Hunting wild animals is hardly fair game
Sir - It is the season to be jolly... but not for the wily fox, the gentle hare, and the majestic stag. They, alas, will not be basking in the happy glow of a winter wonderland.
The hare will, after his weeks of captivity compliments of the nearest coursing club, have to run from a pair of salivating greyhounds across a frosty, rain-swept, or water-logged field, and if he's unlucky his bones will be crushed or he'll treat spectators to an involuntary somersault or two before alighting on the "sporting" venue to continue his performance, the choreographic dicing with death that some human beings find amusing and that 114 TDs approved last June in a Dail vote on hare coursing.
The fox which, unlike a domestic dog, has no legal protection, has to put on a show for us humans, too.
He certainly impresses with his performance, zigzagging all over the scenic attractions our countryside has to offer, with scores of mounted riders and 20 or 30 hounds in pursuit.
The hunters have nothing against him, they stress, and only wish to have a jolly good day "riding to hounds", and if foxy gets caught, as happens quite often, and has the skin ripped from his rib cage, that's just nature, old boy.
Nothing personal, they assure us.
The hunters only want a spanking good ride and a stirrup cup of brandy or punch at the end of the chase.
Stag hunting was banned in 2010, but some hunters haven't heard the news yet and still pursue with relish those magnificent animals that once adorned the face of our pre-euro pound coin.
Recent weeks have witnessed numerous breaches of the ban agreed by the Fianna Fail-Green coalition, so I hope that a certain jolly philanthropist traversing the skies over parts of north Co Dublin and Co Meath will take care not to fly too low when the ghosts of hunters past are out haunting the countryside.
Donner, or Blitzen, or even old Rudolph himself, might have to resort to emergency procedures to evade costumed ladies and gentlemen blowing horns, and large numbers of brooding doggies aching to sink their teeth into protected mammals. Deer oh deer. Maybe the phantom hunters will come around to accepting that the law applies to them as it does to the rest of us.
Some day, maybe, the creatures of field and forest will be allowed to run free at Yuletide, unfettered by man's blind ignorance and inhumanity.
As the song says: "All God's creatures have a place in the choir."
A festive thanks to our budget retailers
Sir - I read the article/interview with Giles Hurley, an Aldi group managing director, (Business, Sunday Independent, December 4), hoping that I would see myself in the article.
You see, I am a customer of Aldi, and of its rival Lidl, for that matter.
There is a part of me that is forever indebted to these companies who I do not see as a "discount retailer" as the words that the writer opens his article on.
The "discount" may just refer to the good price at which they price their products. And over the years, their products have become broader and more varied, and more Irish in origin.
What sets them apart is that both Aldi and Lidl entered the market and gave us great value for quality produce.
The recession has always been there for some of us, as it is always a struggle to pay the mortgage, bills, taxes, run the car, go to the doctor, etc, etc, and, of course, to eat. During the last 10 years, both these shops have allowed us to be able to feed our family on a budget.
Their presence gives me the comfort of knowing that we will have enough to eat at Christmas because it can be done within the budget that we have. I always say, when pushing my groceries from these shops that this would have cost me up to 50pc more in other supermarket chains.
I congratulate them but, more importantly, I thank them for their continued support through difficult times.
Name and address with the Editor
Good therapists and process of healing
Sir — In response to Donal Lynch’s appraisal of therapy (Sunday Independent, December 11), he hit the nail on the head when he said “the hard, unglamorous heavy lifting of self-improvement is still up to you”. However, this does not mean you can do it alone.
If you break your leg, you go to hospital and a doctor will set your leg in plaster. The process of healing comes from the body’s ability to heal itself. Without this the doctor’s work would come to nothing. Likewise in psychotherapy, a good therapist will facilitate the process of healing. All neurotic symptoms have their roots in unresolved trauma buried in the unconscious mind of the afflicted person. The client must face their own pain and in the process heal themselves. Tears can be very healing.
Often people have a wrong conception of psychotherapy. Sometimes they want quick answers and solutions to their problems. A good therapist will never give advice. Rather they will give the client the tools where they can trust their own judgment. Thereby when the therapeutic relationship has finished, the client has the necessary resources to manage their own lives.
Finally, it is sometimes necessary to accept certain realities in our lives. As the serenity prayer says, the trick is to know the difference. A good therapeutic relationship between therapist and client, which is vital, can facilitate the client getting in touch with their true selves and accepting themselves as human beings with limitations just like the rest of us.
A matter of trust and articulation
Sir — In response to Donal Lynch’s article, (‘The mental health stigma has faded, but quacks are thriving’, Sunday Independent, December 11), I’m glad I didn’t read this when I was desperate to find a therapist who could help me understand why I felt the way I did, and why I couldn’t function normally in life at that time.
Though the article opens appropriately with necessary regulatory professional matters (now governmentally planned for), and the challenges one may encounter when pursuing a therapist, a process that can indeed be arduous, especially when one’s worldview is hopeless (as it is frequently at this phase of engagement).
I don’t agree, however, that the therapist’s attire hardly matters, so long as one can provide the client with some degree of hope and guidance. Later in life, I went on to professionally train and register as a therapist, now for over 20 years. When someone sits in front of me, I instinctively want to offer them that hope and guidance, as we navigate their life story. Though depending on weather and comfort, my intermittent change from shoes to sandals hasn’t yet emerged as an issue of concern (as it did for Mr Lynch’s cited experience of therapy) for people in distress, though perhaps I may be as yet unaware of how my footwear inhibits my effective therapeutic engagement with clients.
On the financial matters noted (though I work within a public service), I have found through collaboration with private psychotherapists, that clients who have mustered up some degree of motivation to begin therapy, have found that investing in themselves (even in widely available low-cost or sliding scale capacities) can be the symbolic catalyst which led them toward real and sustained change. For a client to begin to trust and articulate how they think and feel in therapy, is often a matter of life and death.
When Mr Lynch references a novelist’s interpretation of therapy, ie “to a farmer moaning about the weather”, such publicised commentary
concerns me, considering the 500-plus individuals who died by suicide in Ireland, in 2015, and who may not have had the chance to talk about what was evidently concerning them deeply.
If I were to imagine telling one of my clients that “you just have to get on with it”, I would truly have lost faith in the human condition and with the distinct possibility — that no matter what our circumstances, we can have hope, change and improve our lives for the better.
From my clinician’s perspective — therapy can be an accessible, life-saving and transforming resource for people — which is hopefully reassuring to your readers, in contrast to what Mr Lynch’s article indiscriminately suggests.
Accredited and accessible services
Sir — Following Majella O’Donnell’s call for accessible services for those suffering from depression (Sunday Independent, December 11), I would draw your readers’ attention to the fact that the Irish Council for Psychotherapy has over 1,500 qualified and accredited psychotherapists from around the country on the ICP register.
All these practitioners, after lengthy in-depth training, are specifically skilled to work with people who present with mental health issues, including depression, stress and anxiety, trauma, family crisis, and so on.
The full register of ICP accredited psychotherapists can be found at www.psychotherapycouncil.ie.
Irish Council for Psychotherapy
We don’t employ enough doctors
Sir — I was disappointed in the way Majella O’Donnell, wife of Daniel O’Donnell, criticised the medical profession for the problems with waiting lists in psychiatry, and for the level of charges in private psychiatric practice (Sunday Independent, December 11).
What a lack of understanding of the health service she demonstrates! And how easy it is to take a cheap shot at the doctors providing the service!
The key issue, which Majella completely ignores, is that the State does not employ enough doctors in any specialty, including psychiatry, to ensure a quality service for patients.
Doctors in all medical specialties are struggling to match high demand with proper provision of a service. Therefore there are waiting lists. It’s not the doctors she should criticise — it’s the state funding for health services and perhaps also the poor HSE management that runs an inefficient service. Doctors cannot be expected to carry all the inadequacy of the HSE on their shoulders.
