Blessed are we to be part of the promised new dawn in politics
Merry Christmas, dear Government.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish our fantastic, caring Government a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Hope they get this before they have their well-deserved break until Easter.
My year has been so full of wonderful experiences thanks to the politicos. I have lost three stone in weight thanks to the low-food diet they placed me on.
And now, just like Prince Charles, I never carry money on me, because I don't have any. So that's a big weight off my pockets.
I have really acclimatised to the winter cold. Now, instead of having the heating on, I am very fit due to running up and down the stairs all night to keep warm. None of those big turkeys to buy and no ham to cook. Beans on toast is so much healthier, and part of my five-a-day.
No hangovers, just lots of lovely tap water. That will be great for giving my insides a good clean-out.
It's been fantastic being part of the recovery, let's keep it going. This new Government has me really excited, and looking forward to more of the same next year. I know they will do all they can to make 2017 a special year in my calendar.
I'm so blessed, and lucky to be part of this new dawn of politics. Hope you all come back refreshed, and ready to keep the good work for the people going.
Anthony Woods, Ennis, Co Clare
Dr Qutob has shown courage
Once again, Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob (Irish Independent, December 20) bravely defends Islam from the simplistic statements by hard-right nationalists that every Muslim is a potential extremist just waiting for the opportune moment to attack innocent Western citizens.
These type of xenophobic utterances are no more true now than when I lived in England in the 1970s and was subjected to the National Front's 'Paddy' theory dictating every Irish person was either a covert IRA operative or sympathiser.
He forcefully articulates the position of ordinary Muslim citizens of the West by condemning the latest Islamist atrocity in Berlin as the act of "murderers [who] undeniably besmirch Islam".
However, and sadly, Dr Qutob is a lone voice of Islamic reason and objectivity whose base in London removes him from the fact that few of Ireland's substantial Muslim community have the fortitude to follow his example by also condemning the barbaric attacks by Islamists.
This is a sad comment on the many fine and indisputably peace-loving members of the Irish-Muslim community, who clearly do not share the courageous fortitude of Dr Qutob.
Dr Kevin McCarthy, Kinsale, Co Cork
Sometimes, you just can't win
The story is told of this particular couple at Christmas time. The man's wife bought him two ties as a Christmas present.
On Christmas morning, her husband decided to show his appreciation by coming down to breakfast wearing one of the ties. His wife greeted him with: "So, you don't like the other one?"
Leo Gormley, Dundalk, Co Louth
What exactly is the UN doing?
Ian O'Doherty is correct to call for the UN to be abolished (Irish Independent, December 17). Israel has ignored more UN resolutions against it than any other country and yet has never ever even been threatened with sanctions.
The UN also allowed the US and UK to bully its weapons inspectors in Iraq so they could wage war in the country, which has seen at least half-a-million civilians killed, millions more displaced, and the rise of Isil.
Not only is the UN standing idly by while civilians are being killed in Aleppo, it's also doing nothing in Mosul where US airstrikes are also killing scores of civilians, or in Yemen where Saudi Arabia is doing the same with weapons supplied by, and with the full support of, the US, the UK and France.
William J O'Neill, Co Carlow
A wealth of problems for us
Ah, it's that time of year again, when rock stars line Grafton Street to sing up for the homeless. I can't help feeling the opposite of a warm fuzzy glow inside when I see the Messiah - sorry, Bono - belt out his one-eyed rage about the injustice of homelessness.
Perhaps Bono might put his heartfelt view that "tax competitiveness gave us the only prosperity we have ever known" to verse. He could call the song 'Pride in The Name of Private Wealth Funds'?
The single biggest factor affecting homelessness is wealth disparity.
The single biggest factor generating wealth disparity is an unjust tax system. No one seriously disputes that Ireland facilitates corporations to pay little tax. Rock stars, too, jump ship to even more tax-competitive countries than ours.
It's high time we stopped falling at the feet of the wealthy in this country and demand that they begin to be taxed on their full income and wealth at the same rate as the average worker. Now that would be something to sing about.
Declan Doyle, Lisdowney, Kilkenny
The price of prescription drugs
There has been a lot of debate lately concerning the pricing of prescription drugs in the Irish economy. One tell-tale aspect of the pharmaceutical industry that is not getting enough attention is the proliferation of high street pharmacies in Dublin and, I presume, throughout the country.
There has been an extraordinary influx of UK chain pharmacies. While many have bought existing pharmacies and rebranded them, many more are new stores. There are now more pharmacies in my suburban locality than pubs or convenience stores. The same is true in the city centre.
In any other market, this onslaught of UK and supermarket competition would push independent businesses to the wall, yet they appear unaffected. One small pharmacy I pass every day is currently undergoing a high-end refit that will easily run into six figures in costs.
Despite this thriving industry, most stores I have observed are empty of customers for most of the day with only occasional busy periods.
What is going on here?
Each and every pharmacy has the capacity to handle significantly more customers than they presently do. There is a vast and unnecessary duplication in rent, overheads and staff expenditure. So the question is: Who is paying for this and where is all the money coming from?
One supposes that the answer lies with the State authorities and their continuing unwillingness to negotiate a good deal for taxpayers in the face of an industry it seems to favour. There is simply no need for so many pharmacies but we all must dig deep in our pockets to support this grossly bloated industry.
Bill O'Rourke, Crumlin, Dublin 12