Defeat? Let's get over it
Sir - I felt for the Irish players who woke up last Wednesday morning after such a comprehensive defeat.
The vitriol, the nastiness, the backlash, the keyboard warriors and the so-called experts who saw it coming. How quickly was the gutsy result in Wales forgotten.
Stephen Ward was singled out for particular ire. Ward has been a committed member of the Irish team for a long time. He made a mistake in a football match, in a high-stakes game with 55,000 people watching him. So what? Footballers make mistakes.
I can remember when one of the very best of them made a error, when Steven Gerrard fell on his bum and cost Liverpool the league a few seasons ago.
We need to get over it. We need to support the team. Teams have bad days and we had a really bad day.
Martin O'Neill's tactical decisions - so admired against Wales - were not admired when he decided to go for it. If we had scored and got back in the game, then the narrative may have been much different.
O'Neill has achieved much with our committed players. They are to be admired, respected and supported - and thanked. I was proud of them. They took us to the play-offs and gave us a chance.
Measure this achievement with that of Italy and the Netherlands.
In short, neither the manager nor the squad let us down. But our reactions let us down.
Mount Green, Limerick
That jackeen Geldof is guilty of hypocrisy
Sir - I couldn't agree more with the Lord Mayor of Dublin when he insinuated that Sir Bob Geldof was guilty of hypocrisy for not handing back his "knight of the realm" accolade to the British government at the same time as he took the opportunity to hand back his "freedom of the city of Dublin".
I think it is fair to say that most people in the western world now see Aung San Suu Kyi in an entirely different light than they once did. But Sir Bob chose to gallop in on his trusty steed of moral indignation and then unleashed some bombastic cliches.
Aung San Suu Kyi was now, said Bob, a "handmaiden to genocide" and "an accomplice to ethnic cleansing". He then raised his scroll above his head and proclaimed: "I'm a Dub and this meant very much to me. But it's the most I can do and the least."
The jackeen then excused himself, as his plane was ready and waiting to whisk him back to England's green and pleasant land.
Geldof should look back to Lennon
Sir - Bob Geldof's decision to return his Freedom of the City of Dublin award while it is shared with Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi smacks of double standards. Mr Geldof apparently sees no contradiction with this decision and his decision to retain his honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Back in the 1960s, the late Beatle John Lennon returned his MBE "as a protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts".
In the face of adversity and charges of disloyalty, Lennon acted at a time when his action was regarded as unpatriotic and even treasonable. In the end, civilised society will remember the words and actions of John Lennon, not the double standards of Bob Geldof.
Templeogue, Dublin 6W
Hit by double discrimination
Sir - Can Leo Varadkar explain why some old age pensioners will not receive the €5 increase in the pension next March?
I did not get the rise announced in last year's Budget because I "did not have enough PRSI contributions in my own name".
But I was forbidden from working after I got married and had children - and now I feel that I am being discriminated against again!
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Are we Protestants not Irish, too?
Sir - In 2012, the Magdalene Laundry survivors received an apology and redress thus far amounting to €25.7m. Rightly so, after all they went through.
It took many years and a large number of people including politicians, lawyers and activists to achieve a great day for justice in Ireland - if you are a Catholic.
But what happens if you are from the minority Protestant religion? You are every bit as Irish and proud as any Catholic - but somehow the support of those same politicians, lawyers and activists doesn't extend to the injustice and horror in the notorious Bethany Mother and Baby Home.
It seems no Protestants need apply.
Nineteen years after the Bethany group was founded, we are still left to rot and die. Slowly, one by one.
Are we not Irish, too? We have been failed for decades by senior civil servants and ministers and, perhaps most disappointingly of all, utterly failed by our own Protestant church leaders. All that survivors of the Bethany Home want is the same as everyone else - an acknowledgement of our suffering, an apology and redress: exactly the same as all our other brother and sister survivors of institutional abuse have received.
Single mothers and their illegitimate babies were discriminated against as a 'wicked and sinful' minority in Ireland's shameful past - and Protestants were a minority of the minority.
Are we not Irish, too? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
It is time for justice now while there are still a handful of us left alive who have not joined our 227 brothers and sisters in unmarked graves in Mount Jerome cemetery.
Founder, Bethany Home Survivors Group '98,
42 Southey Road, Rugby,
Warwickshire, CV 226HF,
Veteran? Oh, Pat's just a young lad
Sir - The television pages in the Sunday Independent constantly refer to Pat Kenny as "the veteran broadcaster".
Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it is with such phrases as "veteran".
At my age I tend to call the man "young Pat"!
Beaumont, Dublin 9
Pro-choice Adams no surprise at all
Sir - Gerry Adams's recent revelation of his pro-choice position should come as little surprise in light of his callous indifference (to say the least) towards human life throughout his career.
If, as seems likely, Sinn Fein refuses to allow its elected representatives a free vote on the issue of abortion, it will serve as a further illustration of Sinn Fein's double standards. Its party leader is quite free to express a personal view which is inconsistent with official party policy, in that he favours unlimited access to abortion. However, Peadar Toibin TD, and presumably other pro-life representatives and members, are likely to face expulsion for following their consciences.
No doubt a conscience was undesirable baggage for Sinn Fein members during the course of the Troubles. Its continued inability to come to grips with the concept shows how far they have yet to go to become a democratic party.
Terenure, Dublin 6
Homelessness not fault of charities
Sir - I want to believe that Damien English - our "minister of state with special responsibility for housing" - is just insensitive and arrogant. I wish to be charitable to him.
