Letters: Golden gorse a treasured reminder of how lucky we are
Gorse in bloom is a spring glory on the steep hills surrounding Belfast Lough.
Pretty trees are silhouetted against the skyline hills visible on the Belfast to Whitehead rail journey. But even more wonderful are the streaks of gold lower down, where it looks as if an almighty hand has skilfully applied layers of yellow pastel dye to the picture. The impressive colour of gorse (also called “whin”) calls to mind an old family story which we remember with great fondness.
Many years ago my late grandfather met a “new” sister from the steel town of Hamilton in Ontario. The family had been forced to migrate en masse from rural Tyrone at a time of early 1900s hardship. But my grandfather stayed on in Ireland, and only saw his own father once more, when the older man made a single return trip by boat. My great-grandfather, much to the amusement of his household in Hamilton, took a block of Irish turf “from his own moss” back to Canada, and gave it pride of place on the mantelpiece.
We each attach a perspective or value, to places or people or objects, based on our own deep-seated unconscious prejudices.
And so it was with the gloriously golden whin bushes of an Irish May, when my grandfather’s sister (born and raised in Ontario) eventually came to meet him and see her parents’ original home farm.
Olive adored the golden gorse bushes of Co Tyrone and thought them stunningly pretty. My grandfather, in total contrast, had spent decades in a battle against the whin.
The siblings were delighted to meet and to muse on the hidden bonds uniting them, even if their opinion on whin was different. Whin is both a friend and a foe, a paradise flower and a pestilence to farm profit. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.
It is good to count our blessings in this post-pandemic time. The Fastnet or Inishtrahull lighthouses were the final sight of Ireland for past generations of Irish migrants in transit, symbols of the separation or splintering of families.
Even if our food prices or basic service charges have risen, we should be very grateful for full shelves in larders and a relatively comfortable lifestyle; something our forebears never tasted or envisaged.
Ireland may be wealthy, but it is steeped in poverty
For some strange reasons, known only to the CSO, IMF, ECB and other so-called experts on GDP, GNP and XYZ, we are considered one of the wealthiest countries on the planet.
This being the case, how come we: struggle to adequately house our citizens, have a very poor transport infrastructure, an equally poor gas network, no idea on how to manage our immigrants safely, a very dubious attitude to neutrality and an appalling record on defending our shores and airspace.
Wise up. We might be rich in monetary terms, but we are very poor when it comes to reality.
Dublin’s history is being sold for a quick turnover
Reading Andrew Lynch regarding unsocial behaviour around the Temple Bar area was instructive (‘How can Temple Bar be saved from an upsurge in thuggery?’, Independent.ie, May 19).
“It’s like a third world country,” one businessman said.
For me it goes back to Charlie Haughey’s idea to make “history in the life of the city”.
Instead of doing so, there was too strong a focus on the quick turnover. Another example of things going wrong can be found down at the quays.
Dublin City Council’s concrete bunker was built on the Viking site at Wood Quay. Had it been developed properly, bearing in mind its unique history regarding our capital, it too would “make history in the life of the city”.
But in my opinion, we came up short on both.
Workplace drug testing could eradicate addiction
With male admissions to drug rehabilitation centres doubling, the so-called recreational use of drugs is ultimately and obviously leading to a good percentage of users becoming addicted.
With the introduction of random drug testing in all sectors of industry in this country, we could wipe out much of this problem before we get to a crisis point. Recreational drug-takers use cocaine to lengthen the night and give them more fun time. But if that fun time came with the chance of losing their job, then I believe the vast majority would opt for another drink or just head home.
This side of cocaine use is fully preventable and every employee handbook should include the company’s right to test for drugs with dismissal for failures.
There also needs to be a government-backed initiative to help finance these tests. With a little bit of ingenuity, we can beat this.
Ayrfield Road, Dublin
Focus on Trump distracts us from important issues
Is there no end to the vilification of Donald Trump and your lavish coverage of criticism of him?
What price is loyalty nowadays, with former well-paid employees seeking to earn a fortune by bad mouthing their former employers with articles about their behaviour? It would have served Stephanie Grisham better to have resigned if she had witnessed anything untoward instead of continuing in a job while waiting to try to destroy her employer later and show disloyalty to Melania while acting as her chief of staff. A full page was allocated to this article (‘The open secret of how Trump treated women revealed by top White House aides,’ Irish Independent, May 18), while matters of more importance are omitted.
For instance, where is the fair and balanced coverage of the abortion legislation review, which has only engaged with those pushing for more abortions and a continuous number of articles seeking the withdrawal of restrictions? Why not such coverage of the Hate Speech Bill due to go before the Seanad?
I buy the Irish Independent to receive fair and balanced news and find it disappointing when so many articles fall far short of that ideal. All the accusations against Donald Trump can never compare with ex-US president Bill Clinton lying to the American people when he said: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
Phoenix Park is not the answer to housing crisis
Larry Dunne is correct when he says his modest proposal of houses in the Phoenix Park would be greeted with outrage (‘Phoenix Park has the surplus space for building the homes our country needs,’ Letters, May 18).
I am outraged that a facility I have enjoyed for over 50 years should be contemplated for such use. I have a better idea: strip all museums and art galleries of their contents. Show them online instead.
The resultant empty spaces could be used for numerous forms of housing. It will also have the effect of cleaner air due to the saving of fossil fuels to get to those places. The next generation will, thus, have “cleaner air”, as referred to in Larry’s letter.
Cultural diversity helps us lead enriched lives
Tomorrow is World Day for Cultural Diversity. Culture refers to the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a people, organisation or in this case, a society, while diversity refers to a range of human differences.
As CEO of YMCA Dublin, I regularly engage with a families from various backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures.
While I accept that we have made advances in becoming more culturally diverse over the last number of decades, we need to work harder at embracing Ireland as a multi-cultural society.
There are ongoing debates around immigrants entering Ireland who are arriving from different cultural backgrounds. We need to recognise that many of our own are emigrating to other countries, to experience their cultures.
Culture diversity helps us learn from one another, and to understand different and unique perspectives within the world, and country, we live in.
Our vision at YMCA Dublin is that everyone should have the opportunity to belong to healthy, confident, secure and connected communities, which diverse cultures make so special.
This World Day for Cultural Diversity, I urge everyone to do their part to help bridge the gap between cultures in Ireland and live together in harmony.