Saga of Higgins letter on Ukraine leaves a stale aftertaste


I am somewhat puzzled by the handling of a letter published in The Irish Times by Sabina Higgins, wife of President Michael D. Higgins, and her follow-up to that letter.

The story received extensive media coverage on Sunday, raising many questions from various sources.

The fact that a copy of the letter was later placed in Ms. Higgins’ “special section” of the President’s official website before it was removed raises questions of its own.

It was noted that Áras An Uachtaráin had declined to comment on the publication of the letter and its removal from the site.

There was a deafening silence on Monday on the matter and we had to wait until Tuesday before Ms Higgins commented further.

She explained that she had been asked about her letter to the newspaper by a number of people who had missed it and were unable to access it online.

Since these people used the internet, it would certainly have been safer to send them copies of the letter.

The fact that President Higgins was forced to repeat his condemnation of the war in Ukraine left a bad taste in the whole affair.

I have no problem with Mrs Higgins expressing her own views on the situation in Ukraine. However, I have reservations about her use of what she describes in this case as her “dedicated section” of the President’s website.

Tony Fagan, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

Don’t let Sabina become a victim of the abandonment culture

Regardless of who she is married to, as a citizen of Ireland, Sabina Coyne Higgins has the same individual right to freedom of expression and opinion as any other citizen.

I agree with the gist of her letter – her call for a ceasefire in Ukraine, preventing death, injury and destruction – and would like to add the caveat that the mention of climate change was out of context and unnecessary.

Let’s not allow Ms. Higgins to become a victim of the abandonment culture.

Joe Terry, Blarney, Co. Cork

The message of Mrs. Higgins’ letter was peace

While I don’t agree with the full content of Sabina Higgins’ letter, I believe it came from a good place. It came from a peacekeeper with a proven track record. The letter was not naïve, as some might think, but thoughtful in both its content and its potential impact on the citizens of Ireland and around the world.

Peace and appeasement are similar bedfellows and can be portrayed as weaknesses, but considering starting or starting peace talks doesn’t belittle one’s strengths or red lines; in a way it brings clarity and offers an alternative way out for one or both parties.

In that case, I think it should offer a way out for Russia and President Vladimir Putin – “Go back, oh man, and end your stupid ways,” as Ms. Higgins might say.

Criticism of the letter arises on two fronts, first that Ms. Higgins’ letter equated President Putin and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as equally morally culpable.

We all know who the attacker is, and I suspect Mrs Higgins knows, too.

But if you’re trying to encourage someone like President Putin to negotiate, leave the blame at the door.

The second point of criticism arises from the fact that the letter was also published on the website of Áras to Uachtaráin. This move was clearly unwise, and so it was removed some time later. It was a temporary contempt for the office of President of Ireland, but hopefully we will not shoot the peaceful messenger while we continue to support Ukraine.

Aidan Roddy, Cabinteely, Dublin 18

Brexiteers would not tolerate a second vote on leaving

Kieran O’Regan misquotes me (“Brexit is far from a success, it’s an absolute disaster”, Letters, Irish Independent, 3rd August). I never said Brexit was a success, I just voted for it.

Not many Brexiteers (like me) would tolerate a second referendum on this issue and accept defeat if voters chose Remain next time.

I think it is important that another referendum takes place as Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against Brexit in 2016 but were forced to leave the EU.

The younger generation and those who have changed their minds should also have the opportunity to vote.

I think another Scottish independence referendum and one on Irish reunification are much more likely because Brexit is fair and democratic.

Dominic Shelmerdine, London Saga of Higgins letter on Ukraine leaves a stale aftertaste

Fry Electronics Team

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