Saturday 22 October 2016

Politics and sport

Published 28/02/2016 | 02:30

Ireland's James McClean. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's James McClean. Photo: Sportsfile

Sir - I have just read the snippet (From The Stands, Sunday Independent, February 21) about the FAI putting 1916-2016 on their jersey for the upcoming friendly to commemorate the Easter Rising.

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The question I ask myself is why do this? Politics and sport don't mix. The IRFU don't see the need for the rugby team to have this on a jersey so why does the FAI feel the need to do this?

Can you imagine the uproar if the IFA in 1990 had put 1690-1990 on the Northern Ireland jersey to commemorate the tercentenary of the Battle of the Boyne? The entire island (and further afield no doubt), quite rightly, would have gone into meltdown asking what this had to do with the football team or sport.

I can only presume that James McClean will refuse to wear this jersey if he is selected, as it is a political statement and he refuses to wear a jersey with the poppy on it in England for the same reasons.

Keep politics out of sport and ditch this ridiculous idea.

Robert Foster


Co Kildare

Giving hope for anorexics

Sir - As part of Eating Disorder Week, to help raise awareness of the issue. I was diagnosed with anorexia during my nursing training at UCD and on my 21st birthday I signed a contract to commence treatment at St Patrick's University Hospital. I was highly aware I was sick and sought out help myself.

I finished children's and general nursing at UCD and the anorexia never affected my grades or any placements, I achieved full attendance.

But I think other sufferers need to be reassured that recovery is not the same for everyone. People seem to assume the moment you finish treatment and are at an acceptable weight that you 'are fixed'. I wrote this letter because I still struggle everyday with this illness, you can't run away from food, you have to face it everyday. So in essence, you have to face your enemy every single day. But it is doable. I know I am not 'recovered' yet, but I also think that word should not be used for mental illness. It's not about recovery; it is about management and being able to live your life as best you can while not allowing the illness to take over.

I am currently in my final year of a postgraduate psychology degree in Trinity College; I am getting married this summer and am living my life, even though the parasite (my name for anorexia) is always in my head. I live in hope and I want to get that message across to other sufferers because sometimes you just need a little reminder that you are not alone.

Laura Whelan


Co Wicklow

Huge problem of world's inequality

Sir - I am writing to you to briefly talk about inequality in the world. Inequality in the world is a huge problem today because of people being nasty and racist.

I feel inequality is wrong and horrible. People who are Muslims get very nasty and racist comments just because of the religion they follow. This also happens to black people and I think it's a horrible thing. Others think that people with disabilities are unequal to people without disabilities.

I think everyone in the world is 100pc equal no matter what race or religion they are or if they have a disability or not, we should all be treated the same because we are all human beings.

Ellie O'Brien (14 years old)


Co Dublin

Austerity made a mess of Greece

Sir - The reason that Greece is "a basket case looking at decades of economic stagnation", as Eilis O'Hanlon puts it, is that the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have forced Greek governments to impose draconian austerity measures that have caused the economy to contract. However, rather than condemn measures that have inflicted suffering and death upon the people of that country, she condemns Syriza for attempting to resist the inhumane diktats of the Troika ('10 reasons not to cast a vote for Sinn Fein', Sunday Independent, February 21).

Elsewhere, Dan O'Brien makes the absurd claim that it was the policies of Syriza that "killed Greece's recovery stone dead", rather than putting the blame where it lies. He appears ignorant of the fact that the economy of the Hellenic Republic declined by 25pc under the conservative New Democracy and the fake-socialist Pasok governments ('Failure to opt for real stability risks disaster for our economy', Sunday Independent, February 21). The Greek depression has continued because the Eurocrats put a metaphorical gun to the head of the Syriza government, and forced it to accede to their demands to further deflate the economy.

John Wake

Harlow, Essex

Calamities and politics of fear

Sir - Gene Kerrigan has raised the issue of 'the politics of fear' in the election campaign and,in general, is critical (Sunday Independent, February 21].

