Sunday 15 December 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Brave priest's fearless words'

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - I wish to offer congratulations to Fr Oliver O'Reilly on his bravery and honesty in speaking out regarding the conduct of those responsible for the brutal assault on Kevin Lunney and the continued threats to the Quinn Industrial Holdings executives.

Having read the statement from Sean Quinn in last week's Sunday Independent, I am confused as to why Mr Quinn has decided to write to a number of the Vatican hierarchy regarding Fr O'Reilly's homily. I don't believe Fr O'Reilly mentioned Mr Quinn and I wonder what he found objectionable in the homily.

I am sure that Fr O'Reilly was expressing the opinion of the majority of law-abiding citizens of the Ballyconnell area and, indeed, the country as a whole. People have become afraid to speak out on criminality and thuggery through fear of the vocal minority.

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It brings to mind the expression regarding such behaviour: "For evil to flourish, it is only necessary for the good people to remain silent." It is refreshing that the Catholic clergy have spoken out in support of Fr O'Reilly.

Tony Fagan,

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford


Leo right to stand up for agriculture

Sir - I noted recent comments by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on climate change in which he defended agriculture. He is the first European premier to openly criticise the accounting method for calculating greenhouse gas (GHGs). He indicated that they are unfairly skewed against agriculture.

The real sources of climate change are burners of fossil fuels, be it coal, oil or gas.

It is an inconvenient truth but food production always produced CO2 and always sequestered it. Industry, aviation, energy and transport are the problem. They produce massive amounts of CO2 but sequester nothing. They then expect to share in the CO2 sequestering capacity of agriculture and forestry. Clothes, cosmetics, cars, Christmas decorations, data centres, TV programmes, radio, movies and so on all have massive carbon footprints.

Varadkar floated the idea of sectoral responsibility. Each sector would be responsible for what it produces and sequesters. Each sector would also be responsible for reducing what it produces, and increasing what it sequesters. Each sector would then have a net CO2 figure.

Irish agriculture sequesters about 75pc of what it produces, so it would then have a net figure of around 9pc of national GHGs (as 36pc is agriculture's estimated total output). There have been calls to reduce our national herd by 30pc as, in absolute terms, it is our biggest producer of GHGs. Why wouldn't it? It's our biggest industry.

Compare this to Germany. Car making is its biggest industry, and biggest emitter. A cut of 30pc would be a huge reduction. Yet nobody is calling for it - and that industry sequesters nothing.

West of Ireland lamb (and beef) is sustainable, high-quality food. It is eco-friendly as it is produced in a non-intensive way. The land on which sheep graze sequesters far more GHGs than the little gas they produce - and it is the only food that much of this land is suitable for producing. The land, mountains, and bogs have already sequestered and locked in millions of tons of CO2. Keeping sheep ensures it stays there.

If the farmers of the West were to get rid of their livestock, and instead try to produce grain, they would release millions of tons of CO2, destroy the soils and landscape, and impoverish themselves further as, with our weather, a successful harvest would be rare.

A few figures to chew on:

1kg of beef produces an absolute CO2 figure of 19kg (4.75kg net CO2 after sequestering). So a quarter pounder burger produces 2.1kg CO2 absolute (or 0.525kg).

One litre of fresh milk produces 0.733kg (0.185kg net)

And here are some damning figures I gleaned from RTE's recent cow bashing:

An average one hour TV show produces 13.5tons of CO2.

Phillip Boucher Hayes's TV programme on climate change produced 4.8 tons of CO2.

An efficient 2018 petrol car in one year's driving (35,000km) also produces 4.8 tons of CO2.

A return flight to Australia also produces 4.8 tons of CO2.

Now, using the Irish CO2 net figures, we will do the 'Carbon Footprint Burger Equivalent'.

One hour of TV is equivalent to 25,714 quarter pounders or 73,000 litres of fresh milk.

So PBH's TV programme is equivalent to 9,143 quarter pounders or 25,945 litres of milk

Anyone wishing to offset a trip to Australia by giving up meat would have to forfeit a delicious Irish quarter pounder every day for 25 years. Better to focus on the big polluters.

