Adams shows no concern for past
Sir — Regarding Wayne O’Connor’s report on the attack on Gerry Adams’s Belfast home (Sunday Independent, July 15), how touching of Mr Adams to be concerned for his grandchildren’s welfare, and of Mary Lou McDonald’s concern for him and the threat to the peace process by “dissident” perpetrators.
I never heard them express such feelings at the tragic plight of the children whose parents and grandparents were murdered or maimed by the Provisional IRA — the heroic “rebels” Ms McDonald applauded at her recent election as Sinn Fein President.
Have they ever thought of the children who have never been born, or never will be, because many of the 1,800 or so people murdered by the IRA never had a chance to become parents?
In the course of her excellent film on John Hume, shown on RTE some years ago, Olivia O’Leary interviewed his wife, Pat. Pat told of repeated attacks on their Derry home by Provisional IRA thugs. On one occasion they set fire to the front of the house while John, Pat and some of their children were in bed. Quick thinking by her saved their lives. When Olivia put this to Gerry Adams later, his callous retort was that if the perpetrators had been Provos they wouldn’t have botched the job. This showed his scant regard for the life of the chief architect of the Peace Process, which has been brazenly hijacked by Sinn Fein, like many other good causes.
His thanks to the man who gave him respectability was to undermine and marginalise the SDLP whose peaceful campaign won the great reforms for Northern Ireland (when will Sinn Fein use its proper title?) — which Sinn Fein also arrogantly claim the credit for.
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with the Editor
Labour plan gets to grips with housing
Sir - "The social housing proportion of any settlement should never exceed 10pc of its people" (Conor Skehan, Sunday Independent, July 22). I am not sure whether Conor Skehan is issuing this declaration as another new article of faith in Irish housing policy or merely reflecting on what has clearly become a departmental dictum.
Either way, it is the sort of nonsense that has remained at the heart of our housing crisis since the 1970s.
As a county architect (retired) and a social housing practitioner of some 40 years standing, I must counter that no social housing model could survive within such provision constraints.
The imposition of a 10pc constraint is to legislatively stigmatise an entire housing community and to render social housing a 'housing of last resort' within the Irish housing model.
Make no mistake, to confine public housing and direct State intervention in the housing market to a 10pc settlement ceiling is to perpetuate the very private monopoly in housing provision that has created the affordability crisis in home ownership and rental alike.
It guarantees only: a prolonged housing shortage; an increasing housing poverty for much more than 10pc of our population; and an affordability crisis that simply won't go away.
Building social housing as a tenure of choice is an alternative model for a much more equal and sustainable housing future on this island.
From Sinn Fein to Fine Gael, the well established political parties have developed a cosy consensus on housing policy and have reduced housing policy debate to a mere 'numbers game', undermining completely the urgent need for a radical service overhaul of our entire totally collapsed housing model.
A member for nearly 30 years, I am delighted the new housing policy document 'Affordable Housing For All' from the Labour Party has come to grips with the scale and complexity of the Irish housing supply and housing management crisis.
Based on enhanced comprehensive housing service delivery through a series of regional housing executives organised within the framework of a centralised national housing authority, it offers in scale and in expertise the capacity to build again - for those in greatest housing need - and the breadth of choice in housing type, tenure and location that a modern and more equal housing model requires.
The 'no-blame and no-shame' clinics
Sir - I refer to Alan O'Keeffe's report 'Risky behaviour leads to rapid rise in STDs' (Sunday Independent, July 22). Dr Derek Freedman notes that Ireland's public sexual health clinics are badly under-resourced. This is absolutely correct, and the neglected state of those services is one of the biggest obstacles to addressing the rising rates of new STI diagnoses in Ireland.
Two of the largest clinics in the country - the GUIDE clinic at St James's and the GMHS in Baggot Street - regularly turn people away due to lack of capacity. In many counties no such clinics exist in the first place and those seeking routine care must travel significant distances to access STI-screening and other sexual health services.
Speaking at the 'Preparing for PrEP' community forum last week, Dr Pierre-Cedric Crouch described the sex-positive approach taken at the Magnet sexual health clinic in San Francisco. Under the slogan "no blame, no shame", the clinic offers easy to access services and constantly evolving programmes that respond to the changing needs of their clients.
With the National Sexual Health Strategy, Ireland is on the cusp of what could be a dramatic transformation in sexual health service delivery. It is vital that new services are developed around the needs of users and offered in a supportive way that facilitates trust and ongoing engagement. The involvement of affected communities in this process is crucial.
There are those who still seek God
Sir - Many congratulations from the heart to Wendy Grace for her outstanding article headlined, 'Pope's message is sure to provide hope in a sometimes hopeless world' (Sunday Independent, July 22).
How I wish that every member of Dail Eireann, all politicians, all media people and every Irish person would read this article with an open mind.
Since the result of the Repeal the Eighth referendum, I am an outsider, a traumatised alien in an Ireland I once loved. But this article showed me that there are young people who are seeking God in the right places and in the right way.
These young people are rare, but they are the antithesis of the human vultures who wish to undermine Christianity and snipe at the Catholic Church.
Well done, Wendy.
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Harris on the nail about RTE again
Sir - Eoghan Harris as usual hits the nail on the head (Sunday Independent, July 22). I was in Belfast on Bloody Friday 1972. In general the history such as that and atrocities in Omagh and Enniskillen committed by the IRA are not recorded and shown by RTE. Instead, they do not identify Sinn Fein's consistent support for bombers, murderers and also ignore the rape they have committed.
At least TV3 and others are truthful and honest in taking them on. I and many others do not support RTE's platitudes for Sinn Fein. We need an honest appraisal of the so-called Troubles.