Given the calamity that hit this country in 2010, however, is it not to be expected that fear of the consequences of what the powerful might decide to do should be a natural reaction?

If we had a bit more fear instilled in us about what powerful politicians, not to mention the powerful in financial institutions, were deciding to do during the boom, it might have served us very well and saved us from a lot of the recent austerity.

A Leavy


Dublin 13

People justified in being angry

Sir - Your editorial ('Vote in hope, not in anger', Sunday Independent, February 21) is not appropriate at this time. By any analysis of the performance of both this and the previous governments, each voter would be justified in being angry when entering the ballot box.

To feel otherwise; having witnessed such disdain for democracy and the constitution, incompetence, cronyism, repossessions, hospital trolleys, capitulation to vested interests, homelessness (young and old), privatisation of valuable natural resources, and just sheer wastefulness; would not be natural.

Joe Brennan


Co Cork

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Sir - By the time this letter surfaces, the election will be over and the people will have spoken. I presume that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail will be the two largest parties.

Over the years these two parties have been jokingly dubbed Tweedledum and Tweedledee, owing to the painfully obvious fact that despite all protestations to the contrary by both, there's not a whit of difference between them . . . in terms of economic or social policies or their overall political ethos.

They might reflect on what happened to the original characters in the Alice in Wonderland masterpiece. Tweedledum and Tweedledee looked the same, talked the same, and anyone looking at or listening to them couldn't tell the difference. Yet they doggedly insisted they were different, and even went to the extremes of engaging in mock battles to drive home this meaningless point.

By then, one day as they were sparring and battling away as usual in a frenzied exchange of imaginary blows, what looked like enormous storm clouds began to form in the sky, and these then morphed into a monstrous crow that swooped from the heavens in their direction. The lads very quickly forgot all their imaginary differences.

The parties can learn from this episode in a children's classic: This is no time for false pride and mock battles. The challenges faced by the nation are far bigger than any perceived dissimilarities between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail. The economic recovery is too precious to be imperilled by instability. The housing crisis needs to be solved, the health service is crying out for fairness and efficiency and a myriad of other compelling issues await decisive no-nonsense handling by a government with guts.

So the big two had better get their dual acts together . . . before that metaphorical crow comes swooping down on us and the icy winds of recession and misery are once again blowing around our ankles.

John Fitzgerald

Co Kilkenny

Utopia for the entitled class

Sir - My father left Kerry and came to Dublin to work. Nobody handed him anything. He worked two jobs for 22 years so that he could give his family a comfortable home and a fine education. My only memories are of a happy home and memorable schooldays. All this was possible because of the sacrifices my father made. He worked hard, my mother looked after the pennies and all our bills were paid.

When did this happy way of life change? When did we become a nation of people who feel they are entitled to everything without effort, everything just for free? Worse still, when they don't get what they feel that they are entitled to, they shout and roar and blame everyone else. While all this is going on, our new citizens happily take up all the jobs the new Irish entitled class deem beneath them.

I love my country dearly and it pained me to see us sleepwalk into an election where the new entitled class seem intent on sending us on a road where everything is for free and there are no responsibilities.

This utopia does not exist.

Brian Kennedy


Dublin 6

Taking credit for education resource

Sir - In Brendan O'Connor's interview with the Taoiseach (Sunday Independent, February 21), Mr Kenny tells of his encounter with a non-verbal 10-year-old boy with autism and his teacher and how, with the resources provided by his government, the teacher in question was able to establish a connection with this child through new technology.

Let me tell you that this "new technology" consists of a laminated letter board whereby the child can spell out his thoughts and feelings. This "new technology" is a protocol called Rapid Prompting Method or RPM which this child's parents, and other like-minded parents in Mayo, brought from the US at a large personal cost, and developed through countless hours of teaching by both themselves and bringing over consultants from both the US and the UK through fundraising and savings.

It is fair to say that the teachers at this school had a role to play in the child's development and much praise must go to the school, but it is quite frankly disingenuous for him to take any credit for this child's breakthrough when in fact no funding or help of any kind was given by the Department of Education or any State body.

