13 September 2007 Edition

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Mála Poist

Cuireann An Phoblacht fáilte roimh litreacha ónár léitheoirí. Scríobh i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla, 200 focal ar a méid. Déantar giorrú ar litreachta más gá. Cuir do litir chuig [email protected]
An Phoblacht welcomes readers’ letters. Write in Irish or English, 200 words maximum. Letters may be edited for brevity. Send your letters to [email protected] No attachments please

Oppose Public Private Partnerships

A chara,
Mitchel McLaughlin is correct (An Phoblacht, 6 September) when he says that fiscal freedom is one of the biggest challenges facing the new Assembly. Indeed the absence of tax varying powers or borrowing options greatly limits the ability of the new administration to adequately tackle issues of poverty, inequality and social exclusion.
However, it would be a mistake to think, in the absence of new powers to the Assembly, that supporting public private partnerships (PPP’s) is a solution to this problem. PPP’s cannot provide a short term solution to Departments or Ministers seeking much needed revenue for valuable projects. Rather, PPP’s undermine public service provision, workers’ rights, consumer satisfaction and political control of vital state resources.
It would be a mistake of significant proportions if Sinn Féin were to soften or indeed abandon our current position of outright opposition to PPPs.
Sinn Féin should lead the campaign in defence of our public services and in opposition to privatisation in all its forms.
Is mise,
Eoin Ó Broin,
Dún Laoghaire Sinn Féin

Garda turbans controversy

A chara,
In last week’s An Phoblacht Killian Forde rightly argued that the turban’s real significance is as an ‘ethnic identifier’.  This is why the Provincial and Federal Police (RCMP) in Canada include police issue turbans as part of the Sikh officer’s uniform  – with no ill-effect on police morale, without undermining the secular nature of policing in Canada, but with the welcome increase in Sikh community participation and confidence in policing. And this is why republicans should be treating this as an issue relating to minority ethnic equality, one with the potential to either enhance or degrade the cultural diversity and therefore representativeness of the Garda and legitimacy of policing. 
Killian wrongly argues that if we permit certain cultural practices as of right, the logical extension is the permission of all cultural practices as of right. He cites the example of the brutal practice of female genital mutilation.  His analogy is false in that it fails to distinguish between benign religious/cultural practices that merely express diversity of beliefs and those repugnant practices that clearly violate human rights.
Finally Killian Forde recommends that republicans aim for “a hybridisation of culture” involving the adaptation, consumption, co-option, or rejection of cultural traits “according to wishes.” But according to the wishes of whom?
Without robust protection of minority cultural rights, in practice this will mean the wishes of the dominant majority – and we know from bitter experience the dangers inherent in this.
Who are the British to judge Irish culture, or unionists to judge nationalist culture? In a white, supremacist world, who are white people to judge the cultures of others?  As republicans in the 21st century we can embrace the concept of multiple loyalties and identities.  The fact that I am a Canadian national, and of mixed Irish-Ukrainian ethnicity by birth, does not make me less of a republican, or prevent me contributing to Irish society. I have no intention of letting Irish people tell me what is acceptable or not about the culture of my mother or my Baba.  If people in my home country tried to dictate in this manner to Irish immigrants – by banning the ostensibly religious St Patrick’s Day Parade, for example – this would also be wrong. 
Where diversity and cultural rights are robustly respected, protected, and promoted the hybridisation Killian Forde aspires to happens by evolution and self-selection.  Imposition, restriction and the smothering of diversity foster resentment and conflict not inclusion.
Is mise,
Shannonbrooke Murphy,
Galway.

Fr Michael Cleary

A chara,
It is a pity your columnist John O’Brien (An Phoblacht, 6 September) did not himself review the recent RTÉ programme about Fr. Michael Cleary instead of reviewing the Sunday Independent and Sunday World reviews of it. These papers most definitely need to be combatted but they should not dominate An Phoblacht’s media analysis.
The Cleary programme was interesting but it failed to tell the whole story about Cleary. The most devastating facts were set out in a column by Mary Raftery in The Irish Times of 6 September. This highlighted how Cleary refused to act against a child-abusing priest colleague in his own parish and how he was dismissive of a victim of this criminal.
The RTÉ programme suggested that Cleary was somehow used by the Catholic Church as their front-man in media controversies but he clearly relished this role and willingly embraced media opportunities. He used the force of his larger-than-life personality to over-awe and brow-beat many decent people who believed in the integrity of the corrupt organisation for which he was such an effective operator.
Is mise,
Mícheál MacDonncha,
Cill Bharróg,
Baile Átha Cliath


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