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NGO bubble is undermining democracy

Sir, – Stephen Collins writes that it’s a mystery why Simon Coveney “went out of his way to appoint Zappone” (‘Zappone obsession deflects attention from bigger issues”, Opinion & Analysis, September 10th).

It’s not a mystery at all. Katherine Zappone is an “activist” closely linked to the burgeoning NGO sector. As happened in the UK under Blair’s New Labour, the political class in Ireland is now in thrall to it. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour are especially so. Unfortunately, NGOs tend to be leftist and achingly progressive in outlook. They are not necessarily representative of public opinion. Despite this, their CEOs and spokespeople enjoy unrivalled access to the media, politicians and public servants. They wield huge influence behind the scenes over everything from bicycle lanes to the Government’s forthcoming “hate speech” Bill. This is incredibly dangerous as it undermines faith in democracy for those of us outside the NGO bubble.

Perhaps if Fianna Fáil wants to recover its mojo it could start by championing a fully inclusive Irish democracy (“Party struggles to answer one big question: what makes it different?”, Pat Leahy, Analysis, September 10th). A democracy where free speech and all opinions are valued, not just those of the chattering classes, the NGO industry and the elite media. – Yours, etc,

KARL MARTIN,

Bayside,

Dublin 13