4 April 2002 Edition
The reporting in much of the western media of the ongoing Israeli onslaught in the Middle East has been very disappointing. Rather than take a stand against what is clearly unjust and wrong, most of the media have preferred to sit on the fence. They have either attempted to describe this conflict as a sectarian squabble between two protagonists or as a conflict too complicated to either understand or solve. Students of our own conflict will recognise the similarities in reporting.
The fact is, however, that there can be no comparison between the actions of the Israeli State, the most powerful military entity in that region, and, for example, the actions of small numbers of people who have engaged in suicide attacks. The Israelis are in illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in contravention of at least 70 UN Resolutions and have killed four times as many Palestinians in the past 18 months (1,300) as Israelis killed by Palestinians (300). This, therefore, cannot be described as a conflict between equals. Israel has an army of occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, armed with the most up to date weaponry provided by the USA - F16 aircraft, Apache helicopter gunships, long range missiles. It is also the only military power in the region armed with nuclear weapons. The Palestinians have no army to resist them - only civilians armed with stones and occasionally AK47 rifles.
The international community, including many Israeli citizens and many well known Jewish celebrities throughout the world, have condemned the recent and not so recent actions of Israel in occupied Palestine. It is time everyone in the West took a stand on this issue. We cannot stand idly by and watch the extermination of a people. We must demand the immediate withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from the West Bank and Gaza and the establishment of an international peacekeeping force in the area to prevent further Israeli aggression.
Féilim Ó hAdhmaill
Disenfranchising new voters
The recent legislation introduced by the government and supported by Fine Gael and Labour making it more difficult for voters to be included on the supplementary electoral register clearly outlines the contempt that new voters are considered by the political elite.
That this amendment was pushed through with little discussion in the Dáil and absolutely no public debate makes it all the more unpalatable. Willie O'Dea and other government ministers recently rued how difficult they found it to encourage young people to exercise their right to vote. They then proceed to take that right from anyone who cannot meet the strict criteria set out in the new legislation.
Make no mistake about it, this legislation has nothing to do with electoral fraud; otherwise it would have aimed to prevent practises carried out by Fianna Fáil members and exposed by RTE during the 1999 local elections. Rather, the new laws are aimed at disenfranchising those, young and old, who are sick to the teeth of the corrupt politics represented by those who supported this bill and are looking for an alternative.
I wonder what alternative party is frightening them into passing repressive legislation?
Cllr. Matt Carthy (Sinn Féin),
Carrickmacross Town Council
The Taoiseach's claim that there was "strong support from the local community" for the rezoning of Santry Woods is a distortion of reality and is indicative of Fianna Fáil's attitude to the democratic will of local communities.
It is impossible to believe that Bertie Ahern was not aware of the massive local campaign to have Santry Woods protected and saved from land speculators. Two groups, the Save Santry Woods Action Group and Santry Community Association both vigorously fought campaigns to have these woods protected. And I myself campaigned for their retention during the last local elections.
The Taoiseach is being very disingenuous on this matter. It is time he came clean. Santry Woods were rezoned for development against the wishes of the local community because financial considerations came first. He should retract his statement and apologise to the people who campaigned for the retention of Santry Woods for this slur.
Cllr Dessie Ellis