Madam – Whether one agrees with her views or actions, I think Margaretta D'Arcy deserves credit for having the courage to go to jail for a cause she believes in. There aren't too many people who would consciously choose prison over freedom. Her situation reminds me of a scene in the film Airplane, where all sorts of suspicious looking characters, including some carrying machine-guns and grenades, are allowed to board a plane by the security men, who then proceed to wrestle an unarmed frail elderly lady to the floor to "frisk" her.
The analogy is all the more apt given the cause Margaretta was espousing.
Responding to a Dail question on her jailing, Justice Minister Alan Shatter declared, "Nobody is above the rule of law."
If Margaretta had been well in with the elite wheelers and dealers who wrecked the country and laid waste to our economy she'd have been far less likely to spend even an hour behind bars.
No prison food for the jokers who know how to play the legal system to evade justice or for those who came perilously close to wiping Ireland Inc off the face of the Earth.
It will be a long time before you see any of those high- fliers doing time.
But Margaretta had to be jailed. God Almighty, sure society needs to be protected from a 79-year-old woman who suffers from cancer and Parkinson's when she breaks the law. Life as we know it might come to an end in Ireland; crumble to dust, if rebellious pensioners were not reined in. Thus it was that Margaretta had to face the full rigour of the law and pay her debt to society.
'Justice is blind' goes the old adage, and everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Methinks she might be only blind in one eye.
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Tell grumpy gran to throw a party
Madam – Re: your recent prize-winning letter about the woman of 80 who says she is in hell, I'd like to ask that woman, does she ever look at the television, at the pictures in war-torn countries of very elderly men and women, carrying all their worldly goods in a little bit of cloth, heading God knows where and to what. To think that a woman has a husband and seven children and numerous grandchildren and she has to pass days without speaking to anyone is ludicrous. To say that they don't speak to her is nonsense. How else do they have access to her money? It has never been a better time to be 80 in Ireland. I know, because I am also 80, as are all my friends. There are so many groups to join and activities to share, but this woman sounds very grumpy and spoilt.
Tell her to have a party. Invite all her family. Tell her to put a smile on her face and a peg on her tongue, and they will all have a great day.
Name and address with Editor
MOTHER WREAKED EMOTIONAL HAVOC
Madam – My mother is in her 70s now and is a self-obsessed, manipulative bully, who over the years has wreaked emotional and psychological havoc on her family. Her "children" (now in our 40s) have decided to go down the route of 'no contact' to protect ourselves and our families from her evil.
It both annoys and upsets me to hear people say "but she's your mother...".I would give anything to have a close, loving relationship with my mother. Having tried and tried, I know now that this will never happen. She will never change, so I am the one who must make changes in my life to protect myself.
So to you whose life is sheer hell at 80 I say, "you made your bed, now lie on it".
Name and address with Editor
Madam – What a sad letter from the lady of 80 who is not in touch with her family. I am sure the country is full of lonely neglected people. Maybe this woman and people like her can be adopted by others. Nursing homes which cost over €1,000 a week are full of elders that could be in their own homes. My father died in 1971. Everyone minded the old and the young then. Not anymore. Kids are in creches, elders are in homes, I am waiting for the backlash.
Name and address with Editor
SEARCHING FOR A SURROGATE GRAN
Madam – I was really saddened by the old lady whose letter featured here on January 12.
I am a 38-year-old woman, married with two little girls.
I was blessed enough to have fantastic grandparents, especially two grandmothers whom I adored and really miss.
I have no relationship with my parents but my mother-in-law and father-in-law are special, loving people in my life.
Mad as this might sound, I really miss my grandmothers and have often longed for a sort of "adopted" grandmother! I have often thought of contacting ALONE to inquire about visiting someone but as often happens with the best intentions, I never followed through.
Name and address with Editor
OLD AGE DOESN'T MEAN USELESS
Madam – I am a 66-year-old, retired teacher. Months ago I volunteered for three different organisations, which I shall not name. I have not heard from two of them.
