An Open Letter to An Post...
When I see the new crop of 'Christmas' stamps each year, I am reminded of earlier anti-smoking advertisements on bus shelters.
The message showed young people getting ready for a night out, with an ashtray placed among the make-up, with the message: "It's all not worth it if you smoke."
Each year since 2016, when An Post for some unknown reason let the ancient Irish word 'Nollaig' gently slide from its stamps into oblivion, the quality and meaning of the stamps have steadily deteriorated.
No matter what new attempts since then have been made to keep the stamps relevant, whether this means new competitions for designs, new colours, etc, they just look as if something is missing. In fact, it's a glaring omission.
The word Nollaig has made our stamps unique in the world and is immediately recognised by all those generations who grew up with this comfortable and meaningful symbol of our Christmas. It all means nothing without the word Nollaig.
It is again an embarrassment to send these baubles of 'happy holidays' around the world; they have become bland postal tokens of infantile proportions without the magic of Nollaig.
My question to An Post is, why? Why have you taken the most meaningful part of any Christmas stamp away?
For the third year in a row, An Post has attempted to pass off these sad stickers as being somehow related to Christmas. For the third year in a row, I will not be buying them.
Sean O Broin
Cluain Dolcain, Baile Atha Cliath 22
The Government plans to introduce a new GP-led abortion service in January. However, there is no provision for the introduction of a free universal contraceptive service in Ireland.
This is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. Surely at least as much effort and money should be put into preventing unwanted pregnancies by a free comprehensive family planning education campaign and free contraception to all women?
GPs are to be paid €450 for three visits to terminate a pregnancy. However, GPs receive €250 to provide comprehensive antenatal and postnatal care for a pregnant woman and her newborn, which can involve approximately eight visits to the GP's surgery. This highlights the chronic underfunding of antenatal care in Ireland. It can't be right that a doctor gets paid almost twice as much to terminate a pregnancy than to support it.
Health Minister Simon Harris needs to seriously review these issues before rushing through this new legislation.
Dr David Buckley, Dr Karen Soffe, Dr Kevin Ryle. Dr Kate Vernon.
The Ashe Street Clinic, Tralee, Co Kerry
Former British international development secretary Priti Patel's pomposity in floating the possibility of food shortages in Ireland post-Brexit ('Fury at Tory's call to threaten Ireland with food shortage', Irish Independent, December 8) in an attempt at blackmailing the Irish Government to reconsider its position on the backstop and is as pathetic as it is predictable.
Of course, this is not the first time our closest neighbours have used food shortages as a political lever against Ireland. Ms Patel's bullying should act as an added incentive for all of us on this island to support outlets that afford us the option of buying Irish produce, thereby lessening our dependency on imports from abroad.
Templeogue, Dublin 6W
As a man in the autumn of life, I know it's never too late to learn new things. With 2018 reaching a close, I can add 'social influencer' to my personal lexicon.
In the interest of research, I set out to discover what this species contributes to humanity and the body of knowledge.
My simple discovery was that these types awake on a random morning and, while gazing in the bathroom mirror, a sort of message from on high descends upon them with the simple invocation: "You're fabulous and your life is fascinating."
They then set about acquiring a 'following' by shamelessly promoting themselves and lots of products on these vehicles for self-promotion called blogs. At no point in the process do they need to pass an exam, seek the approval of an editor or acquire any discernible talent. No, they themselves have come to a self-realisation that their life holds an endless fascination for the rest of us.
So my new year's resolution is to become a social influencer for the over-50s. I intend to run my blog from the comfort of my living-room chair and spout an endless amount of bilge and dross, interlaced with words like 'fabulous' and 'brilliant'.
I will surround myself shamelessly with products of every description. On each arm will be cradled large bottles of my favourite tipple. I will stuff my face with every food product a discount store could offer. I will wax lyrical about all the wonderful destinations I intend visiting.
When the money rolls in, I will become a darling of the media and my opinions will be sought on everything from Brexit to bread. Yes, what a 'fabulous' 2019 lies ahead for me.
We live in strange times.
Clonmel, Co Tipperary
The protests in France should not be seen as an isolated event. In this age of globalisation and complexity, we are grappling with a world riven with violence, poverty, hunger and intractable political, social, economic, religious, cultural and environmental problems.
These issues are becoming less amenable to outdated, top-down and state interventions and governments operating at macro-level. They demand new thinking from the institutions that govern us to put people's needs at their heart.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
How about: "Ya scumbag, ya maggot, ya cheap lousy bundle of sticks"?
Bantry, Co Cork