Wednesday 13 November 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'A 'whingeing pensioner' replies'

'The "whingeing pensioners" as your reader describes us are finding it hard to make ends meet on our reduced pensions, and I'm sure he would too, were he in our circumstances.' Stock image
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Can I offer my congratulations to your letter writer of last week who complained about "whingeing pensioners".

I'd like to congratulate him on being one of the lucky pensioners who was granted a full State pension.

I, and many others like me, particularly women who stayed at home to raise their families, had their pensions reduced by a law which was sneaked in by Joan Burton of the Labour Party in 2012.

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I retired from full-time employment in 2014, but still work one day a week and, of course, I continue to pay tax.

Like your letter writer, I also worked very hard, paid all my taxes and contributions. Most of us do. I was out of the workforce for 10 years to raise my family, and because of circumstances beyond my control I had to return to work full-time to support my children and keep a roof over our heads. I got no other financial support.

I finished paying my mortgage this year, but wasn't really in a celebratory mood. This year the Government introduced a Homecarers package for people who stayed home to raise children or to care for a family member and, while it did increase my pension marginally, I still hadn't enough credits for a full pension.

The "whingeing pensioners" as your reader describes us are finding it hard to make ends meet on our reduced pensions, and I'm sure he would too, were he in our circumstances. We would not be complaining either if we were treated fairly.

In conclusion, I would like to be in the happy position that your letter writer is in. But I am not.

Name and address with editor

Accepting our own Irish accents

Sir — People of a certain age will remember Irish folks returning from England, speaking a little bit differently than they did when they left. Depending on how long they  stayed in the country, the accents subtly changed. But even these subtle English accents were very obvious on returning to the great unwashed bog trotters.

American accents, too, were heard from time to time, though most of the US diaspora served a long apprenticeship — more so than the English roses. I suppose America was further away, and coming home wasn’t easy on the fistful of dollars that made them leave in the first place.

The funniest case of acquiring an English accent was back in the 1960s, when a friend of mine picked up an English accent by proxy — from his cousin who was over here on holidays. By the time the cousin went back  to England, two to three weeks at most, my friend had a newly discovered brogue.

Nowadays, I don’t hear too many returnees with foreign accents. Have we finally accepted our own language?  

It was fun while it lasted.

Holly Barret,

Who can’t afford a €1m diamond ring?

Sir — Niamh Horan’s piece in last week’s Sunday Independent about the €1m diamond ring on sale in Brown Thomas caught my eye. We are hoping to get to the city in December for some Christmas shopping.

Please God, it won’t be gone!

Brian McDevitt,
Glenties, Co Donegal

No quick roof fix at Sligo rail station

Sir — Recent visitors from Canada to Sligo asked me why the trackside roof at the town’s railway station is such an eyesore and why no work has been undertaken to remedy the situation. To be honest, I had no answer for them.

Irish Rail should set out plans to examine what can be done.

But seeing as it takes them years to even order extra carriages for their under-capacity train service, I’m not that optimistic.

Michael A Rafter,
Easkey, Co Sligo

You can’t beat more gardai on the beat

Sir — I note with interest the Letter of the Week (Sunday Independent, October 27) headlined ‘Crime and the city solution’.

As a retired member of An Garda Siochana, with many years experience as a community garda, I would be strongly of the view that a solution to the problem starts with putting members back on the beat on our streets in towns and cities across the country.

Beat police are the eyes and ears of any police service and are a comfort to the public by their very presence.

Beat — the solution!

Denis P O’Sullivan,
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

Asylum haters spread like a virus

Sir — Protests against the location of asylum seekers’ centres in Ireland is like an epidemic increasing in intensity and virulence as it spreads unabatedly.

From Rooskey, this virus  has spread to Oughterard, Ballinamore and now Achill. It has infected these communities with xenophobia that is often aided and abetted by gutless local political and church leadership.

Even when “condemnations” are uttered, they are so hedged in by “ifs” and “buts” that they become largely meaningless and insipid. Locals who accept the resettlement of asylum seekers in their communities are often intimidated into silent acquiescence.

This development has taken a sinister turn with the arson attack on the home of a TD  for showing leadership on this issue — leadership that every single one of our elected representatives has failed to provide.

