Sir - I guess I have arrived a little late to the most recent controversy around Kim Kardashian. I only noticed the image in question (along with the debate it was causing) when it popped up in my Facebook feed this morning. My first reaction was "Whhhaaaatttt?!"
I just don't understand this woman, she constantly seeks validation through an ongoing parade of images ranging from the bizarre to the gratuitous.
Is it insecurity? Narcissism? A bit of both?
Ignoring the reasons behind her constant need for attention, a more worrying thought crossed my mind.
What about the millions of young women who look up to this woman? They see this body and just think "perfection".
I admit I was pretty much in awe when I caught a peek. I gazed in misery at my mummy flab (alright, food flab) and felt a little pea green with envy. This lasted mere seconds before buttery toast called me downstairs, but I am no longer a vulnerable teenage girl, full of fears that her body just isn't 'right'. I worry that such selfies like Kim's are just putting too much pressure on young girls today to be tanned and thin without a wobble in sight.
An even more pressing concern for me is that I have a tiny lady in my house and I want my daughter to grow up with role models who are noted for their brains, their achievements and their gifts, not just the assets hiding under their t-shirts.
The internet is such a valuable tool (I use it every day) but it has led to people like Kim K perpetuating the belief that being hot is all about getting your boobs out and displaying your bits to millions of people.
I want my daughter to grow up thinking it's hot to use your brain, it's hot to study and it's hot to take care of yourself and others. Yes, be proud of your body but that body doesn't need the validation of others for you to feel pride in it.
Bodies are more than pieces of flesh to be ogled over, they are strong, they allow us to eat and drink, they let us play and run, they grow other people! We all have amazing bodies when you really think about it.
And, Kim K, this isn't about body image or anybody saying you should be ashamed of your body. Having pride in yourself and your body is an important message we all need to pass on to our children. However, I don't believe the proliferation of naked celeb selfies is the way to do this.
In fact it's encouraging vulnerable teenage girls to think it's cool to send naked photos of themselves over social media. Parents everywhere are trying to send the message that this isn't okay; that you may mean your image for private consumption but once online these images can end up anywhere and they last long after the pangs of puppy love have died away.
So please, Kim, for the sake of all the young girls who look up to you, think before you post. Save your fabulous bod (and it is pretty fab) for your husband.
Irish, even if I don't sound it
Sir - Amidst all the build-up to the 1916 rising and its preparations, we are talking about the past, what life was like then and who did what and then moving on. How Ireland has changed and come on since! Well there is still a lot of ignorance out there.
I am of Irish parents who had to leave their country during recessionary times in the late 1950s. I was born in England.
We came back home to Ireland 39 years ago and still to this day (the other night) I had to listen to someone tell me I'm not Irish because of my accent.
I am judged straight away, the finger is always pointed. These people don't know the reason for this and don't want to know why my accent is not Irish because of how my past life history changed it. Because that's what it was.
This is ignorance. We have seen many people moved away in the last recession.
They will have children in other countries. When the come home to Ireland, will they be branded not Irish.
Please, people, move on, don't keep pointing the finger all because of an accent.
Name and address with Editor
Rural community is not policed
Sir - I'm a southeastern-based member of An Garda Siochana, who does not wish to be identified, for obvious reasons. As I write this to you, I feel a sense of overwhelming sadness and anger.
The State has lost its will to protect our rural citizens. I sympathise with the family who lost their 62-year-old brother through an illness which was exacerbated as a result of him suffering a terrifying ordeal at the hands of four thugs who entered his farmhouse under the cover of darkness, tied him up and beat him.
Our hierarchy continue to state that we are tackling crime head on. This is far from the truth as there are occasions where two gardai will patrol an area of 80 square miles. The thugs can continue to rob and terrorise with impunity, without any fear of sanction.
My grandfather, 50 years ago, served in a rural garda station, where there were one sergeant and four gardai and this was commonplace in Ireland then with a smaller population.
The rural community is not being policed and to be told otherwise is a complete lie. Elderly and vulnerable people are going to bed at night in complete fear and this is not going to change any time soon.
The thugs, if stupid enough to be caught, will be afforded all the luxuries of our joke of a criminal justice system, where they are entitled to free legal aid, irrespective of how many previous times they have used this card. They can then opt to be tried by a judge and jury in a Circuit Court, get their junior and senior counsels - having never contributed anything worthwhile to society - while gardai, whose morale has never been lower, attempt to fight these thugs with their hands tied behind their backs.
It would be better to tackle the thugs who roam rural Ireland with the attention they deserve, transferring those gardai who I have viewed in large numbers on street corners in Dublin over the past number of weeks, awaiting the gang funerals, return to full recruitment, take the driftwood out of their cosy offices and get serious about our countryside.
I would request that my identity be withheld for fear of the repercussions within my organisation.
Name and address with Editor
Transition back to Civil War politics
Sir - Brendan O'Neill in his column (Sunday Independent, March 13) states that political observers have been asking voters: "What the hell are you trying to tell us?" in reference to the general election result. In the article, he also states that voters were neither predictable nor revolutionary.
They certainly weren't predictable, in that nobody foresaw the destruction of Fine Gael. In fact, at one stage last year, it was even postulated that Fine Gael might pull off a David Cameron/Conservative overall-majority type win at the expense of its Labour coalition partners.
Labour's fall from grace had been widely predicted and in the end came in at the lower end of predictions of disaster.
The answer to the above question might be found in the fact that, as stated in the article, the leftish parties of Labour, Sinn Fein and United Left Alliance in 2011 got more or less the same percentage of votes as those parties, combined with the Social Democrats, got in 2016 - 31.5pc and 27pc respectfully. A rearranging of the deckchairs, it might be argued.
There occurred a similar rearranging of the deckchairs with regards to the combined totals of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, from 53.5pc in 2011 to 49.9pc in 2016. Both combined groupings lost more or less the same overall percentage vote share, 4.5pc in the case of the former and 3.5pc in the case of the latter.
This vote haemorrhaging went broadly to Independents, who traditionally do not hold up to the same extent in subsequent elections. In the Galway West constituency, we mirrored these national patterns by small changes in personnel but bringing back two Fine Gaelers, a Fianna Failer and an Independent who had gone out but replacing a Labour TD with an Independent who was formerly in the Labour party. Hardly revolutionary, either.
So what can we possibly deduce from this? It appears to me that we are in a period of transition, but not in the way some parties from the Left imagine, i.e. a re-aligning of politics in Ireland along left/right divides, as is common in many European countries.
The transition is back to civil war politics, Fianna Fail are in the ascendancy, Fine Gael are in decline. It is for this reason, as well as many more, that Fianna Fail will not enter a grand coalition with Fine Gael.
Fine Gael will form a minority government as the lesser of two evils, the alternative being another election in which it would incur further losses.
Fianna Fail will bide its time, strike at an opportune moment and after the next election will emerge as the biggest party.
The status quo will be back. The more things change, the more they remain the same,
Sheltering under security umbrella
Sir - Dan O'Brien's comments on European security are a bit rich (Sunday Independent, March 6). Yes, it is indeed Nato that has maintained peace in Europe since World War Two and Ireland has sheltered under that US/UK nuclear umbrella without paying a penny, operating a disingenuous "neutrality" whilst/indulging in the luxury of whingeing about Sellafield's nuclear power. Recollections of Casement/Kaiser and De Valera/Hitler haven't gone away, you know.
Apart from Mr O'Brien's amnesia, the Sunday Independent 'trumps' the UK Sunday heavies for fearless incisive investigative journalism, and deserves to be read more widely over here.
Same problems across Atlantic
Sir - I just spent the past two weeks travelling in the USA, a country I know very well. I immigrated there when I was 18 and spent a large part of my life working there.
The Mayor of New York City is being blamed for the homeless problems there and, of course, the political people not in power have all the solutions to the problem. In addition, rising rents and lack of affordable housing has now reached crisis situation.
Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC , Chicago and San Francisco have identical problems... just to name a few.
President Obama's health plan is not working out. Hospitals are still overcrowded and the working middle-class have less take-home money than when he came to office.
Everywhere I went I heard people say: "We want changes." Perhaps this is the reason behind Trump's popularity.
The USA may be around 3,000 miles from Ireland, but something tells me that I've heard their problems and complaints someplace before.
Sir - I would like to congratulate Noel Walsh on his letter (Sunday Independent, March 13) and thank you for printing it. It is greatly appreciated and I would encourage Noel to pursue his efforts to reform the GAA, in spite of his setbacks.
The vast majority of the members of the GAA know that Congress is out of touch with present-day realities. The two-thirds-majority rule is the elephant in the room preventing any change. Everyone knows that. But that fact has to be repeated again and again before the conservative element at county board and at central council level will move.
They all look over their shoulder to see what way the wind is blowing. Yet there are a lot of good people in both groups who have done so much for the GAA. But in the meantime the games have seriously suffered, hurling as well as football.
With the advantage of more than 70 years of experience, I think I can claim to know what I am talking about.
Letters like Noel Walsh's help to bolster the case of the admirable columnists like Colm O'Rourke in their efforts.
Violence and anti-depressants
Sir - The air accident investigation agency in France has said that Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was using antidepressants when he crashed Flight 9525, carrying 150 people, into the Alps.
This tragedy is yet another example of the senseless violence consistently associated with the use of antidepressant drugs that have been documented to cause mania, psychosis, violence, and suicidal thoughts. It is now becoming commonplace to ask what psychiatric drugs the person was taking whenever there is a story of senseless violence around the world.
The safety of psychiatric drugs, especially antidepressants, has been questioned for years now and with so many violent deaths and suicides linked to their use, public safety is being compromised. And it's not just adults.
The World Health Organisation recently expressed concerns about the 54pc increase in the number of children who were prescribed antidepressants between 2005 and 2012. There is an ever-increasing list of children and adolescents who have taken their own lives after being prescribed a well-known antidepressant.
Worldwide, there have been 99 drug regulatory agency warnings that antidepressants cause side effects. Of those warnings, 35 concerned suicide risk, and suicide attempts. There have also been 119 studies in 12 countries on antidepressant-induced side effects. Of those studies, 23 of them concerned antidepressants causing suicide, suicide risks and suicide attempts.
The trail of destruction is most vivid when scrutinising the schoolyard massacres. At least 31 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, resulting in 162 wounded and 72 killed.
Psychiatrists and drug companies commonly say that the benefits of the drugs outweigh the risks.
It would be more accurate to say that the profits of the drugs outweigh the risks.
Citizens Commission on Human Rights (United Kingdom)
Memories of Nelson's Pillar
Sir - Your evocative article recalling the demolition of Nelson Pillar (Sunday Independent, March 13) prompted some 'flashbulb memories' of my own.
I have a vivid memory of the morning of March 8, 1966, when at about 7am my father astonished us at home by telling us: "Mr Grant says that Nelson's Pillar has been blown up - it was on the BBC News!"
Mr Grant was a neighbour of ours and at that time Radio Eireann was a part-time service, only coming on the air at 8am. The fact that the BBC had reported the explosion meant that it was major news.
As my father and I worked in the same inner-city premises, he drove us both to work every day, passing through O'Connell Street on our way to Summerhill.
Shortly after 8am that day, as we approached O'Connell Bridge from Westmoreland Street, a surreal sight greeted our eyes, as we saw the jagged stump of the half-blown-up column, with large chunks of rubble strewn around its base.
O'Connell Street itself was cordoned off and we had to make a detour. It was the most dramatic sight I had ever seen, it looked like a battle zone.
The year 1966 also marked, of course, the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. To me as an 18-year-old youth, just as the swinging Sixties were taking hold, 1916 seemed such a distant era, "that foreign country of the past".
Half a century has elapsed since that day, the same time-interval which to me then seemed so vast. Now it too has vanished, like Nelson and his pillar, into thin air.