• I was listening to the radio the other day and an advert came on that utterly shocked me. It was by Foras na Gaeilge and said: "Hey, why not try learning to speak Irish?"
How is it that in these times of national dire straits and dramatic cutbacks taxpayers' money can still be wasted on the Irish language?
It seems that while the Government is willing to stand up to SIPTU or the gardai, it is running scared of the Irish-language lobby.
It has already backed down on its plan to drop compulsory Irish from the Leaving Cert.
How can any fair-thinking person support cutting respite-care hours or closing garda barracks while money is still being thrown at the Irish language?
If people choose to speak the language, that's fine, but it should not be the responsibility of the rest of us to reward them.
How much is spent every year on translating government documents into Irish that no one even bothers to read in English?
Raidio na Gaeltachta is still funded after 40 years, despite the fact that it only has about 40 listeners.
Udaras is a publicly-funded body whose sole purpose seems to be to get as much money as possible from the State to throw away in grants to Gaeltacht areas at the expense of other communities across the country.
Foras wastes untold amounts on "promoting" the language every year and I think every person in this country could think of at least 100 better ways to spend their taxes than that.
More people in this country speak Chinese and Polish as their first language then Irish. But not one politician has the courage to stand up to this tiny, but extremely vocal Irish language lobby.
It seems we can put up with Blue Flu, property taxes and a general strike, but there is no way that even phingin amhain will be taken from the Gaeilge gravy train!
Wellington Bridge, Co Wexford
No more to give
• When I started out my career in An Garda Siochana 15 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be writing such a letter as this to a newspaper.
There has been a lot of media attention surrounding the Croke Park II talks. I started off my career with the hope and expectation that as well as having a job to be extremely proud of, I would also be able to provide for my family.
With all the talk of further pay cuts, I decided to dig out some payslips from previous years to see exactly how much my take-home pay has changed. In the space of the last four years, it has decreased by €12,799.
My household bills have all increased. So please believe me when I say there really is no more to give.
Name and Address with Editor
Let parasites go
• Good news at last in the debate over the very good salaries and perks of the vast number of bureaucrats known disingenuously as 'public servants'. During the TV reportage of their demonstration on Monday, I noticed a poster threatening emigration.
Great. I calculate that losing about 30,000 of those parasites that live off honest workers' taxes but produce absolutely nothing themselves should start to solve our economic problems.
Couple that with somebody else proposing to reduce the number of TDs to one or two per county and it seems as though we are in severe danger of starting to look at a sensible national budget.
Richard D Barton
Tinahely, Co Wicklow
• There is a political and media consensus that a state apology should be a prelude to state compensation for the former Magdalene women.
This could range from €100m to €300m. Is it churlish to ask where this money is to come from? From another property tax, further cuts in services – or should our grandchildren pay for the negligence of our grandparents?
Is there an end in sight to the stream of abused from the past century all looking for money from a virtually bankrupt State?
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16
Stop the junkets
• In this year of the 'Gathering' and as we approach St Patrick's Day, may I request that the 'scattering' of politicians be severely reduced or – even better – suspended entirely.
I am appalled at the lavish spending of money on what is essentially a useless exercise. It would be better spent on the social services that this Government seems intent on destroying.
Indian Head Park, Illinois, USA
• I refer to the article by Ivana Bacik entitled "For 21 years women's lives have been put at risk –it has to stop" (Irish Independent, February 14). On the contrary, for over a century, women's and babies' lives have been protected in Ireland – this must continue.
Ireland's legal ban on abortion has never prevented medical professionals from treating a pregnant woman whose life is in danger, even if this treatment has the consequence of ending the life of the baby.
However, there is a huge difference between medical treatment to save the life of a mother and induced abortion.
The difference between what currently happens in Irish obstetric practice and an abortion regime is that a duty of care exists, where doctors provide essential treatment to preserve the life of the mother, but also do whatever is practicable to preserve the life of the baby.
What is needed now from the Government is not X-case legislation, but clear guidelines which affirm the two-patient care model, which looks after and protects the mother but also includes values and seeks to protect the life of the unborn child.
Galway For Life St Augustine Street, Galway
New party needed
• Jim Stack (Letters, February 19) writes of the growing disillusionment of pro-life voters around the country with the current Government. I personally am sceptical that any of the parties in the Dail – not even a resurgent Fianna Fail – hold by conviction the pro-life values of much of their electorate.
Time for new wine, perhaps.
Ballinamore, Kiltimagh, Co Mayo
Tuck into horse
• I do not in any way condone the sale of horse meat as beef.
However, now that we have been duped for so many years and have unknowingly been eating horse meat and not noticed or tasted any difference, why not offer customers the option to purchase products made from horse meat?
Many less well-off families may opt to go that route to provide their families with the protein that they need at more affordable prices.