Tuesday 21 January 2020

Cost of living in Europe

'Bringing Ireland’s cost of living in line with the European average would also improve Ireland’s competitiveness and boost tourism which would go a long way to reduce the effect of Brexit on the Irish economy.' Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
'Bringing Ireland’s cost of living in line with the European average would also improve Ireland’s competitiveness and boost tourism which would go a long way to reduce the effect of Brexit on the Irish economy.' Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir — As one who travels frequently in Europe I found Charlie Weston’s article (Business, Sunday Independent, October 9) on the cost of living in Ireland very interesting and can only confirm his findings and comments.

To put some figures on this situation, I estimate that every person living in Ireland is forced to spend about €400 annually more than a person living in any other part of Europe. 

For a family of four this equates to €1,600 annually.

I find it extraordinary that no political party, no trade union leader, and no charity objects to this situation and demands action.

This is more surprising considering that these amounts are eight times the potential water charges or four times the gains hoped for from the 2017 budget.

Bringing Ireland’s cost of living in line with the European average would also improve Ireland’s competitiveness and boost tourism which would go a long way to reduce the effect of Brexit on the Irish economy.

Detlef Becker
North Circular Road,
Limerick

Benefits of healthy eating regime

Sir — After reading Dr Ciara Kelly’s article (Living, Sunday Independent, October 9) I think that perhaps she feels irked by healthy eating, as it makes doctors irrelevant.

I’ll give you that healthy living isn’t the answer to everything that ails us, but it’s certainly more successful than the drugs that are pushed daily onto patients, when a simple lifestyle change would solve the issue.

I think she’s really missing the point that most people don’t just wake up one morning and decide to throw out all the misinformation about nutrition that they’ve heard through pyramids, but they find it through trying to solve a health issue.

A health issue that Western medicine has been unable to help with. I struggled with debilitating stomach cramps for 15 years. Conventional doctors did their bit, and after many attempts, shrugged their shoulders and pronounced that I had IBS. Basically, the cover-all diagnosis for anyone with unexplained stomach issues, with no useful treatments apart from suppressing symptoms.

I began to take nutrition courses where I learned about the effects that gluten has on the gut. I was not diagnosed with anything, but I tried cutting out gluten. I have not had a stomach pain since, five years on, and have never had more energy.

If Dr Kelly wants to go on about how wheat and grains with gluten have nutrients that I’m now lacking, she’d have difficulty finding any issues with my health as opposed to many my age who take multiple prescriptions per day.

It takes some work, but I eat healthy and am not lacking any nutrients in my diet. On the other hand, someone I know takes 11 pills per day for the usual things such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, thyroid imbalance. Each of these issues are quite easily treated through dietary changes, which has been proven through science.

I’m particularly surprised Dr Kelly would take this stance, given her involvement in Operation Transformation. She must constantly see the effect that dietary changes make to health and I don’t see her comments as helpful.

Western medicine is going to have to wake up! There is a place for doctor intervention but until they can also embrace dietary treatments that work, there will be opposing sides… with unhealthy people in between.

Theresa Tierney,
Co Galway

The faceless wars against democracy

Sir — Declan Lynch (Sunday Independent, October 9) typically combines an interesting take on current affairs with a typically humorous turn of phrase in his portentous warnings of fascist stirrings across Europe. I find it difficult to square, however, his oft repeated disdain for the British electorate and their decision to vote for Brexit with his understandable hatred of corporate bullshit.

He is, no doubt, right that the machinations of various voracious corporations are waging a faceless war against democracy both on and offline. To an increasing number of commentators, however, a tangible example of just such machinery is the undemocratic and increasingly unaccountable European Union.

Former EU commissioner Peter Sutherland has declared Brexit ‘an act of insanity’. There could hardly be anyone more steeped in the corporate culture that Declan Lynch so despises than the millionaire ex-AIB and Goldman Sachs chairman, yet they are of one voice on this matter. It is a remarkable turn of events when those who loath the gilded world of executive bathrooms find themselves perfectly in sync with the globalised, federal geopolitics that delights boardrooms across the world.

