Fiasco was started in UK
Sir - Brendan O'Connor's article (Sunday Independent, November 17) has scored a goal, or should I say, a try, in this post-soccer era, by reminding those of us who read the Sunday Independent, but not that 'rag of rags' the UK edition of The Sun, that it had the effrontery to call our Taoiseach, a 'Brexit Buffoon' who should 'shut his gob on Brexit and grow up'.
Let me remind The Sun, that the only known buffoon is a dishevelled, tousled, blond-haired t*** of their own who has been given carte-blanche to roam around Europe creating mayhem wherever he goes.
After giving a two-fingered gesture to Angela Merkel, the Brits are busy paddling their leaky raft as far as possible from EU shores, only to have their passage blocked by the good ship 'Kathleen Ni Houlihan' captained by Leo who is securely anchored and not for moving.
Leo has been threatened by a shot across his bow which accused him of 'rookie diplomacy, puerile insults and threats to veto trade negotiations'.
Has The Sun not realised that after 800 years we both called it quits and buried the hatchet but we, the Irish, still remember where it is buried? We are no longer the 'cap-doffing' nation we used to be.
Theresa May wants her cake and to eat it as well. She wants a hard border between the North and the South rather than a border down the middle of the Irish Sea. Here in the Republic we have had our fill of 60 years of a visible border dividing our country and will not tolerate it again. Theresa May, or any of her Brexit buddies, haven't a clue how to solve the problem and her raft is floundering in a morass of uncertainty and misgiving.
As Brendan O'Connor asked: 'could it be that they have forgotten that the whole fiasco was their idea in the first place?' It is now their nemesis, they invented it, they broke the Entente Cordiale, now let them fix it. Leo, stand by your guns.
Wonderful letters of healing
Sir — Over the past several months our Sundays have been brightened by reading the emotive and well-written letters that the people of Ireland wish they had sent.
My mam brings the Sunday papers home after work at lunchtime, to be greeted with ‘Did you get the letters?’.
Sometimes I read them first, sometimes I arrive home to the page open on the table for me.
My dad and I seem to be drawn to the same letters, like-minded as we are. It makes my mam laugh when we discuss certain letters with such involvement and gusto. I have enjoyed reflecting on certain letters, which struck a chord with me or made me think.
Even my sister, who lives out of home, was endeared by our new favourite hobby. We have kept track of our favourites, the true deservers of the Dunnes vouchers in our eyes. ‘The Bag Snatcher’ was our clear winner, and the lady who wrote to the comedian who kept her company on TV while she was entering labour. My dad loved the letter to the schoolmaster who was told by his former pupil ‘and I still hate you’.
So many letters, so many stories, wonderfully articulated by people who all truly deserve a voucher — or even just to be commended for sharing their deepest feelings through letter writing, hopefully experiencing healing in the process.
Thank you all so much for bringing our family such bonding and enjoyment. It’s what Sundays are made for.
Sir — So far the Sunday Independent has published 193 letters in its series ‘The Letter I Wish I’d Sent.’ A quote from the start of the series: ‘This summer, we want you to get closure.’ Now one could say: ‘This Christmas, we want you to get closure’, and it goes on and on and on... helping more and more people get closure. Congratulations to whoever brought this wonderful idea to the fore.
Adoptive parents not ‘using’ women
Sir — I see Deputy Kate O’Connell asked in an Oireachtas committee: “are we going into a Handmaid’s Tale situation here, where women in crisis pregnancies will be detained, forced to become parents, and used as a source of supply of babies to childless people?”
To imply that someone commenting on the fact that very few babies are placed for adoption is calling for women in crisis pregnancies to be detained is a leap of fantasy rather than logic by Deputy O’Connell. The reality is that, even if a pregnancy was not planned or wanted and she is struggling to deal with a difficult situation, a pregnant woman has already become a parent; she has a child. Both mother and pre-born child, as vulnerable human beings facing an uncertain future, need and deserve protection and care. Adoptive parents (eligible after arduous checks) are not seeking to “use” mothers in crisis pregnancies for a “supply” of babies as O’Connell implies, but to offer children a home and a chance at life when their natural parents are unable to do so.