As our Government seems unable to resolve this national scandal, perhaps the Citizens’ Assembly should be recalled — so that through respectful debate a way forward out of this impasse can be achieved, leading to suitable environments being created where people who have  endured the horror of war and experienced the devastation of their homeland might rebuild their traumatised lives.

Brendan Butler,
Malahide, Co Dublin

Vote in Europe will cost many lives

Sir — On October 24, the European Parliament voted against improving search and rescue for refugees in the Mediterranean. A collection of far-right and mainstream conservative parties, including four Fine Gael MEPs, defeated the plan to pressure member states to step up their efforts and comply with their duties under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, Article 98.

According to the UN International Organisation for Migration, around 18,000 people have died in the Mediterranean since 2014. Many more will die because of this failure by MEPs and EU states, including Ireland, to comply with their humanitarian and international law obligations.

Edward Horgan,
Castletroy, Limerick

Lessons of history still have a place

Sir — Your correspondent Mick O’Brien suggests in last week’s letters page that all political and policy decisions should be “made with the future only in mind”.

Really? Those who don’t take cognisance of historic events in relation to contemporary planning are destined to repeat past mistakes.

What would we Irish do without being able to blame England’s colonial legacy for our various ills? Oh, we might actually have to take responsibility for our own decisions. Now, there’s a prospect worth savouring.

Aileen Hooper,
Stoneybatter, Dublin

Conflict of opinion doesn’t add up

Sir — So it is “dangerous” for our Taoiseach to mention that he would like to see a united Ireland in his lifetime. But it is “sensible” for Arlene Foster to meet with Loyalist paramilitaries?

I’ve having trouble reconciling these two opinions of Eoghan Harris in your paper last week, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Gerry Kelly,
Orwell Gardens, Rathgar, Dublin

We do love a pagan festival

Sir —How refreshing it was last week to see Irish society celebrating the pagan Halloween festival by displaying all the paraphernalia associated with it outside their houses.

It is even more refreshing that a foolish bishop is not condemning the practices.

Liam Power,
Blackrock, Co Louth

Migrant deaths and the Irish

Sir —Very significant Irish involvement in last week’s migrant deaths shows us to be a country where people are greedy to make a buck at any cost.

It also highlights the problems with the Border area — it’s bandit country and will be more so after Brexit, with no EU arrest warrant. 

The land of saints and scholars is fast becoming a place where right is wrong and wrong is right.

Maurice Fitzgerald,
Shanbally, Co Cork

Border criminality going unpunished

Sir — Why are we surprised to read that the criminal gang suspected of being behind the deaths of the 39 migrants in the back of a truck in Essex are thought to be an Irish cross-border gang?

I have brought attention on more than three occasions that cross-border gangsters were responsible for large-scale cattle rustling (£49m worth, according to Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture). In addition, Ulster farmers claim there is continual stealing of farm machinery along the Border.

Our own Irish Farmers’ Association also complains about the theft of farm machinery regularly in this area over the last few years. It is also alleged all this machinery is then moved in containers to eastern Europe.

It should also be remembered that vast quantities of drugs and cigarettes are “imported” through our borders, although the cattle and cigarettes are small fry compared with the migrants.

All this is going on while our political classes spend their time asking who pushed the wrong buttons in the Dail and when.

The only cross-border security that I’ve seen in recent years is when airport travellers are forced to take off their shoes and belts and empty their hand luggage of liquids.

Hugh Duffy,
Cleggan, Co Galway

This law does not need improving

Sir — The Attorney General rejected the introduction of minimum passing distances from cyclists as it couldn’t be measured or enforced.

Difficulties arose then which remain about the distance to be measured — would it be from a cyclist’s elbow, handlebars or pedal, and if the measurement would be to the car wing mirror or body.

It appears the new law to combat dangerous overtaking of cyclists, to be introduced next month, may not be necessary as we already have the 1933 Road Traffic Act. The Act says persons driving “without exercising reasonable consideration for persons, vehicles and other traffic” are committing an offence.

How will the Minister for Transport improve on the 1933 Road Traffic Act as Amended?

Why fix what’s not broken?

Frank Cullinane,
Glasnevin Park, Dublin

Sunday Independent

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