Letters to the Editor: Politics could spoil a tournament

Letters to the Editor: Politics could spoil a tournament

Former Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper Alan Mannus has endorsed the upgrade and use of Windsor Park. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The former Shamrock Rivers Northern Irish goalkeeper Alan Mannus, stating his opposition to the inclusion of the redeveloped Casement Park in Belfast to host the Euros 2028, says that his opposition is not sectarian or anti-GAA (‘Mannus lukewarm on Casement case for Euro 2028’, November 2). 

To my knowledge no one has accused Mr Mannus of sectarianism or being anti-GAA, but seeing as he has raised the issue, may I ask why he endorses the upgrade and use of Windsor Park, the home ground of Linfield and one of the most sectarian clubs and stadium on the planet?

In 2003, following years of vile sectarian abuse, former Glasgow Celtic manager and Northern Ireland footballer Neil Lennon, while representing Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, was threatened by loyalists and as a consequence decided never to play football for Northern Ireland again. Mr Lennon was just one of a long line of victims of sectarian abuse in Windsor Park.

The decision of Derry-born footballer James McClean to opt to play for the Republic in preference to the North is the result of death threats from loyalists because of his religion and is just a continuation of the sectarian cancer endemic in many spheres of life there. 

The behaviour of loyalist fans and manager during the World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and Ireland at Windsor Park in Belfast in 1993 was, by any standards, grotesque. 

If the price of hosting the Euros 28 involved having to share a stadium with sectarian bigots I would give it a wide berth.

The opening up of Croke Park by the GAA to both soccer and rugby was a positive step in sporting ecumenism and a magnanimous gesture to the FAI and the IRFU while Lansdowne Road was being redeveloped. 

By accommodating other sporting codes the GAA projected a positive and progressive image of the association which had in the past been portrayed as both narrow and insular. This ‘reaching out’ by the GAA to the disparate sporting strands in our society, which even included a warmly welcomed visit to Croke Park by Queen Elizabeth II, appears to have been missed by Alan Mannus.

Tom Cooper, Pearse St, Dublin 2 

Tánaiste’s speech 

A few weeks ago I recall Jennifer Horgan’s opinion piece referred to a situation she had encountered when a crying baby impaired her experience of a poetry reading. She suggested that the organisers might have taken action to prevent this happening. As anyone watching the Tánaiste’s Ard Fheis address will realise, clearly the organisers of that event were not listening.

Patrick Fitzpatrick, Bishopstown, Cork 

Long-term interests of fishermen

Bottom trawling has been compared to a farmer stripping all the topsoil from his land to harvest a single crop. Fishing for sprat as described in the Irish Examiner’s article from November 5 could be compared with farmers stripping nutrients from the soil: Sprats are food for many larger fish. 

While it is the right of any citizen to challenge ministerial orders in court, the large boat fishing industry has a job to do to persuade the public that the successful challenge to the ban on large boat inshore trawling is a victory, even for fishermen. As councillor Patrick Connor-Scarteen points out, the livelihoods of fellow fishermen are “being wiped out”. 

One hopes that the leaders of the larger fisher organisations will see that their long-term interests are not well served by opposing a ban on inshore trawling.

Tadhg O’Brien, Ennis, Clare 

Bias in the Tidy Towns Awards 

Congratulations to Abbeyleix, winner of 2023 National Tidy Town Award. I’d like, however, to highlight an extraordinary bias that exists in Tidy Town results. 

Small villages and townlands (category A – population under 200 people) make up 249 of the 884 entries (28.2%), but account for 6.1% of gold medals (four of 65 awarded), Large urban areas make up 35 (4%) entries, category G and H. They won 20 gold medals (31% of total). 1.6% of category A entries won a gold medal, while for large urban areas, 57% won gold. You are over 35 times more likely to win a gold medal if you are a large urban area than if you are one of the many very small communities in Ireland.

This is manifest discrimination, decades ago the Tidy Town implemented a bias towards large towns in an attempt to recruit them to the cause with entries and national awards mostly going to smaller towns and villages in the initial decades of competition.

Now large towns comprising 12% of entries have won almost 50% of national titles since 2000 and 55% of gold medals in 2023. The other 88% have to compete in much bigger pools for a smaller allocation of awards Time for some radical reform that allows every town, village, and community to compete fairly for national awards

Thomas Callery, Kilsheelan, Co Tipperary 

Is AI the threat we all think it is?

Elon Musk has warned that artifical intelligence (AI) represents one of the biggest threats to humanity. Looking at my TV screen and seeing the evidence that the evolution of our species has left us no better able to resolve our differences than we were when we hit each other with stone clubs, it seems obvious that humans are the greatest threat to humanity. Our innate intelligence is clearly sadly lacking. Can AI really be any worse?

Bernie Linnane, Dromahair, Co Leitrim 

Mercy ships should be deployed to Gaza Strip

Recently on the internet I learnt about the existence of four important hospital ships which are also called mercy ships. 

Two of these hospital ships are run by civilians and one is called The MV Global Mercy and the other is called The MV Africa Mercy. 

The US navy also has two hospital ships which are called The USNS Mercy and The USNS Comfort. 

These much-needed ships, which do not carry arms on board them, have the ability to travel by sea, in times of crisis, to the ports of those countries which find themselves unable to provide for their own citizens the type of hospital-standard medical care that they may vitally need.

But if any of these hospital ships were to sail over by the coast of the Gaza Strip, they could then to take on board, from a safe distance (by the transportation upon smaller boats), some of the sick and wounded patients, including also some of the wounded children of Gaza, who are sadly not receiving the vital hospital-type of medical help that they badly need due to the ongoing violent conflict happening in the region.

These hospital ships whenever they arrive off the coast of the Gaza Strip could be protected during the course of their important humanitarian mission by military aircraft operating under the auspices of the UN? 

Maybe, perhaps, in the future other large ocean travelling ships could also in turn be converted into UN protected hospital ships to provide a similar level of care in the Gaza Strip? Other counties in the world who may find themselves also in a medical crisis like the one the people of Gaza are in, may benefit too from similar visitations of these ‘hospital ships’ when they become even more common?

Sean O’Brien, Kilrush, Co Clare

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