Tuesday 27 September 2016

The world we live in

Published 16/08/2015 | 02:30

Refugees on the Greek island of Kos
Refugees on the Greek island of Kos

Sir - I'm note sure if it was deliberate on your part or just ironic - but the two stories on pages four and five in last week's Sunday Independent showed the complete polar opposite of how the world in which we live has evolved.

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On page four, was a picture of migrants crowded into a small unseaworthy vessel waiting to be rescued. They were the lucky ones, the ones that didn't meet their maker in the deep waters of the Mediterranean.

Then on page five we read of a retirement party thrown by JP McManus for his buddy AP McCoy in Adare Manor.

A fleet of helicopters ferried the guests to the grounds of the plush luxury resort, where a multi storey marquee (have they really gone and invented such a thing?) was in place along with 400 staff to serve a sumptuous banquet.

Then the beautiful things danced the night away to the melodic, if somewhat expensive tones of Robbie Williams until the wee small hours. Everyone who is anyone in social circles was there.

Meanwhile back on the boat, those rescued had a hot cup of tea, a crust of bread and a chance to rest and think of their drowned loved ones.

Mike Burke, Clare

Sir - Willie Kealy mentioned that nobody protested on the streets over the household charge when it was introduced (Sunday Independent, 9 August).

Well I did. I marched on the streets of Cork with about 8,000 others, but Michael Noonan moved fast when he saw the people on the streets and did a Pontius Pilate by getting the Revenue Commissioners to do the dirty work of collecting what has since became the Local Property Tax. So now, in the run-up to an election, the Government can wash its hands and say it is not their problem and refer all complaints to the tax authorities.

I am sure the Government would love to get rid of Irish Water in the same way because everything about it has failed.

If and when they do sell it, the charges will rise and rise and within a matter of a few years we will be paying €20 a week. That's €1,000 a year!

In Britain, the CEO of the water authority there is one of the highest-paid executives in that country. We can hardly expect less.

There is only one way to stop this inexorable money-grabbing. Just don't pay the water tax. Then let's see what new "initiative" our Environment Minister Alan Kelly comes up with.

Finbar Bevan, Farranree, Co Cork

Sex abuse thrives on secrecy

Sir -I read with much sadness the article "Ireland is backward over supporting rape victims," (Sunday Independent, August 9) - not just for the writer of the article, but because I could have written so much of it also.

While my own story is different to the author's (I am a male in my 50s), I can relate to so much of what she has written especially when she talks of the lack of familial support and the support she receives from friends.

Around 20 years ago while undergoing psychotherapy for depression I discovered in the process that my father had raped me as a child.

This was something I had blocked out from my mind since early childhood.

This revelation knocked me for six. My family's way of dealing with this was to completely ignore it. My father denied he had ever done anything to me.

The nearest I got to an admission was shortly before he died, when I asked him again - his response being "except in innocence". When I picked him up on this he claimed not to know what he was talking about.

To speak publicly about sexual abuse, especially by a family member, even if it is historic, is akin to unleashing a lightening storm over an erupting volcano.

Yet to remain silent is a continuation of the secrecy that sexual abuse thrives on.

(Name and address with Editor)

Ambassador's article appreciated

Sir - The elegant defence of Israel's conduct towards its Palestinian neighbours over the last 20 years by Ambassador Boaz Modai (Sunday Independent, 9 August) should make even the most strident critic of the Jewish state pause for thought.

Ambassador Modai, challenged the one-sided simplistic narrative of Irish pro-Palestinian groups by highlighting the difference between the genuine genocides of the Holocaust and Rwanda, and the lamentable attempts to "demonise his country" by depicting Israel as a progenitor of Palestinian genocide.

The ambassador cited the empirical evidence of how prior to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 Palestinian Arabs enjoyed "the highest life expectancy and the lowest infant mortality in the Arab world. When they did live under Israeli occupation, the number of their universities increased from one to nine; the diseases of polio, tetanus, whooping cough and measles were eradicated,"

This is fact. Moreover, in a poignant plea, the ambassador spoke of Israel's readiness to accept "two states for our two peoples - Israelis and Palestinians - as the only solution for our conflict: one that guarantees your aspiration to have a sovereign state and dignity as a people, but at the same time guarantees the security of my people and ensures that there will be no more violence between us."

