Sir - It both confuses and amazes me to listen to so-called 'specialists' on electric motoring.
Firstly, these 'experts' talk waffle on behalf of the rural population of Ireland. Secondly, they talk as if there are very few motoring vehicles outside of the main urban centres.
In rural Ireland there are few, if any, charging points for any electric vehicles in small towns and villages. Also there is little or no public service transport.
Tens of thousands of people live 20/30km from their nearest village and if lucky enough to find a charging point they would spend an enormous amount of time travelling to/from and waiting for the charge to complete itself.
I have yet to hear any of the panellists mention tractors and other diesel-powered agricultural machinery.
If the Government is serious about wanting fossil-free motoring, there should be grants to install the requisite charging points in rural homes and farms. I won't hold my breath!
Gowran, Co Kilkenny
(Nearest charging point - Thomastown, 18km)
Fuelling climate change debate
Sir — In your pre-Christmas leading article (Sunday Independent, December 23) illustrated by a view of our planet from outer space you wrote of its “fragility” and reminded your readers of the report of the UN Scientific panel in Poland and warnings thereof regarding climate change.
I regard planet Earth as a global battery, charged over millions of years by negation — growth and decay, resulting in what we know as deposits of fossil fuels, namely coal, oil, natural gas and the humble peat, a later comer. For ages and ages these deposits remained intact, energy being provided by manpower, horsepower, wind power and some water power leaving the balance of nature undisturbed.
It is only within comparatively modern times that the deposits have been exploited. The Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century was fuelled by coal and into the early decades of the last century, the 20th. In 1912 the boilers of the ill-fated Titanic were fed by coal.
The move towards oil began later, replacing coal as a major source of energy. These quantities of the fossil fuel are finite. To return to the “humble peat”, already Bord na Mona is scaling down production. Some peat-fired power stations have already closed. However, our remaining bogs are safe, the EU is keeping an eye on them!
While there are moves internationally to reduce the use of fossil fuels, wind farms are extending, solar power is being considered and nuclear power, also experiments to see if harvesting of tidal waves is feasible.
The sources of energy just mentioned are fixtures. What sources of energy will propel — eventually — the railways, road transport, agricultural machinery, shipping and air travel?
Finally, to return to your article, the United Nations report that to avoid further damage to the climate would require transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent”!
In the meantime, coal mining and further oil exploration continues.
Yes, the ‘king’ may well have no clothes
Sir — Not for the first time, Eoghan Harris (‘We need to talk more about the backstop before we get hurt too’ — Sunday Independent, December 30) attempts to raise serious debate about our Government’s cosy consensus on issues concerning Brexit.
Most people I talk to don’t seem to fully grasp what the backstop means, nor indeed the possible long-game strategies of the vested interests involved. It’s not a simple Ireland v England match; it can’t force a united Ireland (whatever that means in the 21st Century); it’s not even strictly about protecting the Good Friday Agreement.
Varadkar and Coveney do us no service by jutting out the ‘green jaw’ and assuring us in populous soundbites that all is well, without plainly and honestly explaining to us what our Government is actually doing.
What are the pros and cons, where are the possible dangers, are there alternative plans in place in case of disaster looming? Our current stance seems to be about gaining popular acclaim, the vote, good photo ops, etc. Some might see it that we are saying that we own the ball and feck the game.
Is there a complex situation developing that has the capacity to leave the rails and trap us all in a train that has no brakes and no reverse gear?
Harris is asking pertinent hard questions that cannot be ignored.
Now approaching 80, I have navigated life by asking questions. I have always found that if the message is sound it will withstand examination, and be all the healthier for it.
Some journalists have recently questioned our lazy indifference to the plight of our neighbours, ie the ordinary British people caught in a splintered political nightmare, with whom many of us have personal marriage, work, cultural, business and trading relationships.
Furthermore, Britain has historically been our longest standing friend and supporter in Europe.
Dancing a jig with a green flag is a dumb move just now. It is imperative that calm, rational voices pose the hard questions before it is too late.
It beggars belief that experienced commentators like Eoghan Harris, for reasons of policy or whatever, are blocked from appearing on our national TV and radio current affairs programmes — shame on our TV and radio bosses.
