Sir - As someone who was involved in Gaelic football most of my life, I completely disagree with Alan Brogan's article (Sport, Sunday Independent, September 24) which condoned the behaviour of the Dublin players in the last minutes of their All-Ireland final against Mayo.
Likewise, I could not condone the behaviour of Lee Keegan in the alleged GPS-throwing incident. Top Gaelic footballers seem to forget their responsibilities as role models to the young boys and girls who watch their every move.
There is an element of cheating about this kind of behaviour. More than ever, the world needs good role models for youth.
I attended the Ladies' final and was so impressed by the standard of sportsmanship - or should that be sportswomanship - on display.
Eilis O'Hanlon nails it on Eamon
Sir - Your excellent journalist Eilis O'Hanlon's article on Eamon Dunphy's view of our wonderful country is a masterpiece (Sunday Independent, September 24).
I was a huge fan of Eamon Dunphy and his writings back a good few years ago.
His ability to 'put you there' when describing some sporting event was up there with the king, Con Houlihan.
But in the past few years, his drift into political discussions has shown a very negative and bitter side of him.
His criticism of our fair land has offended me.
He is, in my humble opinion, perfectly suited to Sinn Fein or Paul Murphy's crowd. He will never put his name forward for election, however, because of his 'hurler on the ditch' mentality.
If the Muppets ever need to replace one of those two old lads in the balcony, Waldorf and Statler, I think Dunphy would be the man.
Once again, Ms O'Hanlon has nailed it. A brilliant, talented and intuitive journalist.
Pat Burke Walsh,
Gilt-edged myths of public service life
Sir - A public service worker, earning the average industrial wage of €37k, who is seeking a promotion or asked to work overtime, will be deducted 64.3pc of any additional income - leaving them with 35.7pc. A healthy €5k pa promotion will net them less than €1.8k pa (€34pw) - just enough to buy a daily paper and a coffee (PAYE-40pc, PRSI-4pc, USC-5pc, Pension Deduction-5.3pc, Pension 'Related' Deduction-10pc - add them up).
Ah, but what about the gilt-edged pension, one may say. Another myth: for almost 20 years now, the old age State pension (€11.8k) is the only pension many public servants are entitled to. They will get a top-up pension only if their years of service or a higher salary gives them a further entitlement. In simple terms, the same public service worker, on €37k, will get a pension of €462 (1/80th) for every year worked - therefore they must work more than 25 years before they get a penny more that the non-contributory state pension. If they join at 40 and their income does not exceed €37k, they will never get back a penny of their contributions - having paid in more than €140k (at current rates) - into this black hole. And to add further insult to injury this State pension is only paid at 66 but almost all public servants must retire at 65 and then claim the dole in lieu of pension for this waiting year - which in due course will push out to 68 years.
One could ask who would seek extra responsibility or a promotion in this State. Only perhaps those with huge ambition - hungry for authority - or the very civic/volunteer minded who feel they have something good or great to offer. Or only those at the pin of their collar with a negative equity mortgage and in danger of losing their home.
Is it any wonder that we have a disenchanted public service with many seeking early retirement or a shorter working week, where perhaps they can get a second job that pays better. No surprise either that the new Garda Commissioner may have to be paid double the current rate - and vacancies in senior positions in the public service are getting more and more difficult to fill, from within, by those who know the score.
So I would say to our politicians - stop fiddling around with the derisory USC/tax band adjustments planned for the Budget. Keep all this tax until you have something decent to offer - and instead improve the lot of the forgotten, the marginalised, the asylum seekers, the homeless and those in danger of losing their homes.
Well done to Tommy Tiernan
Sir - I wish to congratulate Tommy Tiernan on his article 'Tom goes to Mass' in LIFE (Sunday Independent, September 24). It certainly hit the nail on the head for me. As a fairly regular but not diligent Mass-goer, I acknowledge his appreciation of the 'community, kindness and peace' of the experience. I admire his courage in putting forward such a positive endorsement of going to Mass. Like him, I hope all our children realise in their own good time that Mass is there for them. Well done, you!
Let's praise good done by HSE staff
Sir- It's been quite a while since I was in a hospital and I don't think I ever even had the privilege to stay overnight in one.
But last week, after being involved in a road traffic accident, I found myself in the back of an ambulance speeding towards James Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.
All kinds of things were going through my mind.
The usual things, like - I'll need contact my wife; how badly injured am I; is my health insurance in place; is my life assurance in place?
And then, thanks to all the bad press the HSE and hospitals have been getting, I started to wonder what the hospital would be like.
I started shaking. Was it from my injuries or thoughts of being left unattended on a trolley or being subjected to some new airborne infectious disease while there?
The ambulance screeched to a halt. The paramedics had me in A&E and within seconds I was being attended to by a team of medics.
When my neck brace was removed, I was able to check out my surroundings.
The place was spotless and there was even a team of cleaners constantly present, ensuring it would stay that way.
There was genuinely a good atmosphere in the hospital and I can safely say that the staff were all very pleasant and good humoured. This extended to all departments and I should know as over the course of the next few days, I believe I paid a visit to them all.
So maybe the press should take a moment to praise all the good things that are happening in the HSE and our hospitals and applaud the wonderful staff that are employed there instead of focusing on all the negatives.
From the facilities team to the team of consultants and everyone else in between, they are doing great work that saves lives and should be recognised for this.
Many thanks to all the staff in our hospitals, and, in particular, James Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown.
No need to fear going into hospital
Sir - I feel I must write about my stay in Sligo University Hospital. I was nearly afraid to go to hospital with all the negative comments, but what I found was the opposite.
