Wealth isn't defined solely by possessions
Sir - The Christmas spirit, despite the bitter cold and harsh winds, has silently crept in on us. It is a time when generosity inexplicably tickles our personas, with never a thought of return.
It is a time when we see joy in others, having begrudgingly forgotten ourselves and spontaneously shared it with them. I didn't plan happiness for today, it's simply an atmosphere that automatically enveloped me.
Above all else, it's a time of no evaluation, realising we are all God's creation.
No money could compensate for this happiness, this wealth. No success could equal or sustain its unchallengeable naturalness. Why? Because so few recognise we have two great means of wealth - material and spiritual - one complementing the other.
Experiencing some health issues over the past year has strengthened my spiritual wealth. I meditated more on how lucky I was to have the normal necessities for happiness, a nice home and a caring family.
I despised the torment inflicted by selfish governments on the men, women and children of the war-torn countries in the Middle East.
The terrible struggle refugees endure packing their families into rubber dinghies and risking the Mediterranean to find a very uncertain happiness that we take for granted, is worthy of our contemplation.
It's more obvious why we should support them in any way possible according to our means while we are blessed in being able to lap up the joys and blessings of this wonderful Christmas.
Human nature being as it is, it's understandable we have a tendency to ponder on the things we fail to get in life as opposed to counting our blessings and celebrating all the wonderful possessions and favours we have.
We shouldn't be envious or jealous of two famous Irish businessmen in the news recently who invested in prime property near the Ritz Hotel in central Paris for €650m in 2007, and have just passed it on for close on €1bn.
Fortunately both are known for their philanthropy and are an asset to Ireland and undoubtedly do their share towards the unfortunate refugees mentioned.
Finally, when one recalls we all came into this world naked and leave exactly the same, with nothing; you will understand the value of the spiritual wealth I mention.
Garda not at fault for doctor charges
Sir - Like most people in the country, I was delighted to see Dr Scully acquitted on the charges brought against her, and I know the gardai who were involved were also glad.
What grieves me is that people sought to blame the gardai for having brought the charges in the first place.
However, people should know that it is the DPP that gives instructions as to what charges, if any, are to be brought against a person.
Again, Dr Scully, as an ex-member, I am delighted for your sake.
Good luck to you always.
John N Barry,
Christmas bell tolls for a happy holiday
Sir - As we enter the New Year and leave behind this one, it is with much sadness after so many people have lost their lives across the world in very violent situations - all too many in the name of religion.
Having said that, it is not difficult to be aware of the political correctness that also emerged across the globe in 2016 and has finally reached the shores of Ireland.
However, I found it difficult to restrain a broad smile when I noticed RTE went to great lengths to use the politically correct phrase "happy holidays" throughout the last Christmas episode of Fair City.
What brought the smile to my face was to notice how the Fair City episode was broadcast a short time after RTE rang the Angelus bells at six o'clock.
Everyone is a star in someone's eyes
Sir - The year 2016 has seen the passing of some immensely talented singers, writers, comedians and broadcasters.
Terry Wogan was for decades a household name. I always liked the haunting music of Leonard Cohen. Alan Rickman was first class, I thought, in the Michael Collins film. I was also a fan of Zsa Zsa Gabor.
These and others are such a loss to their professions and to humanity.
But I can't help feeling that the attention given to celebrities in death, as in life, can completely overshadow the lives of the people who pass away with scarcely a word written or broadcast about them.
I've just got the local parish newsletter and I've read through a long list of people who died during the year: all precious human beings to their friends and loved ones, each death a staggering loss.
Each one of the names on the "departure list", if I may call it that, means the world to at least one other person. He or she is a star, shining brightly in remembrance as surely as any of the ones that light up a crisp winter's sky.
Life is so precious and so vulnerable that surely everyone's stint on this planet is worthy of celebration, even if one hasn't achieved celebrity status as categorised by those who define such things.
Don't play games with our economy
Sir - When Shane Crosby tells us that "nothing seems to be happening" in Irish politics, that it is all a "charade" and advises the people in power to "just try something" (Letters, Sunday Independent, December 18), I am afraid I have to disagree with him.
In the decade or so before 2009, and since, an awful lot has happened.
The problem was that what was happening before 2009 was funded by trebling bank lending and trebling government expenditure. The opinion at the time was that everything was getting better and better and there was no downside.
Nothing could be further from the truth because the result was that the country became bankrupt and had to be bailed out in 2010.
That was no charade.
The consequences were major cuts in public expenditure and a severe deterioration in public services.
The cuts and the deterioration in services would have been much worse but for a spectacular increase in borrowing to fund the reduced services.
In addition to that, financial institutions had to be rescued by taxpayers, which gave rise to a further spectacular increase in borrowing.
Despite all of that, and Shane Crosby describing the present situation as "a complete farce", there has been some recovery here. That recovery was no farce. We only have to look at Greece to see how much worse we could be.
Greece was also bailed out in 2010. How lucky we are is highlighted by the fact our situation was worse in 2010 than that of Greece, relative to the size of our and their economy.
Yet we have made some recovery but Greece has made little or no recovery.
The era of just trying something without considering the consequences ended in calamity in 2010.
It should not be revived, despite Shane Crosby's impatience with our present situation.
Do not repeat the mistakes of the past is better advice.
Sinn Fein's blunder on abortion stance
Sir - Sinn Fein courting the liberal attitude on abortion is antagonising its supporters, as Sinn Fein is now countenancing the killing of unborn Irish citizens both in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic.
Fr Con McGillicuddy,