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Leo Varadkar has got to be joking with his healthy staff plan


Scheme: Leo Varadkar

Scheme: Leo Varadkar

Scheme: Leo Varadkar

I read with great hilarity of Health Minister Leo Varadkar's plans for a healthier (and therefore a happy) public service. As a nurse in a very busy public hospital, we rarely get the chance to frequent the canteen.

Indeed, after 3pm and at the weekends there is no canteen left open in our hospital. Unlike the minister, of course, who has the choice of three restaurants and two bars.

We do, of course, endeavour to eat healthily - however, most days we are unable to take the full break time allocated and often as a result eat "on the hoof". I believe if it weren't for chocolate and toast, hospitals would not function at all!

The minister suggests we set up running, walking or other exercise groups. One of my colleagues wore a "step counter" recently and had completed 10,000 steps in the first four hours of the shift.

However, the most "amusing" part of the minister's plan is "supporting positive mental health and wellbeing by encouraging employees to deal with stress".

If the Minister is serious about this he might publish the long-awaited report into staffing carried out by the Chief Nursing officer and then address the simply unsafe and unsustainable levels of staffing at the frontline.

This would address most of the stresses that nurses endure on the frontline and might free us up to eat healthily in the canteen - and go for a walk on the lunchtime break we might be able to take.

Caitriona Ní Mhurchú

Firhouse, Dublin 24


The continuing Greek tragedy

The headlong rush led by Germany and France, attempting to create a "United States of Europe" almost overnight, shows that politicians ignore history, as usual.

A vision requires men and women of intellect, steeped in literature and poetry. Alas, the only thing the current heads of government in the EU are steeped in is adoration of Mammon.

The only advice one can give them is to re-examine events of October 1917, when the serfs said "enough is enough, we may as well die fighting as starving".

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia


I refer to your editorial 'A durable agreement is now the only option' (June 22).

There is no durable agreement; there can be no durable agreement as long as the European establishment refuses to face up to the fact that historical economic ideology is inadequate to deal with modern technological economics. We are producing too much of everything for business to survive, let alone flourish, and our jobs are being gobbled up by automation.

No amount of fiscal gobbledygook can deny this and continue to pretend "growth" is feasible in an oversupply situation. Yet all remedy depends on growth; it's not needed any more and no longer possible.

Greece is just first into the impossible breach; after that it's anybody's guess who will be next.

Padraic Neary

Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo


Harm of alcohol abuse The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 can reduce the number of men, women and children in Ireland who die or are harmed by alcohol use.

It will set a minimum unit price for alcohol, add labels with health warnings, restrict advertising and separate it from everyday groceries. International evidence shows this can change our relationship with alcohol, save lives and free up our hospitals beds.

A minimum unit price for alcohol won't have any impact for the majority of drinkers but can change our relationship with alcohol, particularly for our young people and hazardous drinkers, at whom it is targeted.

Some 80pc of Irish adults consume alcohol and more than half are classified as harmful drinkers; 10pc of those who consume alcohol are dependent - rising to 15pc among 18-24 year olds.

Alcohol is a factor in half of all suicides. Three people in Ireland die every day as a result of alcohol use - more than the number killed on the roads - and alcohol is classified as carcinogenic and linked to seven types of cancer. Let's support the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.

Prof Frank Murray, Chair, Alcohol Health Alliance Ireland


Ireland's migrant responsibility

So far this year, the Irish Navy has rescued about 1,700 people in the Mediterranean and deposited them in Italy. Not surprisingly, Italy has great difficulty coping with the huge numbers of asylum seekers, expected to exceed 200,000 in 2015.

Yet the Irish Navy is landing hundreds of additional migrants in Italy each week.

Ireland has clear obligations with regard to refugees and asylum seekers under the UN Refugee Convention 1951. Yet instead of taking our fair share of asylum seekers, Ireland has been using another convention known as the Dublin III Regulation to send asylum seekers back to the country where they first entered the EU or the other four countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) who are part of Dublin III regulations.

However, since the Irish Naval ship LE Eithne is arguably the equivalent of Irish sovereign territory when on the high seas, any asylum seekers taken on board an Irish naval vessel should be entitled to apply for asylum in Ireland.

Irish people fleeing hunger, poverty and persecution have found refuge in many foreign countries, even in recent times. It's time we lived up to our humanitarian obligations.

Dr Edward Horgan

Castletroy, Limerick


Too much Green

Will someone please explain to me how Eamon Ryan still receives so much coverage?

In the last 10 days alone, he has been on radio to discuss bicycles and pedestrians in College Green and on TV discussing the Pope and climate change.

This is a man who has been rejected by the voters at both the last general election and European elections, but he is still given considerably more air time than most actual elected representatives.

The argument that he is a party leader and so warrants coverage is slightly ridiculous, considering his party has zero members of the Oireachtas or the European Parliament and maybe a dozen councillors in the whole country.

He should be entitled to no more coverage than the Workers' Party or Éirígí or other fringe parties with no national representatives.

Peter Cosgrove

Wellington Bridge, Co Wexford

Irish Independent