I had wonderful care from the doctors and nurses. My first night on the ward I did not sleep. One nurse was in charge looking after all the patients and never stopped working. That was the same for all nurses and doctors.
They are all God's people and should never have to stand in a picket line looking for rights. And great thanks to my doctor, who made me go to hospital.
This punishment was simply abuse
Sir - What a sad but true article by Fiona O'Connell (Lay of the Land, Sunday Independent, September 24). Fiona hit the nail on the head with her description of corporal punishment - abuse not as far back as the 1940s but indeed in the 1960s, right up to the time the most unassuming Minister for Education, the late John Boland, ordered its abolition in the early 1980s. Far too many in the teaching profession engaged in this practice - some had no method of teaching at all and were far more suitable in the bog.
Outstanding coverage on care
Sir - I am delighted that your paper is highlighting the true cost of going into a private nursing home. When my relative was admitted to such a home, I went to the accounts manager on the day of admission with the Fair Deal amount as agreed and bank details.
I was only then told about the extra charge to activities per month and I was told it was compulsory. My relative has the pensions and was contributing €1,800 per month towards the Fair Deal. The compulsory charge added another €200 per month.
The relative is on a lot of medication and had to pay the levy charge as well.
Congratulations and thanks to the journalists who investigated these homes. Articles like these make you an outstanding newspaper.
Name and address with Editor
Padre Pio article was just beautiful
Sir - I must compliment you for incorporating a beautiful two-page article by Colm Keane about Padre Pio or St Pio of Pietrelcina and kind words by Brendan O'Connor in his editor's letter (LIFE, Sunday Independent, September 24).
Padre Pio has played and to this day still plays a huge part in the life and ongoing health of huge numbers of people in Ireland.
This third book on Padre Pio by Colm Keane is just outstanding, a very different approach. Thank you for recognising this gifted writer.
Sir - I was delighted to read the article on Padre Pio, based on the new book Padre Pio, Irish encounters with the Saint (LIFE, Sunday Independent, September 24).
Like many others in Ireland, Padre Pio has touched my life; dramatically so in 2000 when I was given a 10pc chance of survival in Beaumont with two brain haemorrhages and if I did survive I was certain to be in rehab learning how to walk and talk again.
I was allowed home eight days later with no need for rehab. Padre Pio continues to help me and my family to this day.
Congratulations on a wonderful article and well done. Keep up the good work.
Part of family life
Sir - I so enjoyed the article on Padre Pio based on Colm Keane's new book (LIFE, Sunday Independent, September 24). I can truly say that Padre Pio touched my family in a most wonderful way and continues to be an integral part of our family today.
What was Jim Gavin supposed to do?
Sir - Firstly, let me state what a fine journalist I believe Paul Kimmage to be and I admired him for his previous stance against Lance Armstrong and his continuing questions on the 'Sky Cycling Regime'. However, his article entitled 'Is winning all that matters?' (Sport, Sunday Independent, September 24) was no more then a character assassination of potentially one of the greatest GAA football managers of our time.
He accuses Jim Gavin of a lack of empathy for contrasting Mayo's loss by saying, 'it's tough, we've been there' when referring to their one loss this year to Kerry in the League final. What was this man to do? Continue the condescending talk and how unlucky that Mayo team are, and how they deserve to be All-Ireland champions? No, he chose to tell them it's tough to lose as a team and refused to elaborate because as player and manager he's been there.
He comments on the hauling down of Mayo players after Dean Rock's winning free and how Gavin wasn't conceding anything on this and on Newstalk later on Sunday, reiterates this point and calls into question his fellow colleague Alan Brogan's column upon differentiating between illegal acts such as matchfixing, doping and gamesmanship (wrestling, throwing away tees and GPS devices - two of which that were accounted for by yellow & black cards). However, what would Alan Brogan know - he only played at senior level for well over 10 years!
Should Paul wish to write any future columns on GAA, I would recommend he talks with his fellow Sunday Independent colleague Eamonn Sweeney. Now there's a man who knows his GAA.
Volunteerism and Colm Cooper
Sir - Joe Brolly not content to previously call Colm Cooper not the greatest, and having won some soft medals. Now - (Sport, Sunday Independent, September 24) - he tackles Cooper head high over his testimonial dinner benefit. Joe says the point of the GAA is volunteerism and community activism, and that this is an example of self over community. He says that Cooper is extremely privileged, and with that comes a responsibility, such that all proceeds of this testimonial should go to charity.
That Cooper is giving some of the money to charity does not do it for Joe, who opines that this is designed to take the bad luck off it, as big companies do.
Surely an unfair comparison that, as Colm Cooper is hardly a big company, and like the rest of us - and Joe - he is entitled to maximise any potential earnings. Also, for all we know, 'Gooch' may be doing as much volunteerism and community activism as the rest of us - or Joe - already.
Priorities and sports reporting
Sir - I am puzzled but not surprised at where the Sunday Independent's priorities stand with regard to sports reporting.
On reading the sports section (Sunday Independent, September 24) I looked for some information and details of the All-Ireland minor football final between Kerry and Derry.
At first I thought I had missed it, and on scouring through a second time I could still not find any reference to the minor final, in which we subsequently witnessed one of the best individual displays in years by a player in any grade.
I even read a full page, written by Eamonn Sweeney, dedicated to a little junior club in a village in Cork which had just won a title after 129 years.
Fair play to Eamonn on his article - it was very enjoyable reading but how this takes precedence over an All-Ireland minor final defies belief; the mind boggles.