Sir - I have often thought of putting pen to paper down the years but have never done it. However, today I feel I need to express my huge admiration for our frontline health workers - so I will explain my compulsion to tell the people of this great country why our nurses are worth their weight in gold.
Nine years ago, we said our final goodbye to our beautiful, brave daughter and sister to the very cruel cystic fibrosis.
For nearly 18 years, she fought so fiercely to stay alive and, therefore, we were very frequent lodgers in the many fantastic children's hospitals on this island. Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda was our main destination but we also frequented Crumlin, Tallaght and Temple Street during our journey.
I really believe our health care-givers are so undervalued and taken for granted. If I had any power I would pay them all double their salaries. We are entering this dreadful pandemic and instead of pumping money into so many ridiculous state identities - like the Seanad or buying oversized printers - why don't our politicians pay the nurses what they so definitely deserve?
Maybe then the many who go abroad to seek better working conditions and pay would consider returning to their native country.
Nurses do so much more than they ever get credit for. They are the "angels in disguise" in our hospitals.
Castleblayney, Co Monaghan
Visionary leadership may keep ship afloat
Sir — We are currently dealing fairly well with the emergency, though it will have untold consequences into the future and I wonder how we will deal with the situation then. Those contemplating the formation of government would do well to realise now that there is a limit to what an already-overburdened society will be able to endure.
We are still shouldering the burden of the financial crash of 2008, by, as taxpayers, paying for a travesty that was not of our making. Due to woeful leadership, we had to shoulder a burden that delivered to us huge cost of living expenses, homelessness, unaffordable housing, two-tier healthcare, creaking public transport, severe mental health issues, addiction, lawlessness, hospital overcrowding and the abandonment of the vulnerable as well as rural communities.
Advance warning now needs to be issued that we are already stretched to breaking point. Those with vision will need to realise that it would be unwise to chance breaking the camel’s back and that the structure of society needs to change so that everyone who considers themselves a citizen will need to make an input commensurate with their ability to pay.
The immoral tax loopholes availed of by the upper tier of multi-millionaires, multi-nationals and vulture funds will need to be restructured to provide equitable distribution of wealth and services.
The second tier, who sponge on society and complain about everything, will need to be made to realise that the holiday is over.
The bottom tier — and here I’m talking about the taxpayers who get up early in the morning to pay for everything for the upper two tiers — cannot again be called upon to pay for something not of its creation and needs to receive public services of a standard that it is actually paying for.
Our political structures and institutions need to be reformed and made relevant to the citizens they purport to serve. Citizens, frequently far more ahead of the curve than the body politic, must be afforded the opportunity for consultation in the framing of legislation, not just consulted at election time.
Local government needs to be strengthened so that the centre no longer sucks life from the rest of the nation and local taxes are put to work locally.
Most importantly, the ‘change’ recently voted for by the electorate needs to be honoured with social justice and equality as its motivators if we are not to disintegrate as a people and a society.
It is likely now, with lots of people out of work and able to stand back, that the real situation will become widely apparent so we will need strong, visionary and decisive leadership, including political, to keep the ship afloat.
Brave selfless show society can recover
Sir — While it still remains impossible to predict when Covid-19 will pass, I have noted some worthwhile discussion, in various media, on its aftermath and probable cost. There is a significant body of opinion indicating that the final cost will dwarf that of the ‘banking crash’ in 2008.
There is, however, a critical difference between then and now. The 2008 debacle will be remembered for a small cohort of people who out of greed and ego played and gambled with the livelihoods of the many and were allowed to do so by incompetent political leadership.
This time will be remembered for a small cohort of people who selflessly and courageously gambled not just with their own livelihoods but with their lives for the welfare and protection of the many, supported by a vigilant and committed political leadership.
This is a pivotal difference and a solid foundation for national social cohesion, a key underpinning element for our recovery, that will require resourceful nurturing by resolute, far-sighted political leadership.
St Thomas’ Square, Kilkenny
Moss knew how to rough it in rugby
Sir — Neil Frances, in your newspaper recently, gave a chilling account of the hazards of playing rugby football. One could almost feel sorry for the ‘craytors’ sent to ‘rugby’ schools and who, under the heading ‘character building’, are expected to play this combative game, for which they might have neither interest nor aptitude. They must now know how the reluctant gladiators in ancient Rome felt when they were prodded into the arena with hot irons.
Neil appears to suggest that the French are leaders in the field when it comes to the dark arts in rugby.
It was against the French that the late great Maurice Ignatius Keane received his first cap in 1974 in Paris.
Moss, a converted GAA player, had represented Kerry at Junior and under-21 level, with distinction. However, with the passage of time, he lost his way and turned to rugby.
Anyway, on that afternoon long ago in Paris, Moss got his baptism of fire, which nowadays they call being ‘targeted’.
Down in their homestead in Currow, outside the metropolis of Castle Island, Moss’s parents were watching the match on TV.
Moss’s mother alarmed by the ferocity of the exchanges and worried for the ‘debutant’ in the eye of the storm, turned to her husband and said: “That’s a very rough game, that rugby. I’d be afraid Moss will break a leg.”
His father, who entertained no such worries, replied: “Well, if he does, it won’t be his own.”
Incidentally, Moss never forgot his first love. When getting off the plane after returning from a rugby tour, he was asked by a waiting journalist for his most abiding memory of the successful expedition. Without breaking stride and with a mischievous grin, he replied: “When I got word that Kerry won the Munster final.”
