Leo's vision for society
Sir - Leo Varadkar's vision for Ireland as set out in last week's Sunday Independent was very reasonable. Ireland has been sent into massive depressions after Fianna Fail governments as a matter of course due to their tendency to tax and squander. That said, the question arises who needs action when you have words?
The Fianna Fail Universal Service Charge is still largely in place and places an outrageous burden on workers. No other country in the world has a Universal Service Charge - so how is that universal? FG/Labour decimated private pensions to prop up the elites - legal but morally the same as the Northern Bank raid.
If we wanted just fine words we could vote for Sinn Fein who have the finest words -equality, fairness, etc but have the most outrageously unfair and unequal taxation policies.
Liam Nicholas, Tulla,
Garda surrounded by a wall of silence
Sir - Where do we draw the line under the whistleblower saga? Where do we go in the search for truth and hope? I would suggest the superbly written 'Did dark forces try to silence Garda McCabe?' by Gene Kerrigan (Sunday Independent, February 12) to be the perfect place. An article of the highest quality, incorporating historical context, factual content and surgical comment.
As a family member touched by a tragedy which led us into conflict with An Garda Siochana, I have encountered those "dark forces", the rumour mill and the dishonesty. I am positive that this article has now given the prospect of truth and the gift of hope not only to the family of Maurice McCabe and other whistleblowers but also to hundreds of families that have experienced the wall of silence and the blind loyalty that surrounds An Garda Siochana.
My native County Donegal featured prominently in the story of garda misadventure. Well known and published events of two decades ago which could have changed the public perception of An Garda Siochana and to help remove the arrogance that prevailed towards citizens of this State. Yet nothing changed, the belief that they can uphold the law, that they can interpret the law and that they can inflict deep pain - judge, jury and executioner.
Give us all our truth and please give all our loved ones, the real victims in this scenario, the justice that they deserve.
Management of force is shameful
Sir - Since September 1922 to date, 19 Garda Commissioners have "led" An Garda Siochana. Four Commissioners were removed or resigned/retired over events on their watch.
Since 1996, governments have established formal inquiries and another is about to start. The damage to the people directly affected in the first instance is only part of the story - the financial costs for all of us and reputational cost to the members of the force who gave honest service is appalling.
Who can now rescue the reputation of An Garda Siochana from its own management and protect us from footing the multi-million costs that will ensue from the upcoming tribunal? All superintendents and above were appointed by Cabinet decisions.
A Policing Authority, Garda Inspectorate and Garda Ombudsman Commission have all been put in place to try to control the dysfunctional management of the force. The appalling levels of incompetence at the top levels in the force should be a cause of personal shame to the those who wear the white shirts.
McCabe wanted justice but got pain
Sir - Eight years is a huge chunk out of a life of a man, especially if you were doing what you saw as right.
Gene Kerrigan's masterful piece (Sunday Independent, February 12) so elegantly, tastefully and truly summed up the whole saga. Maurice McCabe was only trying to see justice evenly distributed, not a two or three-tiered system where justice is incorrectly slanted. What he got was a first-class example of how the system is weighted to suit others higher up the chain.
Ineptitude was real life imitating farce
Sir - Revelations of a sinister and detestable smear campaign against Sergeant McCabe and other brave gardai who exposed corruption and bad practices within our police force have been described as Kafka-esque.
But I wonder if the great Franz Kafka would even have conceived of such a sordid, shameful episode that dehumanises those involved in addition to causing hurt and suffering to the people targeted.
And the ineptitude displayed by ministers in their response to the revelations leaves one wondering how they ever got to hold the nation's destiny in their hands. Their collective bumbling calls to mind how Father Ted reacted when struggling to account for being found with the missing whistle of Craggy Island, conjuring up a wildly elaborate version of events, only to change the story as the situation changes: real life imitating farce.
How anyone, let alone gardai, could stoop so low as to make the kind of false allegations that ought to draw the full weight of the law on any citizen who deployed such horrible tactics is beyond my understanding.
Apart from a tribunal getting to the heart of what happened, we should not be content until we can switch on the news and see those responsible for the hurtful smear being led away in handcuffs to a prison van... by some of those decent gardai we trust to protect us.
Hit restart button
Sir - Nothing short of dismantling, rebuilding and renaming An Garda Siochana will suffice. The brand is broken beyond redemption.
One rule for one...
Sir - The Policing Authority has expressed its confidence in the Garda Commissioner. It was extremely remiss of the authority not to express its confidence in Sergeant McCabe, too.
Basket has a couple of rotten apples
Sir - Get the house in order. It's very easy to see what has happened here. I don't even have to mention what I am writing about - the dogs on the street would know. "When you have a basket of apples, there are always one or two rotten."
