Sir - Again I must congratulate your reporter Jim Cusack, (Sunday Independent, 8 March), for his persistence in highlighting the activities of the furtive illegal fuel launderers who are still plaguing the 'badlands' of North Louth and South Armagh.
Unfortunately a large percentage of the Sunday Independent readers must feel that Jim's endeavours are falling on deaf ears since he first drew attention to this dastardly business. The deliberate dumping and run-off of toxic waste from fuel laundering is still poisoning our water supplies. So far the relevant authorities have done little or nothing to tackle this problem.
Monaghan Co Council, eventually embarrassed into carrying out tests, came up with a mealy-mouthed excuse for not publishing the results.
Louth Co Council, also asleep at the wheel, just spent thousands of euros cleaning up the toxic waste dumped along the border roadsides.
The Environment Minister, Alan Kelly, said the issue will be discussed at the next inter-governmental meeting in May - not exactly a rapid response. By the time his meeting is convened, the criminals will have put a few extra million euros into their coffers, many innocent motorists will have had their fuel pumps destroyed, thousands more litres of toxic waste will have been dumped and millions of euros lost to revenue.
Any bets that when they do meet, the water on the table won't have come from Louth, Monaghan or Armagh?
Micheal Mc Keown.
Sir - In his recent article in the Sunday Independent, Colm Kenny highlighted the problems experienced by those trying to buy and operate within the parameters of health insurance policies. It is indeed difficult to know what exactly you are covered for or where you might get the best value for money.
For example, certain specialists, such as ophthalmologists, may have waiting lists of several months for an assessment of a non-urgent case and then there is another wait to get listed for the actual surgery. And while you wait your eyesight and quality of life may be deteriorating.
Sometimes the consultant passes you on to a colleague who has a vacant slot on his list. The result is, your wait may be shorter but the results may be poorer.
You must discuss any concerns via a secretary who may be less than sympathetic and even dismissive, or, worse, offer advice or opinions that may not be entirely accurate without first discussing it with the consultant.
Private health insurance does indeed need to be reformed and simplified but shortages of consultants must also be addressed if the quality of care offered to insured people is to improve.
Sir - Have Gardai been told by their management to ignore the sale of illegal cigarettes and drugs on our streets?
As I walked through Moore Street last week several people offered to sell me cigarettes. A few also offered to sell me drugs. The following day I was in Meath Street and I had the same experience. In both cases these people openly traded their illegal products, presumably without fear of being arrested.
In Henry Street and Meath Street I looked for a Garda to draw his/her attention to what was happening - but there wasn't one to be seen.
Are the authorities serious about stamping out these activities?
Sir -Sarah Caden's article: 'An older generation sitting snug in their semi-d', (Sunday Independent, 8 March), was unbelievably unfair and upsetting.
I am one of that older generation in a semi-d - and far from finding it easy to buy, it was way more difficult than it is now and cost me many sacrifices.
My highest earning period was in the 1980s. As a single person, 75pc of my income was deducted for income tax, PRSI and levies. When I finally got my mortgage, interest rates were so high - 14.5pc - that for years I had to go without holidays or new clothes. There was no question of one's parents being able to help out.
Yes I'm lucky to own my own home - but I've earned it and I still have to struggle with bills on a limited fixed income. To describe me "sitting snug" is very unfair.
Sir - Strange what can resurrect sad memories. Reading about Gorse Hill - the grandeur of the place and the goings on - took me back to a lovely September day in 1941 and the sudden death of my dear father at the age of 61.
He was cutting oats with a scythe on the Whin Hill (we had names on the fields) only two days previously and my mother had brought the tea out to the field, as was the custom. One lone whin (proper name gorse) grew there - hence the name. My father and his father and grandfather saw as much beauty in those fields as do the owners of Gorse Hill. Life has more than 50 shades.
Sir - Last week's Sunday Independent told us a lot about Ireland - the very wealthy and those that thought they were wealthy, and those who live in super-posh locations, surrounded by security fences.
But the two items that grabbed my attention were actually obituaries - of Tony Reddin, the hurler and Jim McCann the singer. Both were normal working men, who were never on the Forbes list, nor made headlines for the wrong reasons.
As Tony's remains were lowered, that beautiful song Slievenamon was sung with gusto by his GAA friends and family. And I'm sure Jim got the same send off, maybe with Grace.
"Sceptre and crown must tumble down, and in the dust be equal made, with the poor crooked scythe and spade."
Sir - Congratulations to Gene Kerrigan on his article 'We led the fight for family values'. Like his mother, I was able to keep my child and bring him up myself.
When I returned to Ireland I joined Cherish, the organisation mainly responsible for the campaign that led to the Status of Children Act 1987, which abolished the insulting notion of "illegitimacy".
It was a long campaign - and what Gene Kerrigan aptly calls the "marriage police" fought us every step of the way, just as they are now fighting against gay rights.
It's all about human rights, but there are still some people who can't or won't understand that.
Sir - Please let me congratulate Gene Kerrigan on his brilliant article last Sunday, 'We led the fight for family values'.
Thank you Gene. Essential reading for us all before May 22.
Glenties, Co Donegal
Sir - As a regular Sindo reader, I compliment Gene Kerrigan for his article last Sunday. I am pleased that he had the courage to tell the story of how brutalised and cruel our little country was.
