Sir - I attended a bonfire last night (Tuesday the eve of St Johns) and had a great time, like I did years ago.
What's so great or odd about that you may ask? Well, the thing is I was on my own in my own back garden and I utilised all available combustible material. I sat down on a tree stump and reminisced on bonfires gone by. I looked around in all directions, but there was not sight nor light of another bonfire to be seen in any direction, and I thought what a change and what a pity.
On bonfire night in this locality there would be a bonfire in every village, and there would be singing and dancing and drinking and eating done around the fire.
The craic and joviality would be there in abundance and each village would attempt to have a bigger bonfire and more of a crowd than their neighbours. Old and young would come together on this special night to lend support with collecting firewood etc and supply of drinks and food.
I pined for the olden days when my mates and I would look forward to the bonfire with glee, and would try and have one over on other villages by raiding their store of timber and tyres, or beating them to that wind-fallen tree.
Where are those friends of yore now I thought, many overseas, many more passed on, and only the very odd one in the locality now.
It's so sad,I thought, that all the old traditions are fading away gradually, we have no time for the friendly banter and craic of the olden days, no time to talk to our neighbour. If this is progress it has come at a price,and what is the point when life is so short anyway.
Why should I be the only odd one out I thought, so I sauntered into the house, opened a can of beer, put my feet up, and watched a repeat of Miriam on TV. Progress?
Murt Hunt, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo
Powerful analysis of this country
Sir I have just finished reading "Clerys is not a department store - it's an opportunity" by Gene Kerrigan (June21) and I must express my compliment to the author for the great analysis he offers to us, the readers.
Mr Kerrigan points out clearly the role of the politicians in the modern Irish society: they are simply the expression not of those who voted for them but of the bankers, builders, developers and financial capital who need to be bailed out or be helped with the Insolvency Payment Scheme.
The parliament has passed a series of laws that allow the speculative capital to treat the workers as a disposable asset: they regard labour "as a lesser species, an unfortunate necessity, that should be paid as little as possible, be infinitely malleable and disposed without fuss".
If you are in doubt where European society is going, then you just need to look at modern Ireland where, as Mr Kerrigan points out, "wages are pushed down", labour conditions are worsened, and where labour regulations are made useless. "Entry-level jobs have, in many cases, been replaced by free labour scheme".
Ireland is, since the start of the recession a lab where transformations of the society are implemented first as a test and then applied to other countries which still resist those changes from top.
Mr Kerrigan is very clear on the direction of those changes and I couldn't agree more; the only observation I would put forward is that his article unfortunately does not give any indication on what to do. It is very good to analyse, but there is a need for an alternative project for Ireland and for Europe and nobody has so far the courage and the willingness to draw it. The question remains: do we have to remain passive in face of this state of things?
Mr Kerrigan's description of modern Ireland is very powerful "Modern Ireland is designed to work best for the speculative capital" and everyone should ponder on the meaning and implications of this design.
We need articles like this, but we need also propositive, alternative visions, alternative "designs" for our society.
Maurizio Bisogno, Kenmare, Co Kerry
Sir - If the statue of Jim Larkin 'came to life' as has been strangely suggested lately, and had something to say about Clerys shop, he would probably say nothing at all about the place closing. He would be more concerned with shouting out to the place and to the street generally: "Just look at the ridiculously long arms they gave me!"
Robert Sullivan, Bantry, Co Cork
Time for action
Sir - When you look at how people are treated differently, it is hard to understand the humanity of it all. When a civil servant retires or loses his/her job because he/she is no longer required they get compensated for their loss, the same with politicians but when a worker after 40 years of service loses his/her job through no fault of their own they are shown the exit door. No question of compensation, holiday pay, bonus or even whatever they are due.
There is something drastically wrong with this situation and it is time that this situation was thoroughly examined and ways found to protect the rights of the worker. Politicians come on to the television crying foul and saying that all that can be done will be done to help those involved. The sole thing done is that those who were thrown out of their jobs will get 'Back to Work Allowance' as soon as possible.
No tens of thousands in compensation for these unfortunates. No fat cat pensions to retire on. I wonder what Larkin would have would have thought of it all. I will tell you what I think he would have done. He would have organised marches daily through the streets of Dublin. He would have all of the unions strike so that this situation would never happen again.
Oh I know what will be said 'Think of all of the new jobs that will be created when the new Clerys is up and running.' But I tell you this: as long as the worker can be treated in this manner he/she is little better than a dog in the street.
It is time for those politicians who are elected by the worker to get off of their asses and get motivated for worker protection. It is time for the trade unions to do their job. It is time for the law to be changed so that the workers are compensated first from any remaining monies rather than to be left at the end of the queue. There is no point in waiting for the next one to happen, the time to get things changed is now.
Michael O Meara, Killarney, Co Kerry
Narrative of 'folly'
Sir - Congratulations to Shane Coleman (June 21) for highlighting the fact that the country was bankrupt by the 'folly' of the decisions made by a small number of our own most powerful citizens in charge of our own most powerful political and financial institutions during the years of the boom, and not by the decision made on the night of the bank guarantee.
His complaint is that saying that does not fit with the present banking inquiry media 'narrative' and is a point well made.
He fails to mention, however, that the media narrative of the boom years failed to challenge the folly of those years. That needs to be acknowledged if, as he says, all our powerful institutions are to 'make sure it never happens again'.
A Leavy, Sutton, Dublin 13
Staunton's record against O'Neill's
Sir - When Steve Staunton parted company with the FAI, their chief executive John Delaney stated that history would be kind to the Dundalk man.