John Hourigan,

Murroe, Co Limerick


Age no excuse for climate inaction

Sir - Among my own (sparse) circle of friends, climate change is a regular topic. We're all over 65 and the general, well-worn and dismissive opinion is: "At our age, we don't have to worry about it". Yet if everybody our age the world over, took this attitude, the Earth would be doomed.

We are, allegedly, mature adults and yet lack the foresight to see the mess we're leaving for those who shall inhabit the world in great disrepair.

Sean McCormack,

Drogheda, Co Meath


World needs huge change from top

Sir - It's nearly 80 years now since I sat on the roadside on summer evenings and listened to my parents and some of the previous generation talk about the weather and how it's not the same as it used to be.

I vividly remember the snipe at dusk on those balmy evenings. Sadly, I have not heard that unforgettable noise in 70 years.

There has always been climate change. But by my estimate, the rate of change has more than doubled in 35 years. Industrial pollution and greed are destroying the eco-system.

Our Government is as bad as any. I don't see why senior politicians need so many large cars, plus a jet, at their disposal.

Why is Prince Charles in the UK the only one publicly to say the world cannot sustain the population explosion at present? The governments of the world should stop paying people to populate it. I don't see much of a world for our grandchildren unless there is a huge change from the top down.

Name and address with editor


Colm right on why history matters

Sir - The article in the Sunday Independent of November 10 by Colm O'Rourke ('Some history lessons are far too important ever to be forgotten') was a reflection on a school visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau where his students saw the horrendous reality of the Holocaust.

O'Rourke considered the effect of eliminating history as a core subject from the school curriculum by asking how contemporary generations would remember the barbarisms of the Holocaust.

His deliberations focused on how vital a formative force is the empirical understanding of historical events on young minds.

This point cannot be over-emphasised. If fact is replaced by prejudicial narrative, then we will see reprehensible global agendas like Holocaust denial, localised Islamophobia and resurgent antisemitism. And at a parochial level, the populist anti-Traveller and anti-Nigerian narratives of Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee and TD Noel Grealish will become all the easier to sustain.

O'Rourke's warning on how the dangers of forgetting historical reality empowers individuals intent on denying the Holocaust is the ultimate example. However, we can just as easily apply his apprehension to the contemporary world, where local politicians appear unfettered by the need to objectively reference their sources. This truth is illustrated by the sad scenario playing out on Achill Island and in other places where prejudice is rising.

Surely it is clear that we need to empower young people through the teaching of history, rather than listen to the distortions of patently false assertions by politicians - Dail privilege or not.

Kevin McCarthy,

Killaloe, Clare


Church needs women priests

Sir - Father Tony Flannery, says he'd like to see women say Mass before he dies. I also would like him to see women say Mass while he is on this Earth. And he may very well do so.

Perhaps the shortage of priests is God's way of telling the Church to get on with it and do the right thing.

Accept that suitable women should be ordained. And that married men should be ordained if they are of good character and have a vocation to the priesthood.

But Pope Francis will have a difficult job trying to wake up the people who do not want change. Some who want the status quo to last for eternity.

Margaret Walshe,

Clonsilla Road, Dublin 15


Sunday read a lesson for us all

Sir  - I read the Sunday Independent of November 17 and found the following messages.

1) Colm McCarthy is still the best commentator on Brexit;

2) If you want widespread favourable political publicity, make racist remarks;

3) But do not fall off a swing in a hotel and claim for injuries;

4) The Irish media are jealous that the UK media have a general election to cover. But they are working up an impatient head of steam at the possibility that will have an Irish one soon.

A Leavy,

Sutton, Dublin 13


School trip from RTE licence fees

Sir - I initially wondered who funded the trip to the Dail by a group of schoolchildren last week. Now I see it was RTE.

Of course it was. This is where our licence fee goes... along with sending various celebrities abroad to show us how to cook, or to teach us what life on a cruise liner is really like.

Incidentally, these young people might be interested to know that our generation (I am 68), did not cause these problems. We were not driven to school in high-powered SUVs, nor do we buy cups of coffee at the drop of a hat.

But as my nine-year-old granddaughter would say, good luck with that one!

