20 September 2007 Edition
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
Death of Benny Connolly
Death of Benny Connolly
It was with great sadness that I learned about the passing of one of the most honourable gentlemen (besides my own Father) that I know. I was in the depths of the Mexican plains when I received a text about the passing of Benny Connolly. I was absolutely gutted to say the least.
Although I didn’t know him extremely well, I met Benny about four years ago through his fine sons Bernard and Kevin when they brought him along on one of their building jobs. They had told me about him and revelled in the fact that I was a true Fenian at heart. They believed myself and Benny would get along fine, and they were right.
My own father only passed away in January and I find it a terrible struggle to get over his death, but to be honest it makes me that much more comfortable to know he has Benny up there with him.
Benny knew my father and great uncle Thomas O’Brien and family friend Cathal Holland. He knew my granny, Cathy O’Brien and Rosie who still resides in 44 Parnell Square.
Although you didn’t have to know him very well, Benny’s handshake was his heartshake. I am only sorry that I never took him up on his offers with the boys to share a tipple in the ‘Killer’ with them. Sorry Lads.
If there is one message out of my letter you should take, it is to reach out to those long lost friends, republican or otherwise and make the most of the time. It passes so quickly.
To Lily, Bernard, Kevo, my family and I can only send our late condolences.
Sabra and Shatila anniversary
It has passed with almost no commentary or mention in the establishment media at all but 25 years ago this month, on 16 September 1982, the massacres at Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in west Beirut took place. As has been revealed by journalists like Robert Fisk and the recent Lebanese documentary Massaker, the slaughter was carried out with the explicit authorisation and approval of Israeli forces by Lebanese Phalangist militia many of whom were trained and assisted on the ground by Israeli soldiers who fired illumination flares over the camp so that the killing could continue as night fell.
The massacre was described by the United Nations General Assembly in December of 1982 as ‘an act of genocide’. An investigation carried out by the Israeli government subsequently, the Kahan Commission, was described by Noam Chomsky as ‘a shameful whitewash’ and pointed out that the Israeli Defence Minister and Chief of Staff should have faced premeditated murder charges for what took place.
We will never know how many people died in the camps. According to the Israelis, 700 people were killed, a number rejected as too low by journalists on the scene, the Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent. The figure was certainly well over 1,500 and may have been as high as 3,000.
Strange then, that in the age of the War on Terror this act of state terrorism goes so unmarked.
Turbans and the Garda
Shannonbrooke Murphy (An Phoblacht, 13 September) argues that republicans should treat the wearing of turbans by Sikhs as an “ethnic identifier” and approach this issue with the view to supporting “minority ethnic equality”.
All well and good, except that the person in question and the Sikh Council are arguing that the wearing of the turban is connected to religion not ethnicity. As Killian Forde points out (An Phoblacht, 6 September), the turban is not worn by most Sikhs and thus not regarded by them as an ethnic identifier. Shannonbrooke is shifting the ground of the argument.
If Sikhs concerned regarded it as an ethnic rather than religious issue, they would have said so themselves. They have not. Who gives anyone else the right to intervene – on their behalf as it were – to say – ‘Well actually, they are referring to ethnicity not religiosity.’
Killian is quite correct to argue, as a republican secularist, that the turban ought not be permitted in the Gardaí. No more than a republican could support the open display of rosary beads or the Book of Common Prayer by a member of the PSNI. And even if it came down to arguing ethnicity, a bowler hat or a GAA jersey.
Or perhaps I am missing something as hinted at in Shannobrooke’s reference to “white people” and white supremacism. Am I to take it that Irish people now come under that rubric, and that we all bear some part of the guilt for past wrongs and therefore the burden of cultural reparations?
I do not consider myself “white” – varying at different times between a kind of Simpsons yellow and what my daughter describes as ‘lobster’. I certainly do not feel consumed by guilt for the sins of colonialism. I have no feeling of superiority nor inferiority to any other culture and I certainly do not accept that the Irish people need do either.
If people do choose to come here then they are entitled to respect. We are also entitled to expect that they in turn respect this country and our culture. They certainly will not do so if we encourage the building of cultural and ethnic ghettoes or the notion that we are morally bound to accommodate some nebulous concept of diversity at the expense of our own culture.
As Killian says, issues related to immigration are constantly raised with party representatives. I would suggest, therefore, that we need to engage in much more debate and thought as they are not dealt with by vague concepts which bear no relation to reality.