We should sacrifice Six Nations to build for the World Cup
Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30
I am a rugby supporter, an ex-player and an athletics coach.
I enjoy and agree with your columnists and their analysis of the Six Nations rugby matches so far.
But I have a question for them and for us all, a question I ask myself regularly - what do we want?
And in the case of our rugby team, what do we want them to achieve?
Personally, I want them to win the World Cup. I think we are good enough.
I think that ambition is shared by Paul O'Connell and Brian O'Driscoll, to name just two great players, who gathered so many accolades and achievements but not the holy grail of the Webb Ellis trophy.
The Six Nations Championship and our failure to make it three-in-a-row is hard to take. But I'll take it. As a fan. As a dreamer. As someone who understands that big ambitions mean taking big risks.
I don't care if we never win a Grand Slam or Championship again. I don't think New Zealand give a damn if they never win the equivalent southern hemisphere Tri Nations championship again either. But they care about the World Cup, and they make mistakes and learn from them, they lose matches (admittedly not many), they take risks and that process serves them well.
Personal criticism of players is another form of bullying.
So-called third, fourth or fifth-rated players, called into national squads when injury strikes the squad, deserve more from commentators.
Constant criticism paralyses creativity and ambition.
That's not just a message for rugby, it's a message for our society.
Ennis, Co Clare
FF and FG - time to team up
If the opinion polls turn out to be accurate, the only prospect for a stable government, backed by a clear popular mandate, will be a coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
This coalition of two centrist parties would bring to an end the historical, but now pointless, division between them.
It would also force the left-of-centre parties and left-leaning Independents to overcome their present fragmentation and work towards the development of a coherent left-wing party.
And Sinn Féin would have a difficult decision to make. By the time the next election comes around, voters would have a clear choice as to what kind of society (and not just what kind of government) they want for the second century of our independence.
If the "grand coalition" is to come about, Enda Kenny will have to jettison the Labour Party and Micheál Martin will have to stop pretending that he can become the next Taoiseach.
History will vindicate a courageous decision.
Chapelizod, Dublin 20
Cosmetic reform not enough
At the recent pre-election debates, all political parties were claiming they have the solution for the problems concerning the homeless, lack of affordable housing, employment, policing and the like.
But it's once again putting the cart before the horse.
What's the point in trying to eliminate homelessness, when there are no proper plans for building new houses or freeing some premises managed by Nama, which lie vacant and could be put to good use?
What's the point in spending more money in providing more houses for homeless or low-income people when the whole house rental system needs a good overhaul, rather than cosmetic touches such as the recent two-year rent freeze?
Also, what about introducing a system to equate rents to size, habitability and mod cons of rented premises?
What's the point in encouraging people to take up employment or putting more money into their pockets by reducing taxes, when consecutive governments have done nothing to curb the escalation of the cost of living by allowing the spiralling cost of services?
Other than cosmetic measures such as the two-year rent freeze, have they introduced a proper rent control?
Haven't they allowed ever-increasing charges for essential services such as electricity, gas, road tax, car insurance and private health insurance premiums, and introduced new ones such as water charges?
Take electricity, for example. Haven't they allowed charges to go up steadily, while the average annual salary in the ESB has gone up from €70,000 to €85,000, thus asking taxpayers to subsidise all its workers' pretty good lifestyles?
What is the point in recruiting more policemen or re-opening recently closed police stations, when the laws of this country do not give adequate powers to the police to tackle crime?
What's the point in throwing more money into the HSE pot to create more beds or affordable medical care for all, when one of the major problems is its internal bureaucratic procedures and costly services sub-contracting, which stifle proper running of hospitals, as well as paying fat salaries to consultants and the newly created army of managers and sub-managers?
The time when hospitals worked properly, and "the matron" was the only manager able to supervise every single aspect of hospital life, has long gone.
Concetto La Malfa
Time to change the system?
Maybe it's time Ireland replaced PR-STV with 'first past the post', like they use in the UK. The voting system should be made easier to manage.
Navan, Co Meath
Party leaders' debate
And the winner is ... Claire Byrne, by a country mile.
Kingswood, Dublin 24
TG4 cancelled a proposed General Election debate because of the inability of participants to speak Irish. However, the inability of party leaders to speak English (or sense) seems to be okay with RTÉ.