Wednesday 26 October 2016

Taking responsibility

Published 28/08/2016 | 02:30

Burns, of Bath Road, Balbriggan, Co Dublin pleaded guilty to two counts of the sale and supply of drugs under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Stock image)
Burns, of Bath Road, Balbriggan, Co Dublin pleaded guilty to two counts of the sale and supply of drugs under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (Stock image)

Sir — No doubt there are many sincere expressions of sympathy offered to the family and friends of Trevor O’Neill, who was cold-bloodedly murdered in a case of mistaken identity in Spain, as he holidayed with his family.

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There is also no doubt that some of these expressions of sympathy are from people who regard themselves as part of respectable society and who, occasionally, engage in the “recreational” use of a line of heroin or cocaine. Like it or not, these otherwise law-abiding productive members of society swim in the same sewer as those odious drug barons who deal in death and misery. If there were no buyers, there would be no sellers.

These recreational drug users enrich and empower these dregs of humanity by their purchasing of drugs. It should be remembered that these loathsome creatures who blasted the life out of Trevor O’Neill also blasted the life out of Limerick rugby player Shane Geoghegan in another case of mistaken identity.

Everyone associated with selling or buying drugs must shoulder some responsibility for the deaths and misery inflicted on innocent society.

Tom Cooper, Templeogue, Dublin 6W

Realities of alcoholic's life

Sir - I wanted to write since reading your article about Alison Canavan (LIFE, Sunday Independent, August 21)

I found the article made me uneasy somehow. I found it hard to reconcile the interview and her glamorous and extremely healthy looking pictures with my own experience of living with an alcoholic.

I know this says more about my hurt about my past situation than anything. Forgive me for coming from a place of zero detachment in lots of ways, but I feel her interview skirted over the realities of alcoholism.

How about an article which spells out specifically the reality that while drinking, alcoholics absolutely destroy relationships and lives. Hidden bottles of vodka, soiled clothes, urinating in inappropriate places, massive weight loss due to inability to eat and so physically wasting away, psychological abuse, selfishness, zero sex life, zero ability to hold down a loving relationship, lies, very obvious shakes in the hands, nightmares and restless nights. Show a photo of someone who has harmed themselves physically as a result of seizures, breaking cheekbones and eye sockets from collapsing as a result of AWS (alcohol withdrawal symptoms).

Show a picture of a person surviving that reality, and I'm not sure they'll look as well physically.

That's my personal experience of an alcoholic, having been married to one. Someone I loved very much.

I am genuinely pleased that Ms Canavan is getting herself back on track before it's too late and she's still young. It just strikes me that a lot of people just don't come through as well. Your article is a good news story, but what was it really trying to say?

(Name and address with editor)

An inspiration

Sir - Having read the article Secrets and Lies by Alison Canavan (LIFE , Sunday Independent, August 21), I was blown away by her honest and moving account of her battle with alcohol.

What an absolute inspiration she is to all those out there who are struggling to live a life without alcohol. Alison's 18 months of sobriety is proof that the seemingly impossible can become possible.

Kathleen Fitzgerald, Douglas, Cork

The sacrifices of our pensioners

Sir - Reading the letter of the week (Sunday Independent, August 21), the writer said she was truly dismayed by Terry Healy's letter of August 14 referring to a pension hike of €5 as an insult - but I am truly dismayed by her letter.

I have never read of more begrudgery directed solely at people on state pensions. Pensioners are not putting themselves first and never have, while rearing their families they made many sacrifices to feed, educate and clothe their children, in most cases on only one income.

The pensioners of today worked hard and mostly for a very meagre wage - especially if they were non-professionals. Work in Ireland went through turbulent times, sometimes strike action in industry caused a cessation of employment and no wages. In the 1980s, work was very scarce and many of our brightest and best emigrated to England and America, without whose "shelter" workers would have been in a greater difficulty, and so would the State.

I just do not know how Ms Lynch of Bandon could imagine that the workers of the past could contribute to a pension fund on low-paid wages. They did not have mortgages, but did have to pay rent to accommodate their families.

Instead of writing about pensioners in a derisory manner, they should be hailed as the real heroes and heroines of the past, be respected and be cherished by the State by giving them a decent pension.

