A little of what you fancy...
Sir - While agreeing we should be aware of the health risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption, the time-honoured view that everything is okay in moderation still strikes me as a reasonable approach to consuming foods or liquids that we enjoy.
Stark health alerts will definitely scare a percentage off the booze, but will those be the people who'd never drank to excess anyway, rather than the heavy imbibers who are unlikely to be deterred by any health warnings?
And if alcohol is to be stigmatised, should we not have similar scary labelling on, say, red meats and processed meats? These have been classified by the World Health Organisation as ''probable'' causes of cancer.
Imagine buying a few slices of ham for the tea and seeing the message: "This might kill you" on the label, accompanied by gory depictions of ill health. Or cooking a Sunday roast whose packaging gave the warning: "This MIGHT give you bowel cancer."
So much is potentially bad for us, including the air we breathe. But do we want to drive ourselves crazy with worry (which can also be lethal if carried to excess) about everything that passes between our lips in the few years we have on earth?
Alcohol presents us with a dilemma: it makes us feel good, though it may do us harm. But something is going to kill us in the end anyway. It's only a matter of what and when.
Sir - In the last 1,000 days, we have borne witness to the intensive, assiduous and sometimes unscrupulous lobbying by vested interests attempting to prevent the progress of the Alcohol Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas. In finally passing this legislation, all the deputies from across the house who have supported this bill are to be greatly commended.
We now urge the Government to facilitate a speedy enactment of the legislation. The public supports and expects decisive action and our members stand ready to provide advice and assistance in its implementation.
Chairman, Environmental Health Association of Ireland,
Bray, Co Wicklow
Sir - In the practice of medicine, true freedom of conscience allows clinicians to exercise their best judgment in every clinical situation.
Respect for conscience is based on a person's freedom and use of reason. It is a grave injustice against a person's dignity to deprive him/her of the freedom to act according to his/her conscience.
If a doctor believes it is morally wrong to refer a patient for an abortion, but is obliged to do so by law, this is a violation of conscience and is a serious matter. This issue has not been addressed in a serious way by the minister for health's recent bill and its implications for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and, indeed, all healthcare professionals.
In general practice, the doctor-patient relationship is a very important one and is established over many years of consultations and discussions. Trust is built between both parties and the doctor strives to be an advocate for the patient regarding all clinical matters and, more often than not, a good rapport ensues.
Therefore, coercing doctors, by law, to perform an act against their conscience is neither in the best interest of the doctor nor the patient and ultimately affects the doctor-patient relationship. Patients will not want to see their physicians facing criminal charges purely for acting according to their conscience.
Dr Aisling Bastible,
Pleasure of a pint or two
Sir — How refreshing to read the contribution from Liam Collins (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, September 30) on the pleasure that some of us derive from having a pint or two.
I am sure that by expressing the views he does, that, as he puts it, the evangelism of the reformed drinker and the health zealots and non-drinking “mothers of seven” will treat his comments as some sort of heresy in these so-called enlightened times.
Slowly but surely the craic is being legislated out of our society so that soon we will be no more than a clone of the soulless societies that populate northern Europe. We must accept that most of us are the backbone of a Latin nation trapped in the northern hemisphere whose neighbours used to love visiting us because we are so different.
My grandfather and father drank up until the days before they died, my grandfather being 102 and fully compos mentis, I might add. So please, zealots of every hue and mediocre politicians trying to make a name for themselves and justify their existence, leave us alone to enjoy our few pints, our conviviality, our bonhomie and treat us with respect as the vast majority of us do our drink.
President needs to take long-term view
Sir — In my opinion, the difference between the office of a Taoiseach or prime minister and the office of head of state or president is like the difference between the sisters Mary and Martha in the Gospel.
Martha worked hard to keep the material things in her household in good working order while Mary, as she sat down listening and asking Jesus questions, sought to gain for herself a more deeper understanding of what kind of spiritual purpose life has in store for all of us.
While the businesses of both the Taoiseach and our president overlap to some extent concerning the immediate material care and physical well-being of every Irish citizen (which was the work of Martha), the president’s role should also have a significant spiritual outlook on life.
This is what Mary felt the need for, listening to Jesus in the Gospel story. This should be the case, too, for an Irish president because he or she needs to be able to see further and clearer into the future that is coming inevitably towards us to help guide us safely through any perils that might be in store.
In the 2010 British general election, the future UK prime minister, David Cameron, said, as I recall, during a televised debate certain words like “who knows what things will be like in 50 years’ time”.
He probably used this phrase because as a prime minister his main task was short-term — to win general elections every few years for his party. This short-term thinking could be the main reason why Mr Cameron had to resign just over a year after winning his second general election for his party. A longer-term view over the need to hold a Brexit referendum would have allowed him to do greater things for Britain.
Queen Elizabeth, as the head of state of the UK, should by right be the most qualified person to help her prime minster and her subjects to look a good 50 years ahead into what type of future might be in wait for them. But instead her most important speeches are completely written by her government. The fact that she is not elected by her subjects and that her own experiences of life have been very protected means her own particular vision for Britain might not be as fully complete and as broad-ranging as it could be.
Fortunately, the president of Ireland is chosen by the whole Irish electorate and should be able, during the seven long years of his or her tenure, to come up with a long-term vision for Ireland. This, I believe, should be the case as Ireland faces several large challenges of Brexit, climate change, new technology and populism, etc.
The president should also address, I feel, the complete lack of any questions being asked during the presidential election campaign on TV or radio programmes about what Ireland’s spiritual values are and what they might be — whether good or bad — in the future.
Kilrush, Co Clare
Is this the Rotten Apple Republic?