Patricia Keeley,

Templeogue, Dublin


Sewage plant protest stinks

Sir - In 2003 a submarine pipeline to pump North Dublin sewage to Ringsend was completed without a murmur from the southsiders - which resulted in the system being overloaded, with serious consequences for the quality of water in Dublin Bay South.

We then rolled over for an incinerator, which also catered for NDers. Now the NDers have the cheek to want to block the new sewage plant - which is a fourth of the size of the Ringsend plant - dealing specifically with their own sewage.

Turning off the pump for a few weeks would soften their cough.

Dr Michael Foley,

Rathmines, Dublin 6


Cutting out the middleman

Sir - I read with great interest your front page story last week about Sean Quinn writing to the Vatican to complain about his local parish priest.

But I did wonder why all the surprise at Quinn taking his complaint to the top? He didn't become a billionaire without embracing the "cut out the middleman" policy.

Mattie Lennon,

Blessington, Co Wicklow


Carers and elderly waiting for justice

Sir - Am I the only person who was shocked at the Supreme Court ruling on the 'slopping out' case?

For the 70,000 or so of us women (mostly) who stayed out of the workforce to take care of ill and infirm members of the family and who 'slopped out' commodes and bedpans throughout this country, our reward was being deprived of our full contributory pension despite the fact we had more than the required number of stamps.

The prisoner who was incarcerated for seven and a half months was awarded €7,500 for infringement of his constitutional rights while the 70-year-old pensioner is discriminated against financially and expected to survive with a €57 shortfall each week. For ever.

Where is the justice in that?

Name and address with editor


Plaques to honour great Niall Toibin

Sir - Can I add my words to those which have already honoured the late Niall Toibin, a great Irishman, a great Corkman and a man who could be described as an extraordinary ordinary man.

I would suggest a plaque to his memory outside the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and at the Cork Opera House.

Not many performers of his generation came close to his versatility, creativity, humour and humanity.

Harry Mulhern,

Millbrook, Dublin


Show Maria Bailey some compassion

Sir - Well done to Niamh Horan for calling out the trolls who continue to harass Maria Bailey.

Maria Bailey is a human being, she is not perfect. But she is paying a heavy price - personally and professionally - for mistakes and errors of judgment. Yes, she is a public representative but isn't it a sad reflection on our society that she cannot pick up her children from school without negative comment?

I can't imagine the suffering she is going through. She has lost her father, endured the swing-gate controversy and now faces the loss of her job.

So let there be some compassion. Let her grieve and deal with matters without further ridicule. Draw a line and move on - but not to another victim. Public shaming has its consequences, even on strong personalities.

Maeve Donohoe,

Cootehill, Co Cavan


Politicians must act on fox-hunting

Sir - With her great regard for animals, Fiona O'Connell regularly highlights the cruelty of fox-hunting. It is not a sport and is banned in most countries.

Here in Ireland hunts, both home-grown and from abroad, are welcome to chase and terrorise foxes to their death.

A recent Red C poll found more than 75pc of people support a ban of hare-coursing and fox-hunting. Choosing to ignore public opinion and appearing to pander to special interests, the main political parties refuse to ban this brutality.

It is encouraging to read of ordinary people taking a stand and actively protesting against hunting. Come on, politicians.

Ger Brown,

Midleton, Co Cork


Go raibh maith agaibh, TG4

A dhuine uasal - Í nGael Taca i gCorcaigh, mhol duine dár grúpa dúinn an clár Uchtú ar TG4. Tháinig mé ar an clár inné agus gan dabht is é an clár is fearr a chonaic mé le fada.

Bhí an t-iriseoir Evanne Ní Chuilinn go hiontach, thar barr ar fad le guth blasta milis, lán de chroí agus mothúchain, is a chuid Gaeilge soléir sothuigthe.

Bhí sí féin ucthaithe, cosúil leis an mbeirt bhan eile sa clár a bhí ag lorg a máithreacha nó a gclainn nó daoine a bhí gaolmhar doibh freisin.

Nílim chun níos mó a léirú ach molaim do gach éinne an clár seo a fheiscint ar TG4.

Go raibh maith agaibh, TG4.

Eibhlin Ní Laocha,

Bóthar Wilton, Corcaigh

Sunday Independent

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