Thursday 5 December 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Birth of new baby Jesus era'

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - We were all expecting to be celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus on the morning of December 25. But he arrived unexpectedly, and over a month premature.

And all the media - TV, radio, newspapers - missed this news, probably due to an overload of Brexit, Donald Trump, and the by-elections. Not to mention the weather.

I went into the GPO on Friday, November 22, and was amazed to see the Baby Jesus, there in a cold, exposed manger and his mammy and daddy standing each side of him.

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His mammy, and daddy were probably on the way to the Rotunda and either he arrived as they were passing the GPO, or else there was no bed for his mammy.

But he must have been a very sturdy lad, as a baby that premature would need an incubator, monitoring of his temperature and so on.

But of nurse or doctor there was no sign - perhaps due to the problems in the HSE.

However, what I was really wondering about is, will his birthday now need to be changed to mid-November?

Margaret Walshe,
Clonsilla Road, Dublin 15

Stop the lights to save the planet

Sir — It was heartening to see young people putting forward constructive energy-saving recommendations on their recent visit to Dail Eireann. I would like to add another practical idea to the mix.

What if a law was enacted, prohibiting switching on of Christmas street lights until December 8 at the earliest, and then only between 5pm and midnight? 

If Ireland led the way, maybe other countries would follow.

Joe Hanley,
Virginia, Co Cavan

No Sex Pistols please, we’re Irish

Sir — Declan Lynch references at least 40 artists in his article “The 10 best English Bands ever... or Prince Andrew?”, but remarkably, no mention was made of Peter Gabriel’s Genesis.

I’d also put a line through those talentless charlatans, The Sex Pistols, and replace them with Caravan. Room should be found for Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator and Yes — but perhaps these would be too progressive for your columnist.

John O’Sullivan
Glasnevin Woods, Dublin 11

€1.8m for a printer is sheer absurdity

Sir — Reading the news last week, I began to doubt my eyesight and then began to feel total frustration and anger.

Yes, it’s about the printer. This piece of equipment has been kept under wraps until now and no wonder. The Dail decided to shell out €1.8m — so far — to buy the thing and get it in the building, not to mention storage costs.

The sheer absurdity of this use of taxpayers’ money beggars belief. So many waiting on hospital trolleys, so many homeless, thousands of other genuine cases looking for help.

Surely this is the final nail in the coffin for this Government (for whom I misguidedly voted last time round). People should remember this ridiculous carry-on when candidates come to their door with their big smiles and handshakes at the next election. Ask questions.

We are a democracy. We must go out and vote. We have a responsibility. This craziness has to stop. Too much money has been wasted down the years and we have the power of the ballot paper to make a statement and a difference.

Bridget O Donoghue,
Tubber, Co Clare

Sindo had one on sale for €39.99

Sir — Last week I read an article in the Sunday Independent about a printer that cost €808,000. The printer in question was purchased for Government buildings in Kildare Street.

Then, while reading one of the supplements that come with the Sindo, I saw a printer for sale at €39.99. I never realised that the procurements department of the Dail would be so poorly informed. After all, the Sunday Independent is widely available.

The cheaper printer would have fitted nicely in a corner of the room and would also have saved the tax payer about €1.8m.

You couldn’t make it up! Of course, this is not the first controversy about cost over-runs in the Dail, but it puts the rest in the ha’ppenny place.

Aidan O Connor,
Dungarvan, Co Waterford

Irish system isn’t good for the people

Sir — By almost all measures we hear the economy is in rude health. So why can’t we solve the housing problem? Is it acceptable now to have 10,000 people homeless, including 2,500 children?

Why are young people virtually excluded from the housing market? Why are rents more expensive here than in Tokyo? Why is it incredibly expensive to have a child here? Why is the health budget continuously out of control, so much so that a mere €300m overrun earns praise from the health minister? Would that happen in the private sector?

And now we hear about the waste of public money that is the printing machine that wouldn’t fit into the office. I bet you that when we press for someone to take responsibility for this mess we will be brushed off with ‘inquiries’ that go nowhere.

No one is ever held responsible — that’s how the Irish system of government works. Ireland is not working for the people but it is working nicely for those in charge.

Gerard Barrett,
Sandyford, Dublin 16

How did that big table get in here?

Sir — Reports in the newspapers about the expensive Government printer which could not enter its designated home due to its massive girth reminds me of a true story concerning an old cottage which contained a fairly large table.

When the house was sold after the owner’s death, all contents were removed — except for the table. After some time it became clear that there was no way the table could be taken out, either through door or window.

One of the workers protested: 

“If it got in, it has to get out.”

But a neighbour looking on explained everything.

“The cottage,” he said, “was built around the table.”

Leo Gormley,
Dundalk, Co Louth

I know where they can put that thing

Sir — The printer that cannot fit into Leinster House could be stored in the same building as the voting machines, if it is still available.

David Smyth,
Co Leitrim

All this is just the tip of our money

Sir — In last week’s Sunday Independent, a few headlines took me by surprise, such as “€808,000 spent on a printer in Dail that would not fit” and also “€300,000 to protect Harry and Meghan during Dublin trip”, and then another one about “€144,000, spent by Taoiseach and his ministers on US trip”.

Well, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else.

And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. That’s Government spending taxpayers’ money, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Pat O Callaghan,
Mallow Co Cork

Fire, water and the population threat

Sir — The latest UN report on climate change warns that the “world has backed itself into a dangerous corner”.

That’s stating the obvious. Half the world seems to be on fire, the other half is underwater — and no one has any regard for the Kyoto Protocol.

