In the aftermath of the presidential election

 

Sir, – I’m a Traveller, I’m a social protection beneficiary, I’m a member of the community of Irish people, I’m no better and no worse than my fellow human beings. I’m proud of the re-election of our cherished President, Michael D Higgins.

It pleases me that we all live in a society in which we try to live up to better aspirations. It is a good thing that most of the electorate prefer to look for a better society rather than to cast blame and attempt to impose victimisation on the more vulnerable and materially deprived in our community of equal people. This is my understanding of our Republic.

It was a good thing and well done that we voted for a nobler vision than a negative and divisive perspective.

We are better than those who seek to divide us in pursuit of their needy ambitions. – Yours, etc,

ANTHONY LAYNG,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – Many commentators are now asking how and why Peter Casey received in excess of 23 per cent of first preference votes.

I, for one, voted for him because I’m getting a little tired of being told what I can and can’t say. For example, during the Celtic Tiger years those of us who criticised certain aspects of how our economy was performing were famously told that we should commit suicide and more recently those of us who criticised Travellers for not moving into first-rate new houses because they also wanted to be given land for their horses were called “racist”.

So if my vote was a protest vote, it was a protest against the other five candidates who all roundly attacked Peter Casey for not being politically correct and daring to articulate some obvious but unpalatable facts and a protest against radio and television interviewers who invariably sighed at, shouted down and generally tried in vain to browbeat him. – Yours, etc,

WD FARRELL,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – It must be very worrying indeed for members of the Traveller community to see that a presidential candidate who repeatedly maligned them in no uncertain terms could receive 23 per cent first preference votes, suggesting that over a fifth of those who voted in the election are hostile to them.

As a country we must now openly assure that community that they as citizens are as fully entitled to enjoy equal rights as everyone else. I would suggest the President should make a point in leading the way on this immediately, and that the school curriculum place increased emphasis on the rights of all minority groups here.

No doubts whatsoever must be allowed to grow in that community’s mind that persecution and hate speech against them will now increase. Should the latter do so then racism of all kinds will feed off it and slowly but surely mainstream political parties will “normalise” and exploit such prejudices by adopting similar policies for their own advantage.

This extremely contagious disease must be stopped in its tracks by all of us whenever and wherever we see or hear it. We must never let it pass by unchallenged just the sake of not wanting to cause an argument or a scene. We must show by example that we are better than that. – Yours, etc,

IVOR SHORTS,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – Many in the media and elsewhere are of the view that the substantial vote for Peter Casey in the presidential election was due to his straight-talking criticism of Travellers and the welfare state.

This seemingly struck a chord with so-called middle Ireland who work hard and pay their taxes.

I would remind those who attempt to whip up support for politicians such as Mr Casey that scapegoating Travellers and welfare recipients is typical of right-wing demagogues in the UK, Europe and the US.

People should remember that it was not Travellers who bankrupted this country but highly paid and educated bankers, speculators, developers and other “professionals” . The same types that have traditionally availed of creative accounting, dodgy audits, tax breaks, write-offs, amnesties, bailouts, debt write-offs and so on.

So if middle Ireland is looking for someone to blame, it needs to look somewhere other than the social welfare office and the halting site. – Yours, etc,

HUGH PIERCE,

Celbridge, Co Kildare.

Sir, – Without wishing to offend those who voted for Peter Casey, would it be fair to call them “diasporists”? – Yours, etc,

LIAM MCGLYNN,

Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole (Opinion, October 29th) describes Peter Casey as “incoherent, unfocused, a golf club bore”. Later in the same article he says “the mood of the times is volatile, febrile and potentially toxic”. Did he fail to see any connection between these two sentences? – Yours, etc,

ROSARY COX,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – During the presidential campaign Peter Casey referred to certain matters with which many Irish people agree but for various reasons are slow to speak publicly on. Despite this, many self righteous media people and self-serving politicians attacked him and accused him of being racist.

Whether one agrees with him or not is irrelevant. There is supposed to be a right to speak freely in this country without being attacked for expressing one’s views and this is what Mr Casey was doing.

George Washington, American President stated “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter”.

What price free speech in Ireland now? – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL O’CONNELL,

Listowel, Co Kerry.

Sir, – Donald Trump said outrageous things. Peter Casey ditto. Ergo, outrageous = votes! – Yours, etc,

OLIVER MCGRANE ,

Dublin 16.