Dr Kevin McCarthy, Kinsale, Co Cork

Ambassador's article challenged

Sir - In his article (Sunday Independent, 9 August) last Sunday the out-going Israeli ambassador, Boaz Modai, proclaims we "live in an age of instant amnesia" and proceeds to try and fill our memory gap with his view of bygone events.

While most every explanation he provides in his piece can be challenged, I would like to help him with his amnesia regarding his comment about the collapse of the 2000 Camp David summit.

He claims that Yasser Arafat "walked away" from Ehud Barak's offer of Israel "giving over 91pc" of the West Bank to a Palestinian state. This offer did not include the Jordan Valley. In addition, Israel's definition of what constituted the West Bank was considerably smaller than the Palestinians definition.

From the Palestinians point of view, Israel was offering "giving over" 76pc of the West Bank. Also, Barak acknowledged that Israel would maintain control of a "razor thin" wedge of territory running from Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, effectively bisecting the West Bank.

The offer that ambassador Modai blames the Palestinians for rejecting was so bad that Shlomo Ben-Ami (Barak's foreign minister at the time) stated "If I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David as well."

Tom Harper, Blackrock, Co Dublin

Bravo Sile on religious practice

Sir - That was a wonderful piece of writing by Sile Seoige in your review (Sunday Independent, 9 August) regarding her three day pilgrimage to Lough Derg.

Some really powerful words ended her piece, as she told us why her experience (which also left her feeling contented and strong) wouldn't lure her back to the church.

"Too many prayers spoke of the devil and hell, and from what I could see fear played a big part in the few days."

Sile's powerful words reminded me of my own pilgrimage for 10 years to two catholic boarding schools in Dublin in the 1950s and 1960s.

Bravo Sile!

Brian Mc Devitt, Glenties, Co Donegal

It just wasn't Alan's day...

Sir - Poor Alan Lowry. Those of us who have been overshadowed by an older sibling know exactly how he feels.

"Dad I got a C in honours maths."

"Son, your older brother got an A".

"Dad, look at me, I'm riding my bike without stabilisers."

"Son, you're nineteen..."

So there was Alan Lowry sitting at home with his shiny Mullingar Scratch Cup on his lap probably latching onto everyone he met and asking: "Do you want to look at my shiny new cup that I won?"

"No, Alan will you go away with that thing, we're watching Shane on the telly"

He may have put the cup up on the sideboard on Sunday night and come down the next morning to find it gone.

"Where's me cup?"

"Oh that thing. We put it in the press under the stairs. We had to make room for Shane's Bridgestone trophy."

Alan, I know how you feel mate. Of all the weekends in all the world, you had to pick that one.

Xavier McCullough, Limerick

A good laugh from Xavier

Sir - I am writing to thank Xavier McCullough for the best laugh I have had in ages. His letter (Sunday Independent, 9 August). 'Only ten days to go' was just brilliant. I laughed out loud and re-read it again and again. Several people mentioned it to me during the week.

Oliver Maguire, Roscrea, Co Tipperary

Letter warmed everyone's heart

Sir - Even on the wettest of our summer days, Xavier McCulough's humorous account of his Irish holiday trapped in a mobile home with just "the auld snakes and ladders" would warm anyone's heart!

Georgina O Connor, Pallasgreen, Co Limerick

It bore repeated reading

Sir - I have read Xavier McCullough's letter a few times and laugh each time. Best laugh I had in a long time.

When he walked to the village to find the mechanic was gone to Lanzarote! Hilarious.

Geraldine Smythe, Galway

Pension fiver hardly worthwhile

Sir - I find the "senior source" quoted on the front page of the Sunday Independent (August 9) quite amusing. I worked long enough to earn my pension and I find the suggestion of a €5 increase insulting.

Multiply the €5 by four and you still wouldn't arrive at an appropriate pension figure.

The taxes I paid all my life were used to pay handsome salaries (not wages) to TDs and other officials. Most government ministers have become millionaires out of the public purse - and when Noonan announced his 2015 budget he made changes in tax and PRSI which increased his own take-home pay and that of his fellow TDs very handsomely.

