A codeword should not affect a man’s survival
• A 74-year-old man presents to the biggest hospital in Mayo complaining of chest and arm pains last August at 8.35pm. An ECG confirms he is having a heart attack.
The medical person in charge contacts Galway University Hospital seeking to move the man there. Ambulance is requested at 9.05pm. Informed none available until 11pm.
Medical officer in Castlebar advises that two ambulances sit outside hospital doors. Informed cannot use them. Private ambulance sent for in the meantime. Gentleman has further cardiac arrest at 9.40pm and declared dead at 10.20pm.
An inquest ascertained that indeed there were ambulances in the Castlebar area available that evening but because a trigger codeword was not used, the ambulance authorities decided this was not an emergency. The nurse manager on seeking the ambulance called it an emergency but because the magic codeword was not used, the ambulance authority themselves decided it wasn't.
Words fail me, I am just disgusted at the bureaucratic Americanisation of our hospital system where coded messages and indicators now decide whether you live or die.
In Larkin's defence
• I would like to respond to Kevin Myers's and Desmond Fitzgerald's attacks on Jim Larkin in last week's Irish Independent and their portrayal of him as an embezzeler who enriched himself at the expense of workers he claimed to serve.
Larkin was convicted of embezzlement in 1908 because he issued strike pay to Irish dockers before receiving authorisation from the National Union of Dock Labourers.
He did not benefit personally and the public outrage at his imprisonment led the government to order his release after serving three of his 12-month sentence.
It is true Larkin was careless with money, which he saw simply as a means of furthering the interest of his members and this frequently landed him in trouble.
However, he never owned his own home and visitors frequently commented on a lifestyle that was "frugal and austere".
Irish Labour History Society, Haddington Road, Dublin 4
• I wish to respond to the letter in Saturday's Irish Independent from Desmond Fitzgerald, in which he uses a misinformed attack on Jim Larkin to character-assassinate SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor.
As a former trustee of the union, could I point out that Jack O'Connor has been democratically elected on no less than three occasions.
He campaigned to have the salary of the general president reduced, which resulted in a cut of almost 30pc.
New Street, Dublin 8
• Despite the assertion of Niamh Cartin (Irish Independent, February 22), I venture to suggest there wasn't anything negative in the letter (February 20) from Peter Cosgrove.
As a country on its knees financially, how can we afford to support a 'first language' that is spoken by 5pc of the population, while the 'second language' (English) is the predominant language?
For a government that appears so enamoured with referenda, perhaps the next referendum should be about the Irish language. 'Can we afford to retain/support it?'.
Four Mile House, Roscommon
• I am referring to a letter to the editor published in your newspaper on February 20. Being a lecturer in Irish at Moscow State University and a Russian, I am surprised at how easily people in Ireland insult their native language.
Apology for some
• In the wake of the McAleese Report, Enda Kenny indulged in the usual waffle about this being a republic that values "diversity, difference" etc.
Fair enough, but what about that other cliche of "valuing all the children of the nation equally"? Not, it seems, if you happen to come from the Protestant tradition.
In view of the Government's indifference to those sent to the Bethany Homes, it seems we shouldn't expect any tear-filled speech of apology from Enda. So much for valuing "diversity and difference".
Navan, Co Meath
• Justice Minister Alan Shatter claimed PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association, was misleading the public.
He must never have heard the saying: "People in glasshouses should never throw stones."
The five-point plan comes to mind, minister!
Keshcarrigan, Co Leitrim
Our 1984 games
• George Orwell's '1984' was ahead of its time, but combine it with Suzanne Collins's 'The Hunger Games' and you start to get a picture of what Ireland is rapidly becoming.
We have spy-planes photographing our property, meter readers who can tell us how much electricity or water we use, a government remote from the people, and now official bank robbers and wage snatchers assigned to pilfer any savings or earnings we may have made.
Schull, Co Cork
• I see people now can't have a pint if they go to the pub in a motorcar. When I was young almost the only person in the parish who had a car was the parish priest. You won't be surprised to hear he did not use it for driving to the pub.
The only thing that stopped people who wanted to have a pint from going to the pub was that they did not have the 10 pence for the pint. There is always some bloody thing.
J J O'Reilly
No horsing around
• I don't want to nag, but could you please stop Ian O'Doherty from giving away one of our neighbourhood's best-kept secrets, Ennis's butchers in Rialto (Irish Independent, Feb 22).
We've been buying our authentic meat there for years, but if Ian keeps on letting the horse out of the nosebag, it'll be like Cheltenham on St Patrick's Day inside Derek Bolger's foodie paradise.
Next of all, Ian will be singing the praises of The Royal Oak in Kilmainham and then he'll really be for the knackers' yard.
Kilmainham, Dublin 8
• I have just read your report of an 85-year-old woman, Dorothy Holmes, who attacked an armed robber with a magazine in the defence of a young cashier (Irish Independent, February 23). I am very happy to say that my faith in humanity has been restored.
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford