Failing our most vulnerable
Sir - Brendan O'Connor hit the nail on the head in his article "Listen to these 7,000 kids now, not when it's too late" (Sunday Independent, February 18).
He emphasises the importance of children getting the required psychological help when it is needed, otherwise long-term damage to many will cost them - and society - dearly in the long run.
Most psychiatric illnesses have their roots in childhood trauma. Ask the many people who have abandoned psychiatric diagnoses and sought alternative psychotherapeutic remedies.
In Gabriel Byrne's recent interview on The Late Late Show on the #MeToo campaign and the scandals emanating from Hollywood involving people like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, he stated: "We are as sick as our secrets and shame and secrecy will kill you."
The fact that 7,000 children are waiting for psychological services in the primary care area is a disgrace. This is a situation that must be rectified immediately. We as a society are failing the most vulnerable among us. They and we will pay for this in the long run.
Saddened by law-breaking fiasco
Sir - The nature of our democracy is that we elect a government which is then charged with the responsibility to enact legislation, which if passed into law obliges all citizens to accept and obey the law, whether we consider it to be good, bad or ugly.
Therefore, it was a matter of great sadness when I received an unwanted refund from Irish Water - made because a significant percentage of our population chose to break the law in refusing to pay.
I remain devastated that our constitutional parties meekly capitulated to the Anti Water Charges Movement, organised by dark forces within and outside Dail Eireann. The extreme left know very well that civil disobedience is a much more lethal weapon of revolution than bombs or bullets.
This wholesale law-breaking fiasco was never about water charges, which were a mere pittance, but was a unique opportunity for those intent on anarchy and treason to orchestrate a conspiracy, aimed at undermining our democracy.
It remains a matter of great concern that many thousands of otherwise good law-abiding citizens were seduced inadvertently into becoming pawns of the far left. This would not have happened had our Government displayed absolute resolution to enforce the law of our land.
The far left secured an historical victory because they displayed great determination and leadership qualities, while the middle and right stood idly by in pathetic inaction, and allowed our precious too-liberal democracy to be savaged. Up the rebels?
Friarstown Park, Ballyclough,
Oh, the rambling walks of summer!
Sir - Well done! Like others, I enjoyed your excellent and inspiring Walk of Life supplement last Sunday.
As a lifelong walker, I agree with the many benefits you outlined, getting fit and happy, and staying healthy, enjoying this great lifelong recreational activity. Wishing readers very happy rambling.
Blackrock, Co Dublin
Metro Link is right to go underground
Sir - Colm McCarthy says the "figures for Metro Link simply don't add up" (Sunday Independent, February 18), but he fails to cite any detailed cost benefit analysis to justify his claims and his analysis is largely anecdotal.
Colm presumes Metro Link will be a tram system running largely underground, commonly referred to as 'pre-metro'. This presumption seems to be based on the previous Metro North proposal (which was a tram-based system) but the new National Development Plan does not elucidate this level of detail.
The alignment of Metro Link to Sandyford along the existing Green Line to interchange with Luas at Sandyford and onwards to Brides Glen, suggests that Metro Link will be higher capacity than Colm presumes, otherwise it would logically continue along the Green Line without the need to interchange at Sandyford.
The recent debacle with Luas Cross City has demonstrated that excess cross-city road capacity simply does not exist and the scope to allocate further road space to public transport is limited. Dublin, like other similar-sized cities, is right to look underground, coupled with higher-density housing, as part of the transport plan to improve the commuting experience of transport users.
I fear that if the Victorians took a similar attitude to Colm, we would be left with little of our current infrastructure stock, and Colm should wait to see the detail of Metro Link before he jumps to conclusions.
Project 2040 will not lift all boats
Sir - Leo Varadkar and his Cabinet arrived in Co Sligo on February 16 for an awayday to publicise Project Ireland 2040 - a 20-year strategy to enable all parts of the country to reach its potential, no matter its size or location. He didn't take a drive to the west of the county, 26 miles down the road to the village of Easkey where they are fighting the proposed closure of the post office. Already they have lost local shops, pubs, the Garda station, the chemists...
When is it all going to stop? No sign of Project 2040 here. And if the country faces a growing population, should we not be building instead of shutting everything down?
Welcome back Gay, but goodbye to EU
Sir - How sad that Gay Byrne should be stressing out about the UK decision to leave the EU. He should not be bothered about these matters beyond his control - and instead just concentrating on getting better and recovering from his recent illness.
We all wish him well and I think he is without doubt still the best broadcaster in Ireland, but he just doesn't get why the British voted to leave - we have only to look at the nasty arrogant behaviour of the EU officials in the present talks taking place. The EU had 44 years to convince the British what a great institution it was, but they failed to reform themselves.
Sorry still seems to be the hardest word - and I wonder how long it will be before other countries leave?
Michael A Rafter,
Undermining UK will hurt Ireland
Sir - I agree with the astute comments made by former Irish Ambassador Ray Bassett on the mistaken Europhilia expressed by the Irish political caste ('Ireland's mistake is to back team EU', Sunday Independent, February 18) that working with the European Union to undermine the United Kingdom will only injure our cause in ensuring a trouble-free Border and for UK-Irish trade to continue unabated.
However, there is error in being too distracted with the Border issue, as east-west Irish-British trade is far more important than that with the North. The future of the East-West Interconnector alone, which makes us vulnerable in our dependence on the UK for energy from the European continent, should be enough concern for us to discard any notion of scheming with the EU against the UK.
