Sir, - John Bruton (Opinion, May 21st) gives a convincing demonstration of the level of political debate which seems pretty much the norm in this country. His "reply" to Fintan O'Toole's very subtle analysis of the election results in your issue of the day before consists exclusively, I think one cay say, of personal insults and abuse which sound more hysterical than "adolescent": Fintan O'Toole, Fintan O'Toole, Fintan O'Toole - in every one of 12 paragraphs. I had been thinking that Fine Gael had made a mistake in replacing John Bruton as leader, but it is more than obvious now that I was sadly deluding myself. - Yours, etc.,



Co Cork.

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Sir, - In your report of May 20th on Sinn Féin's impact in the general election, Sinn Féin Cllr Mark Daly is quoted as saying, "Nobody has a difficulty transferring to us". I do. When I am convinced that Sinn Féin has exclusively and irrevocably committed itself to the democratic process, I will consider it for transfers. Perhaps there are other readers who feel impelled to let his party know this. - Yours, etc.,



Co Westmeath.

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Sir, - Fintan O'Toole is forthright in expressing his disgust at the results of the general election and the mystifying inclination of the Irish electorate to vote for the unsavoury and the immoral (Opinion, May 21st) . He laments, with justification, the way in which citizens have recklessly spurned the imperative for ethics in public life. Democracy has let us down again, just like it did in the Nice Treaty.

Mr O'Toole is less forthcoming, however, in exploring the reasons why voters rubber-stamped the return of this motley crew. The answers may lie a lot closer than he thinks.

For many years now, he along with other notable commentators such as Vincent Browne and Dick Walsh, has engaged in the relentless browbeating of readers into voting against mainstream parties of the centre-right, on the overtly argued basis that a view for these parties was a vote for corruption and social injustice. There was some truth in this, but not much. Compared with most of our European neighbours, Irish public life is remarkably incorrupt, while our social welfare system is generous to a fault.

Without mentioning that infamous postcode, I detect subtext to this stance, one comprised of a vaguely left-wing urban, liberal disdain for the voting habits of the great mass of our society. Those who voted for Fianna Fáil were labelled as grasping materialists mired in their own greed. Fine Gael was derided as a paler shade of the former. Independent politicians and their supporters were at best ignored, or else caricatured as irrelevant, flat-capped throwbacks to pre-industrial antiquity.

It is this elitist hectoring which has, I believe, helped contribute to a sorry situation in which gun-runners and tax-evaders, among others, have found their way into an assembly once dignified by the likes of Michael Collins, Sean Lemass and Jack Lynch, men who would have considered a brown envelope to be exactly that. A brown envelope. - Yours, etc.,


Tavistock Avenue,

St Albans,


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Sir, - Sean Fleming (May 22nd) is quite mistaken in saying that the people of Dublin South Central gave a clear verdict on the policies of ICP by "rejecting the Immigration Control Platform". 926 people put immigration control at the absolute top of their electoral agenda. The count, however, as it took place, cannot show the many people who went on to give a high preference to me after voting for their FF, FG, Labour or other choice for government, as these never transferred.

The man in Drimnagh who followed a canvasser to the gate to say, "I will vote for her after I vote for FF", does not feature in those statistics. The man in the Rialto area who already had an Ó Snodaigh (SF) card pinned to the glass of his door but was so supportive that he distributed canvassing cards for me will also not have registered his support if he voted 1 for SF.

The real irony of Sean Fleming's letter from Belfast, however, is that he lauds a multiracial society for us in the Republic, ignoring the fact that it is estimated that approximately 75 per cent of our so-called asylum-seekers cross into the Republic from Northern Ireland. They must be unaware of the warm embrace awaiting them from Sean Fleming and his neighbours. Or is Northern Ireland, like everywhere, happy to pass the parcel? - Yours, etc.,



Immigration Control Platform,

Dublin 2.

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Sir, - Is it possible that we have reached a new "low" in Ireland?

Pictures of Government Ministers collecting their "winnings" from "bookie's" shops - how could they demean themselves? - Yours, etc.,


St Catherine's Park,


Co Dublin.