Placing a child for adoption is not an easy process, and support and counselling are available for birthparents through this process and beyond.
On the other hand, to assume that abortion fixes a crisis as if the child had never existed is to discount the long-lasting emotional suffering of many mothers (and also fathers) after choosing abortion.
Based on annual government reports on abortion in the UK, Irish women who do not see a future for their pre-born child’s life number over 3,000 every year. Meanwhile, though many prospective adoptive parents are available, the Adoption Authority of Ireland’s records show that, on average over the last five years, the number of babies adopted within Ireland every year was just six.
What if our elected representatives could invest their energy and our resources in better ways to support pregnant mothers in crisis, to address their real challenges and needs in the present and future with care and compassion, but without costing the child’s life?
Timber houses must be built right
Sir — Further to your feature on ‘Why we’re falling for wooden houses’ (Property, Sunday Independent, November 19) I feel compelled to write. Timber building makes sense and if done properly can provide very comfortable living in a sustainable manner. However, may I correct some things? For instance; while it is possible (though not always) to build a 25sqm building without planning permission, these are very clearly NOT residential and only ancillary to the primary residence. To do so is an offence under the Planning and Development Acts.
There are no circumstances where a newly constructed home does NOT require planning permission. Furthermore, in this article, there is no definition of ‘energy efficiency’. All new homes in Ireland must have a Building Energy Rating (BER) of at least an A3 (and likely under regulations to become more stringent), which when compared with most Irish homes is highly efficient. Achieving this is not as simple as choosing timber, the noted 300mm insulation in this feature may well be a minimum as it depends on a number of factors, the walls too require insulation. Insulation is not just an option. A reference to damp-proof membranes and insulation is a feeble nod to building regulations.
Energy efficiency is not an option, it is clearly defined in regulation. Sustainability is not an option, it is also defined in regulation. The 10-year builder’s guarantee on an ancillary garden structure is not bad but falls far short of the sustainable life span of a home. These buildings when used as homes must comply fullywith current buildings regulations and should be so certified before use.
Personally, I would welcome the concept of ‘tiny homes’ as a viable and sustainable solution to our housing crisis as any accommodation is an improvement on homelessness or overcrowding. These though will need at best to comply with current building regulations and best building practice. Timber is a sustainable material that should be used properly. Any material used improperly becomes unsustainable.
David Moran, MRIAI,
B.Arch.Sc., Dip. Arch
Christmas election is a way to clear the air
Sir — I’ve lost count of how often I’ve heard it said in the past few hours “Imagine having an election over something so small, and at Christmas, for God’s sake”.
But it isn’t a small issue. It revolves around the courageous stance taken by a whistleblower within his organisation — and not just any whistleblower or any organisation.
This was the Garda Siochana, our police force upon which we depend for our security and to hold the line between a decent, reasonably well-functioning society and the nightmare of anarchy and lawlessness, between life itself and death or vicious assault or maiming at the hands of ruthless criminals.
We should all want this police force to be free from the taint or malpractice or corruption because we are the ones who will pay the price if it isn’t run properly.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sergeant Maurice McCabe. Not only did he hold people in authority to account, he suffered for that principled undertaking, enduring false accusations and multiple smear campaigns directed against him.
Reputation is everything. It is an issue worthy of a government’s demise if it has not done its utmost to safeguard that prized birthright of every human being. A person’s good name is more precious than the most lavish and expensive Christmas gift ever given or received.
“Let justice be done though the heavens fall” goes the old maxim. Except that we’re not in danger of the sky falling on us, just a government.
True, politicians won’t like the idea, but the rest of us shouldn’t be unduly discommoded.
I rather like the prospect of watching through the frosted window of a cafe as canvassers in comfy winter apparel shuffle past on the street outside, pressing the flesh and making their pitch to passers-by or hugging themselves to keep warm, little cloudlets of breath hovering around them, and festive lights twinkling above this yuletide scene.
