• The response of Eamon Gilmore to the recent humiliation of the Labour Party in Meath East leaves much to be desired.
This is the tip of the iceberg for 2014 unless something big happens, and soon.
It is clear that the party leader and the people around him are rudderless – they have no plan to get us out of this mess, and their leadership is a liability to the party.
We cannot regain the confidence of the electorate under our current leadership – Eoin Holmes was the first innocent casualty of this, and there will be many more the longer it continues.
We essentially have until the end of the summer to change this situation – after that, we are in 2014 territory and it will be too late.
Party members should at least be mature enough to admit this: if we let this continue into 2014, we will be wiped off the political map at a local level.
That won't be the fault of the councillors, any more than the events of last week were the fault of Eoin Holmes.
What is urgently needed is root-and-branch reform, but that cannot and will not happen under the current leadership.
It is a barrier electorally, structurally and politically, and it is the first such barrier that needs to be torn down if we're to have any chance.
This will not happen on its own – members need to start asserting themselves to make it happen. The time for trying to do it quietly and internally is long past.
Ordinary members or councillors need to start writing to our TDs, to head office and to the media.
We need to secure the resignation of Eamon Gilmore as leader of the Labour Party because if we don't, we can't initiate needed internal and directional reform – and if we can't do that, then we've already lost both the party and the electorate.
We've been afforded a wake-up call with this by-election – let's not waste it.
Ex-Labour Party Central Council member,
Keep up war on tobacco
• Health Minister James Reilly has received a lot of negative press recently, and thankfully he seems to have rowed back (at least temporarily) on the decision to destroy 1.5 million blood spot cards, but his promotion of aggressive tobacco control legislation is to be lauded. It is hoped that the introduction of graphic images on cigarette packaging, which has proved so successful in Australia, allied to effective media campaigns including online/social media approaches, will have the desired effect.
In 2004, Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce a smoking ban and recent Irish research evaluating the contribution of this and other policies over the past 25 years has shown a significant reduction in smoking prevalence which has contributed to 1,700 fewer smoking-related deaths here. So let's take the vested interest out of the debate on smoking cessation here and continue to pursue policies that will reduce the consumption of cigarettes, thereby providing a healthier environment for our children and their children.
Prof Mark Lawler
Rent ruling was wise
• May I commend the decision of the High Court last week in which it ruled that rent payable must be allowed to fall in line with market value. This is a very positive outcome for the many thousands of businesses that are at breaking point and cannot afford this ridiculous present situation of upward-only rent reviews and are therefore laying off workers.
I speak as someone whose employer paid more than €42,000 for rental of an office in 2007. Other new companies in the same office blocks are now paying €16,000 per year rental in Dublin 18.
Kenny should take a cut
• The Taoiseach has said some RTE salaries are "extraordinary".
While I agree with him, I am at a loss to understand why he never seems to have an issue with his own salary, which is still one of the highest paid to a government leader in the world. Bearing in mind we are going through a serious bailout with austerity measures imposed on all, perhaps he should be more concerned with the level of his own pay.
Global warming no joke
• Paul Harrington (Irish Independent, March 30) is too flippant when he asks: "Which aspect of global warming manifests itself in daytime temperatures of 3C in Ireland at the end of March?"
This country has a very good climate when compared with most places at our latitude – the Gulf Stream brings warm water from semi-tropical parts of the ocean to our shores.
If – and it is a big if – the phenomenon of global warming is melting the ice in the Arctic and letting a mass of cold water flow south into the Atlantic, it could disrupt the Gulf Stream. We might then get colder while the world in general would get warmer.
Someone who knows more about meteorology than I do will no doubt throw more light on that subject.
Meanwhile, I would not joke about it, as the joke might be on us.
Don't let FF rule again
• I have been paying close attention to polls which show Fianna Fail on the rise again (up to 29pc) with the electorate. It seems to me that voters are suffering collective amnesia. Is this not the same FF that forced us to accept a wave of austerity measures imposed by the IMF and ECB?
The current government was left a poison economic chalice. Now it seems that people are fed up with the Coalition, to judge from what happened to Labour in last week's Meath East by-election. There now seems to be a hard core within the electorate ready to forgive FF for its sins, even the ones that led us to financial meltdown.
The next time anyone considers voting for Fianna Fail, on the way to the polling booth they should take a look at the unfinished housing estates. Also, take a moment to remember the families who are struggling to make ends meet because they listened to Bertie Ahern insisting that people needed to get on the property ladder or miss the boat.
Surely no right-thinking Irish person could want to rebuild the political animal that destroyed this country?
That's sad – too bad
• For crying out loud! When is everyone going to get off the trendy bandwagon of self-pitying mini-celebs bawling their eyes out and claiming they've been to hell and back?
What with black dogs stalking and "God-but-I've-suffered" whimpering, it's as if there is no joy in saying the dark and sad bits are all part of life.
If it's any consolation, the whole world is p***ed off. There are, sadly, many afflicted by mental anguish who need constant care, but they won't make it into the news.
They are the anonymous sufferers who live and die in pain, and we will never hear their names or see their glossy photos. Be brave, don't use depression as a badge of honour.
Bantry, Co Cork