Give what you can this Christmas, it'll turn a frown into a smile
What does Christmas mean in Ireland today? It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people in an increasingly multicultural and less Godly society.
To many, it is an exciting time of shopping trips to New York or London. For others, it's spending hours browsing through shopping centres picking up presents for friends and family. For many, it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, through school plays and attending church and singing in choirs. But what about the growing number of people and families behind closed doors who dread Christmas because they are going to slip further into debt, as they feel that they cannot say "no" to children who demand iPhones and designer gear as presents?
Instead of being a joyous time of year, it is showing the reality of the widening gap between the haves and the have nots.
What does Christmas in Ireland mean today? It actually means charities are overwhelmed with requests for help. One such charity is there day in, day out, to help people, who through no fault of their own, find themselves in dire circumstances, where the provision of food or keeping the house warm is a juggling exercise, never mind the buying of presents or trips to the shops. The charity I'm referring too is SVP (Saint Vincent de Paul), which does not differentiate between religion or ethnicity, only on need.
For a large part of the population who are working on the minimum wage or less, they are only one pay cheque from needing help to pay their bills, which do not stop coming through the letter box, whatever the situation.
Do not let pride get in the way of seeking help, or if you feel you can play your part and you have some spare cash, time, unwanted gifts or household items that are surplus to requirement, donate to SVP. You will be carrying out a good deed that will turn frowns of sorrow into smiles of joy, happiness and warmth.
Gort an Choirce, Dún na nGall
Amnesty cash should be returned
As someone who ran in two election campaigns in Galway I am familiar with Sipo (Standards in Public Office Commission) and the role it plays regarding spending in election campaigns. Last year, because of an oversight, I failed to return my Electoral Expenses Statement/Statutory Declaration on time. Sipo contacted me reminding me of my obligations and if I failed to comply I was informed that a file on the matter would be referred to An Garda Síochána. I immediately provided the required information and that was the end of the matter.
Sipo has requested that Colm O'Gorman/Amnesty Ireland return €137,000 donated by US billionaire George Soros's Open Society Foundation to fund its abortion rights campaign.
The money is in breach of Ireland's campaign finance laws, according to Sipo, which prohibit foreign donors from making donations to groups involved in elections or referendums here. Mr O'Gorman has said he will not return the money.
I await with interest the outcome of this foolish move by Mr O'Gorman.
Salthill, Co Galway
'Respectable' TDs are a disgrace
The low point for me during the life of the Oireachtas during 2017 was not the ridiculous comment from Gerry Adams after the death of former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave that he was a "divisive" figure in Irish politics. This comment could only have meant Mr Cosgrave (Cosgrove as Adams called him) was valiant and steadfast in his opposition to IRA terrorism.
Rather, it was the behaviour of TDs from the 'respectable' parties during the debate who mocked and heckled independent TD Richard Boyd-Barrett when he stood to pay respect to the deceased and relate how his family in times past debated the politics of the times and their association and indeed interaction with politicians of that era.
They have disgraced themselves and the citizens once again by their ignorance and misrepresentation of their purpose for being there.
Bantry, Co Cork
Politicians must solve hospital saga
On reading the many fine contributions to the debate on the downgrading of Portlaoise Hospital, it becomes obvious that logic, the welfare of the people of Co Laois, and the wider catchment area, are totally ignored by the Health Service Executive. The solution to the Portlaoise Hospital saga must be reached by politicians.
Politics involves the art of government and the Government is the executive body for the ruling of the Republic of Ireland. It therefore follows that the Government must take action when a statutory body established by Dáil Éireann is planning to diminish the basic entitlements of a sizeable number of citizens. Politicians attending public meetings, stating their support for the cause, and having those statements published in the local newspapers is a waste of time and energy. I believe that the deputies should be able to influence events within the Dáil.
Laois is the centre of the country, with a population of about 85,000. A large percentage of its working population is employed outside of Laois. By downgrading the hospital this trend will continue and increase due to making Laois less attractive as a location for new business and industry. Decision makers' minds should focus on the likely consequences of transporting medical emergencies such as heart attack patients from (say) Rathdowney to St James's Hospital. They should also focus on the major costs and dangers when transporting sick, high security prisoners from Portlaoise to other hospitals.
Have our Politicians realised the cost and other problems that will arise for families if A&E is downgraded and large numbers of patients are transferred on a routine basis to Dublin hospitals? Perhaps the HSE and the politicians need to acquaint themselves with current problems in the A&E departments of both Tallaght and St James's.
Mistakes made in the past must not be carried into perpetuity. Portlaoise and not Tullamore is the logical location for a major hospital. Selecting the Portlaoise location at this time will mean that the catchment area for both Mullingar and Portlaoise hospitals will each be large enough to support full services. Parish pump politics must play no part in this most important decision.
Undisputed reports state that about 40,000 patients a year attend A&E in Portlaoise Hospital. The politicians must make judgments based on medical safety, overall public good and economic factors. They must therefore acquaint themselves with the wider implications of any downgrading, or upgrading, of Portlaoise Hospital.
The time has come for Government ministers to act as ministers for all the country, and that includes the county of Laois.
Stradbally, Co Laois