Sunday 25 September 2016

Treasure the wily fox

Published 07/02/2016 | 02:30

The fox: 'extremely resourceful but it constantly needs to be at the top of its game to survive its various threats, especially from mankind' Photo: Depositphotos
The fox: 'extremely resourceful but it constantly needs to be at the top of its game to survive its various threats, especially from mankind' Photo: Depositphotos

Sir - In Joe Kennedy's wonderful article (Country Matters, Sunday Independent, January 31) human beings are presented with an intriguing challenge - to see how our survival skills would measure against the wily and elusive fox.

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Unsurprisingly, the fox would win and with ease.

"It was just superior," says fox expert Charles Foster.

We learn that this rugged creature is extremely resourceful but it constantly needs to be at the top of its game to survive its various threats, especially from mankind.

Finally, the piece mentions that foxes can remember to repay human acts of kindness with short return visits!

We should treasure our rare sightings of this red and white maverick.

Damien Boyd, Frankfield, Cork

Thankful for Terry's skills

Sir - I am so sad at the passing of Terry Wogan. He was deservedly knighted by our closest neighbours and maybe not as treasured as much by his countrymen.

He should have been thanked and highlighted for his broadcasting tightrope-walking during the Troubles. Imagine the job of broadcasting daily to a hugely British audience while some of his countrymen were killing his listeners ' brothers and sisters.

We need to honour this great ambassador and representative of true Irish people.

Pat Burke Walsh, Gorey, County Wexford

A friend to all on the airwaves

Sir - When I heard of Terry Wogan's death I just said, "Ah No!" He was such a lovely, lovely man with a great sense of humour. God be good to him. We will not see the likes of him again.

I remember knocking on his door when he lived in his mother's house, before he married, in Ballymun Avenue (renamed Glasnevin Avenue) in Dublin only to be told by his mother that "Terry will be delighted you called, leave your autograph book here and I'll get him to sign it when he comes home". He was a friend to all through the airwaves and when I lived in Brussels in the early 1970s I used to listen to him religiously on the BBC to hear that great Irish voice when he was "fighting the flab".

He was so funny and uplifting to those away from home that there was a great kinship and love between his listeners and him. He was a brilliant broadcaster and not to be matched ever.

A light has gone out in Donnybrook, a light has gone out in Limerick, a light has gone out in Ireland. May he rest in peace.

Terry Healy, Kill, Co Kildare

What consolation is an apology?

Sir - Whether the HSE, or anyone, apologised about the abuse allegedly inflicted on Grace, or for having left her in an apparently abusive situation, is of little consequence in my opinion.

What consolation is an apology to Grace? What relief from her pain does it bring?

Would it, will it undo the unspeakable torture and pain we are told she was subjected to?

I see an apology as worthless, as more of an insult than a help.

Abuse or neglect of an individual of any age or in any condition is monstrous. Inexcusable. Intolerable.

Abuse of a fragile or disabled person is indefensible, heinous.

Abuse of a voiceless, defenceless, handicapped person is outrageous. It should carry a mandatory, life sentence with no parole. What was official Ireland doing to protect her from such abuse?

It appears that here in our caring country anything goes in our public services. There are so many layers and grades that at best the buck is passed around - like pass the parcel.

The culpable health service personnel should have to return all their pay/salary and lose all pension rights in addition to getting a custodial prison sentence. But will that happen? I don't think so.

There was a time, when employees, were held accountable, in the 30s, 40s, 50s.

Not anymore. Accountability, and responsibility, must be urgently restored.

Margaret Walshe, Dublin 15

Horror at the hotel

Sir - The front page of most of Saturday's papers would send shivers down the spine of every law-abiding citizen in the country. There are no words to describe the horror that took place at the Regency Hotel, there is only the stark reality that criminals can virtually do what they like, when they like.

It is beginning to look as if our police force have no idea what is going on and that a comprehensive review of An Garda Siochana must take place, and fast. After something like this, we get the usual 'jargon' from someone in authority saying "we appeal for witnesses" and "we are following definite lines of inquiry".

