Sir — There would seem to be a small but not insignificant minority who feel we have lost all sense of perspective during this coronavirus chaos.
Those of us who think this way are usually castigated for using figures to show that, in terms of overall deaths, together with the profile of those deaths, the situation is not as alarming as the majority of government officials would have us believe.
Headlines such as “Over 800 people die in one day in Spain from Covid-19” offer absolutely no context. For example, according to UN figures, Spain recorded 428,000 deaths last year, averaging out at 1,172 deaths a day.
Yes, people will say the Covid-19 deaths are additional — fair enough. However, how many of these were perhaps going to die this year anyway?
We’ll never know, of course, yet it still remains the case that the majority of those who die from the virus are elderly, with the odd exception.
I trust it goes without saying that every single death is a tragedy for the family and friends affected and with the restrictions in place across the globe right now it has become even more tragic for those mourning the loss of a loved one.
We must also do what we can to control the virus to help our perennially under-funded and under-prepared health systems — but less of the hyperbole. It’s not helpful.
Put the pandemic facts in perspective
Sir — It seems to me that some sections of the media are hyping news of the pandemic and causing undue alarm and apprehension.
To see things in proper perspective, all relevant facts should be considered.
There are about five million people in the 26 counties and — so far — the number of people affected is considerably less than a tenth of 1pc of the population, and the mortality rate among those affected seems to be about 1pc, with most of those being people already in an advanced state of ill-health.
To put that in context, we have about 30,000 deaths from natural causes in an average year — a little over half of 1pc of the population expire annually.
Against that, there are about 60,000 births annually and an excess of immigration over emigration of about 10,000, so our population is increasing by about 40,000 annually.
The extent to which this pandemic will increase the annual mortality rate remains to be seen, but my expectation is that it will increase by somewhere between 1pc and 3pc, with the lower figure the more likely.
Cautious optimism is justified, but fear and apprehension are not.
One cloud on the horizon is that the history of epidemics shows that they often make a comeback after a lapse of a few months — so we could get another whack of it in October. The only good news in that respect is that in the event of a second coming, the virus is usually weaker and less virulent.
It is also possible that a vaccine will have been developed by October. Hopefully, the more responsible elements of the media will stress the more positive aspects of the situation.
Adare, Co Limerick
Colm’s praise is too much to bear
Sir — It was tough reading Colm O’Rourke in last week’s Sunday Independent, telling us all — again — how great thou Dubs art.
How much more of this must we suffer from the former Meath corner, as he heaps more praise on his/our sworn footballing enemies?
Hopefully it won’t be long before we are all back to full ahead at the GAA, and all other activity, and Colm can write on something else...
Slane, Co Meath
We miss the smiles and hugs
Sir — Our house is too tidy, our garden is quiet and granda’s sweet jar is empty. It looks like the grandchildren will not be around any time soon.
We were lucky just before the emergency — the youngest was a bit poorly and we got to spend two whole days with him.
We miss his smiley face and huggy arms. The plastic trucks he liked to play with in the bath are where he parked them, awaiting his return.
I’m reluctant to wipe his sticky hand prints off the glass doors.
At around two years old, he’s sparing with his words — but I swear that on that day he added “Nana” to his vocabulary.
When the grandchildren used to arrive at our home, the younger ones usually rushed past us to go to the toys in “their room”. The older boys were always immaculate, with their hair brushed — and I so miss the slightly shy hugs they gave their grandparents.
We cherish the unique relationship we have with each one of them, and love when they share their drawings or news with us.
We were so very privileged!
When the weather was good we went on adventures together. I miss them.
In the years to come, when they hopefully have their own grandchildren, I know they will truly realise how much they were loved by us — just one set of the ordinary grandparents of Ireland.
New vision of Easter celebration
Sir — It is astonishing what lingers in the deep recesses of our being and yet governs our daily existence.
When the veryfirst television arrived in our home those many years ago, one of my father’s first pronouncements was that Mass on this medium was, like the most famous ‘‘soap’’ of that era The Riordans, purely fictional. The message was clear.
Over the years, despite many reasons not to do so, I continued to be a Mass-goer never contemplating, in fact remaining instinctively apathetic to, any screened version of the celebration.
As Easter Sunday approaches, I am stalked by the abrupt resurrection of a childhood chiding. My dilemma, whether to screen or not at all.
St Thomas’s Square, Kilkenny
Try prayer and hope in Holy Week
Sir — I am writing to to ask readers if, at the start of Holy Week, they would consider prayer to God in heaven to help us to defeat the coronavirus — as the battle is spiritual as well as medicinal.
I know that the Taoiseach and the caretaker government are doing their best to overcome this awful menace and save lives, and I thank them for this, but while most of us are locked down in our homes, a time of prayer to God in heaven would not cost a lot and could go a long way.
Heal our nation and save us from this evil that now stalks our nation.
St Anne’s Terrace, Sligo
Timely T-shirt for when it’s all over
Sir — When ‘‘this’’ is all over, I suggest we will have a new appreciation for T-shirts emblazoned with... WHAT TIME IS MASS?
The families always living in lockdown
Sir — The next two weeks are going to be difficult for the nation. Isolation is tough. Therefore it seems an appropriate time to say to you all: “Welcome to our bubble!”
