Friday 28 October 2016

The meaning of life

Published 10/07/2016 | 02:30

'I am in my twilight years and look at life from both sides now. I realise all the running, racing, hoping, dreaming and praying are all a search for happiness and some of it passes by'. Stock image: Getty
'I am in my twilight years and look at life from both sides now. I realise all the running, racing, hoping, dreaming and praying are all a search for happiness and some of it passes by'. Stock image: Getty

Sir - I am in my twilight years and look at life from both sides now. I realise all the running, racing, hoping, dreaming and praying are all a search for happiness and some of it passes by.

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One of my sons came home from school one day with homework to give his thoughts on happiness. Both of us sat down together and this was the result of our combined thoughts:

Happiness is so sublime

But so very hard to find

Like a magic spell

That wishes well

A gift of time

Part of life's rhyme

Not found in silver, gold or fame

Often a poor man's great acclaim

My son is in his late forties now. The words he wrote on that day have become a reality for him as he seems to have found the real meaning of life and happiness.

I love reading the letters as I get the Sunday Independent every week. Keep up the good work. The internet never replaces the real paper for me.

Betty Duggan

Birdhill, Co Tipperary

Tribute to wonderful Leland

Sir - With your publication of the obituary of Leland Bardwell (Sunday Independent , July 3), your newspaper has descended firmly into the gutter, far below any accepted level of tabloid journalism.

To publish (anonymously) such an article, riddled with inaccuracies, veiled, and not-so-veiled insults and holier-than-thou moral judgments, five days after anyone's passing, is shocking and upsetting and shows a lack of normal human compassion for her family and wider circle of friends and colleagues.

The fact that the year of her birth and her father's name are wrong in your article is perhaps a sign of the peril of rushing to judgment.

You should consider a more measured reflection of the life and work of this wonderful woman, who lived to the full every minute of her 94 years, with perpetual generosity of spirit, and who is sadly missed.

Dr Helen Haughey


Co Donegal

Dr Haughey is correct in stating that Leland Bardwell's father's name was Pat (not John as stated in her obituary last Sunday). The year of her birth is given in The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature as 1926, but I defer to Dr Haughey on that issue. Liam Collins.

(Liam's byline was mistakenly left off the article - Obituary Editor)

'Wake' too 'crude'

Sir - I have attended the performance of The Wake in the Abbey Theatre and have read the write-up of the show by Emer O'Kelly (Sunday Independent, July 3). I concur with her analysis of the plot and her praise for the performance skills of the actors. I am amazed that no mention is made of the crude and filthy language and actions used. The scene in which the lady playing Vera exposed her genitalia is both shocking and disgusting. Her simulation of the sex act with a wine bottle is crude to say the least.

I cannot comment on the second act as I and my guests left at the interval. If that is the type of so-called art to which our national theatre has descended, God help us all. I am not by any means a prude, but I would strongly advise anyone considering attending this performance to reconsider their plans.

Joseph Frederick Haslam Beaumont

Dublin 9

The gardai and union fairness

Sir - I would like to open by saying that never have I been a member of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) or the Garda Representative Association (GRA). I would simply like to portray my disgust and shame at the way our gardai are being treated by this State and its representatives.

For the benefit of clarification I would like to say that the AGSI and GRA are not official unions as decreed by our state laws. Therefore, they had no right to partake in the Haddington Road or Lansdowne Road Agreements. Those agreements were formulated by the Irish Congress of Trade Union members and representatives.

Gardai are not allowed to partake in unions nor have they the right to strike. In 2012, the AGSI took a case challenging this state ruling to the European Court and the European Court ruled in favour of gardai.

The State ignores this ruling. Therefore, it is wrong for anybody to refer to AGSI or GRA as unions and that includes media and state representatives.

How can gardai be told they cannot be part of the trade union movement as decreed by the State and, on the other hand, be punished for not accepting an agreement formulated by those same trade unions?

The minister in charge has said gardai have no rights other than to sign up or be financially punished. I cannot see any semblance of fairness or justice in this.

