Sir, – The protests at Leinster House are a reflection of an increasing level of violent behaviour that has gradually been allowed to take hold in our society. In recent years, we have become familiar with violent incidents on the streets of our towns and cities, assaults on gardaí, increasing violence against women, assaults on hospital staff, anti-social behaviour on our transport systems, etc.
On occasions, these problems are viewed in isolation from each other but they are all part of a gradual drift towards an increasingly violent society.
Now that this behaviour has reached the gates of Leinster House, perhaps it is time to reflect on how we have managed this problem up to now. How effective, for instance, is the “de-escalation approach” which the gardaí employ in the management of public order incidents? Perhaps excessive tolerance and light-touch law enforcement have contributed to the present situation. One thing is certain: a comprehensive review of existing policy is essential if we are to effectively deal with the level of violence that exists in our society today. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – We all should take seriously Miriam Lord’s concluding words in her report of the “protest” outside the Dáil ( September 21st): " It’s gone way beyond time to reassert power over these dangerously emboldened thugs”.
I have been involved in protests on various issues since 1979. These peaceful protests were designed to highlight injustice and to invite passersby to join in but never to alienate them by acting in a threatening manner.
The community is caught on the horns of a dilemma – whether to react to them or ignore them. The State should not be provoked to react in a repressive manner by bringing in any sort of emergency legislation to delimit civic rights, as any such a move would play into their hands. Yet the activity of these groups cannot be ignored as they threaten the rest of society. All groups dedicated to the promotion of human rights should not allow themselves to be browbeaten into silence by these sinister groups. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It’s easy for a talented writer like Miriam Lord to ridicule and dismiss the incoherent sans-culottes who surrounded Dáil Éireann on Wednesday. But aside from their ridiculous conspiracy theories and naff Irish nationalism, which in one case involved wearing the Tricolour as a skirt, is not their anger indicative of a deep malaise in Irish democracy?
In today’s Dáil Éireann it’s increasingly hard to tell the political parties apart as they all seem to have the same policies. Power no longer lies in the ballot box but in the hands of unelected NGOs, State quangos and carefully curated citizens’ assemblies. Major decisions on, for instance, whether more data centres should be built or where the likes of the national children’s hospital should be located now seem to depend more on vested interests rather than common sense. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The shameful scenes outside Leinster House at the beginning of the new Dáil term can only be condemned. Questions will rightly be asked about the anything but peaceful protest. However, those looking into the reasons, however distasteful they may be, for such ire might also closely examine what the Tánaiste called “the flaws in any democracy”, especially our own brand of democracy. Are our own democratic principles actually listening to all citizens? Are we protecting all of our citizens? It seems to me that there are those who would reject the label “far right” who have come to believe that their voices, their opinions, and their legitimate fears are being dismissed out of hand by a Government intent on pushing through with agendas against the wishes of more than one section of the electorate. The stable door remains ajar. – Yours, etc,
PETER DECLAN O’HALLORAN,
Sir, – “Enough is enough”, Miriam Lord tells us, echoing the reactions of TDs who had to deal with protests outside Leinster House and the inconvenience caused to TDs and staff trying to go about their business. It is telling that we heard no such sentiments when roads across the city were blockaded, disrupting ordinary citizens trying to get to and from work. Nor did those citizens have the benefit of a Garda escort to pass the protesters who were given free rein to invade libraries, intimidate the homeless and stop traffic at Dublin Airport. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – The scenes of intimidation of some of our elected representatives outside Dáil Éireann by a small minority of the protesters assembled should be rightfully condemned by all sections of society. I do, however, think that a portion of the blame for these scenes occurring in the first instance outside the Dáil is a direct result of the majority of politicians refusal to engage with genuine concerns and fears that some sections of society have highlighted. These protesters are often portrayed as being “far right” by both politicians and the media in general, and their valid concerns disregarded. This in turn leads to a small minority of these people escalating their behaviours from a peaceful protest into breaches of public order legislation. Historically we do not have a good record in Ireland when people’s voices are deliberately silenced. It is time for this new “inclusive” Ireland to listen to the concerns of all its citizens, both liberal and conservative. This, after all, is the cornerstone of a democratic society. – Is mise,