So much cruelty to our animals
Published 31/01/2016 | 02:30
Sir - I read with interest the article by Fiona O'Connell about the two donkeys, Polar and Marko ('We must call time on too-lenient welfare laws', Sunday Independent, January 24). l have to agree with every word Fiona said.
I am nearly 85 years old and over the years l have seen so much cruelty to animals, and it really does get to me that people can get away with it. The welfare laws should be really looked into and updated. Well done Fiona, l back you 100pc.
Ronnie Thompson Dublin 12
The essence of inhumanity
Sir - Fiona O'Connell's account of the two abused donkeys, Marko and Polar, (Sunday Independent, January 24) highlighted once again Ireland's shameful reputation and lack of regard for our animals.
The sad reality is these two donkeys were not alone in their suffering. Earlier this month we read of the fate of two young horses. Their mutilated bodies, with necks skinned off, were found in Offaly; a female greyhound, her ears burnt, her tail hacked off, left to die in a ditch in Tipperary; and a puppy washed up inside a lobster pot weighed down with stones to ensure he drowned. The cruelty continues daily, relentless and unabating as little or nothing appears to be done to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Animal rescue organisations, many voluntary, struggle to cope with the overwhelming demands on their limited resources. As Fiona rightly noted, "Animal abusers have little to fear on those rare occasions they are caught. Mostly, they face suspended sentences and a temporary ban on owning another animal. Financially there is a pittance to pay".
Earlier last week I read an article on the plight of unwanted Irish dogs, which revealed that the country is exporting at least 200 abandoned dogs a month to homes in Sweden and Britain. Swedes taking in the unwanted Irish pets said they were shocked by poor care standards here and the lack of strict regulations on dog ownership such as those they must adhere to in their home country.
Recently in the USA, the FBI announced that animal abuse will be prosecuted as a crime against society and under the new categorisation they will begin tracking and collecting information about incidents of animal cruelty and the perpetrators. Studies have consistently shown that those who commit serious crimes against humans start out by inflicting horrific and barbaric acts on defenceless animals. In 2014 Mr [Simon] Coveney and his department introduced a new Animal Health and Welfare Bill which was greatly welcomed and decades overdue.
However, it would appear that its resourcing, effectiveness and implementation has yet to be seen and felt, particularly by the far too many misfortunate animals who continue to suffer and die in silence across our country.
It would be heartening to think that among the numerous issues people will discuss on their doorsteps with canvassing politicians over the next few weeks that many of us will speak for those who have no voice. Fellow Irishman George Bernard Shaw aptly observed: "The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity."
Tagging of the 'Late Late' lamb
Sir - With all the hullabaloo over the lamb on The Late Late Show, does anybody except those brought up on a farm, recognise the hardship eliminated by the carousel this farmer has invented for the tagging etc of young lambs. Many farmers in Ireland are elderly and living on their own, and are putting their lives at risk every day of the week by the tagging and dosing of animals. Trying to tag a lamb or calf can be quite dangerous ,and can be the cause of injury to both man and animal. By wrestling with a calf or strong lamb whilst tagging, a vein in the animals' ear can be damaged if the tag is not spot on. Much of the trouble is caused by the Department who insist on such procedures and piles of paperwork for the farming community.
Regularly we see in the papers and on TV the terrible injuries and deaths to young lambs and sheep caused by our so-called pet dogs, whose owners don't seem too concerned where their pets spent half the night before. Have those people heard the unmerciful bleating of lambs and sheep as they are savaged and driven into barbed wire and rivers? How many complain to press and TV about such barbarity? No, they would rather complain of the so-called barbarous act of inventing a harmless gadget to restrain a lamb for a few seconds.
When those squeamish people are tucking into their Sunday dinner leg of lamb, or roast beef, or carving their Christmas ham or turkey, it would do them good to just spare a moment to think what the procedure was prior to having the meal arrive on their dinner plate.
Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo
The tsunami of election promises
Sir - While trying to evaluate the tsunami of election promises coming from all sides I was reminded of the title of a 2003 bestseller written by critic and author Al Franken. The book's title? Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them.
Show respect for Tommy Murphy
Sir - I wish to express my disappointment at the disrespect shown by Joe Brolly for the late, great Tommy Murphy of Laois (Sunday Independent, January 24). My parents, God rest them, often told me of his exploits on the field, at midfield with the great Bill Delaney, RIP.
Tommy played senior for Laois at 16 years of age at a time when throwing kisses at supporters was unheard of. He was one of the all-time great players and was picked on the Team of the Century. Don't think Joe was picked for that.
So come on Mr Brolly, show some respect to the former deceased great players.
Sir - Paul Gilligan writes in his excellent article (Sunday Independent, January 24): "Mental health and wellbeing need to be at the centre of this election".
How right he is. Why? The answer is very simple. It is without doubt a fact, that every citizen in this country will at some point in their life, suffer some form of mental distress.
I know I certainly have.
Sir - I am a 70-year-old woman and for most of my life I have suffered from depression. But in the last few years I feel very happy and contented. What is my wonderful secret?
It is plain and simple - I feed my mind with nourishing, wholesome thoughts. I discovered depression is a thought process. I would hate to be young again. When I was at school I had a terrible stammer. I was a loner and had great self-pity. I used to dread having to stand up in class and read out loud. My face would go all red and my heart would pound.
Oscar Wilde said: "Youth is wasted on the young." How I admire Niall Breslin speaking out about depression and trying to get the Government to help young people who suffer from it.
