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Devastated at Coast Guard loss - Rescue 116 crew saved my life

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Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, one of the four Coast Guard crew members who died in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, one of the four Coast Guard crew members who died in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, one of the four Coast Guard crew members who died in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

When I travelled to work on Wednesday morning I was left totally lost for words as the early morning news announced the disappearance of Search and Rescue 116 based at Dublin Airport.

As I write this letter I am still struggling to find the right words to express my profound sadness at the tragic loss of life.

Why do I feel such sadness? Well, the reason is very simple: I myself was picked up by the search-and-rescue crew of 116 on July 22, 2014.

Unfortunately, I fell while out hill walking in Glendalough with some work colleagues and I was subsequently airlifted to Tallaght Hospital for treatment.

On that particular day, I distinctly remember the winch man who airlifted me into the helicopter.

If I remember correctly, his name was Christy, but I cannot remember the name of the other winch man, nor do I know the names of the flight crew either.

But one thing I can be certain about is that it was the crew of R116 who came to my assistance that particular day.

I also cannot forget the Wicklow Mountain rescue team who treated me with great skill and professionalism and I will be eternally grateful to them.

When I initially heard the breaking news I could not stop thinking about the tragedy all day, as I felt like I had lost someone very close to me.

So to Dara, Mark, Ciarán and Paul - thank you for your dedication and service, you are an example to all of us and we will all miss you very much.

Terry O'Connor
Swords, Co Dublin

Never-ending referenda

I'm sick of the squabbling as to whether or not Scottish people want another independence referendum.

Politicians have vested interests and pollsters are frequently wrong.

Let's settle it once and for all (unless circumstances materially change) by holding a referendum to see if Scots want another independence referendum.

John Eoin Douglas
Edinburgh, Scotland

Not quite the tonic I was after...

I am a well-preserved, 65-year-old grandfather who is regularly entrusted with the care of my young grandchildren. I have survived recessions, the weather, boarding school, alcoholism, depression, and my late mother-in-law's cooking.

Today my wife sent me to a pharmacy to get Motilium, where I was told by the assistant that, because I'm over 60, she wouldn't sell it to me without a note from my doctor.

"It's for your own good," she said.

It was bad enough being infantilised, but the real killer was being told how badly I'm ageing.

Tom Farrell
Swords, Co Dublin

A day to remember human value

As we commemorate UN Anti-Racism Day today, we must do everything to cherish the memory of those who sacrificed their lives and livelihoods for human rights, dignity and inclusion. This year, the anniversary comes in the midst of great turmoil and uncertainty, and coincides with the European Court of Justice ruling to ban women from wearing headscarves or other religious symbols in the workplace.

There is some misunderstanding widely circulated in Western circles that the headscarf, or 'hijab', is a symptom of the oppression of women or their powerlessness in society.

However, this is not how countless Arab and Muslim women see it. And why not judge women through their values, their principles, their ethical mores, the way they think and contribute towards humankind?

Women feel more liberated when they can freely access equal rights, opportunities, economic resources, health information and services; when they live in societies free from sexual harassment, violence and humiliation, especially where gender equity faces popular rejection.

Today is the right time to renew our efforts to address the myriad challenges that affect us all, from climate change, housing shortages, air pollution, income disparity, environmental degradation and global injustices to poverty, racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, xenophobia, prejudices and social marginalisation.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London, United Kingdom

Don't scapegoat nuns for Tuam

What is wrong in our society today - impoverished children, the homeless, child abuse, and the proposed slaughter of the innocents - is our collective responsibility, the responsibility of adults living today.

And what happened in Tuam and similar places in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s is the collective responsibility of the adults alive in those decades - our parents and grandparents.

It is not the responsibility of a handful of nuns who were volunteering their service free of charge to unfortunates largely rejected by society, with no financial support from the State at a time when our State was poverty-stricken.

To scapegoat these nuns is reprehensible.

That some members of the Dáil are fanning the flames of hysteria is utterly shameful.

Patrick Slevin
Waterford city, Co Waterford

Irish music is part of our psyche

On St Patrick's Day, Irish culture appears to be everywhere you look. But how do we define something as being part of Irish culture?

The music of Ireland isn't instrument-specific, and to a greater extent it shouldn't be restricted by genre. It transcends boundaries.

As we have marked 100 years since the birth of our nation, it is important that we continue to celebrate our traditions, but equally important that we celebrate and cultivate new creativity.

This idea of music offering a journey through experience towards a sense of an identity or belonging has been a crucial component of Irish culture throughout the modern era.

Our culture and heritage can greatly define how we personally view nationality.

The view that the Irish music being created in this country is in purely one style or genre is a restrictive one.

Music in Ireland is, in truth, a diverse community of expression. It truly is atmosphere, emotion, or even just a shared experience of performer, composer and listener, that defines Irish music.

Gavin Brennan
Clontarf, Dublin 3

Irish Independent