We probably need to double the number of hospital consultants and their support staff before we can provide the level of service that Majella wants. This would cost a lot of money, so maybe she should think in terms of persuading the Government to find the money rather than criticise doctors. Simultaneously, perhaps she could persuade the people of Donegal and elsewhere to pay a lot more tax to fund her demands.
Celebrate but keep animals off plate
Sir — As we approach Christmas and the mass killing of billions (yes, billions) of farm animals, animal lovers who eat meat might ask themselves this simple question? How is it that we can love our dogs and our cats yet seem incapable of harbouring feelings for the animals that we choose to eat?
Our contradictory relationship with animals is routinely explained away by the natural empathy we feel for our dogs and our cats, an empathy that rarely travels as far as the pig or the cow or the chicken.
A long time ago, I acknowledged to myself that, while that position was understandable, it was nonetheless morally untenable.
Just because I can love my dog and my cat but not feel the same love for a pig, or a chicken, does not mean they should be treated differently. They are all animals, all sentient beings. They should be treated as such: equally.
Why not embrace your natural empathy this Christmas and keep animals off your plate?
It surely is the compassionate way to celebrate this otherwise beautiful day in the year’s calendar.
Remember not to throw stones
Sir — Sinn Fein has exonerated Martin Ferris for his recent remarks linking the Portlaoise Prison service with Nazism, saying that Ferris was merely quoting what someone else had said. I’m surprised that he brought up the subject of Nazism in any guise.
Does he not recall how the IRA attempted to interfere with the freedom of the press in Kerry in 1974? The editor, Seamus McConville, was advised that he “should make his last confession” if the Kerryman newspaper published an article by Con Houlihan, which was critical of the IRA.
To their credit, Seamus and Con refused to be intimidated and stood up to the ‘jackbooted’ threat. They were under garda productiontection for weeks as was the office of the Kerryman newspaper.
I think Martin Ferris could do worse than reflect on the old adage regarding people in glasshouses throwing stones.
Is it communism?
Sir — The way the Government is treating owners of rented property now is tantamount to ‘creeping communism’.
The RTB (Residential Tenancies Board) are is exercising undue control. Landlords are unfairly taxed as they pay an effective rate of 63 per centpc and not allowed a full deduction for interest paid. If they are compelled to do repairs or fire prevention, it is treated as an improvement and they do not get a deduction, but get ‘wear and tear’ at 12.5 per centpc for eight years. Rent control in various guises has been introduced and sale of property is restricted.
The owner is deprived of his right to private property as in article 43-2 of the Constitution.
“The State accordingly guarantees to pass no law attempting to abolish the right of private ownership or the general right to transfer, bequeath and inherit property.”
The present policy is one of ‘creeping communism’ and should be referred to the Supreme Court.
Charade just keeps floating
Sir — I’ll do this, I’ll do that, we can make this/that happen, I promise you this and that — it’s all rubbish. What is actually being done?
I don’t claim to know much about politics, but at the rate things are moving it’s not exactly hard to keep up as nothing seems to be happening. All sitting on their leather benches with their fancy attire, driving their elegant cars with their handsome salaries and pensions — and for doing what exactly? Squabbling with each party trying to gain one-upmanship? It’s an absolutely ridiculous carry-on, and the sort of thing you would see in primary school.
I find it downright cheeky of them to keep expecting to get away with this charade — then, on the other hand, we are no better either.
Do-gooders are saying this that and the other — and they are also doing nothing.
This country does not like change. “Ah, sure — it’ll be grand.” It’s not grand — homelessness, house prices, justice system — it’s all a complete farce! Reform is needed. I’m not sure how or where it is going to come from, but I know it’s essential in order to stop this roller-coaster of ignorance, complete disregard and incompetence to the situation we are all in.
Instead of saying “this idea is flawed, I have reservations”, just try something.
If it doesn’t work, raise your hand and say it didn’t work, or say what needs to be changed.
I’m not sure why I’m even writing this — I’ll probably just stay on this unsteered ship that we are all passengers on, all contributing nothing!