The ‘‘bubble’’ is, of course, the new self-created artificial reality of life in which each and every one of us currently resides. At times it can be stifling. It causes anxiety levels to increase; many of you have already noticed this.
Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel — for most people.
However, thousands of families of children with serious intellectual disabilities have been trapped for years in the lockdown scenario you all are currently experiencing.
Our children have been stigmatised and neglected by the lack of essential and life-changing therapeutic and respite services. Every day we live is in lockdown — on a level much higher than you are currently experiencing.
Why should any family be expected to live with such measures outside of a national emergency? Yet, when circumstances improve, the families I mention will be left behind on the periphery of society.
All I ask is for our bubble to be flattened once and for all.
We deserve and demand to be part of society. We are humans, we need to be shown dignity and respect and above all, we crave and need your solidarity.
Please do not leave us stuck in that dark tunnel where the light does not shine and where the isolation is desperate.
Keep this in your thoughts as your lives return to normality. The group I mention will remain in lockdown — living on within a cruel and unforgiving reality bubble.
Tullamore, Co Offaly
Will we remember sharing is caring?
Sir — All over the world today many millions of people are currently helping each other — often at risk to themselves. Governments everywhere are printing money and taking over private assets to keep people safe, fed and sheltered.
This is putting into action the nearly 150-year-old principle of ‘‘From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’’. When the emergency is over, maybe we should continue to organise society on this basis?
Seanad shows lack of democracy
Sir — Should the 11 candidates appointed to the Seanad by the Taoiseach of the day be considered ‘‘confidence and supply’’ candidates or ‘‘grace and favour’’ candidates? Will they need to pass a filibustering test before being considered?
The filibustering of the Judicial Appointments Bill, though within the rules, is a disgrace, brings the Seanad into disrepute, usurps the authority of the Dail, and asks the question who is really ‘‘pulling the strings’’ behind the blocking of that Bill.
What on earth has this privilege given to the Taoiseach got to do with democracy? Is it any wonder that there are citizens who believe that the Seanad be abolished.
Ballinspittle, Co Cork
TDs should be on €350 a week too
Sir — As the Covid-19 outbreak rages throughout the land, so many people have lost their jobs — largely by Government edict — and have instead been forced to survive on very little money.
So why should we not see our leaders take a taste of their own medicine? Let all TDs take a wage cut back to the industrial wage — or maybe to €350 a week — and show a bit of solidarity with everyone.
If they’re inept then what are we?
Sir — In the cartoon at the back of last week’s Sunday Independent, reference was made to inept politicians.
Believe it or not, it was us who elected those “inept politicians”. What does that make us?
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
Greens must not play to the gallery
Sir — The time has come for the Green Party to stand up and be counted. The omens have not been good, with leader Eamon Ryan seemingly losing his grip on the direction of a much expanded party membership.
This is not a time for weakness and uncertainty. Playing to the gallery will not be tolerated. Everyone must put their shoulder to the wheel, including the 12 Green party deputies. There will be time for challengers when the dust settles.
Killester, Dublin 5
Male delivery in your postbag
Sir — On reading the Sunday Independent Letters Page last week I noted they were all addressed ‘‘Sir’’ — and save for one, they also were sent in by those of the ‘‘Sir species’’.
Perhaps the attraction lay in the three bottles that are given to the writer of the best letter or perhaps it was simply coincidence that the Mna na hEireann didn’t get around to writing in. Whatever the reason, I’m just saying... Yvonne Madden, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare
The Editor writes: A totally fair point! This week, at least, the whiskey has gone to a woman — and we would of course greatly welcome more opportunities to send further bottles to Mna na hEireann.
— Alan English
GAA should focus on the intercounty
Sir — In normal times the All-Ireland intercounty and club championships are a pivotal feature of an Irish summer. But these are not normal times.
My hope is that the GAA soon finds itself able to complete the intercounty and club tournaments. However, it seems increasingly unlikely that this will be possible.
If the GAA is forced to abandon one to enable the other, I ask that the GAA abandon the club season and invest all available resources in the intercounty season. While perhaps more players would be impacted by abandoning club games, the race for Liam and Sam Maguire are part of what it means to be Irish.
St Peter’s College, Co Wexford
Give the players a second chance
Sir — If, as looks likely, the remaining stages of the All-Ireland Under 20 championships fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic, may I suggest that the qualifying age for the championships to be played in 2021 be changed to take account of those players from the 2020 panels who would not qualify for selection due to the age eligibility rule?
To be selected on an All Ireland team at any grade is the pinnacle of a player’s career — a sporting achievement bestowed on a small few. Rarely do players get a second bite of the All Ireland cherry. This time they should get the chance.
Templeogue, Dublin 6W
Older and wiser lead by example
Sir — Something that struck me in the early days of the current crisis was the reaction of the older and wiser among us.
They led by example.
As I move towards the ‘‘older’’ category, I am realising how fast life passes and how precious it is.
When the old and the wise are asked what is it that they most miss during this pandemic, they respond with a wish to be with their family, to hug their grandchildren, to take a stroll by the sea shore — the simple pleasures. We have a duty to protect the old and the wise. The best way to do so is to follow their lead by making sacrifices, following instructions and knowing that by doing the right thing we can and will save lives.
Jim O Sullivan,