The race for the Áras

 

Sir, – Seán Gallagher is high in the polls without using the poles. Have posters had their day? – Yours, etc,

KEVIN Mc DONNELL,

Heron’s Wood,

Carrigaline, Co Cork.

Sir, – In supporting Ann McCabe for her brave position in opposing the presidential candidature of Martin McGuinness I also wish to offer my solidarity to all those, North and South, whose family and friends were murdered, injured or traumatised as a result of the Troubles.

The circumstances of the murder of my father Garda Richard Fallon in 1970 bring an additional layer of complexity to the story of the Troubles. For it is my belief that my father’s murder occurred due to the complicity and cowardice of the government of the Republic in responding to the violence and prejudice directed at Catholics in the North at that time. The truth of this sorry tale has yet to be formally acknowledged.

It has been said that there is no hierarchy of suffering. In agreeing with this idea we could do well to remember that many of us could never agree to the righteousness of murdering another human being in the pursuit of our political beliefs. That Mr McGuinness should continue to do so marks him as a man who recognises no constitution but his own and those who surround him. His candidacy ignores those whose experiences have not yet been honoured with an adequate truth.

I call on Mr McGuinness, and all of the candidates, to support a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the whole island which would have a statutory footing in both jurisdictions and which would call to account all of those whose hands are drenched in the blood of others.

Until a proper account of he Troubles has been given, and until those who have questions to be answered are responded to properly, I feel that Mr McGuinness’s self-appointed role as peacemaker is undeserved, premature and insulting to those of us who abhor political murder. I also feel that it is disrespectful towards those who have suffered as a result of his beliefs, whether they be British subjects or Irish citizens. The lack of a public, all-island based truth and reconciliation process is also a reflection of the shame-based politics we practice in the South.

We should remember the impact which the thousands of murders, maimings, beatings, threats and expatriations here and in Britain may have on thousands, in many examples for generations to come, and begin the process of breaking the chains of violence that imprison so many by insisting on a public account of what took place, North and South. – Yours, etc,

FINIAN FALLON,

Wards Hill, Dublin 8.

Sir, – So a construction developer with Fianna Fáil connections runs inexorably toward the Áras? To quote, then, from Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending, “History is a raw onion sandwich...It just repeats...it burps...” – Yours, etc.

ADRIAN GOODWIN,

The Waterfront,

Clarke’s Bridge, Cork.

GARY KELEGHAN,

C/Muntaner, Palamos, Spain.

Sir, – Facts about Sean Gallagher: 1. A participant in a reality TV show. 2. A member of a political party at a time when that party brought the country to its knees. 3. A man who founded many businesses about which we have very little information. 4. A man who says he put up no posters, yet his face features on many posters on rubbish bins! 5. A man who has not at any time served the people of this country. 6. A man who has no experience whatsoever in State affairs. Seán Gallagher has none of the qualities necessary to become the president of this country. - Yours, etc,

BERNADETTE

EDGEWORTH,

Woodview,

Lucan, Co Dublin.

A chara, – Brid Rodgers (October 20th) argues that the SDLP in 1973 persuaded the British government to grant power-sharing and all-Ireland institutions which were rejected by Sinn Féin and the loyalists. In the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 neither Sinn Féin nor the loyalists were invited to take part in power-sharing. Nor were nationalists guaranteed equality under the law. The British were not prepared to concede equality until the Belfast Agreement of 1998 and only then when Sinn Féin insisted on it. – Yours, etc,

Fr JOE McVEIGH,

Loughside Road,

Garastún,

Co Fermanagh

Sir, – This election is really rocking the system in that the people are now poised to disregard all the media pressure and hype including that of the national broadcaster to elect a rank ousider as ninth president. Why? Because we have heard him and his clarity and candour, even if they should be relative terms, show up the bluff, evasion and sanctimonious grandstanding of the other bidders. Michael D Higgins in particular has done himself no favours by bandying terms like “ethically vacuous” and “a leftover of the Celtic tiger” in Mr Gallagher’s direction. Mr Higgins and his party were cheerleaders for the public service spending binge which was at least as much the cause of our present malaise as the excesses of bankers and speculators which incidentally was in the remit of the politicians to regulate and control. – Yours, etc,

MARGARET HICKEY,

Castleowen,

Blarney, Co Cork.]

Sir, – Ann Little (October 24th) makes the case for the international activity of one candidate for the Áras.

However, I suggest that Michael D Higgins has a wealth and breadth of international experience which puts him in a unique position to represent this country and the many facets of its history and culture, and to contribute to the universal search for development, justice and human dignity .

As Minister for Culture he presided over the EU Council and promoted major European cutural seminars and exhibitions, such as L’Imaginaire Irlandais in Paris in 1996, stressing the need for a genuine cultural dimension to European integration.

As a promoter of the linked issues of world development and human rights he has worked with both within the political sphere and with NGOs such as Trócaire, Goal and Concern, across the world.

He has played a leading part – as observer, as witness and as promoter of political action – at every relevant level, national, EU, UN. His book Causes for Concern covers his work on these important issues in 13 regions worldwide.

He successfully pioneered the effort to create an Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs in the face of stiff bureaucratic resistance.

This history of remarkable commitment and involvement is crucially relevant to the campaign for the presidency. – Yours, etc,

TONY BROWN,

Bettyglen, Raheny Dublin 5.