The most basic human right is to have your voice heard. Shame on this State for not allowing our protectors a voice. Shame on Leo Varadkar for defending this wrong.

He was a huge voice 12 months ago when gay rights were in question. I wonder how he would feel if, like the gardai, he had none.

Shame on all the other politicians who are silent. We heard enough of them slating gardai in the Dail the last couple of years.

They were entitled to do so as they thought a wrong had been committed. Why are they not outspoken about this wrong?

I can only assume they agree with it. Shame on the Minister for Justice for standing idly by.

Shame on us as a nation for tolerating such an injustice. Shame on the unions for allowing Paschal Donohoe use them as a pawn in the destruction of another group of workers.

To the gardai, I would say your case is strong.

You are either allowed be union members and partake in talks or you are as you are now and treated differently.

The State should not have it both ways.

Finally to the GRA, I'm sure when you stood protesting outside Leinster House you wondered on which side of the gates lies the biggest threat to you. Somehow, I think I know your answer.

Edward Noel Freaney


Co Kilkenny

The questions war fails to answer

Sir - In Dallas, Texas, last week, five police officers lost their lives. A civilian was also shot down. These terrible events were reported worldwide.

But I wonder are some lives more valuable than others?

Are those who lost their lives in the Syrian conflict of lesser value?

It brings to mind the Iraqi war, was it justified? Was it necessary? Especially when other world powers warned against it.

Was the pointless killing and murder in Iraq of so many innocents the beginning of this group called Isil?

Were those who were killed in the 'Blair-Bush war' any less dead than those butchered later by Isil?

Has starvation ceased? Is there clean water for every child on our planet?

Are world leaders still ignoring nature's warning?

Are they all still singing from the same hymn sheet about world peace.

While heads are bowed and wreaths are laid, the trumpet and the bagpipes played. A tune that will touch our hearts for a second or two.

Then on we go with the world's great show of justice, peace and humanity.

Fred Molloy

Dublin 15

Cost of keeping our President fed

Sir - As if we needed any further evidence of the flagrant abuse and waste of public funds and the disconnect between the so-called political elite and the trevails of ordinary Irish citizens, it turns out that 18 chefs and support staff are required to provide meals for President Michael D Higgins and his guests at a staggering cost of €862,000 in 2016 alone.

This figure includes an increase of €65,000 over 2015, a mere drop in an ocean of austerity and deprivation.

Nobody, including the President, who incidentally is on a salary of €250,000 and lavish expenses, seems to be embarrassed by such profligate spending, particularly during the last eight years of crunching austerity, widespread child poverty, homelessness and many thousands in severe financial difficulties.

The Presidency, if indeed one is needed at all, is ceremonial in nature.

In a small peripheral country, dependent to a large extent on strangers for survival, such needless ostentation surely demeans and diminishes the office and insults us all.

If successive Taoisigh can find time to constantly run around the country opening pubs and announcing jobs, then surely it makes sense that the two jobs be combined.

In the meantime, let us eat some stale cake and cold tea.

John Leahy


Scoundrel's refuge

Sir - Having politically knifed his "friends" David Cameron and Boris Johnson, Michael Gove has repeatedly told the UK media that he had acted, with the greatest regret, out of love for his country.

Samuel Johnson famously said that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel". He wasn't wrong.

Peter Molloy


Co Dublin

Hare-brained TDs

Sir - Two weeks ago, a large majority of TDs voted to retain the odious practice of hare coursing - a practice in which captured wild hares are placed in an enclosed space and chased by dogs, often to their death - in the name of entertainment.

A week later, most of these same TDs voted to keep in place a law which forces women faced with the tragedy of fatal foetal abnormality to carry a deceased baby to full term.

The expression 'moral schizophrenia' has been coined by philosophers to describe confused or delusional thinking on ethical issues. This is surely a condition which afflicts most of the current occupants of Leinster House.

Nuala Donlon


Co Longford.

Nation's health is our responsibility

Sir - As a Senior House Officer travelling home from a night shift in one of our country's busiest emergency departments, I can't help but feel upset, angry and somewhat helpless.

