‘Posh’ politics and private schooling

 

Sir, – Noel Whelan is correct in saying that a politician’s socioeconomic and educational background should not be used as a means of judging whether or not they are intellectually or morally capable of serving in government or how much empathy and compassion they can visibly demonstrate towards others (Opinion and Analysis, September 7th).

Equally, he is right to point out the hypocrisy of ostensibly “left-wing” politicians calling their opponents “posh” when they themselves also come from well-heeled and privately educated backgrounds.

A Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil TD could return the favour by applying the label of “champagne socialist” .

As Noel Whelan also correctly points out, such name-calling is unproductive and not worthy of an intelligent or civilised level of political debate about issues such as the housing crisis.

However, he misses the real point. How it is that those from privately educated backgrounds play a disproportionately large role in politics and other fields when only 7 per cent of the school-going population is actually educated privately?

There has long been a ferocious debate in England about the privileges conveyed by private schooling and the dominance of the privately educated in leading positions.

Perhaps it is time in Ireland for there to be an intelligent and thoughtful discussion on this subject, – Yours, etc,

EDWARD McALONAN,

Cookstown,

Co Tyrone.

Sir, – Does background matter? Posh versus poor? Does either background steer our thinking?

Does either background colour our thinking or affect how we behave as adults?

Of course, a good upbringing in either a rich or poor family will be more likely to lead to a responsible adult.

But if we rely on our background alone to determine the kind of person we are, I suggest it’s an indication of an immature adult.

We have enough examples of people from either background becoming great leaders and inspirational influencers and achievers in Ireland.

Martin Mansergh: Posh.

Mary Robinson : Posh.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy? Probably middle class.

Michael Collins : Poor.

Equally, there are many examples of those from either background becoming a nuisance!

I could give many more comparisons of people in every aspect of life.

All potentially great leaders can become great assets to their country and the world regardless of where they began.

Granted, those from better-off backgrounds may have it easier.

But the others may have to be more determined.

So stop this nonsense of accusing people because of their background! It is not helpful and can discourage young people. It is not worthy of those who are engaging in it. – Yours, etc,

SHEILA DEEGAN,

Dublin 3.