Sunday 23 October 2016

An open letter to the 'New York Times'

Published 19/06/2015 | 02:30

A picture of Niccolai Schuster is placed at a memorial during a vigil on Wednesday for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse
A picture of Niccolai Schuster is placed at a memorial during a vigil on Wednesday for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse

The 'New York Times' reporting by Adam Nagourney, Mitch Smith and Quentin Hardy, June 16, 2015 on the death of Irish students in Berkeley is nothing short of disgraceful.

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To be so obtuse and insensitive to people who at this time are struggling to come to terms with the tragic loss of their loved ones, has damaged the brand of the 'New York Times' internationally.

More often perceived as a beacon of objectivity and high standards in journalism, the 'New York Times' has been reduced to gutter tabloid status in the eyes of anybody with a sense of compassion who read the piece in question.

The cheap attempt to seize upon the tragic deaths of six young people in a terrible accident, and turn your reporting of this into a vehicle to criticise Irish J1 students specifically, and to denounce their behaviour as a whole, is nothing short of xenophobic and a pathetic attempt to delineate thousands of people into a stereotypical caricature.

If some of your journalists and editors believe that J1 students' journeys from Ireland to the US are to be ridiculed, it was not the time to link this small-minded belief to a report on the death of young people, whose families and loved ones are suffering enough right now, without insinuations from global media moguls that the students' own behaviour and nationality was a decisive factor in their deaths.

If it was six US students who had died while on 'Spring Break' in Cancun, I wonder if their nationality would have been a negative consideration in your reporting, or "an embarrassment" to the United States of America, as you have said J1 students' behaviour is to Ireland.

Unlike your staff, who were involved in producing this article, I will not hold the 'New York Times' in its entirety responsible for this tactless, stony piece.

I am sure there are good, compassionate and mindful people working for your organisation.

To bestow upon them all the same crass values would be very small-minded and unfair after all, wouldn't it?

Edwin Ambrose


Free GP care 'a political ploy'

I am beyond frustrated with politicians insulting my intelligence with deliberate attempts to disguise political ploys as attempts at improving the greater good. Case in point - free GP care for children under six.

Only a matter of months ago, a close friend had her medical card withdrawn despite the fact that she was still recovering from treatment for breast cancer which had required a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.

She now has to cover her own consultant, GP and medication costs. To rub salt in the wound, her husband's medical card was withdrawn on the same day because, likewise, his prostate cancer wasn't serious enough.

And yet, in the face of these appalling failures, the Government throws €60-odd million of taxpayers' money to provide free GP visits to the children of people who earn four and five times my salary.

Not only is it an insult to my intelligence but it is an insult to the citizens of this country and is based on the assumption that all of us are only out for ourselves and will have our conscience bought with whatever free thing is tossed at our feet.

I do not say this as someone who is far removed for the offer of free GP visits. I am the mother of two little asthmatic children myself. But even with asthma, I take my children to the GP about twice a year.

The majority of the illnesses they encounter are simple viruses which I know will resolve themselves within about 10 days and for which the only treatment is Calpol, ice cream and Mommy's cuddles.

Do I want to be able to take my virus-infected child to the GP for free reassurance when someone dear to me is paying €220 to see a consultant to make sure her breast cancer isn't coming back?

Absolutely not.

Name and address with editor

Life will go on for Clerys staff

Much is being made of the recent, sudden closure of Clerys store in Dublin. This of course is right and proper, as the company's disregard for the human aspect of the business is deplorable.

From this action the collective unions, employees and media have created a poster boy to show the company's disregard for its employees, like John Crowe.

It appears that after 43 years service and with only two years to go he is left distraught. Well, cheer up John, as things are not as bad as they seem.

If your employment continued then you would eventually have got a gold watch and a slap on the back on your retirement.

As things stand, over the next two years you will receive €66,000 as a minimum between redundancy, dole and jobseekers' allowances. That is €33,000 take-home pay per annum, not bad at all.

Also, no company is legally obliged to give large redundancy payments; these are not a right, but are usually moral-based and are hard-fought for. Statutory redundancy is all that is legally required.

So, John, take it from somebody who has been through this twice - life goes on, the hurt and rejection will diminish over time.

You had only two years to go and now those two years are being financed in advance for you. Enjoy your golden years.

Ray Dunne

Co Meath

60 minutes feels like six months

Somebody once sang: 'Six long months I spent in Dublin, six long months doing nothing at all.' I wonder was he trying to get from the Northside to the Southside.

The long-suffering Mayo faithful can sympathise with him, as we spent 60 long minutes getting from Milltown Road end to the other end of Tuam. The journey from Swinford to Salthill, normally a very pleasant one, was like undergoing an MRI scan but with your eyes open. And still the hunt goes on as Sam continues to turn a deaf ear to 'The children of a lesser God' clad in Green and Red.

Tom Byrne

Swinford, Co Mayo

Irish Independent

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