Sir, – The relatively relaxed atmosphere around Leinster House and Merrion Square, along with the ease with which the public can engage with public representatives in public, are features of Irish life which often surprise visitors. Long may it remain so.
Having experience of visiting Westminster, I understand why UK friends are impressed by the contrast.
The right to freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy. That includes the right to peaceful protest.
Trade unions have frequently gathered in large numbers outside Leinster House, peacefully if noisily, respectful of the rights of parliamentarians, workers and visitors to the area. By definition such protests are disruptive but should never be threatening or menacing.
It is impossible to divine the true purposes of the mob who gathered this week at Leinster House.
What is clear to me is that they have been emboldened and encouraged by a small number of Oireachtas members who have been quick to resort to social media to feign shock and surprise at the actions of their admirers.
There is a price to be paid for populism.
Journalists, especially female journalists, have often been targeted in a similar fashion by those identifiable leaders of this week’s gathering. This week working journalists were among those abused. So too public servants going about their daily work.
If you help to fan the flames of hate and division one should not be surprised at the result.
The words of Yeats spring to mind.
“Because I helped to wind the clock,
I come to hear it strike”.
It’s way past time to sound the alarm. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I totally concur with the sentiments expressed by Eamonn O’Hara (Letters, September 22nd).
The actions of some who engaged in this protest were indeed excessive and are to be condemned.
I do think it’s interesting, however, the speed with which new proposals for enhanced security around Leinster House are being discussed by those in power, considering one of the main gripes of the protesters is the fact that for the past two years unvetted and undocumented migrants have been relocated to working-class areas with little or no regard for the safety of the people who are local dwellers in those respective areas for many years.
I feel there has been a concerted effort on the part of mainstream media to stifle debate on this issue, and of course this can only be seen as a contributing factor as to why this protest took place at all.
In the interest of fair and unbiased journalism, I would call on mainstream media to listen to the very real and genuine concerns expressed in local communities. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Peter Declan O’Halloran (Letters, September 22nd) is right that the “legitimate fears” of many people are being inadequately met by the Government. However, by correctly invoking the term “far right” in the context of the unruly scenes outside Leinster House, your correspondent implies that those fears legitimately include immigration. In this he is mistaken; if we wish to combat the rise of the far right the real problem is the cost of living crisis.
As a Marxist, I believe that xenophobia, extreme nationalism and racism are caused by economic inequality not immigrants.
Eamon O’Flynn (Letters, September 22nd) wrongly suggests that “perhaps it is time to reflect on . . . How effective, for instance, is the ‘de-escalation approach’ which the gardaí employ in the management of public order incidents”. If we want to decisively see off the threat of the far right, then it is not the Garda Síochána’s intelligent approach to containing disorder that we need to consider, but rather ordinary people’s very real cost of living fears. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Thankfully, political support for far-right political parties is puny. But that should not be a cause for complacency. It is not too much of a stretch to foresee a situation where, say, for example, a future Sinn Féin-led government failure to deliver on the seemingly insurmountable crises in housing and health drive greater numbers of people into the arms of far-right populists.
The sooner the Government addresses the very genuine problems of housing and health, in particular, the better, if we want to reduce the risk of support for these dangerous groups proliferating.
Obviously, these issues should be addressed in any case. – Yours, etc,