Presidential election fallout and fascism

 

Sir, – What does it say about our society, that people seem much more concerned about people daring to challenge a presidential candidate for making ignorant comments, than they do of the plight of the many Travellers who so fear the reaction of their neighbours and employers that they feel obliged to hide their identity? – Yours, etc,

TOMÁS M CREAMER,

Co Leitrim.

Sir, – It is said we need to study the past in order to define the future, and Fintan O’Toole (“Hysteria can make monsters of us all”, Opinion, October 30th) gives us a timely reminder from our recent past about the dangers of creating hysteria about Travellers.

As a healthy functioning democracy, it goes without saying, one hopes, that we must protect the disadvantaged and vulnerable minorities living on the margins of our society. Yet a terrible legislative loophole exists in Ireland today where hate crime is not even considered a crime!

This anomaly allows purveyors and pedlars of hatred, wherever their cave, and whatever their ignorant opinion, to remain untouchable under Irish law.

If our collective history and conscience have taught us anything, it should be that “man’s inhumanity to man” knows no bounds.

Legislators, therefore, need to act now before it is too late. Otherwise, the ugly face of fascism in tomorrow’s mirror maybe us. – Yours, etc,

CORMAC McCONNELL,

Raheny,

Dublin 5.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole (Opinion, October 30th) makes references to the latent “monster in us all”, and describes how politicians should avoid tapping into this human instinct in order for democracy to survive.

Of course he’s correct, but there’s a more significant point about democracy which urgently needs to be embraced.

Namely, the law that protects each individual equally needs to be upheld and applied. The ethnicity of the citizen who has committed a crime is of no legal consequence; only the criminal act itself.

In a political climate that is tilting dramatically towards autocracy, the emphasis must be made on reinforcing the pillars of democratic values-free elections, a free press and an independent judiciary.

Democracy allows neighbours to disagree with each other without warfare, on the streets we share as individuals and the continents we inhabit as nations. – Yours, etc,

OLIVER SEARS,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – We have all seen the chaos emanating from the pro-Brexit vote in Britain and the election of a maverick president in the US.

It is not difficult to see why these events occurred: large disaffected groups found their concerns were being totally ignored by the prevailing political intelligentsia, and eventually voted en masse to change things.

Had the politicians even begun to address those concerns sooner, what a different world we would now live in.

If we are to learn anything from these goings-on, it is that politicians must take on board problems on a non-judgmental basis.

Fintan O’Toole (Opinion, October 30th) addresses the impact of the recent vote for Peter Casey (he didn’t get mine, incidentally) and concludes, “There is a capacity for fascism that lurks beneath the surface of every society”.

He recalls a crisis some years ago in Tallaght involving the arrival of some 200 caravans. “This was not by any means an enormous encampment” he says, and goes on to castigate the local people for their actions in response.

While some of the behaviour he cites was indeed reprehensible, the notion that 200 caravans on your doorstep is not an enormous encampment flies in the face of rationality, demonstrates that Mr O’Toole has failed to learn the lessons of the UK and the US, and adds insult to injury by equating valid concerns with fascistic leanings.

It seems to me Peter Casey has done the country some service in addressing the concerns of settled people while the liberal elite hold their noses in the air at the first sign of any political incorrectness but fail steadfastly to provide solutions.

The now ethnically-recognised Traveller population of Ireland is in the region of 30,000. That figure is dwarfed by other ethnically diverse groups who, by and large, have fitted in well to the Ireland “of the welcomes”.

It takes two to tango and, unless the liberal elite recognises this, there will be no satisfactory outcome.

In his victory acceptance speech President Michael D Higgins said, “The presidency belongs not to any one person but to the people of Ireland”.

He would be well advised, therefore, to devote his second period in office to facilitating dialogue on the needs of both the Traveller and settled communities leading to a resolution of this thorn in the finger of Irish society.

This would provide him with a legacy of achievement rather than vacuous words. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN O’SULLIVAN,

Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

Sir, – John Cotter (Letters, October 30th) suggests it should in future be mandatory for all candidates for the presidency to be tax resident in Ireland.

Had he been elected president, Peter Casey would presumably have had to reside all year around in the Áras.

This would have meant losing his green card status in the US which in turn would have meant that much, if not all, of his worldwide income would have become taxable in Ireland.

Given that he seems to have rather a lot of income, one wonders if the resulting tax paid by Mr Casey would have been greater than his salary, yielding a net gain to the Irish exchequer? – Yours, etc,

FRANK E BANNISTER,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole wrote incisively before the presidential election about our pride in our president and his or her ability to speak so eloquently and represent us at home and abroad (October 23rd).

Like much of the media I too was disappointed with the calibre of candidate and their confusion about the powers of the president. But what I most regret was the tone of the debate by some of the media and by all of the candidates, including our newly elected president.

I consider they all failed to reflect that new and more complex Irish voice today which has a huge awareness of the sense of the fairness and equality which Fintan O’Toole writes about (Opinion, October 29th), but lacks all the lofty pomposity. Maybe the latter tone might account for the lack of interest by the large swathes of young and old people who didn’t even bother voting.

Finally, I consider blanket outrage from politicians, people or indeed the media encourages no discussion and there’s a hint of the emperor’s new clothes in utterly dismissing all debate on a topic sometimes because of political correctness.

Discontent or apathy are not necessarily at odds with inclusivity and decency. So, in many ways we must accept the pre-election discourse shone another torch on the Ireland of 2018, even if it did upset us. – Yours, etc,

CARMEL LYNCH,

Dublin 6w.

Sir, – Twice in Monday’s edition I find gratuitous resort to the tired and stereotyping cliche of “golf bores”. Fintan O’Toole and Una Mullally would do well to shake off their prejudices and abandon such tepid attempts at wit. Boring indeed! – Yours, etc,

LIAM KIRWAN,

Penang, Malaysia.

Sir, – I note Peter Casey’s ambitions to join, and ultimately lead, Fianna Fáil have been spurned. In light of Angela Merkel’s decision to step down as leader of Germany’s Christian Democrats, perhaps he should cast his net further? – Yours, etc,

TIM O’LEARY,

Cabinteely, Dublin 18.

Sir, – The President has made various promises for his next term in office. I hope this time round he remembers what he promised and keeps his word. – Yours, etc,

MARGARET BUTLER,

Booterstown, Co Dublin.

Sir, – The idea of the so-called Dragons as portrayed on TV involves several aspects. They are supposed to be astute investors, able to guide ambitious projects to their successful culmination, and be shrewd judges of what the public wants.

Their contribution to the recent election calls all of these ideas into question. Congratulations and thanks are due to President Michael D Higgins for preserving our national dignity as much as for his victory. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN O’BRIEN,

Kinsale,

Co Cork.