Letters to the Editor: We need to hear expert voices about disasters such as Storm Babet

One reader suggests we need more experts on TV panel shows, while others consider issues including the Citizens' Assembly, and Irish commentary on the conflict in Gaza 
Letters to the Editor: We need to hear expert voices about disasters such as Storm Babet

BIG PICTURE: An aerial view of Midleton, Co Cork. File picture: Denis Scannell

According to the late Peter O’Reilly in Trout and Salmon Rivers of Ireland (1991) the Owenacurra river drains a relatively small catchment area of 171sq km of land which is mainly in tillage (ie well drained), which compares with the Munster Blackwater (3,108sq km) and the Liffey (1,373sq km).

Looking at the map, it has a long narrow tidal estuary which obstructs flow. The Dodder hasn’t had a bad flood in almost 40 years because the Bohernabreena reservoir regulates the flow — emptied in anticipation of heavy rain to take the excess, and the ESB also seems to have learned that lesson in Cork.

It doesn’t look like the geography in Midleton is suitable for a dam/reservoir. Of the many late-night TV shows on this terrible disaster only one environmental expert was interviewed and he more or less advised moving out — and guess what? He was ignored and the presenter moved on to politicians who haven’t got a clue and are only interested in scoring points. 

Oh for a decent TV show where the panel is made up of experts in a field and who will of course have diverse views. Maybe once a month with someone with a scientific background — Pat Kenny would be ideal.

Michael Foley, Rathmines, Dublin 6

Time to focus on the ‘must do’

Midleton has now been flooded 12 times since 1995, including the storms in December 2015 that caused unprecedented flood damage.

The 2015 catastrophe has now been compounded by the repeat of the socially and economically devastating flooding of parts of the town.

Cork County Council have recently been able to spend €20m on cycle paths in the area which are “nice to do” but not an absolute necessity. Meanwhile “must do” flood defences remain a matter of discussion.

The time is overdue to turn words into action and to give priority to “must do” over “nice to do” projects.

Dónal Fellows, Midleton, Cork

Assembly not a real sample of Ireland

Apparently the Government “has a responsibility to implement a landmark recommendation from the Citizens’ Assembly ... that the possession of drugs for personal use should be effectively decriminalized” (“Onus on Oireachtas to implement Assembly’s call to decriminalize drug possession”, Irish Examiner, October 21).

I’m sorry, but excuse me?

The Citizens’ Assembly consists of a mere 99 individuals, nowhere near enough to even be considered a statistically scientific sample of the Irish population. A Red C poll would have more respondents.

Far too often of late we have endured the spectacle of assembly after assembly, expert committee after expert committee coming up with recommendations the Government apparently feels “obliged” to act on.

Our Constitution is being shredded on the basis of it. Our neutrality is up for grabs thanks to it – yes, the very neutrality we were promised was “guaranteed” and “triple locked” when the Government was begging us to vote for the Lisbon Treaty in 2009.

First there’s the whole question as to how these assemblies and committees are composed and appointed in the first place.

Who chooses them?

Can I get to be on the next assembly or committee? How can appointees made by Government ministers be “independent” in any meaningful sense?

Secondly, there’s the suspicion that their main purpose is to come up with results desired by the Government or other interested bodies to begin with, but which they wish to distance themselves from in case it hurts their chances at the next election.

Thirdly, wouldn’t the correct approach be for committees and assemblies to make their proposals, and the various political parties then bring these as part of their manifesto to the next election and see how the actual Irish electorate — all several million of them and not just 99 private individuals — respond?

Put all that “expert advice” given to these assemblies and committees online and let us read it ourselves.

I think our reading skills are on a par with the members of any committee or assembly. It’s not the criminalization or decriminalization of drugs I have an issue with here — it’s how these matters are being “decided” very undemocratically. This is not good for Ireland.

Nick Folley, Carrigaline, Cork

Biased criticism bad for business

The crass reaction of numerous left-leaning Irish politicians to the Hamas terror attack has been disheartening, if not unexpected.

Many of them completely overlooked the heinous acts committed by the Gazan terrorist group. Their initial and subsequent online remarks concerning the crisis were all centred on criticizing Israel.

Such biased responses can have serious consequences and the decision of prominent IT companies to withdraw from the Web Summit due to comments made online by Paddy Cosgrave should serve as a warning to our nation, which relies heavily on the IT sector. The international IT scene is still predominantly USA-based, and Americans generally show more sympathy towards the challenges faced by Israel.

It has taken decades of astute leadership to establish ourselves as a highly successful destination for foreign direct investment.

If a future Government is mainly comprised of legislators who are indifferent towards such brutal attacks on Israel, no corporate tax system or pro-business policies will suffice to counter-balance the damage inflicted on our reputation.

Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh, Cavan

Cosgrave didn’t just offend Israel

It is not just Israel that it is offended by Paddy Cosgrave.

All right minded people are offended by Hamas’ actions.

It’s why it’s an illegal terrorist organisation and it’s a crime to support, fund, or endorse it across the EU and further.

When attending a rave and watching the sun come up in the morning you expect the para-gliders to be part of the show.

Instead they carried Jihadis with machine guns to slaughter the kids and carry the girls off as hostages.

It’s a slander on men like Tom Barry and Charlie Hurley to link their struggle with these abominations. No boys of Kilmichael, the sack of Baltimore, maybe.

[According to the United States-Israel Business Alliance, California serves as the global or US headquarters for 35 Israeli-founded unicorns - startup companies with a value of over $1bn.]

Indeed seven out of the top ten corporate tax payers have Israeli links. The reaction should be noted by all those who spout anti-Israeli rhetoric or seek to make Cork jobs illegal with anti-Israel laws.

Eoin Lydon, Glandore, Cork

Extra hour is a bonus

I welcome the clocks going back. At this stage in my life, any extra hour is a bonus.

Tom Gilsenan, Dublin 9

Higgins not a president for all

President Michael D Higgins made some very interesting remarks to reporters on the sidelines of the World Food Forum in Rome.

He is quoted as saying: “I’ve been elected as President of Ireland twice, it’s a deep honour and a deep privilege and a great responsibility, and I feel I have a responsibility and I think I am reflecting the will of the people who put me in Áras an Uachtaráin.”

The President gives an insight into his approach, the problem with this is there are hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t vote for him and plenty who voted for him who disagree with the way he is stretching the constitutional limits of the presidency in many of his political interventions.

Furthermore, shouldn’t he be President for all — not just those who voted for him? Finally, President Higgins also said: “In a couple of years’ time people will be able to resolve this issue themselves in relation to whether they want a silent person, a puppet, or whether they want a president.”

This is deeply disingenuous, while the President has obviously no intention of holding back for the remainder of his time in office, he also knows he campaigned twice to use his office to speak out on all manner of areas of personal interest, regardless of political/diplomatic reaction. It is obvious now given his recent comments that during his presidency he has missed the cut and thrust of political life and forgotten that discretion is the better part of valour.

Stephen O’Hara, Carrowmore, Sligo

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