I could relate to everything he wrote as I grew up in the 1940s. Like him I am pleased we are now a more civilised society.
I agree that it was neither the church nor the political elite who ended the savagery, but many brave women with little help.
Keep up the good work, lest we forget how difficult life was - in particular for many women and children.
(Name and address with Editor)
Sir - Why would Sinn Fein decide to hold their conference in a city which is not in this Republic - yet have foremost in their deliberations the 2016 general election in this, the detested Free State?
Why do we as potential voters think so highly of SF? Is everyone here asleep?
The heart of Sinn Fein resides north of the border and will always call the shots. It only takes a combination of factors - or none at all - for the 'peace process' to become side-lined should the pressure of decent and normal life becomes too much to bear for the 'freedom fighters'.
And please, all the good and peaceful people of this State, do not be so short-sighted as to think the Shinners are better than the boring politicians who come before us year after year looking for our votes.
Those people have never, and will never, become unpredictable and refer to a 'republican movement' which engenders fear and intimidation among the citizens.
The adage about leopards changing their spots comes to mind.
Bantry, Co Cork
Sir - In support of Johnny Duhan's article (Sunday Independent, 8 March), about the lack of airplay for Irish music, I was appalled to find that six national stations, including RTE 1 and 2fm, Lyric FM, and Radio na Gaeltachta and five regional stations play little or no Irish folk music, and Irish cultural music is almost non-existent except on Radio na Gaeltachta.
Of the 27 local radio stations nationwide, only three stations presented one programme of one to two hours of folk music in total weekly. There seems to be a belief by a number of the local radio stations that the country and Irish music format they present is representative of many Irish musical facets - which it is certainly not (no slight intended on country and Irish).
When the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem first introduced Irish folk music to the USA in the 1950s they won the appreciation of folk heroes like Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and so many others.
Ireland was the folk music hub of the world for decades. Sadly that won't happen again unless there is a total change of attitude that gives proper percentage airplay for Irish songwriters, composers, singers and musicians which would mean the retention of millions of euros annually for Irish distribution.
Sir - When will government ministers and radio executives stop telling us: "We would dearly love to see more music played on our airwaves by Irish and/or Irish-based artists, but that big bad old EU won't let us?"
How many more times must it be pointed out that this is patently not the case - just look at France or Britain.
The odd random play of an Irish or Irish-based artist in the wee small hours of the morning counts for nothing. Minister Alex White had the golden opportunity to do something about this scandalously anti-Irish codology once and for all. Instead, he merely sat on it for months allegedly "looking into it," and then kicked it back into touch just like others before him.
No one seems to give a hoot about the staggering loss of potential airplay-royalties-revenue.
Victor Caprani, O'Callaghan's Mills,
Sir - After hearing Gerry Adams' speech at the weekend from Derry/Londonderry and now the volte-face from the Hillbillies on the Hill can I dare to dream Sinn Fein is a true anti-austerity party of the left?
We are all very well acquainted with the conservative nature of the Unionist and Alliance parties and the Social Charter that is the bedrock and supportive backbone of the SDLP - but Sinn Fein's claim to be a revolutionary left-of-centre party lies in tatters.
Their latest stance on welfare reform smacks of political expediency. It's not that long ago when Messrs Adams, McDonald and Doherty claimed publicly they would pay water charges in the Free State - but the popular election of Paul Murphy TD and the water protests caused a flip flop. Are we now witnessing another u-turn?
In my opinion Sinn Fein are protecting one thing: Sinn Fein.
Sir - Anybody reading Willie Kealy's article on Sinn Fein/IRA (Sunday Independent, 8 March) would never, ever vote Sinn Fein.
We all should remember the murders, the gardai killed, the banks robbed and the damage done to our economy for 30 long years that affected everybody living in Ireland.
After the revelations of the rape of Mairia Cahill and Paudie Mc Gahon, how many more people did IRA members rape?
Some senior Sinn Fein members must have known about this dreadful carry on and covered it all up.
Sir - Like Mairia Cahill before him, Paudie McGahon has shown outstanding courage by publically coming forward to reveal details of his sexual abuse at the hands of an IRA member.
Both he and Mairia should be highly commended for facing down the insidious forces that wish to keep them silent.
As for those who took to social media to disparage and deny the claims - they should be ashamed of themselves.
Sir - All democrats in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, should be concerned by Sinn Fein's steadfast refusal to deal with a series of harrowing sexual abuse claims.
And the brutal murder of 21-year-old Paul Quinn in an outbuilding in Castleblayney - which Sinn Fein cannot ignore - provides more evidence that nothing has changed within the Republican movement.
Paul Quinn had apparently become involved in disputes with various local individuals some weeks before his savage killing on 2007 - nine years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Prior to his death he had been ordered to leave the area but refused.
Sinn Fein must now address the manifold corruption, and brutal criminality that continues in the elements of the IRA that have not gone away.
Sir - Whatever their history or their ideology of being working class heroes to the likes of myself, my family and others, how could anyone support a party that refuses to face up to sexual abuse allegations, fuel laundering/pollution allegations and murder allegations is beyond me.
The people who support Sinn Fein need to remove themselves from their reasons of support and look at the people who have suffered because of them.
This party should never govern a country until it faces up to these accusations - which I'm sure they will never do.
Donaghmede, Dublin 13