I’m sure Neil Francis and all the rugby aficionados would agree that Moss, though an exemplary sportsman, was a good man to have around when the going got rough, or even when it didn’t. Ni bheidh a leitheid ann aris.
Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin
Emotional to read about Croke Park
Sir — Imagine the pain I was in last week, looking at a Sunday morning with no sports news to read, not with all the shutdowns and everything. And then I picked up a Sunday Independent and opened the sports pages!
With a wealth of superbly written articles on a range of sports — not just about results and who finished where in whatever league — I felt I got an insight into the people and the stadiums and the ambitions of people from round the 32 counties. Not only about where they were from, but where they are going.
The article by Dermot Crowe about Croke Park, so well researched, nearly sent me to tears it made me so emotional and proud.
The articles by the rest of your sports team were all stand-out and worth keeping.
I do read politics, too — but yesterday I needed cheering up and you delivered a great deal in honest well-written pieces. Thank you.
Merstham Cricket Club,
Sport sometimes counts for nought
Sir — Declan Lynch asks in last week’s Sunday Independent if we can survive in a world without sport. I know I can.
Many great writers, down the centuries, would have welcomed a rest from sport. Shakespeare wrote: “If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work.”
Patrick Kavanagh reminded us: “I have noted that in Ulysses, that compendium of common-place emotions and goings-on, only the punter speculating on the result of the Ascot Gold Cup comes into the theme.”
While Kipling referred to the “flannelled fools at the wickets or the muddied oafs at the goals”. George Orwell saw sport as having nothing to do with fair play but “...bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness and disregard for all rules”.
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Why did we let thousands in?
Sir — It seems the entire planet has gone into lockdown, with some in meltdown.
Every country on earth is striving to take care of its citizens, some adhering to the strict rules, some not — but is it fair to hold our leaders accountable?
I believe our Government still has some serious questions to answer. Why on earth were several thousand Italian rugby supporters allowed into the country when the match was called off?
Why were thousands of horse racing fans allowed to travel to Cheltenham? What damage did these two lapses of control do?
This isn’t 20/20 hindsight. The dogs on the street were barking loud about these before they happened. And yet the Government did nothing.
I don’t think Mr Varadkar has given any explanation why, when we all knew the danger, were thousands allowed to come and go without the slightest check as to their health status.
Sixmilebridge, Co Clare
Crisis proves we have leaders
Sir — We often hear about what our Government and health service is not doing for people in need. But I think the past couple of weeks have shown we have leaders in our community.
Our health service is working so hard to be ready for the likely surge in coronavirus infections.
Likewise I’m so grateful to our shop workers and pharmacists who are ensuring people can buy their groceries and medications safely; lorry drivers for ensuring our food makes it to the shelves; people looking out for elderly neighbours; and priests, many in the higher-risk age, who are ensuring everyone gets the dignity of a funeral mass for their deceased loved one.
I’m proud to be Irish today.
Templeogue, Dublin 16
Free cash was once a joke, now it’s a plan
Sir — The phrase ‘helicopter money’ was coined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman in 1969. As a joke.
He was highlighting the stupidity of central banks printing money to solve an economic crisis.
His point being that you may as well drop money from helicopters. It won’t work.
Yet today, economists, including David McWilliams, are proposing this as sound economic policy. But helicopter money will simply cause hyper-inflation and stagflation.
What mad times we live in, when jokes become policy.
Rathbeggan, Co Meath
Not the only law which isolates us
Sir — Now isolation is here for everybody, it might cause some to stop and think about other legislation which has caused a huge number of elderly people to go into isolation in their own homes.
They do so because of fear of doing the things they had been doing for years — such as going to their local a few miles away and having a game of cards or a chat or a couple of half-pints and driving home, not causing any problem to anybody. Or driving to the nearest town, which could be miles away, and meeting socially for a pint.
Then along comes a law enacted as if everybody had a taxi available outside their door.
Now I realise car crashes kill people and drinking more than the limit is wrong, but I still think the cart was put before the horse in this case.
More preparation should have been done, rather than going full steam ahead with populism.
Shannon, Co Clare
Translation not all Greek to me
Sir — I found Alun Evans’s article on tracing the ancient origins of killer diseases in last week’s Sunday Independent most interesting. What a mine of information.
One minor issue I have with his terminology is when he explains the word ‘corona’ as being derived from ancient Greek. I’m sure he meant Latin, the usual Greek word for ‘crown’ being ‘stephanos’.
Murroe, Co Limerick
A new way to deal with other crises
Sir — Just a month ago, we worried about the people who were losing their homes and being forced to live in hotels.
We were outraged at the lines of elderly patients waiting on trolleys for hospital beds. We feared the economic consequences of a hard Brexit.
Covid-19 has placed all these problems in a different context and perhaps our response to this crisis will have taught us a new way to address the basic problems in our society when this has passed.
Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick
Empathy is what it’s all about now
Sir — I felt sympathy for the writer of your leading letter in last week’s paper. Sympathy that he/she was worried what friends may think of his/her son’s job.
At the end of the day, people will not remember us for how many letters we had after our name, but for the way we treated other people.
Recalling Tomas Mac Curtain
Sir — I must say I was a little surprised to read your columnist Eoghan Harris say it was hard to “gather pickings” for his column last week.
Surely some mention of the murder by the RIC of Lord Mayor of Cork Tomas Mac Curtain 100 ago this month could have filled a couple of inches?
Dundalk, Co Louth