My race is nearly run but our younger people may yet rue the day if they make the same mistake that the British electorate made — they did not check the veracity of the premise on which their referendum was put.
It is past time that we were given some real information — the whys, ifs and maybe the whole jigsaw. Healthy democracies depend on honest information.
We are capable of making up our own minds.
Thanks again to Eoghan Harris for pointing out that the king may have no clothes.
Archive from 1988 adds chill to Brexit
Sir — My comfort in the unseasonable mildness at year’s end was abruptly disintegrated in the chilling blast unleashed by the release of the 1988 State Papers.
Even a cursory reflection on the mayhem of atrocities in Northern Ireland and the sourness and belligerence of the Haughey, Thatcher relationship has to provoke a pause for deep and responsible reflection as the Brexit crisis awakens from a restive Christmas catnap.
Adding the reality that there is among us a surreptitious and violent cohort awaiting the faintest pretext to take the law into their own hands should leave alarming tones ringing in political ears of every hue, long after the bells, that have just ushered in ‘the year of Brexit’, have gone silent.
A calamitous date for our unborn
Sir — I beg to differ with Health Minister Simon Harris’s introduction of abortion services on January 1 as a ‘momentous day’.
The grave injustices yet to be inflicted on unborn babies in this country can hardly be described in such a fashion. Abortion cannot be classified as healthcare.
Why? Because it simply isn’t, despite the many valiant attempts to disguise it as such.
“A procedure intended to end the life of a foetus,” as in our current legislation, has only one objective and that is to end an innocent life.
For the 733,632 people who voted last May to protect the unborn baby, January 1, 2019 was far from momentous — rather calamitous.
A paltry vote to elect a president
Sir — Gene Kerrigan is a brilliant journalist and a sharp political analyst. However, in his otherwise great article (Sunday Independent, December 30) he completely misread the result of the presidential election.
If I had the three main parties supporting me and the main government party prepared to spend money to get me elected and the Taoiseach and leader of Fianna Fail placing me on a plane far higher than Blessed Michael the Archangel or Mother Teresa, I would have been disgusted with a paltry 822,566 votes.
Selling our souls to ‘Cyber-Gods’
Sir — Bravo encore to Eilis O’Hanlon (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, December 30). Yet again, she does the State salient service by rumbling the reality of malign and mischievous distortions being perpetrated by political movers and shakers via social media conduits.
She particularly instances the recent vacuous government claim of “a souped-up Electoral Commission, which will... finally stamp out the creeping influence of hidden political advertising on social media”.
“No it won’t,” she sturdily resounds, since “the internet will always be one step ahead of sluggish efforts to bring it to heel”.Ne’er a truer word uttered. The internet has evolved into an untameable beast, and while it has brought celebrated advantages, it has spawned a risky and debilitating collage of ‘cyber-sins’.
One can prefix ‘cyber’ to a vast array of threatening undesirables such as ‘bullying, crime, pornography, espionage, child-abuse, trolling, scams (of every hue)’. Add political and electoral manipulative machination to the weave and you’ve got a dangerous animal for sure.
Roll back a few decades, and one detects zero public outcry or yearning for anything resembling the internet in its ever-exponential intrusion on decent democratic living and social mores. The whole phenomenon is essentially based on the urgent greed of ‘techie’ innovators (so-called) who burgeon forth into global corporate giants of King Kong proportion with only wilful domination of hearts, minds and spirits around the planet on their mind. Theirs is a sickening game of shareholder profiteering and relentless competitive one-upmanship. Conquering the world’s soul seems to be the prime motivation, with all the Machiavellian power and lucre they can muster.
For Eilis to state that the internet will always be ahead of the governance posse is a generous understatement.
Everybody already knows the shenanigans afoot, and yet so little in the way of pre-emptive, preparatory controlling templates for internet ‘behaviour’ is ever hatched for fear of ‘offending’ the moguls.
So, we continue to sell our souls to the ‘Cyber-Gods’, relinquishing not only our cherished individual independence, but more crucially our personal holistic human essence. All bow before Mammon, the rebooted God-of-Gods in Planet Cyber.
Joyful worship would be very welcome here
Sir — