Sir - A well-meaning animal protection group is advocating that we stop using expressions that might "trivialise" cruelty to animals, citing "bring home the bacon" and "take the bull by the horns" as examples. I think this is downright silly, and might even hurt the cause of animal protection, in the same way that atheists sound wacky when they object to RTE's Angelus bell.
I have campaigned for decades against hare coursing and fox hunting, and lobbied politicians for a ban on fur farming. I have joined countless pickets to highlight the suffering of animals.
But I can't stomach the idea of policing the way people speak, or denouncing the use of time-honoured animal idioms that have long been part of everyday speech.
At the annual meeting of an animal welfare group a few years ago, I heard a woman complain that there wasn't enough room to swing a cat in the meeting venue. She certainly couldn't be accused of hostility to cats because she'd devoted much of her life to finding homes for abandoned or stray ones. Yet a PC-minded person might find fault with her use of the phrase.
I'm more concerned about real animal cruelty issues, especially in the run-up to Christmas, than pleasing people who would censor us to the point of verbal emasculation. At this time of year, hares are used as live bait, forced to run from salivating dogs at coursing events.
Foxes are chased until their lungs give out and exhaustion delivers them to the packs to be eviscerated. Though banned, stag hunting continues furtively in some districts, and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer would need to keep his eyes peeled if passing low over certain parts of the country. The real live horror of blood sports should be a far more serious concern for animal protection campaigners than one's choice of words in a conversation.
I believe in kindness to animals, but where possible I like to kill at least two politically correct phrases with one stone. No offence to the birds!
Don't give dogs
Sir - Sad thoughts are taking over my mind at the moment as, coming up to Christmas and all the gifts, people don't think deeply enough, giving lovely wee pups to kids as they often end up in ugly circumstances when things turn out badly.
God bless all who run animal welfare refuges and the people who support them.
There is so much good and a lot of bad in the world. Please give the animals to a home if you can't deal with it. Cut the terrible suffering.
Saving the world - it's up to us all
Sir - Thanks to humankind, the course of destruction of our environment has been set.
Arrogance and a refusal to live within the laws of nature, population control, balanced use of resources and respect for our living space sees the human race and our allied non-human species swimming up the proverbial creek without a paddle.
Ireland is, as ever, behind the curve in facing this Armageddon, lacking a political class to lead and deal with the issues that seep into every aspect of our life on this island. Tugging at the hem of the climate change issue is not political action. As a society we need to buy into measures, no matter how lifestyle-changing and financially exacting, as a commitment towards saving our environment.
This is serious. As humans we must look to ourselves to make changes in our way of living as a micro-action deposit in the account of the next human generation, if that should come to pass. The usual tropes of saving the planet apply. Adopt a minimalist lifestyle, remove animal-based products from your diet, don't breed adopt instead, reduce your travel footprint and recycle/upcycle.
Many other actions can be added to this environmental call to arms. It may seem futile. But each action sends out a ripple that laps up on the boundary of another action thus creating an unstoppable wave.
But knowing there is a problem is half the battle; doing something based on our knowledge is the other half.
As a society we may be supping in the last chance saloon. Indeed, last call on planet earth may already have been shouted. But drawing on the wisdom from the saying 'the best way to predict your future is to create it' means humankind holds one chance to create a sustainable future on this planet.
Sir - Come election time we are all familiar with the slogan "it's the economy, stupid". This should be altered to "it's global warning, stupid".
David Attenborough proclaimed global warming to be "the greatest threat to humanity". There is nobody better qualified to know. There is not much good having a good economy if there are fewer of us here to enjoy it.
All hail GAA's grassroots heroes
Sir - Following the spectacular victory of Mullinalaghta St Columba's football team in the Leinster club SFC final, perhaps the Longford County Board might consider selecting the entire Mullinalaghta panel to represent the county in the 2019 All-Ireland GAA championship series.
Mullinalaghta's steely determination and self-belief brought them a well-deserved victory over two times all-Ireland club champions Kilmacud Crokes of Dublin.
Perhaps on a one-off basis, the Ard Chomhairle of the GAA might even consider sanctioning all 32 county club football and hurling champions to represent their respective counties in the all-Ireland Championship series.
It is primarily the club players who, in their spare time, play for the love of the game with no monetary compensation, who epitomise the original ideals of the GAA. They are the true sporting heroes.
The GAA at club and parish level is a sporting organisation that places community above self. It is the soul of a society of people of diverse political, cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, all of whom subscribe to the notion of loyalty to the common good exclusively on the premise of volunteer participation and we have a collective duty to future generations to pass on this heritage as it was passed on to us.
Thanks for the tax
Sir - Would you please print a big thank you this Christmas to the great taxpayers of this country. They don't get the praise they deserve.
For the roads, paths, street lights, hospitals, day care centres. I could go on but I must keep this letter short.
They nearly broke us but you, the taxpayer, saved the day, you picked up the pieces. They don't do Christmas awards for taxpayers, but if they did I would nominate you, the taxpayer.
So thank you and a very happy Christmas.
DUP set for fall
Sir - After pride comes a fall. Surely at least the DUP, from its biblical studies, must be aware of this wisdom. Adam was tempted into believing he could become all-knowing, with disastrous consequences.