The People’s Letters PagePadraig Conlon 02 Mar 2023
I write to you in relation to the war in Ukraine and how it relates to the everyday people of Dublin.
There are two realities we must face.
Firstly, Russia is winning this war.
As Bakmut falls, the remaining territory east of the Dnieper river will almost certainly be consumed by the Russian war machine.
From there, recapturing the Donbass and Crimea becomes an impossibility and will likely lead to a partitioning of the country.
The rhetoric of Ukrainian victory only serves to cost the lives of countless Ukrainians and Russians.
Meanwhile, the Minsk peace agreements gather dust on a shelf.
Secondly, the EU sanctions on Russia are not working.
Even the IMF projects that its’ economy will experience slight growth in 2023 while painting a less rosy picture for European economies.
Russia has simply opened new lucrative markets in the Global South, rendering sanctions impotent, and landing EU states with massively increased energy costs.
These facts – and many, many more – has been largely obscured to the Irish people by both its’ elected representatives and media in equal measure.
But the reader may ask: “Why is this important to us in Ireland?”
I suggest that the Irish public’s support for this war is dependent on shrouding the real horror suffered by Ukrainians and convincing us that they can defeat the superpower Russia.
I also suggest that the ordinary person in the street would strongly protest the continuing sanctions against Russia if they believed that they do nothing but hurt EU citizens. (Just look at your most recent ESB bill!)
Finally, may I suggest if the nuances of this conflict and its’ complex origins were widely known, then the reasoned, compassionate position taken by Sabrina Higgins last year – calling an immediate ceasefire and negotiations – would resonate resoundingly with Irish people?
Our ‘leaders’ would be forced to promote diplomacy over further bloodshed.
Instead, the wanton suffering wrought upon the most unfortunate will continue while the world’s political and military elites play their power games.
Mrs. Higgins’ plea for negotiations will likely be ignored.
Ukraine will lose what negotiating leverage it has, as Russia pushes forward and the US neoconservative eye turns towards China.
OPEN LETTER FROM THE IRISH NEUTRALITY LEAGUE
On the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine, it is time for a change in Irish policy so that we become advocates for peace.
The war has already cost thousands of lives of civilians and both young Ukrainian and Russian soldiers. Homes have been destroyed and a major humanitarian and refugee crisis created. The war has had a serious impact on global food prices.
We the undersigned condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as illegal. We reject the brutal tactics that have seen many civilian areas bombed.
At this point we face the choice of ever more escalation or moves to open peace negotiations.
The only winners of more escalation are arms manufacturers and militarists in both Russia and NATO who are pressing for increased spending on armaments.
We know from our own experience that violent conflicts must be ended by ceasefires and negotiations.
In our opinion, peace offers the best opportunity for the people of Ukraine to promote their right to self-determination and national sovereignty by political means, reflecting the principles of the UN charter.
We reject those who are using this war to undermine Irish neutrality and move us towards NATO membership.
We think that the positive element of Irish neutrality needs to be exercised. Namely, that Ireland uses its position as a neutral country to call for a ceasefire and peace negotiations.
Senator Frances Black
Gino Kenny TD
Richard Boyd Barrett TD
Thomas Pringle TD
Senator Tom Clonan
Paul Murphy TD
Joan Collins TD
Senator Lynn Ruane
Catherine Connolly TD
Brid Smith TD
Senator Eileen Ni Fhloinn
Senator Alice-Mary Higgins
The fox hunting season is drawing to a close and again, as in past years, hundreds of these iconic wild dogs have been chased across country until exhaustion delivered them to the packs to be eviscerated. Foxes that escaped underground were, in accordance with tradition, dug out with the aid of spades and terriers.
Hunters who swear that they love the fox more than anyone else merrily sip from stirrup cups as the tail of their quarry is hacked off and retained as a trophy. Afterwards they celebrate in the pubs and hotels, recalling the day’s jolly good fun.
This year, however, their festivities have been overshadowed by what hunts perceive as a major threat to the very existence of their “sport.” Insurance companies are less inclined to cover their bucolic hobby and, in the cases of those that do provide cover, the costs are prohibitive. Some hunts have already disbanded.
So, after decades of campaigning for a ban on this abhorrent activity, I’m wondering if it may yet fall to a different foe.
I emphasize with anyone struggling with the cost of insurance, but in conscience I must exclude hunts from my circle of compassion.
I daresay that if hunting gets any more expensive the refined ladies and gentlemen may have to find another pastime to while away those dreary winter mornings and afternoons, and Oscar Wilde’s famous depiction of the Tally-ho game could be amended to read: “the unspeakable in full pursuit of the unaffordable.”
A Fr Ted quote can be found and uttered for any situation that presents itself.
For the self-anointed sport of kings, horse racing, we say, “down with this sort of thing”.
In 2022 the horse racing silks are looking threadbare in Horse Racing Ireland has recently reported falls in key metrics such as the number of races, fixtures, entries, winners, horses in training and horse ownership.
Down with this sort of thing can be applied to the ultimate unnecessary activity whose only purpose is to be a gambling medium that spuriously claims to generate essential economic activity.
Many people believe that horse racing is a harmless sport in which horses are willing participants who thoroughly enjoy the thrill.
Soft-focus public relations by the horse racing industry backed up with government funding (the taxpayer on the hook for €72.8m/2023) cannot erase the immense animal suffering and death embedded in flat and jump racing.
The tagline ‘Go Racing’ hides the fact that horses are raced to their death in order to provide entertainment for numpties.
Horse racing is organised animal cruelty dressed up in a cant expressing the thrill of the chase, the best turned out and the crack at the track.
Horse racing and its ally gambling pander to the base instincts of human nature.
A child of greed that gainfully applies abuse and death to horses in the pursuit of dubious financial profit.
Corrosive to the human spirit, both activities leave victims in their slipstream.
Horses are expendable in horse racing is a truth refusing to be discarded like a scrunched beaten docket hitting the betting ring floor.
Association of Hunt Saboteurs