Sir - I enjoyed David Blake Knox's excellent article on the late Stephen Joyce, grandson of James Joyce.
Some years back, before the copyright on Ulysses expired, I submitted (with Stephen J's permission), a proposal that Dublin City Council should erect an electronic book of Ulysses on O'Connell Street. It was to feature a page of Joyce's masterpiece being turned every day for perusal. It would, we felt, enhance the city centre and serve as an attraction for Dubliners and tourists alike.
The response from DCC could have been penned by those who conspired against the repatriation to Dublin of the great man's remains from Zurich. There's enough clutter on O'Connell Street, they said.
Plus ca change?
The Coombe, Dublin 8
Our hospitals are too full already
Sir - If, by any chance, the coronavirus arrives here in Ireland, how will our new government propose to build isolation units in our already crowded hospital bedroom/corridors?
Whatever happens, you will not find any politicians lying in the corridors - they seem to do all of their lying in the Dail. And I suppose there's my answer.
Killarney, Co Kerry
No plan for rural Ireland
Sir - It was disappointing to see that during the general election campaign not one of the main parties put forward a comprehensive regeneration plan for the development of rural Ireland.
A much more aggressive regional development plan must be put in place if our countryside is to survive and prosper. This is particularly so in the border counties, and in the west and north of the country, where so many local services have been withdrawn in recent years, such as post-offices, banking, education and health services etc.
On Claire Byrne Live during the recent leaders' debate, rural Ireland didn't get a mention for the first 45 minutes - and then only by a member of the audience who asked if any of them were returned to Leinster House, would they reverse the cuts to rural garda stations?
The leaders spoke in turn for 15 minutes without answering the query, when a simple "no" would have sufficed.
As Dublin and the east coast thrive and grow, resulting in gridlock and homelessness, the western seaboard continues to stagnate into silence and long commutes, in a two-speed economy. A much more balanced regional development plan is a must in the coming years and needs to be urgently moved up the EU classification list.
And now to add insult to injury, most of the parties want to take the cow out of rural Ireland, too, through the reduction of the national suckler herd. And for no other reason than that the poor unfortunate animal frequently carries out that most necessary of bovine bodily functions... farting.
This is all a load of hot air, and speaks to a green agenda, in an effort to increase their vote at election time.
Cloonacool, Co Sligo
Different ball game for writer and reader
Sir - I have been buying the Independent - both the daily and the Sunday - for as long as I care to remember, mostly for the Sports on Saturday and Sunday. In particular, for both horse racing and rugby.
With regard to the rugby, and setting Ireland's victory over Wales aside, was Des Berry really watching the same Ireland/Scotland match that I was last weekend, or does he pick his ratings out of the sky?
For instance... If Stockdale (rated six) didn't make it back for that tackle it would have cost us seven points, and if Hogg hadn't fumbled we would have lost by seven points. Van Der Flier was hedging around rucks and mauls all day and gets a seven. Why did the coach get a seven, for what? A five should be most. What did the coach do to warrant this? Technically the Scots beat us!
While yesterday's victory was better, we need more Munster players on that team!
Come on, Ireland. There's still England, Italy and France to come. Let's go!
Shannon, Co Clare
FAI promise to put blazers in economy
Sir - It was interesting to hear the FAI are going to slim down their travelling parties for away matches. We have heard in the past that the 'blazers' travelled at the front of the plane with the team left in the back. Less non-essential personnel can only make sense and let's hope that this small first step is indicative of a new approach.
It would be great if other organisations could consider a a more modest approach - two years ago it seemed that half the RTE sports department were in Brazil for the World Cup... and we hadn't even qualified.
Pelosi stands up to bully Trump
Sir - Well done to Nancy Pelosi in tearing up Donald Trump's speech after he refused to shake her hand. Turning the other cheek to a bully like Trump is what helped him to defeat Hillary Clinton four years ago.
All bullies are cowards at heart, and I'm certain Nancy's action will be gut-wrenching for him. It's already stopped him from tweeting for a whole day.
Swords, Co Dublin
State power comes from the people
Sir - Apparently Gerald Morgan in your Letters Page last week confuses the British and Irish systems of democracy.
He seems to suggest both represent rival forms of parliamentary democracy.
Not so. Let me amplify.
True, the UK system prioritises parliamentary sovereignty. However, thanks to our own written Constitution, all national State power derives ultimately from the Irish people alone, hence democratic self-determination.
Droim Conrach, Baile Atha Cliath
Swimming is vital skill for children
Sir - A recent report on an Irish primary school swimming programme found that fewer than one-third of the students had been successful in a 50m swim and thus most were not awarded their certificate. So, what does this mean in reality?
Being able to swim safely is one of those skills that don't matter until it becomes a skill that you must have in order to get out of danger or save someone else. Everyone should be able to do it.
A second concern is why did this educational programme fail and what could be done to improve the training? Was this another thing that had to be done because parents weren't doing it or was it actually important enough that it should be a part of every student's educational experience?
This programme needs to be successful or the consequences could be tragic.
Should Sinn Fein come in from cold?
Sir - Our Republic appears to have reached a crossroads with Sinn Fein, in deciding whether or not they are fit for government.
