* Paddy Early's letter on suicide in Ireland (Irish Independent, November 7) was a timely reminder about the loss of hope so many young people are experiencing.
Like Mr Early, I too have fond memories of the many inspiring priests and lay people who helped to shape my life. They tempered serious intent with a lightness of touch. My memories are of a range of characters with an imaginative grasp about the quirkiness of life who helped us not to take ourselves too seriously. However, the prospects for employment were good.
School for many young people has become an obstacle course with their future hanging on the results of final examinations.
Examinations manufacture failure in order to highlight success. The pressure to succeed is unbearable for many.
Ireland is seething with talent with nowhere to go. The prospects of moving from education to employment are becoming increasingly slim.
I am not convinced, as Mr Early suggests, that God would have any wish to fill the yawning gap between expectation and achievement that so many experience – that is the task of our leaders.
Schools can never compensate for what is beyond their control, namely, the failures of political arrangements that, by their nature, create an underclass
The modicum of self-worth that many children bring to school ebbs away if they find they are not going to make it. The teachers, too, feel the burden of expectations; they experience themselves as led by systems of judgmental power and control and not by insight and imagination.
A further debilitating feature of the world of our young people is the lure of a new form of religious worship – the worship of celebrity and of those who acquire this status. Young hopefuls see salvation in being famous but are habitually frustrated in attempts to rise above their real-life circumstances.
Edith Road, Oxford
AN OWN GOAL FROM ENDA
* So the Taoiseach Enda Kenny's big news item at the All-Ireland talks was about a soccer match for charity. Is there anywhere else in the globe where this nonsense would be allowed?
Just look at the health service. Parents have to wait two years to get a child's eyesight inspected or up to three years for other medical conditions. There are huge delays in hospital A&E waiting rooms and nurses are leaving their profession because they fear they will be blamed for medical negligence due to the severe cutbacks.
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
ROTTEN SOCIETY OF PAST
* Paddy Early makes a good point in his letter (Irish Independent, November 7) when he says "we are still eternal spiritual beings and when we exclude God from our lives a huge vacuum is created, which simply cannot be filled by material possessions."
Talking about life when he was a child, back in the 1950s and 1960s, he paints such an idyllic picture I was expecting to read about the comely maidens dancing at the crossroads.
The Catholic Church dominated Irish life and, on the surface, everything appeared fine. Yet it was a rotten society in lots of ways.
People were being locked away in mental institutions, often because they were unwanted by their families. We had the highest rate in the world of committing people to such places.
Sexual abuse was rife in institutions run by religious orders. The transgressions committed by many children who ended up in such places were often trivial. Sexual abuse was also occurring in families. We had the scandal of the Magdalene Laundries where many young women were sent simply because there were pregnant. Homosexuality was illegal.
Thank God we have moved on so much from those days. Yes, we are a more materialistic society but there is a greater openness and we have faced up to a lot of our secrets. They say the truth shall set you free and, while there is still much work to do, we are a much more free and mature society.
Salthill, Co Galway
OUR LANGUAGE BARRIER
* What is it about the Irish language that touches such a raw nerve for so many Irish people? Your report (Irish Independent, November 8) on Transport Minister Leo Varadkar's support for parity of esteem for Irish on any new road signs opened the sluice gates for the usual torrent of venom on social media sites.
Any other country would rejoice to be in our position. We have two languages – English, the global leader, and Irish, our national language. Tourists are always intrigued by this and wonder why so many Irish people know so little about the language. I say well done to Leo agus go n-eiri an bothar leat.
* I was disappointed and angered to read about Transport Minister Leo Varadkar's pandering to the Gaelic League lobby in relation to changing road and motorway signs.
The continuing waste of money on the Gaelic language is completely at odds with the glaring need to provide money for essential services.
We seem to be able to find no end of money for the Gaelic language lobby who insist on 52 Gaelic translators in Brussels; support the waste of vast sums on dual advertising and road signs; send us unwanted forms in Gaelic; force us to pay for TG4 and Raidio na Gaeltachta; and support compulsory Gaelic in our schools.
Gaelic is fine for those that want it and let those that want it pay for it.
The Gaelic lobby would have you believe that you are less 'Irish' because you speak English. Well I, for one, am glad that we use and speak English. Try telling an American, Canadian, or Australian that they are less so because they speak English.
Ballygall, Dublin 11
BAILOUT EXIT ILLUSION
* According to recent reports we are about to exit the bailout. But I, for one, am questioning if this is so.
Some years ago, Pope Francis, as the then archbishop of Buenos Aires, stated: "The economic and social crisis, and the consequent increase in poverty, has its causes in policies inspired by those forms of neoliberalism that consider profits and the laws of the market as absolute parameters, to the detriment of the dignity of people and nations."
Unfortunately, this kind of analysis has not been mentioned in Ireland. Let us not be deceived by the illusion that everything will be okay when it is business as usual.
Padre Liam Hayes
Obera, Misiones, Argentina
WATER PROBLEMS SOLVED
* There is an obvious alternative to contaminated water, costly treatment plants, water restrictions and water rates. That is harvested rain water.
It is a measure that has some history as it was quite common in the past to collect rainwater from roof buildings in rural areas for a variety of uses other than drinking it.
Water can now be diverted from gutters into tanks fitted under the eaves on most houses, then filtered and piped inside.
Pie in the sky? No, I already have such a system fitted to a small roof in Malin Head, Donegal, which was designed and fitted by a local man. He has had the prototype of the product at his own home tested by the HSE and, in its minimalist language, they deemed it as 'fit for human consumption'. See www.wiac.ie.
Dr Kevin McGinley
Grantham Place, Dublin 8