

History and geography (The Irish Times letters page)