Sir — While it’s generally nice to return to my native Ireland, the longer I’ve been away the harder it is for me to envisage living here on a more permanent basis again.
For sure, there’s an element of ‘‘it’s not you, it’s me’’ to this. As you can imagine there’s quite a difference between life in Bogota, my abode for the last number of years, versus life around Ballaghaderreen.
Yet, from a rural west of Ireland perspective, away from its few ‘‘hotspots’’, there appears to be an air of despondency among the populace. One of a number of ways this has manifested itself is in the amount of ‘‘nasty neighbours’’ who seem to have sprung up about the place. People who crave conflict, hoping, I can only assume, to add a bit of excitement to their lives.
Okay, Connacht has always been Ireland’s depressed, poor relation. However, the, ahem, boom years that I grew up in at least jazzed up the place somewhat.
With those heady days now just a memory, but having left nasty wounds still in need of much nursing, it could be argued the West has never been worse, relatively speaking. It certainly feels that way in many aspects.
Unavoidable as that may be, the discourse from Dublin and its environs is that we still have that breed of leaders who believe that the more expensive a country is, the more successful it is. Note to Leo and the rest of his delusional band: this is the Republic of Ireland, not Sweden.
People sometimes call Colombia a banana republic. What’s Ireland then? The Rotten Apple Republic?
Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon,
and Bogota, Colombia
We must take back control of country
Sir — We live in a failed republic.
Since the foundation of the State, the citizens of this country, have been betrayed, neglected and abandoned by the very people that we elected to serve us. The State in cohorts with the Catholic hierarchy ruled us citizens by fear and submission, and vast numbers of our citizens were incarcerated in mental institutions throughout the country. The nation’s children lived in fear of being forcefully separated from their parents and community and sent to an industrial school to be abused at will by their so-called protectors and educators. The nation’s daughters were enslaved by the bishops in their money-making Magdalene Laundries.
There was also the inhuman treatment of women in mother and baby homes, the undisclosed number of deaths, the total disregard for human dignity and compassion and hundreds of dead babies dumped into a septic tank in Tuam. Adoption agencies were involved in the illegal practice of human trafficking of Irish babies. Writers, artists and journalists were censored and banned.
You may say that this happened in another era but the betrayal continued with the hepatitis scandal and attempt at a cover up in the 1980s, corporate fraud, unscrupulous bankers, a government lying to the citizens of this country as the economy was collapsing around them. There is the cervical cancer scandal and attempt at a cover-up, the housing crisis and homelessness, a health care system in freefall, and failed politicians, bankers, etc, retiring on obscene pensions. I could go on but I am too depressed.
Who can we blame for this dire and shameful predicament that we, as a people, find ourselves in?
We have only ourselves to blame — we need to get off our knees and be less servile in the lead-up to the 100-year anniversary of our State. Let’s start by taking back control of our country — get involved locally, be active, lead with your actions and your vote.
Connemara, Co Galway
Tax on family home is an uninvited guest
Sir — A crumb of comfort for homeless people is that their unwanted nomadic state sees them not liable for the Local Property Tax (LPT).
Since its introduction in July 2013, this financial liability on home ownership has been subcontracted to an organ of the State which uses its power with might and main to quell any attempt at non-compliance.
Lying behind the bureaucratic text of the LPT is a self-assessed tax charged on the market value of residential properties in the State, that is the family home.
This residence for which a person/persons worked hard, paid penal direct and indirect taxes and made a social commitment to a community.
Then when the end of the property purchase maze is reached, the Government steps from the shadows and offers the LPT gift-wrapped with a perpetuity ribbon.
The political spin that trots out the missive that the LPT aids local government funding is at best a senior political moment that forgets years of chronic underfunding of local authorities by successive governments.
For a country that is expensive to exist and live in, one asks: where are all the taxes paid to central government ending up?
The tax trickle-down effect has yet to trickle down to those who get up early and go to work.
A tax on the family home, regardless of its value, is taking the taxation ethos into a space where the Government of the day could be open to a claim of encroaching into a person’s right to accept and pay taxes that are just and equitable.
The LPT is an unwanted and uninvited house guest that has outstayed its non-existent welcome.
Gratitude can be so powerful
Sir — Following Brendan O’Connor’s helpful and inspiration words (Sunday Independent, September 23) about the mid-life crisis, might I add a few thoughts:
Gratitude is powerful to practice, from “top to tail” of every day. For family, friends, for all who help make our world a better, happier place.
Gratitude for our beautiful earthly home, planet earth, and the ever mysterious heavens above, good health, happy and peaceful days, and special events of our family and community.
Not forgetting the small friendly act of kindness, a thoughtful and noble deed, a walk or coffee with a friend, remembering absent ones, a greeting card, or call.
Not taking life itself for granted, mindful to make it more pleasant and worthwhile, and as my Mum would say, always with the simple ‘words wanted’, PLEASE, NO PROB! and THANK YOU.
Fee rise for RTE not deserved at all
Sir — We have been carrying RTE for years. It has been operating without restriction, spending huge amounts of public money without oversight.
Any licence fee increase awardedwill not find favour with the generalpublic. Fees being paid to staff for a few hours a week are beyond justification. The expansion of the station’s services, including TG4, continues unchecked. But how much of those services are wanted and what are the viewing and listening figures when set against costs?
There is need of an independent review of all aspects of the broadcaster and its services. In a world of endless communication and broadcast independent media, the audience must be diminishing and RTE will have to move with the times.
The Broadcast Authority of Ireland, a body meant to service the public interest, is operating as a lobbyist for the national broadcaster. Is there an RTE influence there? If so, it must stop.