Aftermath of presidential election

 

A chara, – Almost 50 years after the term was first introduced, it is disturbing to see strains of “Rahoonery” persist in Irish society.

Not that the vote for a bigot was about bigotry, of course. Just “common sense” and a conception of “equality” that starts from the perspective that recognising Travellers’ status as a distinct ethnic group constitutes unfair special treatment.

“Travellers . . . do not constitute a separate ethnic group”; others were “living in worse conditions and were not rehoused”; politicians should not “forget their duty to protect those people who have fixed homes and who pay rates”.

The above quotes, of course, come not from this week or last, but from the Galway newspapers of the 1960s and 1970s and, for the first quote, from the 1963 report of the Commission on Itinerancy.

The formal recognition of the ethnic status of Travelling people was an important step, but symbolic steps must be followed be concrete action, including ensuring that prejudice against Travellers, and other minority groups, continues to be tackled.

We have not had a national anti-racism strategy since 2008 – re-establishing one would be a good first step. – Is mise,

Dr ANDREW Ó BAOILL,

Rahoon,

Galway.

Sir, – Stephen Collins’s article could be a starting point for a constructive debate about the media’s role and responsibilities in politics, particularly during elections (Opinion, November 1st).

One significant barrier to the mature and realistic political discussion he advocates is the tendency of modern journalism to coalesce around a sometimes-random “narrative”, which then shapes and dominates subsequent reporting to the exclusion of all else.

It is the media’s right and responsibility to measure a party’s record in government against its earlier election promises.

But there was little attempt in 2016 either to interrogate the dominant “Labour’s broken promises” narrative, or to explore other aspects of the party’s record including its mostly-successful efforts to minimise the impact of austerity on the poorest or its contribution to rebuilding the economy and employment, both of which Collins notes.

A similar thing happened in the recent presidential election. When reporting on Michael D Higgins’s campaign, the media (with one or two exceptions) seemed incapable of moving off its narrative of presidential expenses.

Again, media scrutiny of State expenditure is totally legitimate.

But in this case the consistent journalistic focus was disproportionate to the point of excluding virtually any other aspect of the President’s record or offer to the electorate, which still depends on the mass media for much of its information.

Similar narratives (perhaps of public interest, but hardly fundamental to their suitability for the presidency) were established for other candidates too – Gavin Duffy’s teenage motoring offence was a stand-out example.

If we are to get the “more balanced reporting” that Collins seeks, the media must begin to place more emphasis on reporting and analysing a range of pertinent issues, news and views, and less on establishing and promoting its own narrow narratives that seek to determine in advance what the “story” will be. – Yours, etc,

BERNARD HARBOR,

(Former communications

director to the Michael D

Higgins’s election campaign,

writing in a personal

capacity),

Dublin 15.

Sir, – In his analysis of the Peter Casey vote (Home News, October 29th) Fiach Kelly reports that “a number of deputies said that a mature debate needs to be had about the Traveller community.”

“Post-independence official policy began with the Report of the Commission on Itinerancy (1963) which promoted ‘absorption into the community’.” – Sinéad Ní Shúinéar.

One hopes that the proposed debate will include a reflection on the genesis of this policy – and on the story of its untimely demise. – Yours, etc,

Rev JOHN CARROLL,

Sligo.

A chara, – Poppy ár lá came off badly. Redmondism may be thriving in Sinn Féin, but Sinn Féin are not thriving on Redmondism.

No other candidate announced an intention to wear a poppy – Liadh Ní Riada shot herself in the foot.

Some voters may have thought she was the DUP candidate. – Yours, etc,

JAMES HARDEN,

Co Limerick.

A chara, – The ongoing response to Peter Casey’s presidential run makes it evident that he struck a nerve. Whether he struck a chord remains to be seen. – Is mise,

Revd PATRICK G BURKE,

Castlecomer,

Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – Auditors are watchdogs not lapdogs. When exactly is it either prudent or ethical for the subject of an inquiry to be allowed set the terms of their examination, choose the personnel that carry it out and determine the timing?

Harry McGee and Patrick Smyth (Home News, November 1st) inform us that the President has begun consulting with his advisers and staff to set up an audit committee to scrutinise how his presidential allowance is spent. We were reminded that his expenditure was a dominant issue in the electoral campaign. The allegation of extravagant expenditure went beyond the unaudited €317,000 allowance.

The point of an audit is to provide independent and objective oversight of expenditure, ensuring it is spent for the purposes it was allocated and that it is rigorously recorded.

Allowing the President, his advisers and staff dictate the terms and choose the officers is verging on the absurd. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL ANDERSON,

Balgriffin,

Dublin 13.