The Leaving Certificate exams will start shortly and there will be a lot of media coverage surrounding them. I actually think that much of this coverage is "hype".
While the Leaving Cert is a big event, ultimately it's just another step along the journey of life. I am now 48 years old and have completed three Leaving Certs in my time. I did the first when I was 17 and, to be honest, it didn't mean very much to me at the time. I completed the other two as a mature student, because I decided to go to college. I might never have succeeded in my return to education, had it not been for the experience of completing that first Leaving Cert at 17.
Like I said, it was just one step on the way to my eventual success, when I graduated from UCC, at the age of 28. I later completed two post-graduate diplomas, including a teaching qualification, and have been teaching for the past 12 years, as well as doing an interesting variety of other skilled work.
What all this has taught me is that education is (or should be) all about creating options and that life is a series of choices and challenges. Life also involves a lot of 'trial and error' and there is nothing wrong with that.
Every experience in life has the potential to educate us and you can never have too much education, whatever its source.
Everybody who is doing the Leaving Cert should be allowed to get on with it, without all this annual fuss in the media. My experience has also taught me that "stress" (eg, exam stress) is often a self-fulfilling prophecy – the more we talk about stress, the more we are likely to experience it.
Students, parents and the media need to take a balanced and proportional approach to the Leaving Cert. There is education all around us; it's up to us to take it all in. So please, let the students get on with it, without all this media cackle.
WHITE ST, CORK CITY
Following O'Leary's lead
In an interview with Pat Kenny on Newstalk, Michael O'Leary said Ryanair's blunt policy of "give us your money, sit down and be quiet" had been dropped, with encouraging results.
Will the Government follow suit and abandon its similarly forthright attitude to the electorate?
DR JOHN DOHERTY
GAOTH DOBHAIR, CO DONEGAL
Medical card debacle
There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that the HSE has donated surplus used medical cards as spot prizes at parties for children under five.
A healthy solution
Given the country's financial situation and given that 42pc of the population have medical cards, there is one solution that would be fair, substantially reduce fear, scrambling, excessive administrative costs and nightmares, and ensure that nobody above the financial qualifying limit for medical cards endures financial hardship due to a medical condition/conditions – which is the reason for discretionary medical cards in the first place.
The solution is that every family above the financial limit who requires a medical card pays something subject to a threshold. Otherwise, the fear, pressure, etc, goes on and lists of qualifying medical conditions won't change the overall situation.
Labour deputy conundrum
As we now know, Joan Burton and Alex White will battle it out for the position of Labour leader.
Alan Kelly, Michael McCarthy and Sean Sherlock are hoping to become deputy leader. So far, so interesting.
However, a conundrum exists.
As Joan Burton is the elected deputy leader and has not formally resigned the position, the Labour Party could have a problem on its hands. What happens if Mr Kelly, Mr McCarthy or Mr Sherlock are elected to the position of number two and Ms Burton does not become leader?
Labour could end up with two elected deputy leaders – would Joan be prepared to step down?
WHITE CROSS, DULEEK, CO MEATH
‘Best’ is yet to come on water
In relation to water charges: we start at €240, now we have €500. My brother-in-law lives in Devon, England, with his wife and two children. He travels for business and is out of the house for half of each week. They live in a 'normal' house on normal income. Their annual water charge is £1,200 – that's €1,460!
The best is yet to come!
NAM JIRIHO Z PODEBRAD 2, PRAGUE
Don’t forget Euro Parliament
With the conclusion of the count in Ireland Midlands North West, the last of the European Parliament's 751 seats has been filled. The world's largest trans-national democratic electorate has spoken. The pageantry of the elections is over. The posters festooning our streets are coming down. Ireland's 11 successful candidates will, hopefully, put on the green jersey and work together for the best interests of the Irish people.
However, with the elections concluded, will the media again forget about the European Parliament? Will the European Parliament Report still be broadcast only to insomniacs and those returning from the pub?
Or will journalists fulfil their duty to inform Irish people on the ongoing work of the European Parliament and implications for them?
GALWAY & BRUSSELS
Save historic Moore Street
It is ironic, to put it mildly, that soon after Minister Jimmy Deenihan granted consent to a planning application that will see the destruction of the Moore Street 1916 battlefield site, he 'condemns in the strongest terms the damage that has been caused to one of our most iconic ancient monuments' at Tara.
No less a body than the Imperial War Museum in London is now on record as describing the Moore Street area as "the only city-based 20th-Century battlefield to survive in all of Europe and possibly the world".
It will be obliterated under the Chartered Land planning application that the minister has now approved on his grant of consent to proposed work to the 1916 National Monument at 14 to 17 Moore Street.
JAMES CONNOLLY HERON
THE SAVE 16 MOORE STREET COMMITTEE
PEARSE FAMILY HOME
PEARSE STREET, DUBLIN 2
No need to ban vaping
The main reason the HSE gives for banning vaping is that it might "re-socialise" smoking.
I have been a pipe smoker for over 40 years and, when my children were very young, each of them insisted on having their own pipe. None of them grew up to be pipe smokers – in fact, none of them smoke at all.
FOREST RD, SWORDS, CO DUBLIN
Marriage and poverty
According to David Quinn (Irish Independent, May 30), marriage is "the most successful anti-poverty programme ever".
It is heartening to know David Quinn, and the Iona Institute, will be supporting the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in 2015.
GARY J BYRNE
IFSC, DUBLIN 1