Friday 28 October 2016

Letters: A true centre of excellence

Published 08/03/2014 | 02:30

Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll

Those of us with snow-white temples and relying on hipflasks to get us through as the easterly wind blew into Lansdowne Road used to live off the exploits of Moss Keane and Willie Duggan.

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Two giants who bestrode the rugby landscape with devil-may-care attitudes to authority or their own well-being on the pitch, they gave it a lash.

When professionalism came, few thought that seeds of hope would flourish in the hallowed precincts of Dublin 4. Discipline, dedication, determination, these words in the old days only came alive in the apres-match rush to be the first to the bar .

That was before the epiphany – the arrival of the special one. Brian O'Driscoll, our very own green pimpernell, exploded into the game. We had sought him here, there and everywhere, we had to wait for the damned elusive keeper of our rugby dreams, but he has kept all our hopes alive against impossible odds, given the ferocious intensity and brutal toll the game demands. There was misplaced talk about golden generations, new eras and bright dawns; much of that talk was overblown and premature. Truth to tell, we have produced five or six world-class players.

O'Driscoll eclipses them all. He has been an examplar and an inspiration. He didn't just make the No 13 shirt his own in Ireland, he would have walked into any world 15, that was the hallmark of his gift.

Thanks, Brian, for all you have given; you will leave a big absence, and you have thrown down the gauntlet for other generations. One cannot conceive of a harder act to follow. A one man centre of excellence.





After gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine was still regarded in many quarters as an 'area' or a 'territory'. This was implied by the common use of the colloquial name 'The Ukraine' rather than simply 'Ukraine'.

In 2008, Vladimir Putin, in conversation with George W Bush, tried to use this ignorance to his advantage when he said: "Ukraine is not even a state. What is Ukraine? Part of its territory is Eastern Europe, but part of it – a considerable part – was gifted by us."

That statement confirms Putin's mindset six years ago, yet nobody paid much remarks to it. In truth, from the early 1990s we in Western Europe have been remiss in our support for a country that badly needed it.

Undoubtedly this is partly due to Russia's stranglehold over the gas supply to both Ukraine and Europe. As long as that subtle threat hangs over us, we will continue with our inoffensive tut-tuts of disapproval while kow-towing to Russia's whims.





In light of the well-publicised comments from the Clare hurling manager about the need to avoid alcohol to achieve success in sport, why does our national soccer team need an official beer sponsor?



It was disappointing to read Clare hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald's comments this week regarding drug taking by an element within the Clare hurling panel.

Mr Fitzgerald is to be commended for speaking out on mental health and self-esteem and his words will offer comfort to many people.

However, to point out that some Clare players in the mid-late 2000's took drugs was grossly unfair.





I would like to congratulate Sean McElgunn on his eloquent letter on the mystery of life. I am one of those atheists he speaks of, those who say they just do not have faith.

A reluctant atheist, though, as I envy the ease with which Sean is able to skip from acknowledging that he does not know the answer to the mystery of life to disregarding this information and settling on naming the first cause "God" because it's the best he can manage – and finally to not only knowing that God exists but also knowing that He is Love.

I envy the comfort and solace this knowledge must bring. I am, however, cursed with a rational mind that will not settle on a solution to a mystery simply because it is the best it can manage. The mystery rolls on.





Thank you, Irish Independent, for cheering me up this glum week.

Academia stuck a middle finger in my eye in the form of the rarefied air in UCC's upper echelons, which bestowed an honorary degree on Mr Barroso. The only 'doctor' I recognise is the guy I impart the €55 to, so I ignored most of Mr Barosso's flannel. However, I draw a line when he asked us to recall how the EU showed financial solidarity and support to the Irish people.

The Irish taxpayer bailed everyone out and every red cent due to the bondholders and EU will be bled from their veins for generations to come. Mr Barroso is the same dude who labelled us for making his precious euro almost a victim of the Irish bank crisis.

Which brings me to the three-card trick AIB is trying to pull. It would like to "write off" a cool €3.5bn in bailout loans backed by the tax serf when the bank sank. In exchange, it will give the tax serf shares. Wow!

I hope they are better than the ones that caught fire shortly after I had carelessly invested a portion of my retirement fund in late 2007.

The bust seems to be over, alright. Now we have men dressed up in outlandish gowns, bestowing honours on other notables, and banks doing what they do best, sleight of hand and promises in sand.





Once again I find myself asking why the Academy of Motion Pictures seems to operate on the default assumption that once an outstanding film is in a language other than English, it must be included in the Best Film in a Foreign Language category and be precluded from the Best Film category? That the ravishing, mad dreamscape that is 'La Grande Bellezza' was not nominated in the Best Film category is a travesty.

Art should not be categorised according to whether its creators are English speaking or not.

I wonder if Caravaggio would have won Best Painting by a Foreign Speaking Painter or if Dostoevsky would have won Best Novel in a Foreign Language if there had been the equivalent of the Academy Awards for other artforms in centuries gone by?





I must ask you to facilitate me in repudiating a letter you published in my name. My very short letter was inspired by one more than three times its length that you published from Philip O'Neill under the heading "We can't deny anyone the right to express love".

In his letter Mr O'Neill invoked his mother's compassion – I simply posited the additional and invaluable virtue of logic. Yet that very word was one of the quite small number that you excised from my letter, under the heading "Gay marriage debate".

That "debate", as you thus refer to it, has been utterly lacking in logic throughout its course over the past couple of months, but it has been sodden with what is presented as compassion, soppier even than the weather that accompanied it.

As my letter in its authentic version pointed out, by the logic of that particular compassion, the "right to express love", however publicly, however ritually, could not be denied to any grouping of persons, whatever their number and whatever their sex or sexes. And logic, after all, is the twin of truth.



Irish Independent

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