In short, there are far too many people on the planet. And in another 50 years there will be 2bn more inhabitants of this beautiful world.

Who would have thought that the stuff nature put safely under the ground to help us in our development through the centuries would one day be our downfall — along with our undisciplined need to procreate.

Mike Burke,
Sixmilebridge, Co Clare

Greater value in nutrient-rich food

Sir — Farmers produce high-quality, nutritious food which consumers require for health. We are often guilty of treating food as a plentiful commodity nowadays. Nutrient-dense food contains more nutrients (eg, protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals) than calories. If consumers don’t eat the essential nutrients, health is compromised.

As with all successful partnerships, effective communication is key. An inclusive partnership will facilitate consumers in better understanding the nutrient content of food. Sustainability is simply meeting the needs of today, without compromising those of tomorrow. Irish farmers are renowned for efficiently converting inedible fibre in our lush green grass, naturally washed by Irish rain, into nutrient-dense food.

More recently, the debate around food choices and their environmental impact has confused consumers. Science can eliminate confusion by presenting clear facts. For example, recent peer-reviewed science reported that the nutrient density of cow’s milk was seven and 35 times greater than soy drink and oat drink respectively.

Although greenhouse gas emissions from cow’s milk were 3.3 and 4.7 times higher than soy and oat drinks, consumers need to understand these beverages are not the same. What’s key is the point at which the higher carbon footprint of nutrient-dense foods like dairy and meat is offset by their higher nutritional value.

For consumers who enjoy red wine, its nutrient density was low (similar to oat drink) and its greenhouse gas emissions were the highest of all eight beverages examined, being more than twice that of cow’s milk.

Continuous effective communication between farmers and consumers will deliver a natural partnership.

Vanessa B Woods,
Athboy, Co Meath

What a beautiful feature that was

Sir — I was completely taken aback by the beautiful feature written by John Greene in the LIFE magazine section of the Sunday Independent on November 24.

I don’t like using the cliche that a picture speaks a million words, but the picture of Jamie Bockarie seeing again achieved just that. Hope and inspiration are frequently used with good reason — but reading about this incredible woman gave these words their true meaning.

The people of Sierra Leone, some descendants of repatriated slaves, have been ravaged by tragedy throughout their history. Their powerful spirit, belief and confidence for the future, portrayed in this article is an example for us all. I would like to acknowledge and thank Sightsavers for the incredible work they continue to do.

It was insightful of Padraic Mannion, even while living within such suffering, to mention the mental challenges for today’s youth in Ireland, which is something we should also remember.

Paddy Dalton,
Listowel, Co Kerry

Christmas a time to import ‘glitzy grot’

Sir — As we hurtle towards the orgy of conspicuous consumption and unsustainable spending that masquerades as a Christian festival, I think we should pause to take stock.

Much of the money will be squandered on imported tat — the sort that made Reggie Perrin a millionaire with his ‘Grot Shops’ in the satirical TV series of my long-lost youth.

Glitzy packaging, plastic Santas will add to the mountains of litter defiling our countryside and clogging up our seas and harming what’s left of our wildlife. Not to mention the air miles.

Students who marched to save the planet while lecturing their elders will become couch potatoes consuming chocolates and TV repeats. This will lead to a hangover of debt and long-term problems for our health services.

Our plastic-coated cards are as phoney as the light displays almost visible from space and the plastic trees and wreaths imported from the Far East.

Martin Murphy,
Kilmihill, Co Limerick

Border poll would be nightmare idea

Sir — Sinn Fein is correct. People all around the country are discussing the prospect of a United Ireland — and wondering how they might scupper such a nightmare scenario.

Anyone feeling giddy about a border poll must be mad.

Dan Murphy,
Victoria Road, Cork

Eye-wateringly serious video 

Sir — What a brilliant human rights advocate Feroza Aziz (17)has proved to be. And what an effective tactic she used by hiding her appeal in an online tutorial about an eyelash curler.

I hope this highlights the abusive nature of the Chinese communist regime, in particular the brutal treatment of the Uighurs and their detention.

We need to have cordial relations with China, the world’s most populous country and an economic superpower. But that doesn’t mean we have to close our eyes to monstrous human rights abuses.

The Berlin Wall came down, the dictatorships in Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Albania and other places all came to an end.

John Fitzgerald,
Callan, Co Kilkenny

Remember men can be carers too

Sir — In last week’s letters page I read about the prisoner who was rewarded for his constitutional rights being infringed by having to “slop out”. I agree with your writer, who said the carers who must “slop out” for loved ones also have their rights infringed.

The writer also said carers are mostly women. As a man who cared for my elderly mam and dad and disabled loved ones for 26 years — and who considered it a privilege — I feel strongly that men are under-represented as carers. When men see other men caring, maybe they can realise men can be carers too.

Carers seldom look after themselves and their health can suffer. I am recovering from a brain haemorrhage.

Pat Kelly,
Blackrock, Cork city

Talking across the benches in Lords

As always I read last week’s Mary Kenny Sunday Independent column with great interest. I did notice though one mistake, in her reference to Lord David Alton as a Lib Dem peer.

Alton was far from being a Lib Dem. He was, and is, a proud crossbench member of the House of Lords — a fact that as a Catholic secondary school principal I emphasised to my students.

I was the Lib Dem candidate who stood against Jeremy Corbyn in Islington North in the 1987 election. A while later, I tried to get on the parliamentary candidate list but was rejected because of my Catholic views on sexuality and abortion. In such issues, I find all the main British and Irish political parties to be infected with the same PC virus.

Alan Whelan,
Killarney, Co Kerry

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