22 January 2004 Edition
The latest rip-off increase in prices occurs at a time when the FF/PD government is confronting workers and their unions over privatising public services. It's no coincidence.
Public companies like Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Aer Rianta, the ESB and bin collections are being fattened up for privatisation . That is the real reason for the strikes and the exorbitant price rises this year.
This right-wing government claims that privatisation will reduce prices. But look at the latest 7.7% increase in line rental from privatised Eircom. This is the third hike since February 2003, making a huge 25% increase in a year. These telephone lines were installed with taxpayers' money and are now being greedily exploited by rich profiteers, while our telecomms network has gone from one of the best in Europe to one of the worst.
Similarly, with National Toll Roads, where prices have shot up as this private monopoly simply rakes in massive profits for nothing. Speaking of megabucks for nothing, the banks made over €3,000 million profits last year, as their private cartel kept raising "charges". The FF/Lab and the last FG/Lab governments both promised to set up a State Bank to provide real competition, but failed to do so.
The reason that establishment parties are so keen on privatisation is that private companies are their main source of their lavish funds. I believe that we should have vibrant, dynamic well run public sector companies that will benefit all of the people, not private sector concerns driven by short term profits. Public utilities should be grown into strong all-Ireland companies with greater focus on developing better public services.
Gan teanga, gan tír
On Ireland's entry to the EEC in 1972, Irish was not made one of the official languages of the EU, because the Taoiseach of our country Jack Lynch and Minister for Foreign Affairs Paddy Hillary did not do anything to ensure it was included, obviously not feeling it worthwhile.
Following the accession next May of ten other countries, all their languages will be made official languages of the EU, including Maltese [Malta] but Irish will not be one of these, despite the fact that we have approximately 380,000 Irish speakers in Ireland, the same number that speak Maltese. Irish will again be the only national language of a country in the EU not to be included as an official language.
This anomaly/injustice raises many questions about us as a people and in particular about our leaders. At a time when great strides have been made in promoting Irish culture with the growth in Gaelscoileanna, the founding of TG4 and last year the launching of a daily Irish language newspaper Lá. This is sending out a very bad message to all Irish speakers and also to young people/students who attend Gaelscoileanna or for that matter any school, that they are second class people, that Irish/an Ghaeilge our national language is a second class language.
Is ceart bunúsach í seo go mbeadh an Ghaeilge aitheanta mar theanga oifigiúil san Aontas Eorap, toisc gurb í an Ghaeilge ár gcéad teanga oifigiúil náisiúnta agus má tá meas againn orainn féin mar náisiún agus ar ár n-oidhreacht cultúrtha, ní cóir dúinn ligean do na polaiteoirí an Ghaeilge a fhágáil ar an trá fholaimh arís.
On a practical basis there will be many benefits accrue from Irish being made an official language.
1.When jobs opportunities in the EU arise those with two languages or more have an advantage [at present Irish doesn't count].
2.For each new official language their would be employment for about 150 people for translating and interpreting in that language. Funding for this is already coming from the EU into which we are already paying in any case.
3. The status it will give to the Irish language which it has been denied it for so long will be immeasurable. Our culture is one of our greatest natural resources and will become increasing so in the years to come in terms of selling Ireland as a holiday destination for tourists not only as a pollution free land but also as country which is confident in its own rich cultural heritage.
At a time when diversity of languages/cultures is supposed to enrich us as peoples it is incomprehensible that the Irish government who this year hold the Presidency of the EU will not stand up and ensure that Irish be made an official language, that's all they have to do. The sad thing about it is that they don't even have it on their agenda at present to do anything about it.
The Irish government are duty bound to ensure that our first official language becomes an official language of the EU. They must be let hear this message loud and clear, this issue is much bigger than party politics.
Nílimid sásta an maide a ligean le sruth mar a déanadh in 1972. Ba cóir go mbeadh stádas oifigiúil san EU ag an Gaeilge láithreach mar atá sé ag na teangacha oifigiúla eile.
Donnchadh Ó Seaghdha,
PRO Sinn Féin, An Sciobairín.
Sacking a disgrace
I would like to comment on the recent sacking of Mr Gerry McGeough by Bruce College, as reported in Ireland on Sunday 18 January. Apparently, McGeough's republican past proved anathema to either a parent or group of parents of students at Bruce.
The fact that a complaint of this manner was listened to is a sad indictment of the anti-republican agenda of so many in our society.
Perhaps if I may risk foot odour for a moment by putting my feet in the complainant's shoes, I could understand why hearing that your son's tutor had a conviction for gunrunning might cause them concern. However, the complainant or complainants might try putting themselves in the shoes of Mr McGeough, who grew up in a climate of political oppression and chose to fight it.
I met Gerry McGeough very briefly, when he was the main speaker at my local Easter commemoration three years ago. I found him to be a bit quiet, but certainly a powerful and deep thinking speaker. He has all the relevant qualifications and by all accounts was an excellent teacher, vice-principal, and mentor to his students. Having gone through the insanity of the leaving cert myself only two years ago, I can assure you his student could not care less about his past. Quite frankly, even if one was of the anti-republican disposition, to help them pass the leaving cert, they would take grinds with Satan himself.
I think Bruce have made a very definite error of judgement here, but to the best of my knowledge, Mr McGeough is not going to contest the sacking. I wish Gerry McGeough and his family all the best and hope that he will be able to re-enter the teaching profession at some stage. After all, there is a long and proud tradition of republican teachers in this country.
Information wanted on Seán McCaughey
I am currently researching events concerning Irish republicans who were imprisoned in Portlaoise Prison during World War II, in particular the prisoners' Officer Commanding (OC), Seán McCaughey, who died on Hunger and Thirst Strike on 11 May 1946, protesting against the conditions in which he and his comrades were held.
I know that Seán was born in County Tyrone in 1916 but his family moved to Ardoyne, North Belfast, around 1922. Seán was also a fluent Irish speaker and taught the language to others in North Belfast and in the Glens of Antrim each summer. However, I would like any other photos or documents your readers could supply.
Seán was imprisoned by the Fianna Fáil government in 1941 for the arrest and questioning of IRA acting Chief of Staff, Stephen Hayes, along with another leading Belfast republican, Liam Rice. Both were sentenced by a military tribunal. I would be grateful for any additional information or newspaper clippings on the subject your readers can give me.
Thanks for your time. Anyone wishing to get in touch with me can do so at the address below.
Máirtín Óg Meehan,
2-4 Brompton Park, Ardoyne,
Belfast, BT14 7LU
Phone: 028 90 713787.