Eamonn Sweeney began the march towards redemption for Staunton on Sunday when he compared his record to Martin O'Neill. People are beginning to realise that maybe they were a bit too quick to call for Staunton's head.
I suspect that, in the future, a few years after John Delaney has departed the FAI there, will be similar thoughts about him from the likes of Sweeney and his colleagues in the press box.
Nobody who has been in football as long as I have can argue with the job John Delaney has done. In 10 years he achieved things that we only previously dreamed about - a modern home for Irish football, a proper headquarters, a national training centre, development officers on the ground, emerging talent programmes across the country plus more people playing the game with better pitches and better facilities than before.
We've hosted the 2011 Europa League Cup Final, will be part of Euro 2020 and now the UEFA Regions Cup is taking place here.
History will also be kind to John Delaney. So wouldn't it make sense not to hound him and let him get on with the excellent job he is currently doing. When you think of how much he has achieved in 10 years one can only imagine what he can do over the next decade if he is allowed to get on with the job.
Chris Hand, Athlone, Co Westmeath
The very fine Percy French
Sir - I enjoyed Johnny Duhan's article on Percy French (June 21). I think that Percy and his collaborators were among the best songwriters in the world of any era. He was a Renaissance man, also having been a civil engineer and a noted watercolour artist.
He was equally adept at humour and gaiety as with sadness and nostalgia. Some of his songs were a bit stage Irish, but that adds to their appeal. I'd love to have gone to Phil the Fluters Ball - and in Slattery's Mounted Foot are lines which the Dail would do well to observe: "All liquor must be settled for, before the drink is served."
Brendan O'Dowda (1925-2002) is the definitive exponent of Percy French's songs, and a collection of 25 of them is one of my favourite CDs. On it I recently discovered a lovely barbershop type song, Oklahoma Rose.
Johnny Duhan himself has written a classic song Don't Give Up Till It's Over, which has itself become a standard. I have a great version by PJ Murrihy - and so finally "it being the 23rd of June, the day before the fair" (Spancil Hill) that I'm writing this.
Hugh Owens, Douglas, Cork
Support for Greece
Sir- I don't understand the Taoiseach's refusal to support a reduction in Greece's debt.
If Greece fails who knows for sure the full implications for everybody else in the eurozone? I'm sure some technocrat has all the details worked out just like they did in 2008!
We should support Greece in securing a debt reduction. That might pave the way for some concessions for us and our debt mountain.
In addition Greece have had to deal with some 60,000 illegal immigrants coming ashore.
The Greek people need our support right now.
A concern for one is a concern for all.
Killian Brennan, Malahide Road, Dublin 17
Monsignor treads on 'sacred' ground
Sir - In his letter last Sunday, Monsignor Geraghty (June 21) bemoans the loss of "the sense of the sacred".
My recollection of the "sense of the sacred" was public displays of unquestioning belief in those aspects of the supernatural which were part of Church teaching - things like heaven and hell, Sodalities, Redemptorist's retreats, May processions, reserved sins and all sorts of other devices which served principally to control.
The clergy held the keys to the kingdom of heaven - and hell for all eternity awaited those who opposed church teaching.
Fortunately, most people have left all that old codswallop behind - if they believe in heaven at all, they know that no clergyman can block the entry of anyone who has led a decent life.
However, it is Monsignor Geraghty's response to Colum Kenny's comments on the congregations' belief - or otherwise - in transubstantiation that I wish to take issue with. Monsignor Geraghty states that Kenny's remarks were "wrong and disrespectful… and wholly offensive to people of faith".
The real issue here is that Monsignor Geraghty's position is based on the same proposition that led to the Charlie Hebdo killings - that religious belief itself is somehow sacred and should never be questioned or challenged, and, when it is challenged, believers are entitled to feel "offended".
This readiness to take offence, is, of course, simply one more control mechanism to prevent criticism of the church. This practice is wrong, of course - but even if it were right, I would ask the monsignor when was the last time his church, showed any respect for humanist or atheist beliefs? Does the monsignor consider non-believers are as much entitled to be protected from "offence" as believers?
Of course there is absolutely no reason why any belief - religious or non-religious - should be protected from "offence" by others.
What is truly offensive is the Catholic Church's abuse of its power in forcing many non-believers to go through the charade of sacraments.
In terms of belief, most people going to the church rituals for "hatch, match and dispatch" can hardly be described as Catholics. Most of them don't accept Catholic teaching on contraception, divorce, homosexuality, celibate male clergy, women clergy - and many would also support abortion in very limited circumstances.
But despite this, there is an increasing number are "compulsory Catholics" - those who have their children baptised simply to ensure their child's entry to the local, fully funded school, but which happens to be under the control of the Catholic Church.
Of course the church is fully aware of this practice, but it is simply one more sign of its moral collapse that it will allow one of its sacraments to be abused, mocked and exploited rather than lose one iota of its control over State education.
Anthony O'Leary, Portmarnock, Co Dublin
Sir- The Catholic Church throughout the world is dying from daily scandals, one much worse than the other. The most horrific of all is the abuse of innocent children, what if anything can it do to redeem itself?
To have any chance of survival it must first throw off the shackles of finery in garments and goblets of gold and silver. It must sell off or dispense with the marble palaces and give the proceeds to the poor.
Fred Molloy, Dublin 15
Sir - Colm O'Rourke, you lobbed a grenade into 'Nama overseeing the greatest plundering of Ireland's land assets since Cromwell' (June 21).
Carefully, you have got every single word correct, highlighting the unprecedented nature of the mechanics of the National Asset Management Agency and a government hovering in the clouds.
Bring back Lemass.
Books and pages will be written on this subject. Don't bother to read them, your article will be a debt to history.
Joe McGowan, Dublin 18