His remarks last week voicing his concern about the "damage to our international reputation caused by talking about homelessness" were concerning.
His celebration that "we are not the worst" was also a cause for alarm. Then he asked charities to work together, as if it were their fault. What he failed to observe is that we should not be relying on charities to help the homeless. That is his job.
Our international reputation! If Damien English is not insensitive and arrogant, then there is something far more sinister at work here. The care for our most vulnerable people should be our first priority - long before our international reputation.
His language is that of a small-town sanctimonious beggar on horseback. The island of opportunity indeed!
Taking a stand on Brexit and borders
Sir - In discussions on Brexit and the prospect of a border, many people say that it would be terrible to return to the border checks of the 1970s and 1980s. What they appear to forget is that Ireland and the UK were both members of the EU in the 1970s and 1980s.
This time they will not be EU members and my belief is that it will be far worse, for a number of reasons.
The biggest single reason is VAT and excise. Both are EU taxes and part-pay for the EU budget and are tightly protected within the EU. The penalties for withholding VAT, for example, can be more severe than income tax or PAYE, as the money a business collects is never theirs.
While it is likely that the UK may move to replace VAT and excise with another form of taxation, it is still likely to make certain goods - those on top rate of VAT here - less expensive in Northern Ireland, otherwise it would partly defeat the purpose to the British public of having Brexit in the first place.
Those from the South that do go across the Border will already be aware of the difference between shopping there and here - we seem to be more expensive for a whole range of goods for a variety of reasons, such as staffing costs, service delivery costs, etc.
A hard border will be demanded by the EU to protect their VAT borders - but, more importantly, it will be an absolute necessity to protect our businesses and employers: the high-end jeweller in Letterkenny; the shop selling golf clubs in Dundalk; the off-licence in Monaghan town; the electrical goods retailer in Cavan etc.
For it is the businesses in the South that will need a hard border to allow them to levy the charges they are required by law to impose. There is no way around it - a sea border will not offer sufficient protection.
This may not happen in non- EU countries such as Switzerland, where the cost of living is high - but consider the border from Ukraine to Poland can take over 10 hours to cross if you are going from non-EU Ukraine into Poland.
There are no such delays going the other way. And you understand why once you learn that items such as cigarettes are twice the price in Poland as in Ukraine. (At each border post you encounter two sets of border guards, one from each country.)
Many international borders have a limited number of crossing routes, and international borders are often straight lines. Unfortunately, the Border between North and South meanders - so on a route from Cavan to Monaghan, you can cross the Border a number of times. Will each one require a search? The alternative is to close down many of the smaller routes - but then you are still left with one large border post with longer delays.
There is a possibility that commercial lorries carrying goods will not need to be checked every time. It is possible that a manifest note of goods to include VAT due at point of entry for goods being carried South could be sent in advance to Irish Revenue officials, who may decide that occasional checks would be all that would be required. For cars or vans, it is hard to see no checks and inevitably there will be huge tailbacks at the border.
Other options such as a Green and Red route could be considered, but this will not do away with checks and inevitable delays.
The UK's need to man such a border from the North may not be as necessary as Ireland's, although it is likely their biggest focus will be on people migration.
Another issue with EU regulations is the single market. While meat products are zero-rated for VAT, Ireland will require a border to ensure that a meat importer in the North does not bring in a large consignment of beef from Argentina and try to sell it to retailers South of the Border. This is not permitted under EU law.
Perhaps others have an answer to some of the above issues. I am not an expert in the field, but based on current law, an EU-wide law which they will be reluctant to change, there are going to be changes, particularly travelling from the North to the South to encounter Ireland's EU border patrol - and such trips may take far longer than anything we have ever experienced in our history.
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Terrific journalism from Liam
Sir - I was moved by a terrific piece of journalism by Liam Collins in the Sunday Independent (November 12). He captured every sphere in why the poppy has been moved on in the Irish psyche from colonialism and oppression to a symbol of remembrance for all who were affected by conflicts or those involved trying to right what they saw as wrong.
He mentioned St Mary's Churchyard in Clonmel, where men from the old IRA Flying Columns, those who fought in the British Army and others killed in United Nations peacekeeping missions, are buried together. "Death does not discriminate."
He also mentioned a turning point being the bombing in Enniskillen 30 years ago, when the killing and maiming of innocent people changed thinking.
I remember Gordon Wilson being interviewed after the Enniskillen atrocity - and even though he lost his beautiful daughter on that dark day, there was not a hint of hatred or revenge in his heart or words.
Let us be proud to wear a symbol of remembrance for all who suffered and show we care for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice , so we can enjoy peace and freedom in our part of the world.
Kilcoole, Co Wicklow
Poppy-snatching days are no more
Sir - The days of poppy snatching have thankfully passed.
However, there are many opposed to the few individuals who wear them in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the World War I and fighting fascism in World War II.
Sinn Fein - the political face of the Provisional IRA - leads the charge in this regard and is unrepentant for the many murders committed by that terrorist gang.
The Remembrance Day bombing in Enniskillen will always be remembered at this time of year.
This is why I wear a poppy each year
Sir - I welcome Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wearing a poppy. I wear a poppy because I live in an open society, thanks to the Allies; and in an open and pluralist society, people are free to criticise me for wearing a poppy.
The Allies were fighting to make the world a safe place for democracy, defending human rights against regimes that had no regard for human rights.
The Allies did not want territory or dominion, but to free others and the German people from the vicious military machines of the Kaiser in 1914-18 and of Hitler in World War II.
Barrington Street, Limerick