In some cases that increase amounted to €3,000 per year - and in the coming Budget I am sure there will be more increases in their take-home pay.

So Mr/Mrs senior source, I say don't mock the pensioners by suggesting a derisory increase of €5. Make it worthwhile.

Walter McCutcheon, Limerick

Now, how will I spend that fiver?

Sir - I have a problem which I hope some of your readers may be able to help me with - how to spend the extra €5 per week promised to pensioners in the upcoming Budget?

Patricia Keeley, Dublin 6W

Dreaming of an ice-cold beer

Sir - I can fully identify with Tommy Tiernan's excitement at the thought of a pint of porter after eight years (Sunday Independent, 9 August).

How many times have I dreamed of a frothy pint. But a dream is only a dream.

It's like that famous scene in Ice Cold in Alex, where John Mills and Anthony Quale, not having had a drink for months due to the desert war, find themselves in a bar staring at a glass of beer for ages, enjoying the anticipation of that first one.

Holly Barrett, Mallow, Co Cork

GAA gives us great value

Sir - Last Sunday I experienced the best value in the history of commercial exchange.

Myself and my three children attended Croke Park to watch a wonderful minor match and a thrilling senior hurling match between Kilkenny and Waterford - for a total cost of €55.

The GAA deserves great praise for making access to their world-class stadium available to families. A child's ticket cost just €5.

For that five euro there was four hours of atmosphere and entertainment. Four hours of commitment and desire, four hours of skill, passion and excitement.

Rival fans sat together, admired the play of their opponents and everyone marvelled at the sheer magic of TJ Reid, the commitment of Waterford and the desire that Brian Cody displays as he urges his team on.

Kilkenny fans consoled disappointed Waterford fans with genuine sincerity. " Ye'll be back," were Brian Cody's first post-match words - genuine praise for Waterford.

This was more than sport, this was a life lesson in sportsmanship, passion, commitment,desire, respect and magnanimity.

Three cheers for the GAA.

Gerard Corrigan, Limerick

O'Rourke had his eyes open

Sir - In reporting on the Mayo versus Donegal All-Ireland quarter-final, Colm O'Rourke says: "Donegal kicked a lot of high ball in the second half but it was easy meat at that stage for the Mayo defence..."

Commenting on the same game Joe Brolly says: "There was no high ball threat and Donegal soon stopped even trying it."

Their respective contributions are under the heading of "Football's Most Trusted Voices".

Surely, given their accounts above they can't both be trusted?

I would be very confused had I not been at the game. Since I was, I can confirm that O'Rourke was the one with his eyes open.

Jim Cunningham, Swords, Co Dublin

Confederates began the attack

Sir - In his article accompanying Herman Melville's poem Shiloh, Anthony Cronin wrote that "Confederate forces had encamped behind Shiloh Church near Pittsburgh… when they were attacked by the Union army under Ulysses S Grant."

Grant's Union army had encamped at Pittsburgh Landing near Shiloh Church when it was attacked by a Confederate army.

Ciaran Connolly, Raheny, Dublin 5

Migrants just want what we want

Sir - Your editorial (Sunday Independent, 9 August) ) is correct in calling for a new immigration system in Europe.

In forming a global economic system that included free trade and the movement of investment, the movement of people was forgotten. Now it is coming back with a bite as people flee war, conflict and particularly underdevelopment that has created in many developing countries a common violence that people are unable to bear.

Migrants want no more than what we want - access to an economy, a decent chance of life.

Bobby Gilmore SSC, Migrant Rights Centre, Dublin 2

Are we seeing an animal alliance?

Sir - I read with interest that the pine marten has both the speed and the agility to catch and kill grey squirrels (Sunday Independent, 9 August, Joe Kennedy, 'Country Matters').

But there is no mention of the pine marten having the same culinary taste for its smaller cousin - the red squirrel.

I wonder if this is because of a non-aggression pact between the two true native Irish animals or is it mother nature correcting itself for the introduction of the more aggressive and dominant American grey variety?

Damien Boyd, Cork

Sunday Independent

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