It is time the gardai were dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Next time we may not be so lucky.

Mike Burke, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare

Fianna Fail's misfortune

Sir - Jody Corcoran in his piece "Fianna Fail's big misfortune was winning the 2007 election" (Sunday Independent, January 31) puts his finger on a matter very dear to the heart of most FFers - that they were unlucky not to lose the 2007 election.

After all, former minister Jim McDaid used to say it was very important to save FF as the country went down the tubes, while Mary Hanafin, another minister, once said that Brian Cowen was fit to be Taoiseach but not leader of FF.

Can we imagine the howls FF would create if they were in opposition in 2008 - things like "we handed over the country in good shape and look what ye done"?

Brendan Cafferty, Ballina, Mayo

What-ifs of the boom-time history

Sir - Jody Corcoran is very interesting when he indulges in 'what if?' speculation in relation to the former FF government losing the 2007 election (Sunday Independent, January 31).

There are other even more intriguing what-ifs in relation to boom-time history to be speculated upon.

What if the banks had not tripled lending during the boom? What if governments had not tripled spending during the boom? What if the Irish media and academia had really criticised and highlighted the dangers of this level of spending and lending increases?

A Leavy, Dublin 13

Thank you, Sophie

Sir - How refreshing to read Sophie White's article "Festive-food fatigue" (LIFE, Sunday Independent, January 31).

At last an article about food which is not telling us what we should and shouldn't eat. Like Sophie, I read it while finishing off the last of the Christmas chocolates and biscuits. Ah well, Lent is just around the corner!

Patricia Keeley, Dublin 6w

Consultations on transport issues

Sir - We were very disappointed to read Charlie Weston's article 'Commuters: Pay up and shut up - your views don't matter' ((Sunday Independent, January 31). Public consultation is central to the National Transport Authority's decision-making process.

Each year, we engage in several consultations - on issues as diverse as the draft Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2015, maximum taxi fares, public transport services in Mayo and bus licensing guidelines. Each consultation is meaningful, we put a lot of thought into how we can encourage active participation.

We set out a clearly stated proposal, or set of proposals, we advertise the consultation in the national media and issue press releases to raise awareness and interest and we set up simple response channels with plenty of time built in for people to make considered responses.

These responses are really important. We do not make decisions before we have reviewed and analysed the opinions and feedback submitted by members of the public and other interested parties through the consultation process.

We are a public body, charged with delivering public services using public money and we take these responsibilities seriously. Of course, the public's inputs are important to our decisions.

Mr Weston's article completely undermined the consultation and made a number of unsubstantiated claims which were completely at odds with the written input he had specifically requested from us on January 22 and which he received on the same day.

Sara Morris, Head of Public Affairs, National Transport Authority

Embarrassed for a smug Alan Kelly

Sir - Is it just me or did anyone else find it very difficult to read Niamh Horan's article (Sunday Independent, January 31) as she recalled her meeting with the extremely smug, arrogant and confident 'AK47' Alan Kelly?

I was embarrassed for the minister when I read the article but I assume this is just the norm for Alan Kelly.

When asked if he had a love affair with power, he replied: "anybody who says that power isn't attractive is telling you a lie. Of course it is."

Unfortunately this is the sort of individual we elect all over the country.

Mark Keane, Dublin 15

Death of 'Zhabo,' the true fortius

Sir - I read of the death of famous 1960s/1970s weightlifter Leonid Zhabotinsky in your obituary (Sunday Independent, January 31) with a curious mixture of sadness and pleasure.

Sadness at the passing of a popular international champion - pleasure that his death was noted in the modern media, which tends to disregard news of sportspeople who are neither footballers, golfers, jockeys/trainers or prize-fighters of various hues.

'Zhabo' represented the 'fortius' element of the tripartite Olympic motto.

Yet as recently as London 2012, one would think that this honour had been deleted - there being not a single highlight or reference to his successor by our national TV broadcaster - the one that gets 100pc of the mandatory licence fee and which tell us that it will "bring it all to us' in 2016.