Close the door on your way out, Enda
Sir - Isn't it peculiar how the emphasis switched in the space of one week from an ordinary policeman to a political leader and how we should let him down easy?
Maurice McCabe, a man they tried to drag through the mud like no other Irishman in the history of the State, not only him but his family too, to be falsely accused of child abuse must surely be the most vile accusation any human being can be accused of. So what does the future have in store for him? Well, for a start he will probably have to wait for years before his name is cleared - an outcome he may be thankful for, because to live under this type of pressure must be unbearable .
So it looks like Enda will be under the spotlight for the next few weeks until a new leader emerges from the ranks.
All the time the airwaves and newspapers are crammed with Fine Gael TDs telling us what a fine Taoiseach he has been and how he brought us back from the brink of economic catastrophe.
This is a scenario best put to the hundreds of families in B&Bs, or the people on hospital waiting lists and the hundreds on trolleys in the same hospitals, or the people who paid into private pensions only to have the Government raid them with a percentage levy.
So, Enda, make sure you close the door on your way out, and please spare us the Shakespeare quotations.
The real cost of dementia care
Sir - Saint Joseph's Shankill was named as receiving the highest per week payment from the State in the voluntary/private nursing home sector (Sunday Independent, February 12).
The €1,325 we get is still 20pc less than we need to break even, even with the many cost-saving initiatives and non-replacement of retiring staff over the last few years. We only manage to continue to provide care because of the financial support of Saint John of God Hospital CLG.
Saint Joseph's is the only care home in Ireland solely dedicated to dementia care and we are the largest dementia specialist care unit in the country.
Three-quarters of our residents are "maximum dependency", requiring especially skilled, trained and devoted staff.
If we had access to the same financial support as HSE-funded homes we could break even and implement our expansive plans to support people living with dementia in the community.
Our vision is to lead the way in dementia care and to become Ireland's first dementia village. We believe we have the expertise and passion to spearhead a dementia-friendly community here in Shankill and beyond.
We need the Department of Health and the HSE to believe and value that, too.
Saint Joseph's Shankill,
Anger over aims and blames of feminism
Sir - I want to take issue with two articles by Niamh Horan (Sunday Independent, January 29 and February 12).
Both reinforce archaic gender stereotypes which do a grave disservice to women and men. Both also misrepresent feminism and its aims.
Contrary to what Ms Horan infers, feminism is focused on injustice, not domination.
Its wins for women are wide-ranging. To list them all would be impossible but selected highlights include: the establishment of vital services for domestic violence, reproductive health, and sexual violence; outlawing marital rape; demanding equal pay for equal work and the right to maternity leave; ensuring women have equality of access to education; winning women the vote.
The success of second-wave feminism led to a well-documented and sustained backlash, orchestrated in part by sections of the media.
Ms Horan's articles could certainly be construed as part of this effort to undermine the gains of the movement by misrepresenting its aims and misappropriating blame.
Ms Horan should understand that feminism is not monolithic; it is a diverse, vibrant school of thought and activism. Feminism does not dictate what women want; it fights for the conditions that allow women to choose in every aspect of their lives.
A long-standing aim of feminism has been the realisation of a more liveable world for all, women and men alike. Ms Horan would do well to remember the words of Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote in 1792: "I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves."
Disgraceful wait for essential care
Sir - I think it is disgraceful the amount of time very sick people have to wait for essential care. This includes sick children and cancer patients waiting for treatment and procedures and conditions that are often getting worse. Where has Ireland's basic Christianity gone for those who are suffering?
Vulgarity on 'The Late Late Show'
Sir - I was disgusted and saddened to witness such a vulgar, brash and embarrassing show as The Late Late Show on Friday, February 10. It is hard to imagine a group of young adults portraying a sex-hungry, cheap-talking pack of so-called educated people sinking so low.
How can they allow themselves to be filmed to an Irish nation with actions and vulgar talk like we witness in our houses?
How must Gay Byrne and Pat Kenny feel having compered the longest-running chat show in history without having to stoop so low? God help our children to see this bilge and think it is normal. I certainly won't be tuning in any more.
Returning the party to power
Sir - Jody Corcoran's article (Sunday Independent, February 12) is an eye-opener in relation to the media coverage of the future of Irish politics.
Corcoran's article takes for granted that Stephen Donnelly and his new political party colleagues, who were in power throughout the Celtic Tiger and the consequent collapse, will be in power after the next election and that Donnelly will be education minister.
Here is one of the high priests of the Irish media, who covered the democratic discourse throughout the whole period and saw the consequences to ordinary people of the reckless decisions made in Celtic Tiger times, assuming without question the return to power of the people who bankrupted the country.