What I really struggle with sometimes is how little I achieve for truly unwell people in the long term. The time and resources for foresight and preventative medicine are sparse on the ground and reactive practice, where we are just continually putting out fires, is the norm.

It is draining. I still strive to be somebody who is working towards being part of the solution, rather than part of a problematic healthcare system. I think the answer does lie within the Government and infrastructure, on to which we seem to shove all responsibility for our problems.

However, society has largely changed from a cohesive approach - where people used to share responsibility, look after one another and adopt a gracious outlook on life - to one where people go about their lives in a haze of self-entitlement, with delusions about being a quasi-celebrity, 'blogging' or 'tweeting' on social media about what they had for brunch.

I see this self-entitlement seep into and poison our healthcare system. The emergency department alone is clogged with people who abuse alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes and are abusive towards staff - "You're doing nothing for me."

I doubt many people are doing anything to help themselves, let alone others. I wouldn't deny the HSE is flawed. However, next time we open our mouths to complain about it, stop and ask: 'Have I taken care of my personal health properly? Have I checked on my vulnerable neighbour? Do I take a committed interest in my wider community's needs?'

Because, after all, a system is merely a sum of all of its parts.

Dr Anna McHugh


Co Dublin

Passion of our boys in Green

Sir - Eamonn Sweeney's contention (Sport, July 3) that the most significant thing learned at Euro 2016 is that Irish-born players bring more to the table in terms of commitment and passion than do players unfortunate enough to be born outside the country is not really supported by his reference to the Welsh.

They have nine out of 23 squad members born and bred in England and playing under the granny rule. In fact all three of their scorers against Belgium were, by Eamonn's analysis, 100pc English, and should therefore have displayed the hubristic laziness seemingly expected of that nation's team, rather than the spirited fervour with which they actually played.

Maybe the Welsh don't make these players feel like outsiders, where any mistake is attributed to a lack of national feeling. I recall that Roy Keane couldn't wait to throw Mick McCarthy's supposed lack of Irishness in his face at Saipan, while at the same time captaining several guys who would have been just as "English" under Roy's withering gaze. Not great for team spirit I would have thought.

I agree that we have perhaps spread the net too wide when looking for players in the past but to limit patriotism solely to the accent someone speaks the foreign language of English with is unfairly short-sighted.

Patrick Doggett

Dublin 12

Team strategy is 'too simplistic'

Sir - The article by Eamonn Sweeney (Sport, July 3) is deserving of comment in my opinion. I believe he is trying to prescribe a much too simplistic argument regarding our international players.

Is he really trying to say that the performances of say Mick McCarthy or Terry Phelan would have been any more committed had economic circumstances not dictated their respective places of birth? Has he ever heard of Kevin Kilbane? Born in Preston, was his passion, commitment and Irishness not obvious to your columnist? There are many other examples that simply render Mr Sweeney's argument nonsensical.

Regarding the fantastic achievement's of Iceland, they are to be applauded but again to suggest that the system that worked for them is the answer to all countries' needs is not a feasible proposition. There is no one system that "fits all". I am reminded again of the heady days of 1988 when we had our breakthrough moment, was the universal answer to all football systems to appoint a Jack Charlton clone? No.

Every country has its own identity and needs. It is far too easy to fall into a simplistic trap as your writer seems to have.

Padraig McHale


Handing out our passports too freely

Sir - In the last number of days unionists from the North have in their thousands been applying to get Irish passports so that they can work and live in the European Union, since their British passports are no good to them because Britain has voted to leave the EU.

I have no objections to Northerners getting our passports as long as they are not using us for their own selfish means.

But as a Southerner I would ask that if they want our passports then they should respect our national flag, the Tricolour, and not burn it on bonfires on July 12 in the North, as both our flag and our passport are precious in our view.

The unionists can't run with the hare and chase with the hounds.

It seems that our Government in Dublin gives our passports to every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Only Irish people born on the island of Ireland are entitled to an Irish passport. Foreigners who have permission to live here and have done so for a number of years with no criminal record should be allowed have our passports.

As it stands our Government is handing out Irish passports like sweets and this should not be the case.

Martin Ford


Sunday Independent

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