Sir - I regularly applaud Eoghan Harris for his refusal to allow Sinn Fein have free rein in the media and regularly calls out those who seek to airbrush SF's very murky history and give it an easy ride that no other party could expect. Its current position also needs close watching, and we can expect Mr Harris to point this out, too.
However, I do believe he is totally blinkered when it comes to Bertie Ahern, simply because of that man's admittedly significant contribution to the peace process.
When his total political contribution is weighed against his efforts to bring about the peace process, I still believe Ahern comes out on the minus side of the equation.
The peace process was not exclusively Ahern's success but that of many, both famous and unsung. Ahern stood on the shoulders of many giants who went before him (Irish, Northern Irish, American and British).
Do we really believe that if Mr Ahern were not involved, then the PP would not have happened? Of course it would.
The IRA was so infiltrated and compromised that it was effectively defeated. Adams and Co recognised this and had only one future. Peace process or total defeat and irrelevance.
I am not diminishing Ahern's contribution, but neither am I willing to forget the part he and FF played in destroying this country's economy. The way he always put FF before anything else. The way he defended the indefensible, as long as it was in FF's interest.
No, Mr Harris could temper his eulogising of Mr Ahern, he does not require that 'dig out'!
Murderer Dwyer shows no remorse
Sir - On reading one of the headlines (Sunday Independent, December 9) which read 'Jubilant Dwyer totally focused on jail release', I could not help but think about his victim's family, and the utter devastation they must be feeling in the aftermath of Graham Dwyer winning his High Court challenge, to the State's use of mobile phone data during his murder trial.
Seemingly, Dwyer has put all his time and energy in building up a case against the State, and can now use this ruling as part of his appeal against his conviction. Dwyer was found guilty of murdering Elaine O'Hara - mainly because of the incriminating mobile phone evidence that was shown in court, which now it seems was a human rights violation against him.
If there was any shred of decency in this man, he would simply serve his time in prison, and not cause further stress and anxiety on the O'Hara family. He has shown no remorse for his crime and he should realise that winning his appeal won't change in the slightest the public perception of him.
Name and address with the Editor
O'Hanlon wrong to defend Tory MP
Sir - Eilis O'Hanlon (Sunday Independent, December 9)accuses the people of this country of joining 'the Brits in the asylum' when she claims that some of us over-reacted to a comment from a Conservative MP appearing to threaten Ireland with dire consequences as a result of Brexit.
The truth is that given its possible economic and political consequences, including the fact that it has declared economic war on this country and torn up the Good Friday Agreement, the reaction of the Irish people and the Irish media to Brexit has been incredibly mild.
All Eilis O'Hanlon has to do is read comments of the gutter London media in relation to the effect of Brexit on Ireland to see the contempt Brexiteers have for the people of this country. It is, therefore, not a very good commentary when Eilis O'Hanlon joins the London media and Brexiteer network in telling Paddy to know his place and to shut his gob in relation to Brexit.
The rebirth of light nears
Sir — The winter solstice on Friday, December 21, is the day of least daylight in the calendar year. For some astronomers it marks the end of autumn and the beginning of winter. In meteorology, winter in the northern hemisphere spans the three months of December, January and February. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is that daylight gradually becomes longer until the summer solstice on June 21.
Although winter is the dormant season of darkness and cold, the winter solstice marks the “turning of the sun” and the days slowly get longer.
Celebrations of returning light are common in history with festivals and holidays around the time of the winter solstice. Pagan societies held a 12-day festival at winter solstice to celebrate the rebirth of the sun god. The Feast of Juul was another pre-Christian festival in Scandinavia at winter solstice. Fires were lit to symbolise the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule (Juul) log was burned to honour the Scandinavian god Thor.
Nowadays, Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas Day, when we decorate our homes and localities with lights and stars to welcome the birth of the “true light of the world”. Similar to the old 12-day pagan festivals celebrating the rebirth of the sun god at winter solstice, Christians celebrate the “12 days of Christmas” to welcome the birth of Christ.
The rebirth of light, whether spiritual or temporal, will brighten the way for people of all religions and none during this festive season. The light will shine brighter if those of us with sufficient resources share a little with the needy.
Truly they are man’s best friend
Sir — Reading in your newspaper (Sunday Independent, December 9) about the late American President George HW Bush and his faithful dog Sully, as he sat dutifully keeping vigil by his late master’s coffin was a very moving scene.
As the headline and photograph suggested, “a dog is not just a pet, but a kind of counsellor with fur’’. Every pooch has the capacity to ease the stress of everyday living for all of us by just being, and not just trained dogs like Sully. Their unquestioning loyalty, gentleness, playfulness, faithfulness and ability to make us all feel special lifts our spirits on a daily basis.
This unique therapy is always on tap and comes absolutely free of charge. If it could be bottled and sold on the open market, we would have a much more stress-free society worldwide. That’s why the sorrowful sight of abandoned puppies and adult dogs in terrified circumstances, particularly after the festive season, leaves all of us very upset, concerned and sad.
People should think long and hard before getting a puppy at Christmas, only to discover the enormous responsibility they have undertaken and being unable to cope.
The very sad and most disturbing sight of abandoned, wet, cold, shivering and confused young dogs is heart-wrenching. People should do their homework in advance to ensure they are properly prepared to cope with a young puppy who is full of beans and the joys of life, and is not yet house-trained. They need to be patient. He just needs time to understand the house rules. If they do not plan well in advance, they might be barking up the wrong tree and resort to the unthinkable for man’s best friend.