I know and understand that childcare costs, health issues and education are causing many problems, but I would never dream of writing in a fashion to belittle the parents of children.

The Government handed out child benefit to all without ever considering having it means-tested, so the rich and famous were benefiting from the system when they did not need it.

Many people I know who are now pensioners had provided for a decent pension besides the state pension, but then saw most of their savings eroded with the collapse of the banks, and are now depending on a state pension. Is there any compassion for these people?

There is no point in blaming pensioners for some of the country's ills when they gave so much service to build our country.

I agree with Terry Healy's letter that €5 is meagre when one considers that the Government paid for a parcel of land in the Dublin Mountains recently with an asking price of €2.5m - not to alleviate the housing crisis, but for a recreational park. Perhaps this is the Government's way of alleviating the childcare issue, "bring the kids up the mountain".

Mary Morris, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

We deserve more

Sir - I am one of those pensioners that Sinead Lynch from Bandon (Letters. Sunday Independent, August 21) wrote about who were putting themselves first. I survive on a small public service pension.

Yes indeed, I put myself first; I put my life on the front line along with a lot of other brave Irish soldiers to help bring peace to various countries throughout the world. We put ourselves in front for the cause of peace when the various groups were shooting and killing my comrades. Yes, of course, all those she mentioned deserve to be looked after and indeed a lot of pensioners are still paying a mortgage and helping their children with childcare and a lot more. Yes, I want the increase of the paltry €5; but for what I, and hundreds more went through in various parts of the world for the cause of peace, we deserve a lot more.

Neil Mahony, Birr, Co Offaly

Lectures from Willie O'Dea

Sir - It's hard not to gag when seeing articles by someone like Willie O'Dea (Sunday Independent, August 21), given he sat around the Cabinet table that drove our country into the rocks and destroyed the life chances of countless people.

Yet good old Willie walked away from the car crash without even breaking a manicured nail. He didn't even have to break into a sweat while running from the scene. Yet now the person who fled the scene of a crash is giving us lectures about what this Government should do. Gimme a break. Oh, and by the way Willie, the pensioners get far too much as it is, there are far more worthy sectors who deserve a bit of break, if we are in a position to lighten the load.

Desmond FitzGerald, Canary Wharf, London

Paying through years of taxes

Sir - Regarding the letter of the week (Sunday Independent, August 21), could I suggest a more appropriate banner? It should read 'rant of the week'.

The letter lacks any understanding of the realities under which today's pensioners existed over their working lives.

Yes, many who had jobs would gladly have funded their own pensions had successive Governments not taxed them to the hilt, leaving them with only enough to survive. The pensioners of today did fund their state pensions with years of swingeing taxes and levies.

Let me remind Ms Lynch that today's senior citizens built Ireland and its economy through years of toil and deprivation, while the elites did what they did, and continue to do, best... avoid paying tax at all costs, with the tacit approval of compliant governments. And yes, the Government should prioritise services for the ill, for children, etc, but Ms Lynch, please be aware that governments have only ever one priority, and that is to perpetuate themselves in office. They have well-earned it, and more!

Jess Cronin, Riverstown, Dundalk, Co Louth

Left school at 14 to work for 46 years

Sir - Regarding your letter of the week (Sunday Independent, August 21), does the lady who wrote think all Irish pensioners were born with their houses paid for; no need for childcare, etc?

I worked for 46 years after leaving school until I was made redundant. In all those years I paid PRSI to get my old age pension; I also paid tax, as did my husband.

These taxes paid for other old-age pensions while we were young and middle-aged. We also paid towards college grants, to educate young Irish people - our own son did not get a grant - so we had "childcare". We never complained. I left school at 14. I hope that this lady, Sinead Lynch, will be lucky one day to reach a ripe old age and I wish her well. But I felt I had to write in on behalf of some Irish pensioners.

Cath Martson, Carndonagh, Co Donegal

Talk slower and we can understand

Sir - I wish to appeal through your letter page to public speakers, radio and television broadcasters, and all, to reduce their speech pattern from a fast to slow rate.

It is not only necessary, but essential to do so, if one is expected to absorb the content of the subject matter. Incidentally, I do appreciate and value the communicators and presenters who are aware of this necessity.