Name & address with Editor
Sir - I wish to commend Emily Hourican on her very honestly written cancer diaries. They have to be a help and support to those in similar situations.
I hope that being so frank and open about it all is also helping Emily herself get through the whole ordeal.
I wish her well.
Ulster Covenant and the minister
Sir - One of the more remarkable things about the 1916 commemorations is that the Government minister responsible for these commemorations (Heather Humphreys) is a granddaughter of a man who signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912 (Eoghan Harris, Sunday Independent, January 24).
The significance of this can be judged by the fact that in 1912 nearly half a million unionists signed the Ulster Covenant to 'use all means necessary' to defeat an Act of the Westminster parliament giving limited self rule to the island of Ireland.
But for the signing of the covenant, Home Rule would have been enacted and there would probably have been no 1916. Patrick Pearse gave conditional support to and spoke from Home Rule platforms in 1912. That is not to say that with Home Rule all would have been sweetness and light as it is probable that there would have been violence. But what would have happened if Home Rule had been implemented is speculation and counterfactual history.
What is not counterfactual is that a member of a unionist family, which in the past took extreme objection to limited self rule for Ireland, is now a supervising minister of a commemoration of an Irish nationalist rebellion in an Irish republic.
Two minorities resorting to force
Sir - I would not go as far as to describe Eoghan Harris (Sunday Independent, January 24) as a starry-eyed romantic, but he strays in that direction in claiming Heather Humphreys's revelation that her grandfather signed the Ulster Covenant in 1912 as a watershed marking the maturity of the modern Irish Republic.
At first glance it may seem remarkable that the minister proud to be in charge of the centenary celebration of the 1916 rebellion is also proud of this family association with the Ulster Covenant of 1912. But is it? The most significant paragraph in the Covenant is the clearly implied threat of the use of force against the British Government if it pursued its policy of Home Rule for the island of Ireland.
The 1916 Rising was the actual use of force against the British Government because it had postponed the granting of Home Rule. Both were the actions of minorities refusing to accept the authority of the democratically (for that time) elected government, and resorting to force, or the threat of it.
Ranting in the House
Sir - In some respects I am glad I am my present age, having worked here for over 40 years and am still paying income tax and USC on my modest pension.
We have a health service which is a disgrace and there is no respect for people.
There was a time when a person's word and handshake were as good as a contract.
There must be something in the air inside the gates of Leinster House which affects our elected TDs as they quickly forget who put them there.
Not forgetting the Seanad where its occupants rant and rave about their own little agendas.
In the coming election a good dose of reality would be for Fine Gael to lose up to 30 seats and for the Labour Party to lose all their seats as they have betrayed the working class people of Ireland.
Perhaps for a fresh start I may emigrate with my daughter to new pastures.
Sir - Congratulations to Terry Healy on her wonderful Letter of the Week (Sunday Independent, January 24). Sarah Caden's article (Sunday Independent, January 17) invoked a similar feeling of indignation as I read it - Terry expressed it with sublime accuracy, a sweet touch of humour and a lot of love. I wish continued happiness to her and her husband.
And to Sarah Caden - may your dreams come true and may you stay forever young!
Making tables 'value-added'
Sir - Congratulations on your School League Tables. (Sunday Independent, January 24) But what does the supplement tell us? That the greatest percentages going on to third level are from schools that are fee-paying, in more prosperous areas, that are Irish-speaking, etc. We also observe that lower percentages from more disadvantaged areas go on to university.
In my early years as principal of two English secondary schools I dreaded the annual publication of league tables, which were so dispiriting for my staff and students.
Then in my later years performance tables changed and were produced on the basis of value-added, which allowed for prior attainment at age 11, 14 and 16 as well as gender and economic background of students.
This fairer mode of measuring performance, introduced by Labour, often put us to the top end of national tables and led to a rapid rise in staff and student morale and it became easier to recruit better qualified staff.
It could never have been fair to compare my school's public examination results with the two single sex grammar schools on the same campus. They creamed off the top 5pc of 11-year-olds and they, without fail, topped England's Annual School League Tables.
How sad it is that the two most recent Irish Labour education ministers did nothing to introduce value-added measures and help raise the spirits of teachers and students in Ireland's less economically favoured areas.
More than rugby for school sports
Sir - If one were to judge from the four sports images in the Schools League Table supplement (Sunday Independent, January 24), and there were only four, one would be justified in thinking that the only sport played in Irish second-level schools is rugby - and by boys only.
Surely, it would have been a better reflection of school sports to have included images of other sports?
Co Chill Dara
Socioeconomics is the key to ranking
Sir - I read the School League Tables supplement (Sunday Independent, January 24) with interest.
Much work obviously went into the preparation of this report and it is nicely presented.
This league table ranks Irish secondary schools on one criterion only - percentage of school students that progress to third level.
The thinking is that the higher the percentage, the better the education that the school is imparting to the students. I disagree with this notion.
It seems to me that the percentage of students who progress on to third level from a particular school is largely determined by the socioeconomic background of the school pupils.
Effectively all students from a middle class secondary school will go on to third level simply because not to do so is inconceivable to middle class parents.
And gaining a place in third level is easily effected nowadays once you have your Leaving Cert - the various colleges and universities compete with each other to attract students.
Progression of students to third level from a working class secondary school will be less pronounced than progression from a middle class school because the mindset of average working class parents is less committed to third level than the middle class mindset.
I suggest that if someone took the trouble to rank the schools itemised in your league tables supplement on socioeconomic status, the result would closely resemble the ranking based on percentage of students progressing to third level.
School of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
University College Cork