Our young people have little if any knowledge of the support given to the IRA by Sinn Fein, and as Harris writes, not supporting the anti-Brexits in relation to us in the south by not voting in the Commons in support of the UK remainers.
Swimsuits for hire back in the day
Sir - After going shopping for yet another swimsuit with my granddaughter, aged six, I recalled my experience with the same item.
Tramore was the nearest seaside to us, a matter of 50 miles. We were allowed to go on an excursion on August 15, at that time a special Holy Day.
Being in the heart of the country we had no need for swimsuits.
We hired swimsuits on the Strand or beach in Tramore for 2/6 for an hour.
We changed in a little wooden hut beside the sea. Imagine asking my granddaughter to do that now. She would have a fit!
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Of no value at all
Sir - I am confused to read media reports that Facebook has dropped 18pc in value as I have never seen any value in it at all.
Facing up to death
Sir - To live or not to live? This has been the question for many people who have a terminal illness. Many suffer every day with terminal illness, and can do nothing to improve their condition.
The patient expects death, and treatment is not going to do any good for the person. People who have this type of illness resort to an alternative called euthanasia.
Makes me wonder why we have so much trouble accepting the inevitable, especially in artificially prolonging life when a person's entire quality of existence is gone, never to return, and they spend their final days suffering not only in pain and discomfort, but with a total loss of their dignity as a human being.
Old links are still strong
Sir — The English who have a bee in their bonnet about ‘taking back control’ are as tiresome as their Irish counterparts who seek to exploit current dilemmas.
They, like the Irish, are slowly realising the virtual indissolubility of some unions.
Leo Varadkar in his article (‘Ireland will not once again become collateral damage in British policy’ (Sunday Independent, July 22) mentioned four major departure points in the past 100 years, to do with empire/ commonwealth/sterling and euro. He might have mentioned the millions failed by the Irish State, scattered to the four corners of the earth.
There is much goodwill in England towards Ireland despite (doubtless partly because of) monstrous abuses in the past.
Ireland has had to come to terms with the unpalatable reality that it has had to continue to live beside its divorced neighbour, as England will also come to realise if the Brexit which the zealots wish for happens.
This is not a good time for Irish spokespeople to be talking about ‘European allies’ or ‘strength in numbers’. This bonny bunch of islands has more in common with itself that any one member of it has with so-called allies on the European mainland.
And long may it continue.
Presidential poll rules wrong
Sir — Regarding the election for President. Our Constitution tells us that “every citizen who has reached the age of 35 shall be eligible for election to the Office of President”.
Then over the page it states: “Every Candidate must be nominated either by not less than 20 persons each of whom is at the time a member of the Houses of the Oireachtas or by the Councils if not less than four administrative counties (including County Boroughs) as defined in law.”
As it would be impossible for every person (citizen) 35 years of age or older to receive the nomination as set out above this nomination idea is, in my opinion, wrong and should be done away with.
In a wider sense we seem to have two elections for this position, the position of President should, as the Constitution, states be open to every citizen and let him or her take their chances at the ballot box.
Patrick A Lalor
I’m surely in with a chance for top job
Sir — Kevin Doyle in his article headlined ‘When we choose a President, we want someone we’d like to have a chat with’, (Sunday Independent, July 22) states that “voters have limited interest in a track record of good deeds, honest endeavour and political achievements when it comes to the Presidency”.
He also outlines his five basic rules for being President. As I fulfil them all I believe I am eminently qualified to be President.
His first rule “don’t embarrass us on the international stage” is a cinch. A child with basic manners could accomplish this.
Rule 2 about being “interesting” is also easy.
Rule 3 is “have a good backstory.” You don’t reach your 50s without a few interesting twists and turns in your life.
Rule 4 about being “a bit of craic” is also easy-peasy. My friends will testify to that, especially when I have a few drinks on me.
Rule 5 is definitely my winning point. My numerous letters to the editor of local and national papers including numerous letters of the day and letters of the week in the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent respectively is testament to me being “intelligent/articulate”.
With more Twitter followers than candidate Kevin Sharkey surely I’m in with a shout!
Yes, Gaelic football is in a terrible state
Sir — Kerry management should read Dermot Crowe’s article (Sport, Sunday Independent, July 22). They might learn something. Dermot cannot be serious about “tracking devices monitoring county players”? Are the players out on quarantine or day release? The Kerry team in Clones played like a squad with no confidence in themselves or, crucially, management. Why would they when the obvious change required against Galway was not made?
The gist of Pat O’Connor’s letter (Sunday Independent, July 22) is correct — Gaelic football is in a terrible state. But GAA management is not to blame. Nowadays, they are blamed for every problem associated with our games, and more beside.
Surely, the onus is on county boards, managers and coaches of county and club teams to restore Gaelic football to what it should be — a thrilling, fast-moving game with skills relating to high fielding, short and long kicking and ability to take scores from almost any reasonable distance. Modern Gaelic football seems to be based largely on the soccer model: massed defence, endless passing, controlled kickouts at all times, retain possession, falling down for the slightest tackle. Saddest of all is the lack of integrity in the playing of Gaelic football: efforts are made to con match officials to get opponents booked or sent off.
By all means, let the GAA hold an emergency congress, but it should be aimed at managers and coaches. Over-regulation can strangle any game and make impossible the already difficult task of referees. One last issue here. Pundits and others who should know better must stop calling a high-dropping ball a “Hail Mary ball”. This kick was always a feature of good Gaelic football. Defences hate it, as it eliminates the 30 or 40 hand passes now needed to move the ball 10 or 20 metres, and has saved many a team.
Anthony Freeley’s letter — “Past beats present” — evokes memories of old Kerry V Galway games. One of my favourites was the All-Ireland quarter- or semi-final in Croke Park in 2008, a game of high quality and played with total integrity. The monsoons came at half-time and the game got better.