Mr Bassett is correct that civil servants must detach themselves from their emotions, even if it necessitates more Byzantine diplomacy from us in dealing with the various issues that face Ireland today. Ireland's economic well-being is what must temper any feelings towards a 'frictionless Border' or a 'European identity.'
Stephen Oliver Murray,
Blusterers hadn't even cupla focail
Sir - I am old enough to remember still, with horror and shame, the blight which the IRA was on this country.
And I remember on Patrick Street in the 1970s challenging an impromptu collecting of funds "to help our suffering Irish brothers in Northern Ireland".
I challenged the authority of this collection - speaking in the Irish language - and was roundly abused in the Queen's English. I was called a West Brit... but none of the blustering speakers could reply in Irish! Ironic, considering the current insistence by the inheritors of those blusterers long ago, on a stand-alone Irish Language Act.
Showing respect for Irish language
Sir - Despite the historic visit by Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in 2011 and the preamble to her address to President McAleese, "A Uachtarain, agus a chairde," which drew worldwide praise, it appears unionism is still unwilling or unable to cross the tribal divide and endorse an Irish Language Act.
Despite the rich tapestry of Ireland's wonderful Protestant cultural and literary tradition, which gave us, among others, Berkeley, Burke, Swift and Yeats, an Irish Language Act is still rejected by recalcitrant unionism. It is regrettable the DUP MLA Gregory Campbell aligns himself not with the respectful sentiments of Queen Elizabeth but with bile and bitterness. Former First Minister Arlene Foster and other DUP MLAs cannot conceal their contempt and loathing of the Irish language. I only wish that the rich Protestant cultural tradition on this island should not be allowed to be defined by a culturally impotent unionism.
Females are just as useless as the male
Sir - In a recent interview, the newly anointed successor to Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald pointed out that, following her ascension, the five main players in Northern Ireland's Stormont saga are now all women; herself, Sinn Fein's deputy leader Michelle O'Neill, DUP leader Arlene Foster, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary of state. This is being hailed as a bold and progressive development, and it may yet be a watershed moment.
Never again let it be implied that women cannot lead in times of crisis. Indeed, the 13-month impasse and the ongoing suspension of the NI executive surely proves once and for all to the doubters that, in the face of political adversity, female politicians of all tribes can be every bit as obdurate, stubborn and incompetent as their male counterparts, when called upon to be so.
Clontarf Road, Dublin 3
Eating his cake and having it
Sir - Reading your very informative obituary of singer Vic Damone last Sunday, I could not but note that he was married five times.
Clearly very partial to a slice of wedding cake.
Harold's Cross? It's blimmin road rage!
Sir - Although in recent times we have heard much news of businesses closing down, the biggest disappointment to myself would have been the closing of Harold's Cross greyhound stadium. For so long it has been the source of so much fun and entertainment and so many friends were made there.
However, on reading about the bad news, I was reminded of a good friend of mine, Ned, now unfortunately deceased, who was a regular attendant at Harold's Cross with his mate, and they both raced greyhounds there for many years. They had many winners and also losers but it did not dampen their enthusiasm to travel regularly from the West of Ireland (a round trip of eight hours at the time) where they enjoyed a meal, a drink and the odd flutter.
They became well known and popular there, and would be so thrilled and delighted when they won and so disappointed when they lost a race, they would praise and pet the winning dogs all the way home to Mayo, but the poor losers would be lambasted.
Years went by, Ned's mate died and the trips to Dublin stopped - but a few years later he had to drive to the city for a wedding in the vicinity of Harold's Cross.
On meeting him afterwards, I inquired how his trip went.
"Do you know," he said "it's a few years since I drove to Dublin, and it's surprising how so many people recognised me round Harold's Cross as several people flashed the lights and blew their horns at me".
I was not about to spoil an old man's day by telling him that many of his old routes were now using a one-way system.
Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo
Dr Leo's patchy bedside manner
Sir - Leo Varadkar suggests the withdrawal of Versatis patches are for reasons of 'patient safety', and not to save money.
Does he take us for fools?
As a person who used Versatis to good effect, I would like to enlighten Dr Varadkar about pain medicines.
Opioid-type medications cause drowsiness, fogginess of thought, constipation (which can lead to emergencies of obstruction and perforation of bowels) possible addiction, driving problems, safety in the home, falls and injuries. And opioids are equally costly.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) cause major stomach problems, with long-term use leading to strokes, heart attacks, stomach ulceration, possible bleeding and death.
Measure this against Versatis - a topical application of an analgesic that goes no further than skin, some local nerves, and underlying muscle tissues.
To argue Versatis is not effective for pain other that post-shingles pain flies in the face of patients' experiences. We know our pain is helped by Versatis and it is not merely a 'placebo' effect.
Treating patients as ignoramuses is patronising, disrespectful, and removes adult agency about treatment we are well able to assess ourselves.
Greystones, Co Wicklow
Conscience clause is as clear as mud
Sir - I am keen to understand two aspects of abortion care in Ireland that have been discussed in the papers this week; provision of abortion care in GP clinics and conscientious objection rights.
If there is one GP in a small town, and they are a conscientious objector, what does this mean for women? Will they have to travel to the next town, the nearest city, an overnight to Dublin? Will this then mean that the GP that does provide abortion services will become a target for protesters? In clinics of two or more staff, could there be a requirement for at least one member of staff to provide these services?
Some serious thought is needed to understand the reality of conscientious objections. How will the Government legislate to ensure access for abortion care while accommodating those who are conscientious objectors?
Probyn Road, London