It should be remembered why they are running in democratic elections. The whole idea of the peace process was to bring Sinn Fein in from the cold and freeze out their military wing, the IRA.
What is happening is that the whole idea seems to have altered from that, to a situation where they are being made accountable for or being put on trial for every atrocity the IRA committed.
So what does bringing them in from the cold really mean? Surely Sinn Fein has a right to know how far they are going to be brought in from the cold - or if they are really being brought in at all?
Are they wasting their time going in elections in the Republic - because no other party wants them in government, even though the establishment wanted to bring them in from the cold?
These are big questions. There is no getting away from this by attempting to warm them up while at the same saying: "You will never be one of us and how can a party go into government with you given your past and association with the IRA."
How can Sinn Fein and the republican movement come in from the cold and deal with slating over alleged paramilitary activity at the same time?
Our Republic is not as flexible as Northern Ireland regarding Sinn Fein. If the whole idea of bringing Sinn Fein in from the cold is to put them on trial for wrongs done in the past, then nothing has really changed. And it would seem bringing them in from the cold is nothing but a ruse to get them to own up.
If this is the case, then Sinn Fein will always be a party of opposition and protest and never a party for government in the republic - unlike Northern Ireland where Sinn Fein are part of the executive, warts and all.
In short, how far does our Republic want to go with bringing them in from the cold? Not very far it seems, and if they do manage to get into government, the Republic's parties will have to cross the same rubicon as the DUP did in Northern Ireland.
Shanbally, County Cork
Quick lesson over building hospitals
Sir - Congratulations to the Chinese on building a new hospital in two weeks.
Here in Ireland, all the available evidence from the chaos surrounding the proposed children's hospital suggests that we would struggle to build a garden shed in less than three years - and that's with the combined resources of the Irish State behind it.
Blackrock, Co Louth
Money merchants win out over clinic
Sir - The building of a private children's clinic alongside the new national children's hospital is a stark and crass contradiction of the supposed Slaintecare promise to extricate the public health provision from the jaws of private medical profiteers.
The consultant contracts that were given the green light by then Health Minister Mary Harney and the Fianna Fail-led government in 2008 have led us to this sorry state.
But shame on the consultants who manoeuvred and manipulated the current hybridised dispensation to their own advantage. lt is a total and shameful travesty of the vacuous political utterances abounding about separating public from private within the national statutory healthcare provision.
Thus, it's enshrined anew that the money merchants win out over empathic decency for all, and trolleyitis contagion will continue to spread. What could have been a chance to establish a clear boundary in the public/private system has been sacrificed on the altar of corrosive elitism.
I wonder what Hippocrates might have thought of all this.
Lismore, Co Waterford
Campaigners want to build better place
Sir - Conor Skehan writes that "we need to confront homelessness campaigners" - apparently because homelessness is common in other countries ('Think about who is pulling at your heartstrings - and why', Sunday Independent, February 2).
Regardless of where homelessness occurs, it is always a sign of dysfunction - and the consequences for those who fall victim to it are devastating and sometimes fatal.
It can never be allowed to become "normal" to have people sleeping in doorways or to have families unable to access a place to live with a modicum of dignity - regardless of what happens in other jurisdictions and especially, as has been shown elsewhere, when the problem can be readily eradicated.
Those "homelessness campaigners" whom Mr Skehan refers to are to be highly commended for their efforts to make this country a better place for all - and not "confronted" as he suggests in his piece. It is extraordinary, and concerning, that there might be disagreement on that from any quarter.
Value of activists arguing for causes
Sir - I was very surprised at the tone struck by Conor Skehan warning about lobbyists in his column in last week's Sunday Independent.
While I totally agree with his point on critical thinking and his advice regarding vigilance/scepticism on information being presented as facts, his sweeping generalisations about NGOs and activists were not so well argued.
Does Conor have an issue with people who are "active" in society, in what we generally call civil society?
There is no doubt that new media has allowed civil society activists to generate publicity and funding on a scale to tackle many of the problems that confront us - but this is precisely because of the structures that exist in society today that leave very little choice.
Is Conor really saying that we should only get our information from "trusted sources"?
I wonder who would he put forward to be these "trusted sources"?
And is Conor really saying that concerns about housing - and concerns over environmental degradation, and climate change and pollution - would make it on to the political agenda if it wasn't for civil society activists?
That seems unlikely.
Remember, the well-paid industry lobbyists are generally much more powerful and have significantly more money and clout than the activists who take up the issues of the homeless, the dispossessed and the environmentalists.
Fintan J Lyons,
Clontarf, Dublin 3
Question mark over our politicians
Sir - Conor Skehan makes some interesting and important points in last week's Sunday Independent.
He challenges everybody to ask our politicians questions at the doorstep - at a time when they don't even bother to call at many doors. But there's a wealth of citizens whose life experience could pose important questions if politicians did take the time to knock.
Sometimes I wonder if this is a deliberate ploy?
Elsewhere, where he writes about planning, I agree that facts are of course crucially important in organising services at all levels - but planning devoid of all emotion can too conveniently ignore the pain of living.
Bride Road, Dublin 8