* I am an old-age pensioner living in a remote part of Co Monaghan – living in fear. In 2009 I returned home from evening Mass when three masked robbers broke in my front and back doors and cornered me in my living room. They were all armed with iron bars and shouting "where is the money".
One of them stood over me wielding a large iron bar while the other two ransacked my home, breaking my bed, mirrors and other furniture. The ordeal lasted for for about two hours. Only by the grace of God, a neighbour arrived and frightened the robbers off.
I am 77 and since then I have been terrified almost to live here once it gets dark. Before I go to bed I have to barricade my room door and window for safety in order to get some sleep.
The reason I have now been driven to write to you is that I will have to give up my telephone as I cannot afford it any more.
Eircom has given me credit up until April, after that I am sure will no longer have contact with the outside world.
Mobile service in this area is non-existent.
I am sure there are thousands of old people living alone in the same position – living in fear, knowing they could lose their lives at the hands of criminals. Therefore, I would ask that the telephone allowances be reinstated to every person living alone in the country.
It is only victims who have lived through such an ordeal that know the true effect it can have.
It is only a matter of time before some old person gets killed in their own home.
We are the people who built this nation.
AN INSPIRATION TO US ALL
* Think of how wonderful would be the country of Ireland if only we had politicians with the commitment, courage, determination and unflinching resolve of a Louise O'Keeffe.
In my humble opinion, this lady is an inspiration to all of us.
BALLINDERRY SCHOOL HOUSE, FOUR MILE HOUSE, CO ROSCOMMON
THE GAY DEBATE
* What David Quinn – 'Can we have a respectful debate on same-sex marriage? I don't think so', Irish Independent, January 31 – and every other religious apologist evidently can't comprehend about the gay marriage debate is that gays are prohibited from actions that a member of the majority can undertake for ideological or religious reasons. This completely precludes respectfulness.
It is, in itself, an act of disrespect to exclude certain people from marrying just because you don't agree with it.
This implicit hermeneutical justification of disrespect towards gay marriage is what incites the reciprocated disfavour (albeit that death threats and such are never to be tolerated, from either side). But what religious people the world over will have to one day realise, is that their scripture should not dictate how other people – folks who put no credence in scripture (or who favour other scripture) – live their lives.
My question to the opponents of gay marriage is why should certain beliefs matter to those who don't share them and why, just because I don't believe what you believe, should I be discriminated against?
I've yet to hear a cogent answer from them that isn't laden with biblical ideology.
BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
RHINOS ARE REAL VICTIMS
* I was as sorry to hear of the break-in at the Co Cork mansion of 'Lord of the Dance' superstar Michael Flatley as I would be at the news of any theft by vile criminals who prey upon householders. Nobody deserves to have his or her home violated by the dregs of society who have no respect for the rights or possessions of law-abiding citizens.
But I also have sympathy for the unfortunate rhino who at some point was brutally killed for a part of its body that happens to be almost as valuable as gold on the black market.
Sadly, the rhino is endangered worldwide thanks to unscrupulous poachers who gun down these mighty creatures. Brave wildlife rangers have been killed in Africa while defending the precious few rhinos that remain outside nature parks and reserves.
The poachers gun down the animals, hack away the horns and then flee the scene, leaving the mutilated carcasses behind.
So while I hope the thieves who raided Mr Flatley's home are caught and brought to justice, I equally hope that the publicity accorded to the high-profile crime will have focused attention on the plight of the magnificent rhinos and the work of conservationist groups worldwide to save the dwindling number of them that still survive in this troubled, greedy world, enhancing it with their exotic presence.
Mr Flatley was wronged by the theft of the horn – but its previous owner suffered the greatest wrong of all.
CALLAN, CO KILKENNY
LET'S ELECT OUR JUDGES
* In their preliminary submission to the Department of Justice's public consultation, the most senior judges in the land called for changes to the judicial appointments process, most notably that the appointment of judges should no longer depend on their political allegiance.
It would seem then that even though the elevation of lawyers to the bench has in some cases been political, the only interested party left out of the loop has been the public, whom both politicians and the judiciary ostensibly serve.
If appointment by politicians is to end, would it not serve the purposes of both transparency and accountability to bring the political views of judges into the open by requiring them to be elected, as is the norm in many parts of the United States?
At least then we would be able to explain many perplexing sentencing decisions on the basis of whether judges declared themselves liberal or conservative in this regard before their election, and have the means of expressing our dissent if we feel they are not serving the best interests of society.
CREAGH, GOREY, CO WEXFORD
SUPPORTING OUR TEAM
* Kevin Fielding (Letters, January 31) blames the supporters for not being vociferous enough during international rugby matches in the Aviva Stadium. Clearly, he must have been absent during the Ireland vs New Zealand game last November, when the supporters gave everything they had.
It must be pointed out that Irish fans will be the most energetic supporters in the world if their team on the pitch actually gives them something to shout about.
Over the last few seasons, the previous Ireland rugby set-up gave the supporters very little to shout about and get behind, but we are now entering a different place with a fresh and ambitious mentality within our national team set-up.
JOHN B REID
CRANNMOR, MONKSTOWN, CO DUBLIN
IT'S NOT O'LEARY'S FAULT
A 1978 government white paper proclaimed Luton as an integral part of the London airport system, leading to the renaming of Luton International Airport as London Luton Airport.
Mr O'Leary has a lot to answer for but it is unlikely that he was running Britain at 17 years of age.
DR JOHN DOHERTY
CNOC AN STOLLAIRE, GAOTH DOBHAIR,