Another consequence of Brexit is that it allows everybody’s favourite Luxembourgian civil servant and EU President, Jean-Claude Juncker, to press ahead with his long held goal of an EU army. So, we have the prospect of an increasingly militarised, federal and autocratic European Army sabre rattling against the isolated Brits.

Simon O’Neill,
Clontarf Road,
Dublin 3

Damage is already done to the force

Sir — No matter who comes out wrong or right of the ongoing whistleblower scandal or appointments controversy in An Garda Siochana, an enormous amount of damage will have been done to the force in the eyes of the public. There are no winners when members of the force feel they have to report colleagues for misconduct. We cannot envisage a situation either, where we as members of the public view the Gardai as beyond reproach. There are rotten apples in every organisation and they can be at the most senior levels: bankers, politicians, businessmen to name but a few.

The problem is that most organisations have omerta that is invoked once trouble arises. We cannot seriously believe that gardai who report misconduct and have been well-regarded for years, suddenly decide to throw it all away for the sake of it.

Many of them will have put their lives on the line many times for the fellow gardai and are totally committed to the force and the law.

They have obviously felt compelled to speak up and claim to have paid a terrible price. The judicial investigation into the Maurice McCabe controversy did not report that ‘all’ the allegations made were false, and the whistleblower was praised for highlighting problems within the force.

We expect An Garda Siochana to clean their own house, but every now and again, like all organisations they need a little help.  

Maurice Fitzgerald,
Shanbally,
Co Cork

The risky furrow

Sir — The dictionary description of the term “whistleblower” denotes a person who exposes and informs on practices contrary to the common good. In the Irish political context “inform” has undertones of treachery, certainly not the motive of the whistleblower.

“Public Service Custodians”, a more apt title perhaps, often plough a lonely furrow, also a risky one, which entails a certain degree of moral courage to persevere.

Patrick Fleming
Glasnevin,
Dublin 9

The anaesthetist and abortion

Sir — The letter ‘A clear conscience and strong belief’ by Stephen Seddon (Sunday Independent, October 9) is in reply to an article by Senator Ronan Mullen published the previous week.

Dr Seddon says he is an anaesthetist working in an abortion clinic in the UK, where according to himself, he has anaesthetised many women for abortions. He states that his conscience is clear.

How can any human being who plays an active roll in the deliberate killing of the unborn — the most vulnerable in society — have a clear conscience, and in particular, somebody in the medical profession, whose primary function is in the saving of life and not destroying it?

Dr Seddon’s letter is in the main an attack on Senator Mullen and on the Roman Catholic Church and nowhere does he mention the child in the womb, whose life is destroyed.

Micheal O Domhnallain,
Ballymote,
Co Sligo

The blessing of two beautiful girls

Sir — I feel I have to respond to the article by Dr Siobhan Donohue (Sunday Independent, October 9). She makes the argument that Senator Ronan Mullen doesn’t understand the humanity of the situation. Well I beg to differ.

As human beings we are here as guardians of the planet and all life there on. As such we are answerable to a higher authority. I believe that’s where Ronan is coming from.

Dr Donohue would have taken the Hippocratic Oath to protect life, all life, including that of her unborn child, or does she feel she’s exempt from this?

Two-and-a-half years ago my daughter was informed she was pregnant and was expecting twins. At her 20-week scan the sonographer informed her she felt she could see something wrong with one of the little baby’s hearts, and advised her to get further scans done.

This she did and was told one little baby had four very serious conditions, with her heart only formed with one hypoplastic right ventricle.

She was told this little baby would not survive and would possibly affect the health or life of the other baby.

My daughter was informed that she had the option to terminate but she would not consider this option. She decided to put this situation in the hands of the Creator.

As a result she now has two beautiful girls aged two-and-a-half years old. Where is the shame there?

Tony Smith,
Cavan 

The struggle of being so very alone

Sir — Reading Mary O’Conor’s article ‘I Want Away From This Life and World’ (Living, Sunday Independent October 9) I felt so sorry for the letter writer feeling so alone and not being able to open up or discuss her problems with family or friends.

Reading on I was happy to see that Mary gave such good advice as always. She covered all aspects and I hope the sender will find the strength to go on and work everything out. I hope also she will take every word into consideration and communicate with the necessary people whom Mary has advised.