E Howe, South Douglas Road, Cork

Failure of the UN

Sir - The worldwide page (Sunday Independent, August 21) had two headline articles which highlighted the world of suffering we humans have created. The item by Fergal Keane showed how the UN is incapable of fulfilling its role as a humanitarian organisation.

Its power structure is confined to the five permanent members who are in themselves big military powers - some of them having opposing political ideology as to how we run the world. In the second item, 'Children of Syria paying a terrible price for civil war', Raf Sanchez in Beirut showed how incapable the UN is in dealing with world conflict in the time of this cruel war going on - with hundreds of thousands of innocent people having lost their lives and untold suffering yet to come.

Smaller countries in the world, like Ireland, should make their voices heard in creating a more purposeful UN. It is not democratic that large world powers have all the say. It is time that we humans found a better way in resolving differences with each other rather than preparing to go out and kill with state-sponsored wars.

We regard ourselves as the highest form of life on the planet, yet no other species is preparing to go out and kill each other. Is it not time that we learned from all the past wars?

Conal Shoulin, Ardara, Co Donegal

Eilis's coherence and compassion

Sir - I would suggest you give Eilis O'Hanlon the front page of the Sunday Independent in future and sack all that other crowd. She writes with understanding, coherence and compassion (Sunday Independent, August 21) and all the others write the same piece. I refer to the Pat Hickey debacle.

That girl is one in a million.

Billy Gallagher, Blackrock, Co Dublin

Taking the high moral ground

Sir -Eilis O'Hanlon in her article 'Who needs proof when just throwing Pat Hickey to the lions is more fun' (Sunday Independent, August 21) commendably takes the high moral ground in defending Pat Hickey's innocence until proven guilty.

However, blaming social media for fuelling our sense of celebration and enjoyment at Mr Hickey's current predicament, Ms O' Hanlon conveniently fails to recognise that she and her colleagues in Independent Newspapers and indeed in other media outlets are the ones who have provided the necessary material for the entertainment of social media enthusiasts.

In highly critical articles, the last Sunday Independent gave us wall to wall coverage of Mr Hickey's background, including an article by Paul Kimmage headed 'Pat Hickey, the most hated man in Irish sport'.

So before comparing our excitement for Pat Hickey's humiliation to that of the days of the Colosseum when people were entertained by watching prisoners being thrown to the lions, perhaps Ms O'Hanlon should accept that she and her colleagues are the real culprits when it comes to "throwing Pat Hickey to the lions".

Furthermore, in my interaction with people I find minimal interest in this whole Olympic ticket-saga. People instead much prefer to talk about the performances of our athletes, but then of course this is the silly season for media people and they too have to make a buck, don't they!

Gavin Thomas, Limerick

Lack of outcry over cat 'poison'

Sir - As a reader of your most widely read Sunday newspaper, I want first of all to congratulate Tom Watson and family from Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, for expressing concerns in 'Caring for Strays' (Letters, Sunday Independent, August 21) over the throw-away remark by your scribe Katy Harrington in the previous week's article, Life Lessons (Living, Sunday Independent, August 14), in which she expressed interest in getting poison to eliminate stray cats or kittens!

Needless to say, many feline pet lovers, as well as myself, were astonished that the remark, which was an obvious attempt to titillate animal cruelty perverts, did not evoke any outcry from SPCA groups or those who claim they strive to prevent cruelty to pets or those discarded by non-caring owners.

This also undoubtedly raises fresh concerns among people who contribute funds towards supporting such groups.

Maire Nic an Rea., Dundalk, Co Louth

Dinosaurs roaming still in Kerry

Sir - Danny Healy-Rae's opinions on climate change have attracted much criticism, but scientific consensus may not always be proven correct in the long term.

For example, it is universally accepted that dinosaurs became extinct millions of years ago, yet there is emerging evidence that some may actually have survived. In Kerry, for example.

Peter Molloy, Glenageary, Co Dublin

Stamps setback

Sir - Isn't it awful that they can't tell us in advance that stamps are up to 72c? I buy in bulk, as arthritis "owns" me now.

God knows we have enough setbacks.

Kathleen Corrigan, Cootehill, Co Cavan

Sunday Independent

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