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Letters: Leave a good mark


Illustrator: Tom Mathews

Sir - Homelessness for families in our Irish cities is heartbreaking, without even ­contemplating the same ­problem for the thousands of refugees fleeing war and violence in their own countries, some of whom are coming here. There is a lot of truth and ­common sense in Gene ­Kerrigan's ­treatise on this problem (Sunday Independent, August 30).

It is the State's ­responsibility to ensure all citizens, ­irrespective of ­circumstances, have that most frugal ­necessity - a roof over their heads. Moneybags developers or ­speculators should have no hand, act or part in such decisions. We should revert to the old system where the local councils took ­responsibility for housing. They were aware of the needs first-hand and provided houses for the ­homeless, as well as housing lower ­income families at an ­affordable rent and provided loans to build one's own house.

If the Government gives an undertaking to solve the ­housing problem and carries out that promise, they will leave a practical and indelible mark never to be forgotten.

James Gleeson Thurles, Co Tipperary

We need less begrudgery

Sir - I read Niamh Horan's article today about the Twitter begrudgery against Rosanna Davison (Sunday Independent, August 30). I remember seeing a cartoon about 40-50 years ago when the Englishman, the Scotsman and the Irishman jokes were popular.

The cartoon was shown in three boxes. The first showed the Englishman climbing up a pole and those in the street below just ignoring him. The second had the Scotsman going up the pole and a crowd below ­cheering him on. The third box had the ­Irishman on his way up, but he was being vigorously pulled down by an even bigger crowd below!

I have had occasion to tell that story many times over the years, as we do unfortunately have more than our share of begrudgers, even in the media.

I was so happy with Brendan O'Connor's initiatives in the ­Sunday Independent over the last few weeks, promoting Ireland as a "great little country" in various categories. I have six children, their six partners and 22 grandchildren, and I can't tell them enough how fantastic I think they are - especially when they are being fantastic! If we Irish don't believe in ourselves, how can we expect others to believe in us?

Regina Brennan


Co Dublin

A solution to crime crisis

Sir - Re "Justice in crisis as public in fear of rampant gangs" (Sunday Independent, August 30): Calls for increase in gardai recruitment to confront the present crime wave is not the answer to this dire situation. Immediate response is necessary.

For the past number of years, our Defence Forces have been engaged in peace operations in many parts of the world - dangerous missions calling for courage and alertness, extra training and discipline. On several occasions this entailed interaction with the civilian population.

We could have an ­auxiliary body, working in close co-­operation with the gardai, a type of national guard ­comprising ­volunteer members of the Defence Forces, given powers of ­arrest and detention, and as mobile as the criminals seem to be. This would be a deterrent and give a degree of comfort and ­safety especially to the ­vulnerable, the main target of these feral marauders.

Patrick Fleming

Glasnevin, Dublin 9

Daniel story was heart-breaking

Sir - What a truly heartbreaking article last Sunday from Campbell Spray about his son Daniel (Sunday Independent, August 30).

To look at the photo of the gorgeous looking young man who was the image of his dad ­really made you think what an incredible waste of a ­lovely young life. The description of Campbell deciding what to wear at the inquest was utterly awful…. parents should not be burying their children.

From the moment they are born we worry about them and try to guide them every minute of every day. No matter how hard we try and what guidance we give, sometimes it is just not enough.

What struck me when reading the article was the amount of people whose lives will never be the same due to one ­awful ­incident, from parents to step-parents, to siblings and step-siblings, and friends and relatives; nobody will ever get over this.

They will all needlessly ­continue to blame themselves and think there was something they could have done. From the sound of Daniel, he fit an awful lot into his short life. He also seems to have had an awful lot to contend with between addiction issues and the loss of his friend and survivor guilt… even to have been given the chance of life at all was a miracle thanks to a conscientious radiologist.

It is important for everyone to remember he had a ­happy ­relationship with both his parents and step-parents and ­siblings and step-siblings. He had endless friends and he knew the happiness of a loving ­relationship.

Like a huge amount of his age group, he felt he was ­invincible and the tragedy is that he wasn't. If the article makes one person realise that they are not ­invincible and that they may reconsider taking drugs, then it will have served its purpose.

