* I want to take my hat off to the troika, and our masters in Europe. That is what one does as a mark of respect at funerals, and yesterday as far as I am concerned, the last nail was driven into our coffin regarding our pride as a nation.
The hammer blow came with the news that what was once the biggest soup kitchen during the famine has had to reopen its doors in Dublin.
In 1850 a river of broken spirits queued up outside its doors. Now, more than 150 years later, it is back in business – this despite the industrial revolution, the technological advances of the past two decades, and unprecedented wealth and prosperity in the EU.
In our capital city, 1,600 people are homeless – six new homeless people turn up every day. Since last April the number of homeless has risen by 50pc.
The situation is so bad that the volunteers of the Civil Defence have been called in to help.
I am ashamed that the EU, which includes the word 'union' in its name, is so ready to wash its hands of us.
How quickly they forget; had Ireland not propped up the German banks there would have been a trans-European tsunami, in financial terms.
Our inept government of the day in its ignorance made the calamitous decision to put our finger in the dyke and save the citadel.
But when the dam burst there was no help. Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan talked the talk in Brussels, they promised us the stars, but all we got was moonbeams from the mandarins in Frankfurt.
There will be no retrospective debt relief – the German Central Bank has said "nein".
But sure what harm? We have Brother Kevin Crowley feeding the poor. We have the Civil Defence.
And as for the homeless who depend on handouts?
Sure most of them don't even vote.
PROACTIVE RUGBY COACH
* Munster Rugby should think outside of the box when seeking a successor to Rob Penney as head coach of Munster, who is departing at the end of the season (Sport, Feb 11). An outstanding candidate, should he be pursued, is a Munsterman who has experience as a coach at a high level in an environment outside of Ireland, namely Conor O'Shea of Harlequins.
The advantage to Munster of a candidate such as O'Shea is that, as a rugby coach, he puts a huge emphasis on the development of skills. A major reason why Munster Rugby, up until the arrival of Rob Penney, historically employed a very limited style of play was because there had long been a skills deficit as a result of the way rugby has been taught within the province of Munster.
For Irish rugby to continue to improve, the province of Munster needs to continue to inculcate the advanced skills (begun under Rob Penney) required in order for Ireland to take on the best in the world. A prospective head coach who would allow this to happen would be Co Limerick's (and often claimed by Co Kerry) own Conor O'Shea.
JOHN B REID
KNAPTON ROAD, MONKSTOWN, CO DUBLIN
LET'S ALL HAVE A STATUE
* Columnist Liz O'Donnell wants a publicly provided statue to honour Luke Kelly, the Dubliner, 30 years after his death. Yet the 1916 patriot Padraig Pearse has no statue almost 100 years after his death.
Will your columnist also require statues for Ronnie Drew, and Barney McKenna?
JUDGE NOT, JUDGES
* I was much taken with former Judge Hugh O Flaherty's contribution (Feb 7) on the matter of judicial appointments and the judges' submission urging changes in the judicial appointments system. I feel that while it has some merit, the judiciary have largely done themselves no favours in the process and appear to be pulling up the drawbridge behind them!
It is a bit far-fetched for them to say that the system is "demonstrably deficient, and that wide-ranging changes are needed to attract high-calibre applicants". The thought also strikes me that many of those sitting might not have made it through the new system they now advocate!
The judges have possibly sold themselves short in some of their comments, and neither did they cover themselves in glory in matters of pay at a time when we all suffer. With a downturn in the economy, many solicitors and barristers might still regard bagging a judicial appointment as akin to falling on their feet.
BALLINA, CO MAYO
MARRIAGE FOR PRIESTS
* The Church resurrected the dead Diaconate – a group of men and women nominated to contribute to the building of a repentant and rejoicing community – not an unqualified success. Why not resurrect the dead married priesthood? That would make people sit up and take notice.
ADDRESS WITH EDITOR
'STAYCATION' FOR JOAN
* Seeing that Ms Joan Burton and colleagues have decided not to take part in the St Patrick's Day parades in New York and Boston, perhaps they will remain at home and save the taxpayers some money?
PATRICK J O'DOHERTY
BEFORE THE BIG BANG
* In reply to Neil Condon (Letters, Feb 10), evidence can indeed be advanced for the existence of God – the existence of the Universe. How could the Universe have come into existence without a First Cause?
EU HYPOCRISY REVEALED
* The recent democratic decision by the Swiss people has highlighted yet again the arrogance and hypocrisy that pervades the EU. The response from the EU was almost threatening, with the prospect of Switzerland being the subject of a trade war for its people having the temerity to exercise their democratic rights within their own country.
Switzerland has remained outside the grasp of the EU and is a truly sovereign country, unlike the quasi-sovereignty that we enjoy. Yet the prospect of the Swiss limiting the number of foreign nationals entering their country has irked the powers that be in the EU, to the extent that they may now face 'consequences' for voting the 'wrong way'. Had they been within the clutches of the EU, the Swiss people would merely have been told to vote again until they get it right, so that the facade of European democracy could be maintained.
Following on from the lethal protests in the Ukraine which the EU support, this latest overbearing and intrusive response to the Swiss vote appears to me to indicate that the EU now sees itself as sufficiently powerful that it can extend its influence to sovereign countries outside of its borders.
The emergence of a Eurocrat that wants to ram countries together to form a united Europe has led democracy to be sidestepped, lest the majority of the people decide to reject the notion, as the Irish people know all too well after the referendums on the treaties of Nice and Lisbon.
LISMORE ROAD, CRUMLIN, DUBLIN 12
WEALTHY IN SPIRIT
* It is my belief that true wealth is being of good character. And a good character is an immeasurable wealth.
YOUGHAL, CO CORK