Sir - May I add my sincere thanks to Dr Tony Holohan for all he did through our worst months of Covid-19. The vast majority did not know he was fighting such a horrendous battle on his home front for his seriously ill wife.
As Dr Holohan gave our nation advice and hope during the worst pandemic in a century, he displayed a calmness through it all. I'm sure we will all offer our thoughts and prayers for the future for his family.
An important addendum Dr Holohan mentioned is that with the opening of our country we are inviting this contagious disease back with opportunities to spread and this is a huge danger to us all. Follow the rules, stay safe and keep your distance from possible spreaders!
Kilcoole, Co Wicklow
A grim portrait of our politicians
Sir - Our politicians are showing their true colours (again). They put themselves first, their party second and Ireland a very distant third.
Our economy is sinking rapidly in a quagmire and they are debating whose portrait will hang in the Taoiseach's office.
If politicians had the calibre, integrity and steely determination of Dr Tony Holohan, our little country would be a lot better off. This voter will vote for "ould Nick" rather than any of the present Government or Opposition at the next election.
Bernard Campbell, Clane, Co Kildare
Just represent us wherever we are
Sir - So the western seaboard gets no minister and the reaction is such you would be forgiven for thinking we had been partitioned, cast aside politically to be forgotten by our leaders in minister-rich lands so far away.
Could our esteemed foreign ministers not look upon us ministerial marginalised minnows and find it in their hearts and portfolios to represent all of their subjects equally, wherever we may be isolating on this enormous green haven of democratic delightfulness and stoic accountability? Oh, how my innocent ignorance has cocooned me to the harsh reality of parish paragons having to masquerade as national leaders. But we have the hard-won vote, thank God.
Davy O Gara,
Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon
Ability must be the priority in politics
Sir - At a time when the country and its people need its best and brightest at the helm, we see that geography and gender have trumped ability in the formation of government and unfortunately garnered all the headlines in the process.
Had we applied similarly incongruous ''filters'' to the selection and advancement of our doctors, nurses and medical scientists, the pandemic, by now, would have us in a very sorry state indeed.
St Thomas's Square, Kilkenny
Write to them all, President Higgins
Sir - It was most fitting that Mary Kennedy received a letter from President Higgins on her recent retirement from RTE, no doubt in recognition of her excellent work as a broadcaster, as Lynne Kelleher reported in last week's Sunday Independent.
In this spirit, might I remind the President of all those other retirees who also do excellent work - but who, unlike Mary, don't happen to work behind a microphone or camera, eg nurses, bin collectors, shop assistants, bus drivers etc. Surely they must also be considered for similar recognition?
So, with great respect Mr President, out with your pen and pad!
Don't allow nature to be betrayed
Sir - We'd been led to believe in recent weeks that the new three-party Government would be among the greenest in Europe. But its proposal to move responsibility for nature to the Department of Housing doesn't look very green to me. It's about as environmentally friendly as the hole in the ozone layer.
What a truly lamentable start to the much-trumpeted efforts to tackle the escalating biodiversity crisis. Under this plan, the already under-funded and understaffed National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) could end up in a department that will be focused on sorting out the chronic housing crisis.
A UN-backed report last year revealed that an estimated one million plant and animal species worldwide are now threatened with extinction and declining at unprecedented rates. More than 90pc of 58 listed Irish habitats have been accorded an "inadequate" or "bad" status, and more than 60pc of the 202 species of commonly occurring birds in Ireland is now under threat.
The Irish hare, the very symbol of Irish biodiversity, has been in decline for the past 50 years, and yet successive governments have licensed the hunting and coursing of this iconic creature. And the state of our polluted rivers and lakes would make an angel weep.
If the Greens have any clout at all in this Government they should stand up for nature and say No to what would amount to a downgrading of the NPWS and a whopping slap in the face to the environmental movement in Ireland. Will we allow the betrayal of nature itself for the sake of some grubby political arrangement… or will our leaders, for once, do what is right as distinct from what is politically expedient?