Sir, – Robert Norton (Letters, October 29th) thinks Peter Casey is “a breath of fresh air and realism”. Has the Co Dublin political climate really become so noxiously and toxically polluted with a sour bigotry reminiscent of the worst of the tribalism that still infects our north-eastern corner?

The really worrying factor is how certain sections of our media are succumbing to the sensationalist value and allowing him the publicity-oxygen Donald Trump and so many of these simplistic demagogues across the planet have mastered to insert division for their own narcissistic ends.

Stephen Collins may think the “Casey phenomenon no harbinger of new form of populist politics”, (October 29th). He should pause at his keyboard a moment and consider that a short two years ago somnambulists were still dismissing Trump’s prospects with similar certainty. Slumbering tinder loves such bright sparks. – Yours, etc,

DAMIEN FLINTER,

Headford, Co Galway.

Sir, – Peter Casey’s vote popularity is about anger from the easily targeted, taxed, and continually squeezed middle-classes doing a lot of the paying and subsidising. It’s about rural Ireland and its struggling towns and villages. It’s about ignoring the darker side of Traveller “culture”. It’s about locating immigrant groups in small towns without proper support services and overnight changing centuries of ethnic balance without any understanding or consultation. It’s about funding for rural broadband which should be treated like electrification of the country once was. It’s about health services and how they are prioritised without actually understanding the regional and local logistics. It’s about the multinationals repatriating billions of euro after minuscule taxation.

Mr Casey was exposing some of these seismic fault-lines. – Yours, etc,

KEITH NOLAN,

Carrick-on-Shannon,

Co Leitrim.

Sir, – In actuality, the only thing Peter Casey voters ensured was that a millionaire, who is not an Irish tax resident, will get his reported €70,000 expenses covered from public money. – Yours, etc,

Dr RICHARD SCRIVEN,

Ballinlough, Cork.

Sir, – If there is one thing we can be grateful to candidate Casey for, it’s that he lifted the rock so we might see what came out from under it. – Yours, etc,

FINIAN COGHLAN,

Athlone, Co Westmeath.

Sir, – Now that the “race for the Áras” is over, may we all settle down and have a bonfire of the vanities please? – Yours, etc,

ALISON FERGUSSON,

Stillorgan,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Some suggestions for consideration regarding future presidential elections. Shorten the term of office to, say, five years. Introduce a petitions route to nominations. Enfranchise recent emigrants. Reduce the Dáil nomination quota. Audit all presidential expenditure. Tighten councils’ nomination procedures. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN FLANAGAN,

Blackrock, Co Dublin.

A chara, – Do words matter? Michael D Higgins claims that they do (Home News, October 28th). Do some words matter more than others or should some words be forgotten soon after they are uttered?

Michael Deasy (Letters, October 4th) was sure that words mattered when he wrote “Michael D Higgins looked into the camera and assured me that he would seek only one term. He did so because his age was, whether he liked it or not, a factor. So I took him at his word and I voted for him.”

Michael D claims that he had not reneged “on a solemn promise” (Home News, October 19th) but it looks like he did and that his integrity is now compromised. Words matter. – Is mise,

GREG SCANLON,

Shannon, Co Clare.

Sir, – We can resume our place among the modern nations of the world. This is because the wealthy, reality TV personality, Peter Casey, sought to emulate Donald Trump and add the presidency to his trophy room, by giving us a populist movement, many of whose members (like their peers in many other countries) know the cost of everything and the price of nothing. – Yours, etc,

PATRICK GRANT,

Dublin 7.

A chara, – In the next general election, perhaps Mr Casey might consider running in Donegal as an Independent.

Possible names for his new party might include: Renewed Independent Fianna Fáil or Revitalised Aontacht Fianna Fáil.

It would then be a simple choice between RIFF and RAFF. – Is mise,

DERMOT O’ROURKE,

Lucan, Dublin.

Sir, – This morning I heard Peter Casey telling Miriam O’Callaghan (Monday, RTÉ radio 1) that he is willing to start a new political party called “New Fianna FAIL”. I hope it does. – Yours, etc

DONAL MOORE,

Waterford.

Sir, – President Higgins in his re-election speech, said, “The people have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they want”.

We should all reflect on this and take the opportunity he has suggested for us to re-evaluate our values and institutions as we head into the anniversary of the debates on these fundamentals that took place during the first Dáil in 1919.

This would be far more important than the small-minded debate so far provoked by Peter Casey’s vote. – Yours, etc,

LIAM ROCHE,

Dublin 14.