Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Irish Examiner view: Fitting Ireland at the fore of recognition

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The war being conducted by Israel in Gaza has dominated the headlines to such an extent in recent months that nobody can reasonably claim ignorance of events in the region.

As a result, there are opinions circulating everywhere when it comes to taking a position on Palestine — from the Eurovision contest ongoing in Malmö to athletes and sporting organisations.

On that score, the Government’s move towards recognising Palestine as a state is welcome.

Taoiseach Simon Harris discussed the matter with his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, earlier this week, with reports suggesting that Ireland, Spain, and several other countries are considering May 21 as the day on which they will all recognise Palestine.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has confirmed that similar discussions are ongoing with other European nations.

It is appropriate that Ireland should be proactive in these moves to recognise Palestine. In the aftermath of the First World War, Irish diplomats tried hard to have Irish independence considered at the Paris peace talks of 1919.

However, Ireland had to wait until 1923 to join the League of Nations and signal true national autonomy. It is fitting, then, that Ireland should be to the fore in acknowledging the right of another state to exist.

With that recognition comes responsibility. Palestine must conceive of a future without Hamas in order to be a viable state. Ireland’s treatment of Palestine when the conversation moves beyond diplomatic initiatives and top-level conversations also needs to be examined closely.

As reported here, a 20-year-old asylum seeker from Palestine was moved to a tented area in South Dublin from the Grand Canal this week: He had fled from the Palestinian city of Hebron over three weeks ago, when both his parents were killed in the Israel-Gaza war.

Individuals like this deserve real support, not lip service or ad hoc relocation. The chaotic proliferation of tent communities in Dublin is a clear manifestation of a broken system, and a visible reminder not to pat ourselves on the back just yet.

Questions need answering

The advent of summer and the recent improvement in the weather are likely to have readers thinking of their holidays, and perhaps a trip abroad for something more long-lasting than just a glimpse of sun.

With that in mind, it may be timely to revisit the ongoing controversy at plane manufacturers Boeing. In January this year, a Boeing plane was forced to land when a cabin panel blew out on a flight in America: Regulators there grounded Boeing planes and inspected the manufacturing facility, which resulted in Boeing chiefs admitting they faced a challenge in restoring trust in their planes.

This issue has obvious repercussions for Irish travellers: Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary spoke in recent weeks about his confidence that Boeing will be able to deliver 40 planes his airline needs ahead of the peak summer season. 

If the manufacturer does not provide those planes that may reduce capacity on some routes, though holidaymakers are likely to be far more interested in the safety of their aircraft than in the number of daily flights to their holiday destination of choice.

However, the background to this controversy is now more reminiscent of a Netflix thriller than a straightforward business story. In March, Boeing whistleblower John Barnett was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in South Carolina. Last week, Joshua Dean, another Boeing whistleblower, died in Seattle after a short illness. Both men were represented by the same legal firm.

This could be interpreted as simple coincidence, but there was some disquieting testimony heard at US Congress hearings into the Boeing situation last month. Yet another Boeing whistleblower, Sam Salehpour, told politicians that the company was “putting out defective airplanes”, but added that employees who raised safety concerns were “ignored, marginalized, threatened, sidelined and worse”.

Salehpour went on to say he feared “physical violence” because he had made his concerns public.

The questions which face Boeing go far beyond faulty cabin panels, but they must all be answered to restore faith in the company and its products.

Monopoly risk

Amazon is to launch an Irish website next year, amazon.ie, which will be welcome news to the company’s many aficionados in this country. Up to now, Irish customers had to use Amazon sites based in Britain or other European countries.

The company is already a major employer in Ireland: Amazon employs approximately 6,500 people in Cork, Dublin, and Drogheda, and it has announced that the new website will lead to additional jobs, with details to be announced in the coming months.

Online shopping is becoming more and more popular, but this announcement has serious implications in the real world, implications for independent and smaller businesses all over Ireland, businesses which cannot compete in any way with a company as big as Amazon.

If more of those businesses are forced out of existence by Amazon’s focus on Ireland, then that is not good news for consumers in general — monopolies are never welcome — but it is also a bad omen for our villages, towns and cities.

A range of different businesses in varied locations is vital in ensuring liveable, viable communities across the country. For all its benefits a faceless online behemoth offers nothing to improve the quality of life in the public realm.

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