22 March 2007 Edition

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Mála Poist

British choppers must be grounded immediately

A chara
The recent crash of a British Army helicopter in South Armagh is an indication, if any were needed, that these instruments of Britain’s war machine in Ireland must be removed immediately from our skies.
There is absolutely no justification for British army helicopters flying throughout the Six Counties after over a decade of a supposed peace process.
This is not the only accident over the past number of years involving British military aircraft. Had this accident or any previous been over densely populated areas the effects would have been catastrophic. Indeed the helicopter which crashed on Sunday landed only yards away from a large housing estate and the grounds of Crossmaglen GFC.
Such flights by British aircraft must cease immediately. With the welcome news that Omagh British Army camp is to close in August of this year I would hope that this will see British helicopters in the sky a thing of the past, not only in Omagh but throughout the North of Ireland.
Is mise,
Stephen McGahan,
West Tyrone,
Ógra Shinn Féin.


The human cost of privatisation

A chara
I’m sure I’m not alone in having found last week’s RTÉ Primetime specials on health distressing, particularly the human cost of privatisation that they showed.
While the personal stories upset me deeply, the attitude of those involved in private health care left me fuming.
In the first episode, in the public verses private debate, the private health representative from the Beacon Clinic in Dublin used his section to sell the merits of his private hospital. He unashamedly neglected the actual debate in favour of playing up the perks of his exclusive clinic.
During the roundtable discussion in the second instalment, private hospital managers pretended to be interested in an equitable system and the provision of healthcare.
Firstly, if they cared so much about the provision of healthcare, they’d provide it for free. Secondly, if there was an equitable system, very few would feel the need to avail of private healthcare, putting them out of business.
Those two shows, broadcast by a network that doesn’t exactly champion the rights of the poor and vulnerable, said everything about our two-tier health service. Those who can afford to shell out big money will get proper healthcare and those who can’t are being denied a fundamental right which in many cases means death.
Let’s hope the electorate will tell Mary Harney what they think of the two-tier system she has inflicted on us come May.
Is mise,
Joanne Spain,
Dublin Mid West.

Rot in Irish judicial system

A chara
The recent controversy involving the courts, in which a vicious rapist got a three year suspended sentence while a man accused of IRA membership got four years in jail on no more evidence than a Garda’s word, is indicative of the rot that pervades the Irish judicial system.
Judges, answerable to no one, are able to hand down inconsistent sentences almost with impunity. The sentences that are handed down daily in Irish Courts have less to do with the Law and more to do with the Judges moods, whims and biases. These people are living in ivory towers, untouched by the real world and the consequences of their actions.
Barristers are able to charge exorbitant fees that guarantee only the rich get adequate representation, while the Law Society holds almost a monopoly on the numbers, training and appointment of future Barristers.
Our Minister for Justice is prepared to rush legislation through the Dáil for his pet projects but will not initiate the reforms that are desperately needed in our legal system. He only seems concerned with the welfare of his party’s small number of supporters leaving the rest of us to suffer in an obsolete system.
Do gooders and special interest groups seem intent on “curing” criminals instead of punishing them. There are some criminals that are like a cancer in society and like a cancer, paedophiles, rapists and murderers need to be cut out of the body public and locked away forever. Human rights for criminals are all well and good but what about criminals taking responsibility for their actions and accepting punishment for their crimes.
It’s time that the Justice System in Ireland was made answerable to the will of the people. We need to remove the last remnants of the post-colonial legal system that we inherited from the British and install a modern, efficient and most importantly, just system that rewarded the good and punished the bad.
Is mise,
Seán MacGabhann,
Contae Chill Dara.

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