I wish !

The supreme gamesmanship and self-confidence of his feigned failure of his second jerk lift at Tokyo duped his great rival Yuri Vlasov into a half-hearted failed response, thinking the crown was his, before Zhabo then returned to raise it aloft and claim victory.

Vlasov - shattered by the manner of the deceit and his loss - never lifted again.

H is fellow Tokyo medallists Vlasov and American Norb Schemanski (91) are still alive. They remain a link to a time when glory was without financial reward and dedicated to country.

Ted Neville, Douglas, Co Cork

Lincoln's take on politics

Sir - Abraham Lincoln's take on political elections is a tongue-in-cheek quote on political farce. "Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters." And man!

For the past five years, have we been suffering from political piles. On our doorsteps the rabid politicians come hunting. If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

Anthony Woods, Ennis, Co Clare

Confidence in our hospital doctors

Sir - The findings of multiple counts of poor professional performance and professional misconduct at a fitness to practise inquiry against Dr Omar Hassan once again raise concerns about the vetting procedures at our hospitals in ascertaining the level of medical competence of those they employ ("Hospitals never saw blundering medic's bad reference," Sunday Independent, January 31).

The inquiry heard a number of former colleagues of Dr Hassan express grave concern regarding his clinical abilities.

One senior colleague at Galway hospital told the inquiry that Dr Hassan's level of competence was so low that "someone off the street" would do a better job than he did.

It also emerged that Dr Hassan had previously been employed by the Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise and Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar, where it was revealed that a number of bizarre incidents took place, further adding to these concerns.

In 2015, following a separate fitness to practise inquiry, the Medical Council found Dr Dawar Siddiqi, a locum consultant radiologist practising at Bantry General Hospital, guilty of serious errors in the reading of up to 22 CT scans.

Also in 2014 Dr Mihai Anton, a paediatric surgeon, was recruited to work at the State's largest children's hospital primarily on the basis of a telephone interview. It emerged that Dr Anton did not know how to scrub up for theatre, was unable to put on a pair of surgical gloves and had difficulty communicating in English.

How can the general public have confidence in our hospitals when recruitment practices for the appointment of doctors appear so lax? All we need now is to read that Dr Nick Riviera (Hi, everybody) from Springfield has been recruited by the HSE.

Tom Cooper, Templeogue, Dublin 6w

Wonderful care saved my life

Sir - I disagree with the remarks of Eddie Lowndes (Sunday Independent, Letters, January 31). I am receiving a small pension, plus old age pension, and do not pay tax or USC, having worked for more than 50 years.

I was in my seventies when I was told I had bowel cancer and Type 2 diabetes. I spent 28 days in Clonmel General Hospital under the surgeon Mr Peter Murchan. Only for him, my GP and the wonderful care I received there, I would not be with my wife and family today.

I received what you would expect of a health service hospital and more. The staffing were obliging and kind.

The Government is doing its best and the country is better now than five years ago, where the wealth that was there was squandered and Bertie and Co walked away with big pensions.

We don't want them back again but I agree on one point; I would get rid of the Seanad, with the money saved going to services that are lacking in funding.

Don't emigrate, Eddie Lowndes, this is still a great little country.

John Eoin Morrissey, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Brendan's apology

Sir - I would like to compliment Brendan O'Connor on one of the nicest apologies ever - (Living, Sunday Independent, January 31). It brought a tear to my eye. I am sure now the lady in question does feel very important.

It goes to show you never know what is going on in anyone's head or what thoughts are behind their behaviour.

Josephine O'Shaughnessy, Dunmore, Co Galway

Biggest lobbyist

Sir - The biggest lobbyist in the country has not registered under the new lobbing act.

This lobby group lobbies seven days a week. It lobbies on behalf of the homeless, drug addicts, migrants and all manner of so-called victims and for socialism in general.

Should RTE be allowed to lobby in this way?

J Hyland, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Sunday Independent

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