Sunday 28 December 2014

It's life – but not as we know it

Published 14/10/2013 | 05:00

Fake tan: a much-loved product among Irish debutantes
Fake tan: a much-loved product among Irish debutantes

* I have just returned home having spent two weeks in your lovely capital.

Dublin has a unique energy, its people are friendly and open-hearted – a rarity in the cosmopolitan context.

One thing did strike me as puzzling, though. On two different weekends I happened to be in the city centre, where I encountered what looked to me like a new genus.

There were beautiful, angelic female figures dressed elegantly in ballgowns, but their skin was of a deep orange hue.

They moved with great difficulty, staggering wildly, and defying all of Newton's gravitational laws on towering blocks of plastic – these, I was given to understand, were shoes.

This was preposterous, as they were evidently designed to be impediments to all known modes of propulsion.

These exquisite creatures were accompanied by what appeared to be young men clad in bow-ties, and dressed for all intents and purposes as if they were going to a state banquet.

Here, too, I was hopelessly mis-directed in my thesis, as they at all times carried big vessels from which they sucked as if their lives were dependent.

I pondered might they have been some kind of independent life-support system?

The following morning I happened to return to the capital, where I once more encountered many of these young fellows. Their attire, by now, was somewhat dishevelled, but the most striking thing about their aspect was the bright green pallor they now bore.

As they moved towards me out of the morning mist, with their startling orange companions, whom had also wilted in the intervening hours, I wondered had I slept through an alien invasion.

So startled was I by these encounters, that I looked to a nearby flower seller for an explanation.

"Ah sure, they're only finishing up after the Debs, love, they're debutants, that is," she explained.

I left none the wiser. For the life of me, I could not imagine which sphere of society was such an exotic rite of passage a preparation for.

Richard R Hetherington

Kentucky, USA

WE NEED SAY IN REFORM

* With the recent vote on the future of the Seanad and the inevitable post-mortem on the result, we are now facing an even more important decision regarding the country's systems of government and politics.

While the Seanad may have won the vote, it was hardly a resounding success, with just 42,000 votes the difference between life and death for the 76-year-old institution. But the vote was not the end of the fight because now we, as a nation, not just the Dail or the Seanad, must decide what we want the Seanad to do.

Clearly we are not impressed with its relative powerlessness yet we do not want a situation like that which prevails in the US at the moment, with an immensely powerful upper house causing political gridlock.

We must also decide who we want the Seanad to represent. The old cry of "represent the people of Ireland" is nowhere near good enough in explaining what role the Seanad will play in the government of the nation. Do we really want a second body elected in exactly the same way as the Dail? Surely we need a body that will represent the country but different to the Dail.

The people must decide these things. After all, democracy means the people are responsible, too.

Colin Smith

Clara, Co Offaly

D4 FACING EXTINCTION

* Last week saw an unprecedented attack on the good folk of Dublin 4. First we had lexicographer Prof Terence Dolan saying that D4 has an affected accent, a contrived and pretentious one.

How dare he? (or should that be 'how dor he?'). Anyway, things got worse. Next, the Government launched its attack by announcing the introduction of a new seven-digit postal code. D4 will cease to exist. In these circumstances, Joseph Conrad wouldn't mind me borrowing this exclamation – the horror, the horror.

John Bellew

Paughanstown, Co Louth

PENSIONERS WILL BE HIT

* The speculation recently that pensioners won't be hit in the Budget ignores a very important fact that from the January 1, 2014, all 65-year-olds will have no entitlement to contributory old-age pension. These unfortunate citizens who have paid all their life into a scheme will be dis- enfranchised from reaping the benefits of their social welfare contributions.

This legislation was introduced by Fianna Fail to increase the pension eligibility age to 66 years, thus doing away with transition pension from the age of 65 years, to be effective from January 2014.

Now if this Government really believes that the last government was the culprit for all the injustices against the Irish people, let it right this wrong.

Frank Cummins

Dublin 22

HARES STILL SUFFERING

* The high piercing sound of a captured hare in a net, like a child crying, in a pro-coursing report on 'The Today Show with Sean O'Rourke', has confirmed it's open season on the hare again.

With the Irish Council Against Blood Sports' ceaseless reports of agonising injuries, trauma and even death inflicted by hounds in coursing, along with netting, caging, training and captivity, how can Ireland pretend to the world that the hare is a protected species here?

Blood sports have been outlawed in all the neighbouring jurisdictions, yet our country continues to capture and pursue the terrified hare with hounds, for fun. If Ireland hasn't caught up with the civilised world by then, it is our duty at the next election to elect enough enlightened politicians, who oppose coursing as part of their agenda, in order to prohibit and banish forever this deplorable sport from our country, too.

Mary Reynolds

Dublin 6

HERE'S A BUMPER IDEA

* Stop spending money building speedbumps and filling in potholes in our cities and towns. Both are a waste of public finances as the latter more than adequately fulfil the objective of the former if we would just leave them alone.

John F Jordan

Killiney, Co Dublin

VALUE OF GOOD GUIDANCE

* I wish to respond to Ian McCabe about school counsellors (Letters, October 12). Mr McCabe suggests that at a cost of €24m, a counsellor could visit all schools primary and secondary for one afternoon a week.

Second-level schools up to 2012 had full-time guidance counsellors in place on a daily basis at a cost of €33m a year.

Since becoming Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn has gone a long way to demolishing what was a good service for young people.

Mr Quinn along with Kathleen Lynch constantly state how important it is to have a proper mental health service for young people. There was a service in place in second-level schools on a daily basis. Budget 2012 ripped the service apart.

I am a guidance counsellor in a second-level school in Dundalk. The cuts to guidance have left young people isolated and very much at risk.

They and the rest of the Oireachtas members who brought in the cuts to guidance should hang their heads in shame.

Some talk about the importance of mental health services for our young people. It's hypocrisy, as these same TDs and senators voted to demolish a service that was working.

Gerry Malone

Blackrock, Co Louth

Irish Independent

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