It will do her the world of good and help to ease the struggle she is so obviously

going through.

Along with Mary being so helpful to the sender, she has also, through our much-loved Sunday Independent, sent great counselling to anybody in a similar position of whom there seems to be so many in our world today.

May this sad and lonely soul lighten up from the dreadful darkness she now feels.

Kathleen Blanchfield,
Ballyragget,
Co Kilkenny

Big old goose

Sir — In your article about Ireland’s birds (Sunday Independent, October 9) there was no mention of geese, but I was reminded of them.

At the monastery here in the 1930s we had a monk known as Brother Long. RIP. He was a native of Caherciveen where he was born in 1879 and was long by nature as well as by name.

He was not the most good-

humoured individual I ever met. When addressing future leaders of the Fianna Fail party, he would sometimes shout at them: “You big old goose”.

James Harden,
Adare Village,
Limerick

The heroes of 35th Battalion in Congo

Sir — I was interested in the very different opinions that people seem to have concerning the soldiers who served with the 35th Irish Battalion in the Congo in 1961 (Letters, Sunday Independent, October 9).

I served the UN with the 34th-36th and 39th Battalions during 1961, 1962 and 1963.

In 1961, the 35th Battalion relieved us in Elizabethville. The Congo during this time was quite peaceful, and I was in B. Coy. from Cork’s Collins Barracks.

It was the first time I had ever seen a black man and in the canteen at the US airbase in Tripoli, we asked the staff to show us their legs, etc. to see if they were black all over.

I was so amazed, as up to that time in Ireland we never, ever saw a black man.

As we took up duty in Kamina Airport we had to share guard duty with Katangan soldiers. Most were trained by Belgian mercenaries and were loyal to President Moise Tshombe.

Most of Tshombe’s soldiers were vastly superior to us in conflict. We had never experienced war of any kind. This army had white mercenaries from many countries and they were paid huge sums of money.

In one letter doubts were expressed about whether the 35th A Coy. had acted with dignity.

When you are in a section of a platoon your corporal tells you what to do on orders from his platoon sergeant.

On sworn oath you do what you are told, without question. The corporal answers to the platoon sergeant who in turn acts on orders from the platoon officer who has his orders from the company commander. The job of the company commander, with three platoons of men, is not an easy one.

Most of the men had never been involved in any live combat. Without food, water or ammunition I would be 100pc grateful that Comdt. Quinlan had made his decision, as would all the families of his men.

Comdt. Quinlan was a hero who made a decision to save his beloved men against such odds.

During the Battle of Elizabethville we also experienced white resentment towards us.

The people who did A. Coy 35th Battalion an injustice should hang their heads in shame. They were not there and didn’t experience what we went through.

I was in the 36th Btn. which relieved the 35th Btn under heavy fire and mortar attack on landing at Elizabethville Airport.

I met most of the 35th A Coy and they were exactly like me — and would obey orders of any kind given to them during conflict. They were all heroes, like their CO, and just as any other private UN soldier, given the chance I would be proud to serve with them.

Patrick Hahy
Dartford
England

Cruiser’s qualities

Sir — At the time of the Jadotville activity I was fighting with the First Infantry Group in Kamina, then a small town with a large airport in Katanga.

During the ceasefire while negotiations were taking place Conor Cruise O’Brien visited our area of operations.

I had occasion to discuss with him possible reaction by us to certain eventualities, particularly the chance of having to reopen fire.

I was only a young captain but we talked as equals. He was neither arrogant nor egoistic.

There was no “humming or hawing”. He gave his opinion and directions where necessary, and his reasons and his answers were forthright and direct.

Maybe if Pat Reid, (Letters, Sunday Independent, October 9) had met him rather than read about him he might have a different view.

JE Dawson
South Circular Road
Limerick

The gap in pay

Sir — One quote from the Eoghan Harris article “Tale of two Irelands won’t have a happy ending for FF” (Sunday Independent, October 9) really calls it as it is:

“The gap in pay and pensions between the public and private sector is the biggest, secret injustice in Irish politics.”

Brian McDevitt
Glenties
Co. Donegal

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