The third wrote to me recently to say they had no position to offer. I had applied for an admin post advertised at the time in their organisation. There was no mention of it, strangely, as if it had not existed. Long delays in dealing with volunteering opportunities seem to be the rule, for some reason. The unemployed and retired must wonder what is one to do to feel useful.
I understand there are issues such as garda vetting (it seems to take forever), but there must be a better way to utilise members of society who want to contribute. Old age need not mean useless.
Castleknock, Dublin 15
Joe Citizen's view ignored
Madam – Gene Kerrigan's insightful article (Sunday Independent, January 12, 2014) explains how our politicians have developed a soothing public language of deception that is concealing what he calls a rotten system.
The article clearly explains why we no longer have what we traditionally called 'political parties' that work for the good of the people.
The purpose of government in Ireland and across the global western world is to keep wealthy people happy – to create the optimum conditions for them to make maximum profits when times are good and mop up their debts when the economy goes pear-shaped.
The great seduction for the public is the eternal hope that when the economy is working well there will be a trickle-down effect for everyone.
What we fail to realise is that economic growth, austerity, abject poverty and large-scale unemployment are all currently working hand in glove together across Europe and the globe. There will be no trickle-down effect. Irish people are beginning to discover that the will of the people is the last thing on the minds of this Government as well as on the last government.
This begs the question: who do you think you are fooling? It may be some of the Irish people some of the time, but it will no longer be all the people all the time.
Geraldine Mooney Simmie,
Faculty of Education and Health Sciences,
University of Limerick
KERRIGAN, AGAIN, HITS NAIL ON HEAD
Madam – Gene Kerrigan's article, 'Elites making a killing at expense of State' (Sunday Independent, January 19, 2014), is one of the best ever printed in the Sunday Independent and a good reminder of why the paper keeps its appeal.
Howth, Dublin 13
BERATING SUICIDAL ISN'T VERY HELPFUL
Madam – I do agree that we need a more informed debate on suicide but John Masterson's article in last week's paper on the subject won't help, in my opinion.
He expressed the view that suicide was not so prevalent in the past and that our current more "compassionate" attitude has an unexpected side-effect – making suicide more acceptable. He also seemed to think that Donal Walsh had part of the answer.
In the past many suicides were covered up both by the family and the State, due to the horrific stigma that came with it. So we don't know the true figures from the past.
It's possible that there is a little truth to what he says about they removal of the sin and crime element causing an increase but he's not seriously suggesting we go back to those days, is he? Is it better that people are living in terrible pain rather than being dead? Isn't that the point Marie Fleming was trying to make? Serious mental illness can be every bit as bad as a serious, painful, life-threatening physical illness. The big difference is the pain can't be seen.
We are far from having a compassionate attitude to people who are suicidal. The widespread approval of the comments made by Donal Walsh about "these people who choose to take their own life" displays a lack of real understanding towards suicidal people. He seemed to think that suicidal people chose suicide even though there is effective help available. I am not blaming Donal Walsh. He was expressing the anger and lack of understanding of many people.
Ninety per cent of people who commit suicide are mentally ill. The current view that people commit suicide because of common problems like bullying or financial issues isn't true. Many mentally ill people have trouble seeking help because they feel it's a weakness. Yet most do seek help when their situation becomes distressing.
Telling off the mentally ill or making suicide a crime or a sin isn't going to help.
Youghal, Co Cork
DONAL IGNITED SUICIDE DEBATE
Madam – According to Sean Cassidy in 'Disagreeing with Donal on suicide,' (Letters, Sunday Independent, January 19, 2014) "there was an inference that those who battle depression and succumb to suicide do so out of choice," in Donal Walsh's message.
I have re-read Donal Walsh's letter which initially brought him to national prominence and it is obvious from that letter he is speaking primarily about young people who take their lives. To quote: "yet still I hear of young people committing suicide and I'm sorry but it makes me feel nothing but anger. I feel angry that these people chose to take their lives, to ruin their families and to leave behind a mess that no one can clean up". On re-watching the Saturday Night Show the same message comes across.
