Saturday 27 December 2014

The children of Syria desperately need help

Published 07/10/2013 | 05:00

refugee children gather around a fire in Ankara, Turkey

* Last week classrooms across Syria should have been filled with the excited commotion of children beginning a new school term.

Instead the children of Syria, caught up in the largest humanitarian crisis in history, are paying the price of this conflict with their health, their education and their lives.

Over one million children have been forced to flee their homes in the dark of night and make a difficult and dangerous journey across the border to seek safety in neighbouring countries – it's a staggering number, the equivalent of every boy and girl in Ireland leaving these shores.

UNICEF, the world's leading children's organisation, is in Syria and neighbouring countries ensuring that children receive basic services like clean water, nutritious food, education and health care. UNICEF is also providing counselling for children who have witnessed acts of violence no child should ever see.

Thanks to voluntary donations, including the generous support of people in Ireland, UNICEF is getting the children of Syria ready for the freezing temperatures of winter with a region-wide distribution of blankets, winter jackets, shoes and vaccinations to protect against disease. But the need is growing and resources are running out.

Life for a child under siege in Syria, or in a refugee camp like Za'atari where 10 babies are born every day, is not the kind of life any of us would wish for our children.

These children, like all children, deserve to live with dignity and hope for a future where they can fulfil their potential.

If we do not protect them now, we will lose a generation of doctors, engineers and political leaders who will one day rebuild Syria.

Please help the children of Syria by donating now at www.unicef.ie, phone 01 878 3000 or send to UNICEF Ireland, 33 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1.

Liam Neeson

Stephen Rea

Donncha O'Callaghan

Cathy Kelly

Joe Canning

UNICEF ambassadors

SEANAD REFERENDUM

* I am disappointed with the result of the Seanad referendum. As a taxpayer, the Seanad is costing me €1.55 per year. Just imagine what I could do with that saving.

Mattie Lennon

Blessington, Co Wicklow

* I call on all those senators who facilitated the passage of the Abolition of the Seanad Bill through the Oireachtas last May by voting for the abolition of their own jobs and the Seanad to resign immediately.

Following months of claiming that their political existence was a waste of taxpayers' money and that they had never contributed positively to legislation in this country, their positions as senators have been rendered completely untenable.

Their resignations would also pave the way for real, meaningful reform of the Seanad, which is so urgently needed.

David J Tansey

Larkhill Road, Sligo

* Considering a large proportion of franchised Irish citizens decided to shun the Seanad abolition referendum, this suggests the existence of much indifference towards the Upper House, if not politics in general.

This being so, perhaps we should have followed the old mantra 'you don't know what you've got till it's gone'.

Had our dear electorate – those of us that voted, that is – given the under-fire chamber the boot, we might then have realised its true importance to the country and reinstated it with gusto.

Alas, our indifference looks set to continue, reform or not.

Brendan Corrigan

Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon

* In 1924, our Seanad heard the following words: "We against whom you have done this great thing are no petty people. We are one of the great stocks of the Europe. We are the people of Burke, we are the people of Grattan, we are the people of Swift, the people of Emmet, the people of Parnell. We have created the most of the modern literature of this country. We have created the best of its political intelligence."

We are also the people of one William Butler Yeats, the author and messenger of the above words.

As we look at the results from this referendum, we can either miss the chance of having such talent among our "political intelligence" or wonder how is it that that which passes as same today could deny our future the chance of such excellent counsel.

A nation stands or falls on the political intelligence of its leaders and the questions they ask the people; or at least it should, in my opinion, in a functioning democracy.

Whether my contention is right or wrong, Mr Yeats inspired the following ditty, be it obituary or hope:

Fighty flighty Seanad.

Run, run run away

Live to run another day.

Stand, stand as a man

Face your death to prove you can.

Dermot Ryan

Athenry, Co Galway

* It requires much study of the Irish electorate to come to a decision as to how the result of Friday's referendum was arrived at.

We are a nation that has been demanding accountability for the past five years, as to how we are in the financial state that lives with us day by day.

We have complained loudly that we have too many politicians, all with excessive salaries, and those in retirement on exorbitant pensions.

Now look what happens, we vote to retain 60 of them, each at €65,000, plus other add-ons.

Of course, if many of those who will continue to complain had gone to vote, the result may well have been different and those who voted to dismantle the Seanad would not be at risk of possibly paying extra taxes to help fund the 60 in the Seanad who are professionals, semi-professionals or in business of one kind or another.

Steve O'Donnell

Dundalk, Co Louth

* Being very aware of the fragility of democracy, I express my gratitude to all who cast their vote on Friday last.

A hearty congratulations to the democratic voters who in no uncertain terms told this Government reform of Irish politics is demanded, and required urgently.

Those of you who refused to cast your vote, you are either very selfish or totally ignorant of the innumerable people in the world, in this day and age, who suffer torture and death in the quest for the democratic right to cast a vote.

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

HURLING'S GOLDEN BOY

* I find it so refreshing to know that with all the publicity Shane O'Donnell is receiving, he won't be the subject of massive transfer rumours such as in the British football premiership, that of our nearest neighbours.

He seems to be hurling's find of the decade, a virtual goal-scoring machine, so what would he be worth to the likes of Kilkenny or Tipperary, would he be top of Jimmy Barry Murphy's shopping list, and would there be a clamour for his signature before the window closed?

Oh, and another point: he seems to be attracting much publicity for being the Bieber of hurling; well, I would like to look on Justin Bieber as pop music's answer to Shane O'Donnell.

Mike Burke

Sixmilebridge, Co Clare

Irish Independent

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