Thursday 17 January 2019

Government prioritising horse and dog racing over ill children

Health Minister Simon Harris Picture: Tom Burke
Health Minister Simon Harris Picture: Tom Burke
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

We have heard a lot lately about the heart-breaking plight of families battling the Government to secure funding for life-saving cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi.

Distribution of the drug is delayed due to an annual cost of around €80m. This, coincidentally, is the exact amount paid out by the Government this year to horse and greyhound racing, bringing the total handed over in the past 15 years to more than €1bn.

As revealed recently in the Dáil, a significant portion of the horse racing grant goes into prize money for "very rich owners and trainers", while the €16m for dog racing is propping up a cruel and collapsing industry which the public is overwhelmingly rejecting - evident in a 50pc drop in track attendance and a 58pc fall in sponsorship.

Claims that the industry deserves cash injections because of related jobs are being increasingly challenged, with one politician saying the employment figures are "such an over-estimate, it's almost laughable".

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has declared that "the greyhound industry employs over 10,300 people" but this month, it emerged that in the Irish Greyhound Board, there is only 128 full-time staff.

In December, as cystic fibrosis patients waited, Health Minister Simon Harris was among the 105 TDs who approved the latest massive racing grants, prompting a distraught parent to ask if dog and horse races are more important than suffering children.

How obscene that politicians enthusiastically squander scarce public money on rotten racing industries, but when it comes to providing vital medication there is suddenly a focus on cost-effectiveness and getting value for taxpayers.

Philip Kiernan

Irish Council Against Blood Sports

Blinded by loyalty to their faith

Imam Ibrahim Noonan claims that "a Muslim cannot be a terrorist or a terrorist cannot be a Muslim".

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob (Irish Independent, Letters, March 24) echoes this: "Terrorism has no religion, colour, creed or cast."

While I have no doubt that both men are well-intentioned in defending their faith, it would seem to this reader that they are both blinded by their devotion.

The fact is that the people who carry out these terrorist attacks invariably claim to be Muslim and to be inspired by Islam. They attend mosques and have their own interpretation of the 'Koran'. As inconvenient as it is, they are Muslims. They may not live life as prescribed by their holy book, but if that was the criterion, there would be no Muslims or Christians to be found.

I would urge Imam Noonan, Dr Al Qutob and their fellow Muslims to face the truth and acknowledge that there is a serious problem within Islam and the Muslim communities that is leading to radicalisation. Only then can they begin to think about how to deal with it.

We know well in this country what terrible things are allowed to happen when good men are blinded by their devotion to a religious institution.

Sean Smith

Navan, Co Meath

Put clocks forward in February

Yesterday marked the beginning of daylight saving time. May I suggest this should have happened in early February.

Daylight saving aims to make maximum use of available daylight hours. This is a good thing. We change the clocks for winter daylight saving at the end of October. This is approximately 54 days before the day of least light. Fifty four days after this date is early February. Why then do we wait until the end of March to change the clocks back, a full 95 days after the day of least light? This is the equivalent of changing the clock for 'winter time' in mid-September.

If we did change the clock in early February we would improve the mood of the nation as we would have the bright evenings earlier. Also it would lower lighting costs.

James Foley

Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Kenny must send EU message

The EU has said it will not impose penal conditions on Brexit; good for them, but unless we get concessions and special arrangements to continue our close relationship with the UK we will be punished with economic ruin.

That's the message Taoiseach Enda Kenny must take to Brussels.

Securing our economic future would ensure his real, lasting and visible legacy.

William Shortland

Blessington, Co Wicklow

Sexual predators

Michael McCarville was last week sentenced to 20 years for the sustained rape and sexual abuse of a family of children over an 18-year period.

When will the nation wake up and understand that at least one in four families is affected by sick predators like McCarville!

Seamus McLoughlin

Address with Editor

McGuinness funeral sermon

I was really shocked - and truly scandalised - that in his carefully prepared and written funeral sermon, Fr Michael Canny completely evaded the most basic of universal moral duties - respecting innocent life - and merely referred to Martin McGuinness as "complex, like all of us," and said he knew well how some struggled with his republicanism.

Would Fr Canny ever dare to preach, if the funeral were instead of any notorious clergy child rapist, that some "struggled with his alternative sexuality" or that he was "complex, like all of us"?

My understanding is that all churches teach that God forgives those who truly repent. Not only did Mr McGuinness never say sorry to the innocent families he and his IRA had most grievously wronged, but he never admitted he had wronged them. Nor did Gerry Adams at the graveside.

I listened carefully and it is very clear to me that he preached not the full true Gospel but a soft feel-good version of it that perfectly served only the IRA, its image, ideology and goals - the easy path of forgiveness and reconciliation but without confessing and repenting.

The core moral truth was indeed preached, clearly and movingly, not by Fr Canny or Bishop Donal McKeown, but by Kathleen Gillespie on BBC. Is the grave of her husband Patsy not part of the monument to Mr McGuinness? Did Fr Canny, in his public sermon, really stand with the Christ who was murdered and the innocent victims of murder, or their murderers in the IRA?

Tom Carew

Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Irish Independent

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