Sir — How refreshing it was to read Colm Tóibín’s worrying thoughts on the rise of Sinn Féin a couple of weeks ago in the Sunday Independent.
This country is sleepwalking into maybe electing a government led by Sinn Féin, a political party that has not yet ditched the ethos of its controlling military wing.
It seems that in some media outlets, a Sinn Féin government is what they are looking forward to — because they keep on refusing to ask the party hard questions, or perhaps they are just not capable of dealing with the media-savvy Shinners.
Think about it — this is a party whose aim not that long ago was to bring down the State, not only in the North of Ireland but also in the Republic; a party whose military wing has admitted to and is responsible for the murder of gardaí and soldiers.
How can we countenance a situation whereby this party would have control over any government department, let alone the Departments of Justice and Defence?
I would make an appeal to all those aged over 40 who may be thinking of voting for them.
Never forget the terrorist campaign (not the watered-down term ‘The Troubles’) waged by the Provisional IRA, the military wing of Sinn Féin. It was a war waged primarily against the people of Ireland and Britain. Recollect on the innocent children, women and men the IRA murdered.
To those under 40, speak to your elders or read the history books. Ask them about their thoughts of young children, women and men killed by bombs and bullets.
While this weekend they parade at their ard fheis, as if they are readying themselves for power, ask yourselves: is this the political party you want to govern this country?
Are these the people we want to represent us as we face the rest of the democratic world?
Brendan Hogan, Kilmore, Co Wexford
Sir — May I ask, for how long is the practice of cycling and using electrically propelled scooters on footpaths going to be tolerated by lawmakers and enforcers?
Cycling and the use of electric modes of travel are being encouraged in the interest of mitigating global warming and promoting eco-friendly behaviour. Well, a practice that constitutes a hazard for pedestrians for whom footpaths are intended is certainly not eco-friendly behaviour.
The risk associated with cycling on the road is given as an excuse for cycling on the footpath, as though it is legitimate to put all pedestrians at risk instead. Bicycles and scooters are silent, and warning devices such as a bell required by law are non-existent.
Will it take incidents involving serious injury or death to pedestrians to motivate those who have responsibility and authority to attend to this issue before measures to do so are taken? That is visually how pressing matters of concern are handled in the jurisdiction — unfortunate for those who become victims of such neglect of law enforcement.
John Graham, East Finglas, Dublin 11
Sir — I would think I was not the only person who was greatly saddened over the past week to hear that the great investigative journalist and former RTÉ chief news correspondent Charlie Bird is suffering from motor neurone disease.
This is an awful illness, and a progressive and debilitating one in its final stages.
Charlie’s contribution to investigative journalism is commendable. He made an important impact on the national psyche in leading key investigations during the sleazy and unaccountable Haughey era, which we as a nation were lucky to get beyond.
At the peak of his career, he was a feared and fearless journalist who made headlines with his investigations.
He was such a well-known figure that appreciative football fans would even chant his name when he was doing an FAI story.
On a more serious note, Charlie broke agenda-making stories such as the tax evasion scandal of National Irish Bank alongside his RTÉ colleague George Lee, which led to a system-wide revision of offshore banking and DIRT legislation being enacted. This story also netted the State badly needed millions in tax fraud recovery. During much of the Troubles, he was able to bring us exclusive stories, and I also remember him giving us the inside story of the peace process.
He was awarded an honorary doctorate by UCD for his coverage of the Gulf Wars and Syria. He made inroads for Irish-US journalism as a Washington correspondent and crafted nature documentaries with Charlie Bird Explores.
We owe him a debt of thanks for exposing rotten elements in our society and politics, and we hope he gets all the help he can.
Maurice Fitzgerald, Shanbally, Co Cork
Sir — I have a lot of sympathy with our public transport workers, and it is no surprise they have had enough.
The Government brought forward legislation last week to police the live music and nightclub industry in its many guises, incorporating restrictive work practices, policing queuing and ticketing. It is a waste of energy to bring forward this silly legislation —motivated apparently for contract tracing purposes, when clearly everyone in a nightclub is a close contact in reality.
All this government drive is in stark contrast to the lack of effort to protect our rail staff and passengers from the enemy that physical lurks all around us.
The “hellish” conditions rail staff have to endure when going about their work has not been addressed, but swept under the tracks. Hear no evil, see no evil.
We have seen, through social media, the disgraceful anti-social behaviour, thuggery and criminal activity that goes on. It is time for a zero-tolerance policy on anti-social behaviour within our transport environment. Passengers and workers deserve better.
We need more gardaí working with private security, not least if we are serious about encouraging an uptake in public transport for climate action. It is time to cop on.
Aidan Roddy, Cabinteely, Dublin 18
Sir — On the RTÉ news recently, they announced that emissions by livestock were up.
They failed to announce that removals by livestock were also up, because that’s the way it works. It’s called the carbon cycle. The methane emitted by a ruminant today was removed from the atmosphere yesterday as CO2 by the grass it ate, which was converted into milk and meat.
Approximately 4pc of the carbon the cow consumes is burped out as methane; it goes into the atmosphere, where, after a short period, it converts back to CO2 and then re-enters the cycle. This perfectly balanced eco-system has worked for millions of years. However, our geniuses of today only want to measure the emissions and ignore the rest of the cycle.
Sometimes I think they’re like a child counting ducks in a pond. Round and round they go, and the child counts them every time they pass.
I have just finished reading yet another shrill article on the danger livestock farming poses to our planet. The author suggests that if we don’t all move to pea milk and veggie burgers, the vast amount of methane produced by livestock will fry the planet in less than a century.