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Wear a mask and keep virus at bay
Sir - After watching the staff at St James's Hospital on RTE, may I strongly suggest the wearing of masks. Medical staff wear them for long hours often in heat and humidity.
I was in a supermarket today and I was talking to a member of staff and we were the only two wearing masks. A lady actually pushed against me to get by. Some were not using the sanitiser on the way in. If we wear the masks in shops and on the buses, we might just help the other frontline staff who serve us every day and help keep us all safe.
Sadly, I saw my mother die through a window and I hope we don't have the growth again of this pandemic in Ireland.
Name and address with Editor
We must start to do things differently
Sir - Padraic Neary (Letters, June 28) need not feel that his is the only voice looking at our future and the way we will handle the planet's economic formula. We all have seen the way many people expressed their delight at the slowing down of life during the lockdown. Then we saw the unseemly scramble to queue outside stores when the restrictions were lifted. The heart would sink a bit at those rushing to buy, buy, buy.
There was no need to go back to mad consumerism. We were able to cope with sufficiency. Growth slowed down but there is still enough material for mankind. We must do things differently if we are to save the planet and ourselves . The Earth's resources are limited. Let's try and think outside the box!
Someday soon we’ll miss it
Sir — It already seems like another world. Do you remember in early March seeing the pictures of the situation in Lombardy, sending shivers down your spine?
I remember the emptiness of the city, the ghost trams and buses carrying nobody, weeds growing on the streets. A face mask on the Phil Lynott statue in Harry Street.
There were queues around supermarkets, people saying ‘Dunnes must be making a packet’.
We made sure to watch The Six O’Clock News to get the latest from Dr Holohan and his team. And we got loads of texts afterwards asking ‘What do you think now?’
No pubs, no bookies, no sport on TV, apart from old matches from long gone World Cups — the last time the nation held its breath.
I remember a maskless Trump spouting rubbish on CNN and Boris getting the virus and Cummings legging it out of No 10. And I also remember my granddaughters learning how to cycle and their parents sitting out on the street, watching them, proud as punch.
And then the whole city seemed to take to the bike. You’d see the green fields of the Wicklow Mountains from Portobello Bridge. An amazing pink moon in a clear sky.
Thrushes, blackbirds, robins and finches rehearsing their own Rite of Spring in the back garden every morning and most of the day.
A medic friend in North America emailed me that ‘Ireland should be proud of its prime minister’. Soon after that I got texts from friends that read ‘It must be the best Government we ever had’.
I read two newspapers every day — and still had time to read books. I listened to the radio a lot and heard the first tracks of Dylan’s new album on The South Wind Blows on a Sunday night.
Though sometimes there was a cool east wind, the weather seemed to be always good — clear sunshine,“Great cocooning weather,” a passerby shouted over to me.
“When will it ever end?” I asked my WhatsApp group.
“Well, the Emergency was five years,” a friend texted. “But they had the best of stout and whiskey and pubs on every street corner,” another replied.
Then last week, Monday June 29, The Great Lockdown was over. Someday soon we will miss it.
Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Puzzled by lockdown restrictions
Sir — There are many things that puzzle me, but there is one thing — regarding the restrictions on us as we re-emerge from lockdown — which stands out above all others.
How come you can only go into a pub if you spend a minimum of €9 on food, eat your meal and vacate the premises after 105 minutes, while not standing at the bar and observing social distancing at all times — yet you can go into a betting shop, mingle with whoever you like and spend all day there?
Is Paddy Power making these rules?
Sixmilebridge, Co Clare
Ryan sets a poor cycling example
Sir — As one of the new leaders of Government espousing all things green, Eamon Ryan often amazes me. Mostly when each time I see him being filmed cycling — with no sign of a helmet.
I’ve checked his handlebars and his backer (relax you Dubs, it’s a Cork word) but the Green leader doesn’t seem to possess a helmet.
I think he should be showing example to all of us cyclists by wearing one.