Donal Walsh spoke of an anger he felt. This was not meant in any way as a judgment on someone who takes their own life.
He was simply verbalising a feeling. I myself experience anger when I hear of people taking their lives. Despite this anger, I have the utmost empathy for people who take this tragic step.
Donal did use the word "chose" but he also stated: "I have nothing against people with mental illness."
It's unfortunate that Mr Cassidy feels as he does about Donal Walsh's message but Donal started a conversation on this topic and has brought it much-needed attention. In fact it could be argued that he was the catalyst for other people speaking out. A conversation that was started by a boy dying way before his time enables Mr Cassidy and others to bring attention to this area.
CUT PUB PRICES TO WOO BACK YOUTH
Madam – I wish to let Padraig Cribben, Chief of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland, (Letters, Sunday Independent January 19, 2014) know the main reason why young people are not going to the pubs anymore.
May I say a big percentage of our young are responsible people and avail of the cheap drink for sale in supermarkets and go straight to the nightclubs. There is a reason for everything. They feel they are not getting value in the pubs and are probably right. Take down your prices, Mr Cribben and young people might start going to the pub again.
Even for myself I also feel the value is not there anymore. Value is everything today.
Mullingar, Co Westmeath
'TOP CAT' ROSS SLAYS FAT CATS
Madam – I felt in praise of Shane Ross and his wonderful work on the Public Accounts Committee, I had to compare him to an old cartoon character I used to watch as a child: "Shane Ross is Top Cat, the indisputable leader of the gang. He can trap all the rats on the board of CRC,
and send shivers down the spines of several more. He's the boss, he's the pip, He's the championship, He's the most tip top... Top Cat."
GAY PRIEST HAS NOTHING TO FEAR
Madam – I don't get it, I just don't get it. Your correspondent, Carol Hunt, quotes a so-called gay priest as saying: "I live in constant fear of being found out or being outed."
Now, if he's a priest he has taken vows of chastity and celibacy. If he is faithful to his vows then he is not engaging in any form of sexual activity, so what is there to find out?
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
LYRIC DUO ISN'T MUSIC TO OUR EARS
Madam – Recent letters about Lyric FM complain about the amount of talking in many of the programmes.
I agree, and the problem is getting worse. The main culprits, I would suggest, are Gaybo and Lorcan Murray, with the former mixing inane comments, delivered in an inane voice, with a few interesting items and some good jazz.
We enjoy Lorcan to an extent, but not the tedious emails and texts from listeners who appear to believe that we care about what they are doing (sipping cold wine as the husband mows the lawns on his ride-on mower) while they listen. Not all is bad however – presenters such as Liz Nolan and Niall Carroll, to mention but two, are always worth listening to.
Celbridge, Co Kildare
SICK OF BAD PRESS ABOUT 'THE WEZZ'
Madam – Thank you, Julia Molony, for your article commending 'The Wezz', (Sunday Independent, January 12, 2014). I am so sick of the bad press this place seems to attract. A number of my nieces and nephews have frequented 'The Wezz' over the years and loved it. It's a rite of passage for teenagers this side of the city, as are similar venues all over the country. My sisters and brothers have dropped their kids off there and waited for them outside and have never seen anything suspect.
In fact, they have always found the security spot on. My brother-in-law one night decided to get petrol in the garage across the road and texted his daughter to meet him there. One of the bouncers insisted on accompanying her until she was safely in her father's car. Two of my nieces attend 'Back to Wezz' every year and love meeting up with old friends.
If the girls are dangling their underwear there like bracelets, which I highly doubt – no one I know has ever actually seen such a spectacle – then they're doing it all over the country.
The teenagers in Wezz are no different to their counterparts nationwide. I have nieces and nephews in Dublin and in Cork and they are all the exact same – lovely, caring, conscientious young people.
Greystones, Co Wicklow