To Daniel's family I offer my heartfelt sympathy. Try and focus on the positive aspects of his life and not drown in guilt.

Mary Quinn,

Dun Laoghaire

Concern about a young man's future

Sir - I read with interest Brendan O'Connor's article on his little girl, Mary (Sunday Independent, August 30). He is so rightly proud of her on her first day at school. It is a big step on her ladder of independence. It's great she has a big sister to show her the ropes. I am delighted it's possible for Mary to join her sister in school. Well done to all who campaigned for this. Thirty five years ago, when our boy was born, very few parents were afforded this option.

I wanted to cringe every time somebody said "Oh, your little boy is an angel". He was far from it and now even further. He is stubborn and difficult if he doesn't get his own way. He uses bad language. Now and again he throws a major tantrum. Bear in mind he is tall now - a big man. The only punishment that seems to work at the moment is depriving him of his "bag" which contains everything he cares about.

Our son is the youngest of several children. When he was born he needed a lot of care and attention and I felt torn between giving him the care he needed and giving the others the time they needed. Study time was hard.

He went to playschool for three days a week before starting in a special needs school, which had about 50 pupils at the time. He had a lovely team of teachers in that school where we lived until eight years ago.

He is still in touch with many of the pupils and is invited to 21st birthdays and other parties. Facilities were not great. We as parents were fundraising all the time for speech therapy, PE and music therapy. It will be a great day when schools have the ­money they need and politicians have to hold cake sales to fund their campaigns.

He then attended a training centre run on the lines of a vocational school. There he had formal classes in cookery, arts and crafts, music and woodwork.

Then there was part-time employment at a special little factory where they made padded headboards. But they went out of fashion and insurance in the workplace became a major issue.

At the day centre he engaged in a range of activities, like counting nails into little plastic bags or nuts and bolts for a local hardware shop. Sometimes he put circulars into envelopes or raked the bunkers in the golf course and got a little allowance for this work. Nowadays, the nuts and screws are packed in China.

We now have many ­grandchildren and one of my daughters settled near us. They are great with our boy. My ­husband passed away some years ago and the boy took the death very badly but he had some sessions with a grief counsellor which worked wonders. Now he is in his thirities and travels on the bus to where he attends a day facility, which he loves. He also loves going into town for tea and scones. But he puts on weight easily.

Our boy needs help with shopping. Even if he has a list he will not stick to it and will fill the basket with things he likes. He loves swimming and cycling. He holidays with the family. He had holidays for the month of August and asked each day, "How many days are left to going back?" He has a blood condition which is monitored continuously, but apart from that, his health is pretty good.

His preference is to remain living at home, and down the line I would hope we can get ­assistance caring for him at home. Every parent of my age worries about the future care of their sons and daughters. I am now 74. I do not like the present trend of putting their names on a council housing list for them to live independently. I know there's trouble with care homes but I think we have to work to raise standards and awareness. Independent living can be a very lonely existence and doesn't suit many of those who share my son's condition. (Name and address with Editor)

Brendan's article brought tears

Sir - I have never written to a newspaper before, but never has a written piece moved me so much as Brendan O'Connor's article - "Happy birthday to my little girl, Mary."

I actually cried at the end. It was so emotional and so real. Brendan O'Connor, that was the best article I have ever read. Thank you, and good luck to both your wonderful daughters.

Laura Drake


Co Meath

Brickbats and bouquets for writers

Sir - Any chance you could stop Joe Brolly pretending he is knowledgeable about the world's most popular sport!

Billy Connolly's quote related to Ally McLeod not Billy ­McNeill. In my opinion, it was a stupid remark seeing as Ally McLeod took his team to the World Cup and their progress there was only stopped by one of the eventual finalists having a better goal difference. I'm sure this ­information could be found on the internet but another thing that might have suggested to Joe Brolly that he had the wrong man is that a Celtic fan is unlikely to crack a joke about the ultimate Celtic icon.

Can the Sunday Independent not leave writing about football to those who love the game. Stephen Hunt reminiscing about breaking through the ranks at Palace was really informative and Dion Fanning's article on Joe Dunne was both ­professional and a little bit inspirational. Beats unfunny jokes anytime.

