2016 has been no different to any other year for celebrities dying
You'd swear that nobody had ever died before, such has been the outpouring of grief over the loss of so many celebrities this year. But hang on, people were dying long before 2016, as you may have noticed. That is why we have graveyards, why they are full and why an undertaker has never gone out of business.
While it is always sad to hear of someone's passing, it must be noted that neither Leonard Cohen, George Martin nor Richard Adams were in the first flush of youth. While Debbie Reynolds' death was particularly poignant, considering that her daughter had passed only the day before, she was of a decent age too.
So there was no black death epidemic in 2016 that made it stand out from any other, but I think the sense of gloom pervading Western society at the moment has more to do with political strife, terrorism and war rather than the death of some dearly-loved music and film stars.
Certainly both the Brexit and Donald Trump results have upset a lot of people, as have the shocking images that have come out of Syria.
But people need to keep perspective. The world is never better or worse, really, only different.
And who knows what next year will bring.
Bray, Co Wicklow
A policy of inaction on housing
It is almost laughable to think that Owen Keegan harbours the idea that anyone would take what he says on the homelessness crisis remotely seriously ('We need more homes - not stunts like Apollo House - to solve homeless crisis', Irish Independent, December 28).
He, and all those in senior positions within local government, are part of the problem because they obediently accepted a seismic change in housing policy which delivered the crisis.
That policy saw local authorities cease construction of social housing, handing that responsibility over to charities totally incapable of overseeing a social housing strategy with the sole aim of ensuring all citizens have access to a place to live.
Mr Keegan's plans to tackle the crisis are so devoid of any meaningful attempt to achieve that end as to render them dangerously likely to prolong the crisis and then condemn many thousands of citizens to have to live in squat-like accommodation well into the future.
To criticise those moved to take immediate action out of a sense of bewilderment at the fiddling efforts of Government while people suffer pain and humiliation is really the final insult from the powers that be.
We need rid of these structures as a matter of great urgency if we wish to build a decent place.
Rathedmond, Co Sligo
Irish heritage figures are a myth
Your story on the record demand for passports claims that one-in-four people in Britain is of Irish heritage (Irish Independent, December 28). This myth is based on a 2001 survey sponsored by Guinness for St Patrick's Day.
The survey also reported that 77pc of Londoners and 42pc in the 18-34 age group claimed Irish roots.
The authors of the report concluded that most respondents were probably exaggerating or lying.
In the 2011 UK census only about one person in 100 in England, Wales and Scotland ticked the 'White Irish' box in choosing their ethnicity.
There are about 6.7 million people in the UK who don't already have an Irish passport who could be entitled to one through a parent or grandparent.
A shame Enda can't take a hint
It seems that Enda Kenny wants to go on and on. He is not, it seems, a man willing to take a hint. This is unfortunate for all of us.
That is those of us who would like to see the back of him (enough is enough) and for him too and his legacy.
I would venture Mr Kenny's first tenure as Taoiseach was a success. Despite that government's various failings, it did dig the country out of the deepest hole it has been in since independence nearly a century ago. We didn't exactly go from bust to boom, but at least we could see light at the end of the tunnel.
But this administration is different. This is the Government nobody seemed to want and it is lead by a man who, let's be honest, lost the election. He should have taken the hint then and it's not too late to take it now.
It is an old adage that all political careers end in failure, but at least by choosing your time of departure you can control the narrative and protect your legacy.
It seems inevitable that when Mr Kenny eventually goes, he will have lost what ever remnants of respect and affection that remain within his party and across the nation. Power doesn't necessarily always corrupt but it does seem to blind.
Turners Cross, Cork city
Cathedral 'gifts' a divine idea
The plea by the Pro Cathedral in Dublin for people to hand in unwanted gifts, instead of returning them to the shops, is a wise one and let's hope many people take up the offer.
In an age when some have more than they want and need and so many others don't have nearly enough, it seems like a sensible solution.
In my own home this Christmas morning, we were knee-deep in discarded wrapping paper after the family presents were liberated from underneath the tree.
It was a lovely occasion, as it always is, but it struck me that many of those presents will never be worn or used. They will lie forgotten in a drawer or cupboard come the new year.
If Christmas is a time of giving, what better way to give to those in most need.
Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny