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Hospital is a towering mistake

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Yet another problem rears its head in relation to the proposed new Children's hospital. The enormous height of the proposed building precludes the placement of a helipad on the top, due to safety concerns (Irish Independent December 30).

Given that a helipad is a crucial component of a modern children's hospital, not only in relation to emergency access, but more particularly for urgent cases being transferred to the UK or elsewhere for life-saving treatment, this oversight is a critical one.

Once more, the construction of the most important hospital to be built in the history of the State is being undermined by the choice of an inappropriate site.

How long more will the supporters of this ill-conceived plan ride rough-shod over the views of people with genuine concerns in their haste to impose this gargantuan hospital structure on the Georgian north inner city?

Although the decision by An Bord Pleanala, following a 10-day public hearing, is still a month away, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board published a call for tenders (December 23) for the building of this modern ziggurat.

While I wholeheartedly agree that the process has taken far too long and that the children of Ireland deserve a world-class care centre of excellence, it is clear that those who decided to shoe-horn this building into an inappropriate and inadequately sized site, must take part of the blame for the delays and setbacks that have occurred.

To paraphrase the great wit and writer Oscar Wilde, losing one chairperson may be regarded as misfortune, losing two is definitely carelessness in the extreme.

The thinking and planning in relation to this site seem fundamentally flawed and, as one former chairperson has stated, choosing the Mater site was "a political decision". We need to make the correct -- not convenient -- decision for the children of Ireland.

Mark Lawler

South Circular Road, Kilmainham D8

Sooo last year!

- It is the day after the night before and the hair of the dog has not worked.

I had several resolutions but they are already "sooo last year."

I won't despair, I'll fail better, as Samuel Beckett wisely counsels. Things aren't so terrible, I remind myself, but then discover that standing up for a prolonged period is a far trickier proposition than it was last year.

I drink several pints of water in the forlorn hope of trying to drown the gremlins in my brain with the jackhammers; turns out they are all Olympic swimmers.

But I'm not one to despair. I eat something suitably greasy and pray that this might address the sugar imbalance, but it just fires up the roller-coaster in my tummy.

The will to live is becoming less pronounced. I seek inspiration and thumb through an old collection of wise words. Two quotes under the heading "Hope" lift the gloom: "My doctor gave me two weeks to live. I hope they are in August."

"I hope life isn't a big joke because I don't get it."

Neither do I. Here's to better, happier days in 2012.

Mary Williams

Careysfort Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin

No guidance

- I write in utter despair about the imminent education cuts that threaten to destroy the Guidance and Counselling Service in our second level schools.

As a counsellor of 25 years, I know the devastation the cuts will cause.Who will carry out the IQ testing for students? Who will carry out the aptitude testing, psychometric tests and interest tests?

Who will help students pick correct subjects at first year? Who will help students pick the correct vital subjects they need at fifth year -- so pivotal to their future careers?

Who will help students make informed decisions when they fill out their CAO forms? Who will help students make informed decisions and help them fill out their UCAS forms for UK college applications? Who will help them make informed decisions and help in applying for courses or apprenticeships? Who will help our young people prepare for the world of work?

The guidance counsellor plays a key role in transition year.Who will help the students with disabilities when they must fill out the DARE, or Disability Access Route for Education, form for college? Who will help students who qualify for the Higher Education Access Route Scheme to fill out forms and give them correct information?

Much of the guidance counsellors' work involves looking after the mental health of our students.We play a pivotal role in the pastoral care system.

We deal with many issues such as depression.

We help students who may be suicidal or who face problems of neglect, abuse, bereavement, separation, eating disorders and special needs

Much of our work involves working with counselling agencies.

We also work closely with social services and the HSE. Since my own school lost our home school liaison teacher I have found I have had to take on this role on an increasing basis.

One-to-one counselling in schools will be eliminated as a result of the education cuts. For a saving of €30m a year, this will cost the country much more in years to come.

Gerry Malone

Dundalk, Co Louth

Sinead's sorrow

- Our "national disgrace" Sinead O'Connor is going off the rails with self-destructive behaviour.

We appear to be witnessing the sordid end of another performer's troubled career.

Her music and her performances are nothing more than a projection of her own inward grief and should be seen in that context.

Her sadness has been evident from her very first hit, "Nothing Compares 2U", which saw her cry what now appear to be very real tears of deep inward and fundamental unhappiness.

The reason Sinead cannot find happiness is that she is not happy with herself, which is very obvious.

She is trying in vain to find happiness through someone else, without the slightest ray of sunshine in her own self.

A succession of marriages has yet to yield any respite for a singer who is fighting a long-term internal battle. Sinead O'Connor is a bad example for others to follow.

Maurice Fitzgerald,

Shanbally, Co Cork.

By gum!

- Reading Deirdre Reynolds on the 'Perfect Smile' brought a comment from comedian Ken Dodd to mind.

Ken said that when he has a dental check-up, the dentist is the more nervous of the two.

Tom Gilsenan,

Beaumont, D9

Doleful Joan

- It's hard to know what Joan Burton's agenda is these days.

She constantly stresses what Social Protection costs, even breaking it down to a "four in every 10 euro we spend" soundbyte, but she never refers to the great benefits that accrue when available wealth is distributed as fairly as possible.

She never explains why wealth cannot be properly taxed or why her department will continue to pay pensions to former politicians of over €100,000 a year, with the top payout amounting to €150,000 -- 15 times greater than a recently unemployed person has to get by on.

Burton has unleashed a witch hunt, that is demonising all forced to live on welfare, by her repeated claims that fraud is massive and endemic when, in fact, it is no better or worse than could be expected.

The number of "fraud" reports received is translated to mean the number of actual "frauds" occurring.

These "reports" jump seamlessly to proof of guilt.

Stalin, if no one else, would have been impressed.

Jim O'Sullivan

Rathedmond, Sligo

Just like Korea

- Fair wages and joint labour committees: unconstitutional. Drawing teacher pensions when not teaching: constitutional. Are we living in Ireland or North Korea?

Florence Craven

Maynooth, Co Kildare

Lay off Jamie

- As a long suffering viewer of TV chefs, I never expected to defend Jamie Oliver, although I do admit to a grudging respect for the man.

When I read in the Irish Independent (December 29) that Physicians for Responsible Medicine had accused him of contributing to obesity, I felt compelled to defend his honour.

His detractors have used the above title to carry out similar attacks on those they wish to undermine. They are described as "one of the most influential health groups", as their name would suggest. The American Medical Association, however, describes them as "potentially dangerous to the health of Americans".

Other national organisations describe them as unscientific and propagandist. As advocates of veganism they may be very good, as unbiased critics of the cookbooks of 2011, probably not. Rock on, Jamie.

Tom Roche

Castleisland, Co Kerry

Reaching out

- Eric Maughan (letters December 28) refers to churches in the Lutheran tradition as ''having inherent deficiencies''.

If the Catholic Church, so deficient in holiness and integrity during pre-Reformation times, had responded in a positive manner to the criticisms of Luther, the ensuing bitterness and wars of religion would have been avoided.

Instead of all churches responding to the request of Jesus ''that they all be one'' we still have many Catholics, like Eric Maughan, who prefer to accentuate the so-called deficiencies of other churches while they ignore the very large beam in their own eye. All churches in the Christian tradition should allow Eucharistic intercommunion as a means to hasten our true common destiny.

Brendan Butler

Malahide, Co Dublin

Irish Independent