Faith without works is dead
Mary Kenny's informative article on the contribution of nuns ('Our nuns deserve to be placed on the path to sainthood', March 23) helps to balance the negative image Irish clergy as a body suffered as a result of paedophile priests and heartless Magdalene nuns.
Having witnessed the heroic activities of missionaries, Catholic and Church of Ireland, in Africa years ago I continue to harbour a deep sense of grievance towards those who ruined the reputation of the major proportion of honourable women and men who devoted their working lives to the service of humanity, especially those who ministered to the wretched of the Earth living on the margins of society in impoverished jungle, desert, bush and urban slum.
Outside Ireland they left an enduring legacy, not so much their gospel, but prioritising education, tropical medicine and agriculture. Rather than by preaching it was by their good works they were known.
In 1970s Uganda there was effectively no public health service. The economy was in ruins and civic society was cowed by a psychopathic dictator who hired his own renegade mzungu (white) doctor. Yet the Irish Franciscan nuns at Nsambya Hospital offered a service open to all. Locals came from far and wide, including tribespeople from distant Karamoja.
One problem facing these heroic ladies was the lack of money to buy foreign equipment, medicines and containers. They had a canny ability to hear of the rare parties and national-day celebrations organised by the few ex-pats, especially European embassies.
With the help of some Irish and British friends the hosts were entreated to conserve their empty bottles, then dragooned and supervised by these determined ladies to sterilise the improvised containers for medication which were then dispensed to the local impoverished who trudged home for days to sick, up-country siblings.
The example of these intrepid ladies radiated as a reassuring beacon of humanity amid the pervasive gloom of the sadistic regime. As Ms Kenny suggests, while judging the miscreants we must not forget the many unpretentious and altruistic envoys.
Time to clean up Ireland
Following our globally renowned day of national pride, I feel the timing is just right to broach the subject of roadside litter.
The situation with litter on our rural and secondary roads has reached disgusting proportions in many areas. I have never seen it so bad.
With summer and the looming tourist season fast approaching we need to dig deep and see how far our national pride really stretches.
Can we please mobilise a few thousand socially responsible, fit and able bodies to help preserve the welfare of our beautiful little island?
I'm sure there are many out there who would cherish the opportunity to give a little back to the country that gives them so much.
I call on this Government to devise such a scheme to help people to contribute in some small way to the survival of the very foundation of this country, its natural beauty.
Yes, people may be financially poor, but many are time rich. Let's help to heal this broken land, restore our littered roadsides and hedgerows and let people prove their national pride by doing, as opposed to merely singing about it.
In praise of BreastCheck
In January 2014, I went for my routine mammogram to BreastCheck, the Government-funded programme providing breast screening.
I was called back for a retest and six days later diagnosed with breast cancer. I had absolutely no symptoms. I had a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and today I am very well and cancer free.
The treatment I got at St Vincent's Private Hospital was second to none and thanks to my brilliant medical team, my surgeon Mr James Geraghty, my anaesthetist Prof Alistair Nichol, my oncologist Dr Janice Walsh, my radiation oncologist Prof John Armstrong and my fantastic breast care nurses Audrey, Marina and Ruth.
Daffodil Day is on Friday March 27 so I would like to appeal to all women to keep their BreastCheck appointments and remake their appointment if they missed them. BreastCheck is free for all women aged 50-64 and could save your life - it saved mine.
Scalagheen, Tipperary town
The water charges conundrum
Why are so many of our people refusing to sign up to the water charges? It's very simple really, it's because they see it as being very badly organised. Some 40pc of our good water is being wasted due to broken pipes, etc. We are busy paying people for advice that a donkey in a field could give us for free and it's this:
(1) Borrow whatever money is needed to immediately begin the work of repairing all pipes and water purification stations that need it;
(2) Wherever the work is carried out let people from that area only be employed;
(3) Let all members of government donate 25pc of their salary, to show good faith for this important work;
(4) The money borrowed should be repaid over a long period of time;
(5) Let all areas in the repair and maintenance of our piping system begin at the one time, so giving many people proper paid jobs which in turn can only help local areas with their economy.
The ordinary man and woman in the street will pay if they see something that makes sense - as it stands the overpaid are given bonuses and increases, while the Social Welfare queue gets bigger and bigger.
It will take courage and leadership to spend our way back into well-paid jobs that, in turn, will give us value for money.
Clonsilla, Dublin 15
Rural Ireland being left behind
I note that Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has launched a €250m rural development fund. Well done, minister.
However, how come another part of government is closing down post offices and Garda stations? Talk to your colleagues, Alan.
Kingswood, Dublin 24
Nuns the word?
Pope Francis appeared somewhat overwhelmed by those 'enthusiastic' nuns... it seemed the poor man hadn't a prayer.
Beaumont, Dublin 9