Ruminants have been around for more than three million years. If the methane they emit was cumulative and not cyclical (which the Government seems to believe), our planet would have been fried millions of years ago and mankind would never have got here.
Ruminants are part of a balanced eco-system and are neutral in their effects on the climate.
Whoever thought of blaming the cow for climate change must be laughing all the way to the bankor the refinery or wherever they hang out.
John Hourigan, Murroe, Co Limerick
Sir — Perhaps your correspondent Clare Kenny can tell me when the September and November bank holidays are as she seems to think that February and July are the only months without a bank holiday.
Patricia Keeley, Dublin
Sir — While posting a birthday card to me recently from Belfast, my niece was told it might take a little longer to arrive as Dundalk is in “another country”. The card duly arrived six days later. Granted, Dundalk is in the far east of Ireland, but the postal service is snail mail with a limp.
Leo Gormley, Dundalk, Co Louth
Sir — I found two great things about the pandemic, although sadly I lost my brother to it.
The first is to appreciate family members, friends and strangers more than ever. The second is to have mass streamed at 10.30am on RTÉ News Now, Monday to Friday. A big thank you to RTÉ.
Eamonn Stanley, Drumcondra, Dublin
Sir — In reply to Frank Flynn’s letter last week, “Sinn Féin’s growth now a real concern”, does he not realise there are cabbages in past and present governments who have been rotten through and through.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are responsible for this. We don’t have to look too far: Haughey, Burke, Flynn, Lowry — the list is long and growing longer.
The past “heads of cabbages” are sitting on their gold-plated pensions and laughing at us all. Give me broccoli any time.
Gerry Dunne, Balbriggan, Co Dublin
Sir — I took issue with a point made by Colm O’Rourke in last Sunday’s paper.
His article about the proposed changes to the GAA championship was interesting. However, I felt aggrieved when he said Connacht teams such as Mayo and Galway have an easy route through their provinces and so decided to vote against change to the current system.
After Ulster, the Connacht championship is the most competitive. Although dominated by the trio of Mayo, Roscommon and Galway, the winner each year has been no foregone conclusion. The province has witnessed enthralling encounters in recent seasons — in stark contrast to Colm’s home
It is only in the past two seasons that Mayo have begun to reassert their dominance. Before, Roscommon and Galway often shared the spoils. Both Galway and Mayo voted against the reforms, and why wouldn’t they? For the players of these squads, a Connacht medal holds great value.
The Leinster championship has become a one-horse race, and it would be far easier to vote to demote its role, given how predictable it has become.
Dublin have a golden path to the semi-finals each year, which offers them at best a semi-competitive game against Kildare or Meath. Being the elite footballers they are, Dublin, I’m sure, would gladly welcome a more competitive format. Other teams, such as Meath, would also welcome change as they currently have slim chances of success.
It’s fine saying big teams should stand with weaker counties in their times of need, but teams like Mayo and Galway and, indeed, many in Ulster currently compete for a provincial title that holds great value in their eyes.
Colm might consider the respective value of each provincial championship in the future.
Ciaran Doherty, Co Mayo
Sir — I read Joe Brolly’s outlandish comments in last week’s Sunday Independent about the GPA, where he said they “are an elitist Dublin-centric organisation with zero interest in the ideals of the GAA”.
Joe, I’d say their vote in favour of Motion B was far more looking out for the GAA than your native and adopted counties of Derry and Antrim were. They represented the views of the players, and even you could not begrudge them a voice.
While I can understand and regret why Derry and Antrim voted against the proposal, I think it was a selfish decision and not in the best interest of the GAA.
The reason the Kelly/McGuinness plan was not on the agenda was that it did not come through the committee, but was an idea mooted by the lads themselves. Despite some of its ideas having merit, you can’t get steak in a fish restaurant — you choose from the menu.
You say the system is wholly dysfunctional. Yes, everyone agrees, but Saturday’s vote was an attempt to change that, and if it had been accepted it would have been tweaked over time to be a better model.
As a Cavan man, I took great pleasure in our Ulster championship win in 2020, but there is more to the GAA than selfish parochial views. I had reservations about the motion excluding the sixth-placed team in Division 1 (and some teams in Division 2) but had faith that some tweaking would have happened.
I hope the GAA can move quickly to come up with a compromise solution
Donough O’Reilly, Kilmacud, Co Dublin
Sir — I watched the FAI semi-final between Bohemians and Waterford and was disgusted with the actions of the players, particularly the Bohemians team. The play-acting!
They were on the ground at every given opportunity, rolling around as if they had been flattened. Of course, their supporters were going mad as their players had been ‘fouled’. I think I will give the final a miss.
There is a lot of support now for women’s soccer because there is no play-acting there.
Michael Connaughton, Woodstock, Kill, Co Kildare
Sir — Halloween is a night of scary fun for children, who carve out menacing faces on a hollowed-out pumpkin. A glowing candle is placed inside the pumpkin, which is then placed on the window sill to spook passers-by.
By coincidence, winter time also began this morning at 2am when the clocks went back by one hour, so the early darkness will add to tonight’s ghostly
There’s an extra hour in bed this morning, but it will get dark an hour earlier. The mornings will be brighter, but the amount of darkness each day gradually increases until the winter solstice on December 21 — the shortest day in the year or, to be meteorologically accurate, the day with the least daylight.
Of course, this change reminds us that the harsh dormant winter is not far behind. Humans, birds, animals and plants have all developed strategies and defence mechanisms for surviving winter, but the most vulnerable are at constant risk. Let’s make a special effort during the dark days ahead to reach out to the bird, animal, plant or human who could most use a helping hand.
Billy Ryle, Tralee, Co Kerry