News Letters

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Scholarships for Gaza youth could aid reconstruction

Letters to the Editor

Published 29/08/2014 | 02:30

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Rebuilding Gaza must now be an international priority

The reconstruction of Gaza is a priority for the international community. Education is central to reconstruction. Irish third-level institutions can make an important contribution to this process.

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May I commend to each of them, and to the Education Minister, the setting up of Gaza scholarships?

These scholarships, especially in the fields of medicine and nursing, horticulture and engineering, would make an important contribution to the rebuilding of Gaza's infrastructure where it matters most, by investing in young people.

By taking the lead within the EU in establishing these scholarships, Ireland would serve as an example, encouraging other countries to follow.

The initiative has the capacity to make an important contribution to the reconstruction of Gaza. For Ireland, the funding requirement would be minimal. Nor would it be complicated. The initiative simply needs to be supported by the president of each institution and taken to the governing body, ideally with the expressed endorsement of the minister working with the authorities in Gaza.

By taking a collective initiative, coordinated by the HEA with the Association of University Presidents, the impact of the initiative, and its visibility across the EU, would be maximised.

What changes lives, changes economies. The Gaza scholarships would do both.

Professor Ray Kinsella

Ashford , Co Wicklow

Changing the Garda culture

Tom Brady reports (Irish Independent, August 28) that a new training strategy for 100 recruits to An Garda Siochana is intended to purge the force of a culture of groupthink.

The term 'groupthink' was created in the 1970s by Iriving Janis, a Yale university professor, who concluded that it occurs when groups make faulty decisions because group pressure leads to a deterioration of "mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgment".

Groupthink, for example, was deployed for centuries by the immensely wealthy Protestant Ascendancy to reinforce claims to social superiority over the impoverished Catholic majority population as the Ascendancy squatted on large tracts of confiscated, rich arable land and Catholic rents paid to them accounted for 25pcof Ireland's modest GDP.

But new Garda recruits will be more influenced in practice by what they discern throughout An Garda Siochana and the example of the senior Garda leadership than what they learn in the classroom in Templemore, a facility that has been mothballed for five years.

Should the flying of a rainbow flag over a garda station in Limerick, coinciding with a gay pride parade, be construed as a product of groupthink, faddism or a genuine expression of parity? Surely the ultimate expression of esteem in a republic, by a strong and confident national police service, would be to fly the national flag in pristine condition over Garda premises on special occasions.

Such a gesture would remove An Garda Siochana from allegations of partisanship, or an expectation to lend their prestige and reputation to a myriad of lobby groups and political activists when these are in celebration or campaign mode.

The starting point for fundamental culture change is strong leadership with acute vision. The route to real transformation will not be shortened by empty gestures.

Myles Duffy

Glenageary, Co Dublin

Medics treated Dad as their own

Three months ago, my 64-year-old father was diagnosed with cancer. On Sunday, August 17, my father left this world after a courageous battle against a raging cancer throughout his body. My dad suffered night and day all the way through.

I'm writing to you with a broken heart, but in a world in which we hear stories of how our health service has failed so many, I wanted to praise the amazing workers of Tullamore Regional Hospital - Dr Kyran Bolger and his team, Margaret Claffey and all the amazing nurses of Tullamore's Oncology Unit and so many others. Dad was sick for 12 weeks and we spent 10 of those weeks living in the hospital.

The hospital became our home and it was the warmth and love shown to our dad over the hardest weeks of our lives that leaves our broken hearts warmer than they should be. Dad suffered so much in those 12 weeks, but the one thing we as a family have tried to focus on is the love, passion and care the Oncology Unit gave Dad. He had never been to a doctor or left his farm in 64 years, but from the day we walked into that hospital until the day we walked out without him, the staff treated him like their own father, and for that we could never repay these wonderful people.

The Coghlan family

Broadford, Co Kildare

Haughey's good works

If Paddy O'Brien (Letters, Irish Independent, August 28) had any true appreciation of CJ Haughey's time in politics, he would see that he too "did the State some service".

However, many of his welcome political directives in the area of welfare and care of older folk are now being rowed back on, which leads citizens to lament the destruction of his good work.

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

Ashes to ashes

Recent suggestions about the possibility of another ash cloud is perhaps a case of an ash arís ?

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Ice Bucket clips a linguist's dream

Regarding the current 'Ice Bucket Challenge' phenomenon, when you think about it, at no other time in history have so many Irish people been simultaneously recorded saying pretty much the same thing - it's a future linguistics scholar's dream!

If all the existing Irish Ice Bucket recordings were to be voluntarily uploaded to a database, complete with details of the place of origin of the individual involved, it would be a unique snapshot of Irish accents (of most age groups) at a particular point in time.

Now there's a project just waiting to happen! When will so many Irish people ever record themselves in such a short space of time again?

Professor Salvador Ryan

St Patrick's College

Maynooth, Co Kildare

E-cigarette policy is all hot air

As a seasoned smoker whose lung capacity has greatly improved thanks to e-cigarettes, I am disappointed that the WHO now wants proof of a negative (that they do not harm).

We already know inhalation of sulphurous and other gases is bad for us. To ensure coherence of policy, will it now regulate flatulence to avoid passive inhalation? It could start by prohibiting entry to public places within four hours of eating boiled eggs.

John F Jordan

Brussels, Belgium

Fishing failures and the Famine

My wife and I were touring the west of Ireland last week and stopped at the museum in Ballyferriter, near Dingle, Co Kerry.

It was a very beautiful museum with many wonderful items on display concerning the history of the area and the Irish Famine. However it was two short words - "fishing failed" - that made me curious. How could it be that these two words seemed to be given as the reason for the awful famine in the west of Ireland? Surely fishing could not have failed all around the coasts of Ireland?

Tommy Shields

Banbridge, Co Down

Irish Independent

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