It is also offensive for him to say that this teacher made a breakthrough with the child ahead of his parents because of a "very specialist understanding". If he had a very specialist understanding of the people he was meeting and the stories they were telling him, he would know that it was the parents - and only the parents - not him or the State - that were responsible for the wonderful breakthrough with this child whereby he is able to communicate his feelings for the first time in his life. As well as telling Mr Kenny about "what was happening in the world", he also told him that he wanted an education. This is the message that this child and the other children who have benefited from RPM keep telling us. Perhaps the "why of politics" can now go about making this a reality and restore the services to the special needs children in our country who are now beginning to find their voices through innovative parents and protocols.

Brian Galvin


Responsibility in abortion debate

Sir -  Graham Linehan's article on abortion (Living, Sunday Independent, February 21) was very selective in its scope. There are two principals in every abortion scenario, the pregnant mother and the developing baby, but this article said nothing at all about the ethical implications of killing the developing baby.

Of course it would be equally selective of me to fail to acknowledge that the particular incident, described by Graham Linehan, was a hard and distressing case. The foetus his wife was carrying was diagnosed by her UK doctors to have a fatal abnormality - if the baby made it to full term it would die shortly after birth. Graham and his wife Helen decided to abort the foetus. It would be inhuman not to feel sympathy for this couple in these circumstances.

Graham Linehan then goes on to ask for the introduction of a UK style abortion regime into Ireland. He says that it is time for us to wake up to the difficulties many Irish women encounter in travelling to access an abortion in the UK. But I would argue that it is time for Graham Linehan, and those who think like him, to wake up to the reality of abortion and, in particular, the reality of UK style abortion on demand. Every abortion involves the deliberate killing of a human life and abortion on demand involves the large-scale killing of human life. Twenty one percent of all conceptions in the UK are aborted and this figure is closer to 30pc in Europe , despite the fact that artificial contraception is available in all these countries.

What does Graham Linehan think of these statistics and is this what he wants for Ireland? What does the Irish Labour Party, that now openly declares it wants to introduce a UK-style abortion regime, think of these statistics? We know what Lord David Steel who introduced the 1967 UK Abortion Act thinks. On several occasions Lord Steel has said that he never anticipated anything like the current number of abortions when he introduced the abortion legislation in 1967. He has also said that abortion is being used as a form of contraception in Britain.

Let me finish by saying that people who argue for the free availability of abortion have an obligation to explain how they can ethically accommodate the deliberate killing of human life. Equally those who resolutely oppose abortion have an obligation to explain how they would deal with pregnant women in genuine distress.

Dr William Reville


Co Cork

Effectiveness of HPV vaccination

Sir - As indicated in your article last week ('Extension of HPV vaccine to boys on the cards', Sunday Independent, February 21), the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine not only prevents cervical cancer, but can also be effective in certain men's cancers and in sexually transmitted diseases such as genital warts.

However, the article failed to highlight that HPV vaccination can also be effective against oropharyngeal (head and neck) cancer and that a number of studies, including a recently published one from Canada have also demonstrated that the vaccine is not only preventative, but also cost effective in this gender neutral cancer, the incidence of which is rising worldwide. Thus, a universal strategy that targets both boys and girls can reduce the risk of developing all HPV related cancers while also lowering cost to health services.

From a sexually transmitted disease perspective, a gender neutral HPV vaccination strategy can also have significant positive health benefits, coupled with reduced cost to health systems, in men who have sex with men; these men gain no protection from a female only vaccination strategy.

As highlighted in the article, there is a significant prospect of a universal vaccination strategy being introduced in the Republic of Ireland. Additionally, there have been a number of activities in Northern Ireland, culminating in the creation of a HPV Universal Vaccination Alliance. It is to be hoped that when the dust settles from the elections (both North and South), that the politicians will respond to the overwhelming evidence that "jabs for the boys" (as well as the girls) can prevent the preventable for all of our citizens, both women and men.

Mark Lawler

Dublin 8

Sunday Independent

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