Peter McAleer

Ballygawley, Northern Ireland

Smoking article in bad taste

Sir - I found the article by Eleanor Goggin in the Sunday Independent 'Living' magazine in bad taste - "When smoking is good for your mental health".

I'm sure the cigarette ­makers were very pleased with this article. She may get a few free packets for Christmas.

This article should not be in the 'Living' magazine. It's not amusing to smoke and ­encourage other persons to keep smoking and damage their health.

James O'Brien

Carrigaline, Co Cork

What makes for a satisfying week?

Sir - I climbed the magnificent Cliffs of Moher in beautiful Co Clare. I visited the magical Aillwee Cave in the heart of the Burren. I walked a few measured steps on the unique Burren landscape. I crossed the mad rough sea to one of the three wonderful Aran Islands - Inisheer.

I then went back home to Glenties to take part in another of Brian Friel's masterly plays, The Faith Healer, ending the Lughnasa Festival.

A very satisfying week indeed!

Brian Mc Devitt

Glenties, Co Donegal

No good reason to vote Sinn Fein

Sir - Any reasonable, sensible person having read the excellent articles by Jody Corcoran, Jim Cusack, Eoghan Harris, Mairia Cahill and Ruth Edwards in last week's Sunday Independent would never, ever vote for Sinn Fein.

For Gerry Adams to state at a parade in Dundalk that he is as proud of Mairead Farrell as of the Volunteers of 1916 is outrageous. Mairead Farrell was on a bombing mission with 600lbs of Semtex that could have killed and maimed hundreds of ­innocent people in Gibraltar.

If Sinn Fein were in ­government with other parties and Independents, they would never have an agreement to pass a budget. Sinn Fein in the ­Assembly in the North have held off on signing the Social Welfare Bill for nearly 12 months, which could lead to the end of power sharing in the North.

Noel Peers

Graignamanagh, Kilkenny

Fear that FF might join with Sinn Fein

Sir - A former Sinn Fein councillor from County Cork recently wrote to a daily newspaper aghast that Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin, should castigate Sinn Fein because of their close association with the violence of the Provos, which still exist, obviously. There is no proof, the letter writer implied. Really?

He then went off on a tangent to regale us with the harmless tale, by comparison, of Fianna Fail's alleged wrecking of the Irish economy. Yawn.

Seriously - and I hold no candle for FF or any political party - every constitutional politician would be better employed to believe the daughter of the latest Provo victim, Ms ­McGuigan, who emphatically states that it was the Provisional IRA who murdered her father. Sinn Fein and the Provos are inextricably linked, as one. Mr Martin is indeed right to expose Sinn Fein for what they are. However, my fear that his ­party might join SF in ­government in the next or future government, is the reason I will not be voting for Fianna Fail again.

Robert Sullivan

Bantry, Co Cork

What is the price of peace?

Sir - In relation to your articles (Sunday Independent, August 30) re the Sinn Fein/IRA controversy: I and thousands of Irish citizens cry out for peace in our country, but not at any price, especially if that price is turning a blind eye to criminality, such as murder, sex abuse, money laundering, diesel laundering and intimidation.

We don't need a Mafia state here. Crime is crime and the law should be served no matter who you are. We cannot have one law for one and another for special criminals who are attached to subversive groups.

Una Heaton


Let's celebrate moral stature

Sir - Your continued extensive coverage of events north of the border is well worthwhile and essential. Ruth Dudley Edwards' article, situating events in a historical perspective, gave to last week's contributions a sort of crowning touch (Sunday Independent, August 30).

In terms of who and what to commemorate or celebrate, it seems Ireland has painted herself into a corner. She has nothing to declare but the bomb and the bullet.

Many years ago, long ­before the emergence of political ­correctness, I worked with a ­distinguished psychiatrist who used to casually refer to the Irish as "a nation of psychopaths".

Clearly this is no more true of the Irish than it is of any other nation, but it does raise questions regarding our deeply embedded notions of our self-­image. If our dramatis personae have no more to their credit than an incorrigible determination to bomb and murder their way to an obscure and uncertain ­destiny, then what else are we entitled to expect?

One searches in vain for the intellectual and moral stature of a Burke or an O'Connell in ­modern Irish statecraft. The scene is littered with the corpses of not just third or fourth-raters but tenth-raters.

William Barrett

Surrey, UK

Sunday Independent