Sterling work by Starling
Sir — What a truly heart-warming appreciation of our canine companions by Boris Starling (Sunday Independent, December 9). It stands in stark contrast to the unwarranted demonisation earlier this year. Compulsory reading for all those of an anthropocentric or cynophobic mindset, I would think!
Kill two PC phrases with one stone...
Sir — A well-meaning animal protection group is advocating that we stop using expressions that might “trivialise” cruelty to animals, citing “bring home the bacon” and “take the bull by the horns” as examples. I think this is downright silly, and might even hurt the cause of animal protection, in the same way that atheists sound wacky when they object to RTE’s Angelus bell.
I have campaigned for decades against hare coursing and fox hunting, and lobbied politicians for a ban on fur farming. I have joined countless pickets to highlight the suffering of animals.
But I can’t stomach the idea of policing the way people speak, or denouncing the use of time-honoured animal idioms that have long been part of everyday speech.
At the annual meeting of an animal welfare group a few years ago, I heard a woman complain that there wasn’t enough room to swing a cat in the meeting venue. She certainly couldn’t be accused of hostility to cats because she’d devoted much of her life to finding homes for abandoned or stray ones. Yet a PC-minded person might find fault with her use of the phrase.
I’m more concerned about real animal cruelty issues, especially in the run-up to Christmas, than pleasing people who would censor us to the point of verbal emasculation. At this time of year, hares are used as live bait, forced to run from salivating dogs at coursing events.
Foxes are chased until their lungs give out and exhaustion delivers them to the packs to be eviscerated. Though banned, stag hunting continues furtively in some districts, and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer would need to keep his eyes peeled if passing low over certain parts of the country. The real live horror of blood sports should be a far more serious concern for animal protection campaigners than one’s choice of words in a conversation.
I believe in kindness to animals, but where possible I like to kill at least two politically correct phrases with one stone. No offence to the birds!
Don’t give dogs
Sir — Sad thoughts are taking over my mind at the moment as, coming up to Christmas and all the gifts, people don’t think deeply enough, giving lovely wee pups to kids as they often end up in ugly circumstances when things turn out badly.
God bless all who run animal welfare refuges and the people who support them.
There is so much good and a lot of bad in the world. Please give the animals to a home if you can’t deal with it. Cut the terrible suffering.
Saving the world — it’s up to us all
Sir — Thanks to humankind, the course of destruction of our environment has been set.
Arrogance and a refusal to live within the laws of nature, population control, balanced use of resources and respect for our living space sees the human race and our allied non-human species swimming up the proverbial creek without a paddle.
Ireland is, as ever, behind the curve in facing this Armageddon, lacking a political class to lead and deal with the issues that seep into every aspect of our life on this island. Tugging at the hem of the climate change issue is not political action. As a society we need to buy into measures, no matter how lifestyle-changing and financially exacting, as a commitment towards saving our environment.
This is serious. As humans we must look to ourselves to make changes in our way of living as a micro-action deposit in the account of the next human generation, if that should come to pass. The usual tropes of saving the planet apply. Adopt a minimalist lifestyle, remove animal-based products from your diet, don’t breed adopt instead, reduce your travel footprint and recycle/upcycle.
Many other actions can be added to this environmental call to arms. It may seem futile. But each action sends out a ripple that laps up on the boundary of another action thus creating an unstoppable wave.
But knowing there is a problem is half the battle; doing something based on our knowledge is the other half.
As a society we may be supping in the last chance saloon. Indeed, last call on planet earth may already have been shouted. But drawing on the wisdom from the saying ‘the best way to predict your future is to create it’ means humankind holds one chance to create a sustainable future on this planet.
Sir — Come election time we are all familiar with the slogan “it’s the economy, stupid”. This should be altered to “it’s global warning, stupid”.
David Attenborough proclaimed global warming to be “the greatest threat to humanity”. There is nobody better qualified to know. There is not much good having a good economy if there are fewer of us here to enjoy it.
All hail GAA’s grassroots heroes
Sir — Following the spectacular victory of Mullinalaghta St Columba’s football team in the Leinster club SFC final, perhaps the Longford County Board might consider selecting the entire Mullinalaghta panel to represent the county in the 2019 All-Ireland GAA championship series.
Mullinalaghta’s steely determination and self-belief brought them a well-deserved victory over two times all-Ireland club champions Kilmacud Crokes of Dublin.
Perhaps on a one-off basis, the Ard Chomhairle of the GAA might even consider sanctioning all 32 county club football and hurling champions to represent their respective counties in the all-Ireland Championship series.
It is primarily the club players who, in their spare time, play for the love of the game with no monetary compensation, who epitomise the original ideals of the GAA. They are the true sporting heroes.
The GAA at club and parish level is a sporting organisation that places community above self. It is the soul of a society of people of diverse political, cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, all of whom subscribe to the notion of loyalty to the common good exclusively on the premise of volunteer participation and we have a collective duty to future generations to pass on this heritage as it was passed on to us.
Thanks for the tax
Sir — Would you please print a big thank you this Christmas to the great taxpayers of this country. They don’t get the praise they deserve.
For the roads, paths, street lights, hospitals, day care centres. I could go on but I must keep this letter short.
They nearly broke us but you, the taxpayer, saved the day, you picked up the pieces. They don’t do Christmas awards for taxpayers, but if they did I would nominate you, the taxpayer.
So thank you and a very happy Christmas.
DUP set for fall
Sir — After pride comes a fall. Surely at least the DUP, from its biblical studies, must be aware of this wisdom. Adam was tempted into believing he could become all-knowing, with disastrous consequences.