Letters to the Editor

Corporal punishment a failed method of learning

Corporal punishment a failed method of learning

With regard to corporal punishment being  dished out in schools in the Republic, I can indeed concur from my experience as I am sure many others can also from their ordeal of Irish education system of the past. I would also like to congratulate The Irish News for broaching a subject which significant elements of Irish media and government like to avoid. Corporal punishment was not just confined to industrial schools in the Republic. It was widespread across the entire public education system and especially child national schools. Vicious assaults took place against students on a daily basis and were often in full view of the class to humiliate the student and teach the others what could happen if they stepped out of line. Irish or Gaelic was a very big challenge for teachers to teach and in many cases could not teach it and was accompanied by assaults on students for getting lessons wrong. A wrong answer could be met with a punch in the torso, several hard slaps in the head, face, back, or bum with a stick or the full force of a teacher’s hand. Horse play could be met with an augmentation of these methods. Other teachers had non-physical methods of abuse such as insults and nasty remarks to degrade and demean students. Many of the teachers were poor teachers or unqualified and grew frustrated that students did not pick up on their clumsy efforts to teach them. Upon examination and the failure of the student to get it right physical assaults would manifest themselves. Notes from doctors to stop a child being hammered by a teacher were issued to schools, but their effect faded with time and the beatings began all over again. Corporal punishment did not fade out in the Republic until the 1980s when parents potentially had enough money to sue for damages and the societal shift away from the absolute authority of the Catholic Church. The boards of most schools in the Republic are still under a Catholic patronage, but assaults or corporal punishment against children is almost unheard of because of child protection agencies, which were not there previously and the threat of litigation. Republicans often mention British misrule in Northern Ireland, but the Republic was run with an iron fist for a very long time especially in education and it should be no surprise to them why the vast majority of Irish people do not speak Irish and don’t want to. Because corporal punishment by teachers of the past failed as a method to beat it into them in a classroom of fear. 

Shanbally, Co Cork


Lip-service diplomacy

Having listened to the recent address by Taoiseach Micheál Martin to the United Nations General Assembly I am struck by how much lip service is paid by some Irish politicians to creating a fairer world as they pursue the failed western-world policies with sanctions against Russia with no impact on stopping the senseless slaughter in Ukraine but is causing extreme food and energy poverty in Ireland and the most vulnerable countries across the globe.

I draw your attention to remarks by the taoiseach referring to Russia as a rogue state because of its decision to carry out a referendum in eastern Ukraine on whether to join the Russian Federation. He went on to quantify that Russia should be removed from its permanent position on the UN Security Council because it has veto powers when it is involved in – in his words “an unjust war” in Ukraine.

I cannot be alone in seeing the double standards of the taoiseach’s partial views in condemning only one of the five permanent UN Security Council members (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States) when the entire group could be removed by this unjust war criterion.

The US and the UK are by far the biggest rogues as they have instigated more illegal wars than any other nation (they also need to be indicted with the pro-Nato ultra-nationalist government of Ukraine as they clearly played an active role in provoking Russia’s war in their country). There should be a distinct focus on calling out the US because they also continue to veto the many UN resolutions condemning the brutal apartheid state of Israel which oppresses with impunity our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

World leaders will see the duplicity of the taoiseach’s stance on Russia while ignoring the fact that an unelected English nationalist parliament still dictates its rogue sovereignty over the nation of Ireland.

We must follow the example of the non-aligned countries of the world like India and South Africa by not supplying weapons to combatants and encouraging political dialogue among nations to resolve conflicts and by challenging the real rogue states equally because they are the true causes of the spiralling levels of deaths, migration, food insecurity and out of control global warming on the human race.

Dunmurry, Co Antrim


Difficult to understand why Irish can’t burn turf

My father was unable to buy turf when recently  visiting Donegal – it has been banned by the government to reduce Co2 emissions. This is a strange decision considering Ireland has few natural resources and the removal of a traditional industry will badly affect parts of the west of Ireland. Personally, I think global warming is a farce but I can understand attempts to limit Co2 emissions by those that do believe in it, provided they recognise that it is ‘global’ warming not ‘Irish’ warming. Attempts to regulate must be done in concert with global actors otherwise the Irish suffer for negligible difference. So let us consider global events.

The Nord stream pipeline was blown up this week – it takes away a valuable bargaining chip from Russia in an attempt to end the war. Russia had already turned off the pipeline and did not need to bomb it. This could result in Russia becoming bankrupt, enabling the US to buy into Russian oil and gas giants. The bombing of the pipeline released the Co2 equivalent of a third of Denmark’s emissions. I cannot understand how, while the superpowers do as they wish, the Irish cannot burn turf. It is a strange scenario when you impose your own penal laws.

Glenavy, Co Antrim


Irish Budget an absolute failure

Budget 2023 now completed and yet for all the interest our government leaders vocalised in their determination to appear climate friendly.

The budget is an absolute failure in relation to investment in wind farms – our greatest asset and with one of the biggest shorelines within the EU.

Shame on them.

Dublin 22


Letters to the Editor