EDITOR – I love John Spillane’s Dawn Chorus, a new song that features in an upcoming album titled 100 Snow White Horses.
The world might be at war with Covid, but we can savour the sweet notes of robins, blackbirds and thrushes when they begin their choral presentation in the early hours, to be joined as the morning progresses by woodpigeons, wrens and warblers, and a little later by such melodious background singers as the great tits, blue tits, sparrows and finches, all contributing to nature’s soothing concerto.
Over the past year, people have re-discovered wonders that were always there but went largely unnoticed.
But I can’t help wondering, and worrying, about what will happen when, as we all hope, the pandemic ends a few months from now. Will we witness again the reckless cutting of hedges in March, and the burning of vegetation in upland areas?
The hedgerow provides habitat for nesting birds and a vital food source for several bird and animal species, as well as nectar to sustain bees and butterflies.
Will hand-reared pheasants be targeted for sport later in the year when normality returns to the countryside?
Foxes have got good press lately, with increasing numbers of them eating food scraps out of the hands of friendly humans who, often for the first time, have realised that An Madra Rua isn’t the demonic entity of popular legend, intent only on henhouse havoc. And how sad that thousands of supposedly protected native mammals may again be captured by coursing clubs in September for the purpose of setting dogs on them.
Unfortunately, once the pandemic ends, the cruelty virus may reassert itself ... or maybe not. Perhaps there’s been a national change of heart and mind arising from our new-found rapport with nature. I hope so, because, in the words of another song: ‘All God’s creatures have a place in the choir.’
We are hungry for spiritual food
EDITOR – Under current Covid restrictions, supermarkets remain packed while churches are closed to parishioners for mass.These restrictions are set to remain in place into the foreseeable future. No other country in Europe has taken such a Draconian approach over such an extended period of time, as our government seems content to impose upon us.
The Churches of England has remained open for worship, while those in the North and in Scotland re-opened in time for Easter; the most important feast of the liturgical year.
Jesus proclaimed that: ‘unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life in you’ (John, chapter 6). We are being cut off from our vital spiritual food, as it is not possible to receive Holy Communion online.
If Christ had intended our worship to be a private affair, he would not have founded the Church in the first place. Across the country, Churches have taken every step possible, to ensure social distancing and the safety of all who attending. There hasn’t been evidence of any clusters associated with Sunday mass.
The controlled re-opening of churches in time for Easter, would not have posed a threat to public health, but by keeping them shut, we rob our society of the virtues of faith, hope and love, while exacerbating the modern-day afflictions of worry, anxiety and depression.
Lee Road, Cork
Unionism acted against its own interests
EDITOR – Government parties in the Dáil consider Sinn Féin’s approach to a united Ireland, which includes the holding of a border poll which was provided for in the Belfast Agreement, will fail to convince moderate unionism to engage in talks on Irish unity. If and when a united Ireland emerges, it will not be by coercion or coaxing from Dublin, but by the past behaviour of unionists in the North towards their nationalist neighbours from partition in 1920 to the proroguing of Stormont in 1972. In Northern Ireland a minority section of the population suffered 50 years of oppression in various, well documented, forms. It began with an attempt at ethnic cleansing, thousands being put out of their jobs and homes during 1920-22. The dominant, contrived, majority justified the discrimination that maintained its privileged position. In 1955 Thomas Wilson, economic adviser to the Stormont government, explained that Roman Catholics were made to feel inferior because ‘they often were inferior’. In 1960 the ruling Unionist Party debated whether Roman Catholics could join and concluded: no. Those nearer the bottom rung of the unionist ladder received cruder versions of this message. Ian Paisley articulated nakedly sectarian views unionists had promoted which led to the forced resignation of Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terence O’Neill in 1969 when he looked favourably on the political accommodation of Catholics.Civil rights demands from people like John Hume, Ivan Cooper and Austin Curry, aiming to bring about by peaceful means, equality of treatment throughout the North, were rejected by a recalcitrant unionism. If unionism acted at that juncture with a modicum of common sense and political integrity, the nightmare of the armed struggle might never have evolved and this island may well have been spared the horrors of the following 30 years. Rarely has a community acted more purposefully against its own interests than unionism.
For half a century, Catholics were imprisoned in politically constructed ghettos, were denied equal access to jobs and housing, and to ensure the continuation of this policy, were denied the right to vote themselves out of their predicament.
Northern nationalists do not require knowledge of what happened during 1916 and the War of Independence to sustain hostility to the Northern Ireland state. Their lived experience was justification enough.
Irish National Congress
It’s your duty!
Editor – Readers with friends and family in the UK should be aware that birthday and Christmas presents may now have duty imposed on them before being released for delivery. I’ve recently been sent computer equipment which cost €60 extra in duty, so having cash instead may be preferable. It’s clearly legal and simply part of Brexit, but could take the glitter off special events.
Seeking Civil War documents
Editor – I am making an open call relating to anyone in the West Cork area who may have documents relating to the Irish War of Independence (1919 to 1921). I am a student in UCC completing my masters thesis in the Irish Revolution. Any piece of family history such as copies of letters, diary entries etc would be warmly welcomed and appreciated into my study of life in West Cork for civilians during this war-torn period.
Micheál is out of touch
EDITOR – The polls show that FF are languishing at around 12% and the party is back where it was a decade ago when Micheál Martin became the leader, all because of his attacks on Sinn Féin, the largest party on this island of Ireland.
There won’t be a heave to dump him by Fianna Fáil until the autumn, which would give time for a new leader to be in place to become Tánaiste in late 2022.
The contenders are already considering who will take his place but will not consider their relative merits or otherwise at this point in time. Suffice to say whoever takes over will be important for the North. That’s not just because a FF leader’s position is critical in the coalition government but there should be a sea of change in FF’s policy towards northern nationalists and the Good Friday Agreement. Micheál Martin’s pathological fear and loathing of Sinn Fein as a mortal danger to his party means he is out touch with his dealings on northern politics and a new approach is needed.