Hard work for them, but you can enjoy the spectacle with coffee or whatever you’re having.
I always like the way politicians make you feel important at election time, that you’re needed because your vote can make or break the biggest political career.
Of course, the weather might not be great on polling day, but shortly afterwards, the aroma from the dinner table on December 25 won’t be any less appealing or the fare less appetising than any other year.
We may, in fact, feel good about having discharged our duty by casting our votes.
An election can clear the air and maybe usher in a little political climate change that may benefit all of us. So I say bring it on, even if it leaves politicians dreaming of a bad Christmas.
Who stands for what and where?
Sir — All right-thinking people will feel for Maurice McCabe if he has been done wrong by not only his colleagues but also by the State.
How ironic it is, though, to hear Ms Mary Lou McDonald, who one would expect will soon be leader of the political wing of the IRA in the Republic, defend one Garda McCabe in such trenchant terms but who sits beside her Sinn Fein colleagues in the Dail that feted those convicted of the horrendous murder of Garda Jerry McCabe.
Lest we forget who stands for what and where!
John Hume’s role in peace process
Sir — Last week, I attended the excellent film In The Name Of Peace: John Hume in America about Mr Hume’s efforts to get American politicians interested in the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. Jimmy Carter, who served from 1977 to 1981, was the first American president to get involved even though his involvement was quite tentative at this stage. Thus the foundations were laid for greater American involvement through to Bill Clinton, bringing Sinn Fein/IRA in from the cold and culminating in the Good Friday Agreement.
There would never have been a peace process without John Hume. He remained true to his belief in peaceful means like Martin Luther King in America.
However, his belief in inclusive politics eventually led to him being marginalised and his party, the SDLP, being overtaken by Sinn Fein as the dominant force of nationalism in Northern Ireland. As Bill Clinton said in the film, it’s as if John Hume was no longer needed and people gravitated towards the DUP and Sinn Fein, the parties which would represent their particular views the strongest.
While the violence in Northern Ireland stopped, in certain ways society is more polarised now as 86pc of children are educated in single religion schools.
There are more “peace walls” now in Belfast than at the height of the Troubles.
This was wholly unintended by John Hume and sadly is being encouraged by the DUP and Sinn Fein for selfish electoral reasons.
Matter of shame for those in UK
Sir — I read Brendan O’Connor’s piece (‘Brexit: All Leo’s fault apparently’, Sunday Independent, November 19).
Given what your country has suffered at our hands since the late 12th Century, I am amazed the Irish are as polite as they are.
Brexit is not just about the technicalities of the Irish border; it is about a whole relationship.
After all the great progress of the past three decades, it will recharge and reinforce the mixture of contempt, indifference and incompetence with which UK governments and too many of our people have approached Ireland.
Our sheer stupidity in this, as in so much else at the moment, is a matter of shame.
Home survivors deserve apology
Sir — Derek Linster’s letter (Sunday Independent, November 19) is quite justifiably blunt and to the point.
The thorny issue of redress must be urgently acknowledged and implemented for the few survivors of Bethany Home, most of whom are now in the twilight of their lives.
The Commission of Inquiry has accepted in principle a right to redress for these people but the Government appears not to be of this opinion.
Why appoint a commission
if its views are going to be ignored?
I hope Derek Linster and all others who suffered so much in this institution get the justice they deserve.
The Government should offer an overdue apology and provide them with the redress of which they are deserving.
‘Littleness of life’
Sir — Niamh Horan’s article on Ireland’s retired sports stars (Sunday Independent, November 19) leads one to believe that their helter-skelter, high-octane existence leaves them, in the words of the English poet Frances Cornford, “magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life” on Civvy Street.
Men’s Day article
Sir — The article by Donal Lynch on Men’s Day (Sunday Independent, November 19) was the best deconstruction I have read on gender roles in the modern era.