Monday 24 October 2016

We'll all be crying over spilt milk with crisis in dairy industry

Published 13/08/2015 | 02:30

Winston Churchill’s 'action this day' call should be applied to the dairy industry
Winston Churchill’s 'action this day' call should be applied to the dairy industry

It's only just over four months until Christmas. By then, on the eighth day, according to the Christmas carol, 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', will there still be "eight maids-a-milking", or will some of them have been made redundant?

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The crisis in the dairy industry in this country, where milk producers are currently paid less per litre for their milk than it costs them to produce, will have an adverse effect on everyone. We'll all soon be crying over the 'spilt milk'!

Most farmers specialise, whether they simply produce milk, or beef, or crops. Few tend to diversify, such is the specialised nature of intensive farming these days. Perhaps such specialist farmers have too many eggs in the one basket.

The crisis is, in any case, now urgent and needs to be dealt with straight away by farmers' unions, supermarkets, politicians and consumers.

If dairy farmers are put out of business, their milk will become scarcer and more expensive by Christmas.

Most consumers won't mind paying a fair or even premium price in order to support the dairy farmers, their families, their spending power in the community and their welfare as they work intensively, often seven days a week.

It's penny wise and pound foolish for supermarkets to rip off the farmers now, so that we all have to pay through the nose for our milk later on.

The Government should deal with this critical situation as a national emergency and as a matter of urgency.

What is required, in the words of Winston Churchill, is "action this day" and for the crisis to be nipped in the bud and remedied without any further delay.

Neil C Oliver

Newtownards, Co Down

High time we valued the arts

According to Professor Pat Dolan, "new research showed children who learned through creative means had a better grasp of science and maths" (Irish Independent, 11/08/14).

While I am not doubting this to be the case, why can we not appreciate the value of the arts and creative arts (in education or otherwise) for their own sake? The arts and creative arts should be given equal weight and not left to play second fiddle, as it were.

Mairéad ní Shúilleabháin

Killarney, Co Kerry

Sex work law needs rethink

The vote by Amnesty International to decriminalise sex work and prostitution will be welcomed by all those who campaigned against the current proposal to criminalise clients and particularly the sex workers themselves.

Coming as it does after an exhaustive process of consultation and often bruising debate over two years, it is also a vindication of the rights of sex workers and the value of painstaking evidence-based inquiry. It is noteworthy also that this inquiry was a global one, including countries where there are very different attitudes to sex work than in Europe.

The secretary general of Amnesty described sex work and prostitution as a "hugely complex...critical human rights issue".

The implication is that the law to govern sex work needs to be very carefully drafted and the simplistic approach to criminalise clients, which is that of the Government, is doomed to failure. Those organisations here who profess to be concerned with human rights and have not adopted a position yet on this issue, might consider following Amnesty's lead.

Other international organisations which follow a similar line include the International Labour Organisation, Anti-Slavery International and the Global Alliance against Traffick in Women; the latter a network of more than 100 NGOs.

The Government ought to reconsider its proposed legislation.

A reconsideration of official policy would only represent a step forward in light of better understanding.

David Walsh

Maynooth, Co Kildare

Value of women in science

I'm writing to applaud the words of Dr Caitriona Jackman in a recent article. As a young science student heading into her second year in DCU, it is frustrating to see that even the greatest of minds, like that of Tim Hunt, still remain narrow.

Dr Jackman is a formidable example of a woman who has conquered the science world and someone who children, both boys and girls, can look up to.

Dr Jackman speaks about having "very strong role models and mentors" who have inspired her, something that I too have been lucky to have found.

My secondary school teachers of science, biology and chemistry all had a passion for their subjects and instilled in me that sense of curiosity, a characteristic which I continue to see in my third-level lecturers.

Important values are preached, those that go beyond the pages of text books; asking questions, challenging ideas, trying and failing and then trying again.

Life is not composed of a series of steps of linear progression - neither is science.

The majority on my own course are females; we work just as hard as the boys and I feel that competition between the boys and the girls is non-existent. We've all decided to stop knocking on the 'glass ceiling'; we're building our own door.

Bróna Fanning

The Grange, Co Meath

No need for hair play in GAA

Thank God for our beautiful game of hurling, a man's game played by real men where no quarter is asked or given.

Some of today's gaelic football players fall to the ground faster than swatted flies.

Then observe the charge onto the field led by doctors, physios, water carriers and advisers.

As a result of the recent 'hair affair', can we now expect hairdressers armed with scissors, combs, curlers, hair dryers, hair straighteners and copious amounts of hair dye to join the charge?

Mick Hannon.

Clones, Co Monaghan

Politics and the silly season

The political 'silly season' can yield some truths - despite the counsel of our so-called betters to pay no attention. So far, we've learned (as we are entitled to) the broad parameters of Enda Kenny's reign as head of Government.

In addition, a senior and influential member of Fianna Fáil dismantled in his thinking the taboo of that party being the junior partner in a coalition government.

Finally, attitudes are crystallising in Labour and Fine Gael on the possibility of a pre-election pact of some sort.

This August, with our Dáil poll highly visible, is a wickedly serious month!

Oliver McGrane

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Irish Independent

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