* The killing of a cat by a jeering youth with a sub-machine gun in the opening episode of the new 'Love/Hate' TV series has understandably shocked animal lovers nationwide.
I believe this heartfelt outpouring of revulsion is somewhat misplaced. I found the scene objectionable too, but I would place it in the context of a drama that focuses on gangland thugs who, in real life, would be far too busy peddling drugs and killing each other to be bothered shooting cats.
What concerns me a lot more is that we are into the opening weeks of a new hare-coursing season and animals are being horribly ill-treated for fun by gangs of so-called sportspeople . . . people who enjoy watching hares being hounded within the confines of a park or wired enclosure.
There will be no guards to trouble them as this barbarism is perfectly legal in Ireland.
And soon the driven pheasant shoots will commence. Ladies and gentlemen of leisure will walk almost shoulder to shoulder along arranged venues, blasting away at semi-tame birds that in many instances will obligingly waddle up to them to be shot. The field sport aficionados will sip brandy, whiskey or liqueurs as the beautiful creatures fall from the sky or are picked off at point blank range, their proud crests and multi-coloured plumage reduced to mutilated, bleeding clumps of feathers.
Despite the terror and the cruelty they unleash, both the driven shooters and the hare coursers claim to care deeply for the creatures they prey upon.
This, in my opinion, is a love/hate relationship if ever there was one.
John Fitzgerald (Campaign for the Abolition Of Cruel Sports)
Callan, Co Kilkenny
PLATO SOOTHES THE SOUL
* I would like to take this opportunity to contribute to the discussion around mental health, which features this week in the Irish Independent.
It was Plato who gave the first model of mental health: it happens when the three parts of the soul, or personality, are in order or harmony.
Centuries later, Dr Viktor Frankl, the Viennese founder of logotherapy and existential analysis, likewise argued that there were three dimensions to the human person: soma (body), psyche (mind) and noos (spirit – the specifically human dimension).
I gave a paper on depression last year to an audience in St Patrick's Psychiatric Hospital in which I argued that we need to distinguish between three types of depression (of course they overlap), a distinction that is largely ignored by the medical model that dominates discourse on depression in Ireland.
There is somatogenic, or endogenous depression, which is biologically caused and best treated by pharmacological intervention together with supplemental and supportive therapy; psychogenic, or reactive depression, which occurs usually as a result of some trauma suffered or love lost; and a noogenic depression (known only to Dr Viktor Frankl's school of logotherapy and existential analysis), which is a philosophico-spiritual suffering, where questions about life's purpose and meaning come to the forefront. Sometimes Plato is better than Prozac.
Illnesses come from nature but their cure stems only from the spirit.
Dr Stephen J Costello, director, Viktor Frankl Institute of Ireland/School of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis
Ranelagh, Dublin 6
WORK IT OUT, MINISTER
l Here's a real life maths problem – project maths – for Education Minster Ruairi Quinn and his colleagues.
Q. How do you:
(a) save a large sum of money for the public purse in line with international statistics on levels of parliamentary representation and payments? (b) What are the probabilities of these measures being implemented ? (c) What are the probabilities of these measures being accepted in a referendum on Oireachtas reform ?
A. (a) In line with European statistics on parliamentary representation Ireland should have a Dail of 60 members, thus we save pay, pensions and tax-free expenses of 106 TDs. Reduce ministerial salaries in line with European averages.
Reform the Seanad, so that it is weekend voluntary work with vouched-for travel expenses for those interested in public affairs.
Unelected advisers to be scrapped unless prepared to work for the average industrial wage.
(b) Zero (never happens).
(c) 1 ( A certainty).
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford
REFORMING THE SEANAD
* Following the riveting excitement of the Seanad referendum campaign, I regret to report that the Irish people will still have to pay the 'second-house tax'!
Tramore, Co Waterford
* Well, whaddya know? The Seanad can be reformed after all!
* I was absolutely in favour of the abolition of the Seanad, basically because it was being abused by failed general election candidates and would-be Dail candidates.
That said, I was enormously impressed by the line taken by Feargal Quinn and David Norris who could, understandably, have been triumphalist at the result of the referendum yet both said this could be a new beginning for a reformed and better Seanad.
Pat Rabbitte has just said he does not see what can be done within the Constitution. I disagree. The abuse by failed Dail candidates and would-be TDs can be stopped by holding the general election and Seanad elections on the same day. Is there any reason why this cannot be done?
BRING BACK BERTIE
* Enda's crowd told us over the past couple of weeks that the recession was over and we are boom-ier than we have been in a long while.
All this because they wanted the Seanad abolished. Now that three political parties have had their asses whacked in the referendum, will it follow that we are now to be told things have never been so bad?
Fianna Fail need not take credit for the victory of the people, either. The games these people play – like Michael Noonan saying last week we are in a position to exceed the troika demands for our money. What a shower of grovelling, pathetic Irishmen. The Taoiseach was first to declare we should give more than demanded and it has now become government policy. Did I mention the Labour Party?
Now, why would I want to do that, when they are a complete irrelevance? I'm going to start a bring-back-Bertie campaign, purely in the hope there'll be a handsome Seanad seat for me as a reward down the line.
Bantry, Co Cork
GAA'S GLOBAL ACCLAIM
l Regarding Frank Coughlan's article 'A funny old game when we need pat on back from Brits for Croker cracker', having spent two years researching the GAA's 'Gaelic Invasion' tour of the USA in 1888, I was fascinated to read about the 'Guardian' correspondent's positive take on hurling in last Friday's Irish Independent.
The Gaelic Invasion tour was a bold and ambitious move by the fledgling GAA to capitalise on the recent waves of emigration to the US and Canada.
The public and media reaction to the game of hurling was overwhelmingly positive and, but for insufficient financial resources, our exhilarating national game could well have higher live crowds and television audiences today. One is indeed left with a sense of what might have been.
Belgrave Square, Dublin 6