Tuesday 25 October 2016

Cowen's pension the one minor dent in his continuing bliss

Published 22/09/2015 | 02:30

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen
Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen

The Nation is holding its breath to see if the Banking Inquiry, once and for all, will establish that Brian Cowen is happy.

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Sadly, the one minor dent in his continuing bliss is caused by the constant reminder of the inordinate pension which he now admits he should never have accepted.

I agree with Brian that it is easy for his critics to pass judgement on his acceptance of such a large sum, particularly in the context of the level of poverty in Ireland. He is eloquent in his withering dismissal of hindsight as a source of political wisdom, though he admits that had he his time to go over again, of course he would not accept such a large and seemingly undeserved pension. Who would?

Bertie Ahern and Brian would no doubt willingly pay back their pensions to the tax payers whose benevolence they now see as ill-judged. Sadly, there are far too many of them to make it worthwhile to collect the pittance, per capita, that such a gesture would generate.

Throughout the recession in Ireland, Brian shared with Bertie an inner glow, a deep self-authenticating sense that things would be alright in the end, confirmation that he was doing all the right things but, admittedly, in the wrong order. He was convinced that Ireland was calling him to stay firm and continue his work of national redemption. St Patrick felt a similar calling, albeit without a pension.

Finally, Brian would like to kill the irritating myth of the Galway tent which has arisen from a malevolent twist on his statement that his approach to running the country was 'intense' not 'in tents' as suggested by his detractors'.

Philip O'Neill

Oxford, England


It's time to ban hare coursing

WE humans are susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression linked to changes in the seasons. I wonder if the gentlest creature in the Irish countryside has any similar feelings of apprehension or misery at this time of year.

The shortening autumn days herald the arrival of a new enclosed coursing season. It officially kicks off at the end of this month. In fields from Cork to Donegal, thousands of hares will be netted for use in public live baiting competitions. Following weeks of unnatural captivity - the hare is a solitary creature that lacks the herd instinct - these fleet-footed denizens of field and forest will be forced to run from pairs of hyped-up greyhounds.

Not as part of any supposed pest control undertaking or conservation initiative. The sole purpose of the whole exercise is to provide amusement and an excuse for gambling.

With the pursuing greyhounds muzzled, none of the hares are killed humanely or instantaneously in coursing. Instead their bones are broken as the dogs maul, forcibly strike, pin them down, or fling them high into the air like broken toys. Or they can die in captivity before coursing day arrives.

Reports on coursing fixtures filed by rangers attached to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and obtained by us under FOI reveal that hares suffer agonising fatal injuries at all of these so-called 'festivals'.

The Irish Hare is a subspecies of the Mountain Hare unique to this country and treasured as a rare living link to the Ice Age of 10,000 years ago. It is now threatened by loss of habitat due to urbanisation and the adverse side effects of 21st century farming. Must it also endure the continued ghoulish attention of coursing clubs?

With an election looming, those of us who oppose animal cruelty and care about the preservation of our wildlife heritage will be lobbying for a total ban on hare coursing.

John Fitzgerald

Callan, Co Kilkenny


Compliments of the season

REGARDING the confusion over the Irish seasons here is a little reminder of the natural order of things.

When the days are getting shorter

And the nights are getting long

And there comes a sort of sadness

In the robin's evening song.

Autumn arrived yesterday at 2.51pm. It stays until December 31, when we start the New Year.

Vincent Corrigan

New York


Homeless problem getting worse

GERMANY is planning to build 30,000 flats within 10 months for the refugees.

Last Christmas we all sat down to enjoy our turkey without feeling guilty as the Government had just organised a quick fix to the problem of sleeping rough on Dublin streets. But alas, the problem of homelessness in Ireland has gotten worse in recent months.

Time to send our minister Alan Kelly at the taxpayers' expense to see how the Germans can build so quickly.

Paddy Fitzpatrick

Glanmire, Co Cork


Gender issue for Fianna Fáil

SEVERAL veteran Fianna Fáil figures, including Bertie Ahern, have rounded on the party leadership over the decision to block a male councillor from contesting the general election because of the gender quota targets.

Fianna Fáil headquarters told Cllr Daithí de Róiste that he cannot be considered for selection in a move that has caused consternation within the party.

"It's a mess," the source said. "It sends out a brutal message to everyone looking in at how politics works."

Reality is that the people know exactly how politics works, and that is why the country is in such a poor state.

However, as politician's will do almost anything for power, all is not lost for Daithí.

He could always do a Bruce Jenner.

Seamus McLoughlin

Keshcarrigan, Co Leitrim


Defending 'the force'

BEFORE launching his puerile rant against the conservatives who are resisting the cultural colonisation of Skellig Michael in the face of the production crew of Star Wars, it might have been worthwhile to consider that those who promote the treasures of the past are everyone's friend.

Stars Wars is a fantasy tale, born of Hollywood, sound stages and special effects. It is extremely popular. Like many modern fantasy tales, it takes it inspiration from the ancient myths, legends and truths of the past.

George Lucas has readily acknowledged sources such as Greek and Roman mythology, philosophy and religious thought as inspiration behind his writing.

Skellig Michael and its culture and history has far fewer advocates. Perhaps when a new crew of cultural colonisers make their way to 'Star Wars Island' to reclaim it for their own new money-spinning popular show, will their be anyone to defend "the force"? Would Ian O'Doherty stand with Aosdana and their likes then?

Mark C. Hickey

Irishtown, Dublin 4

Irish Independent

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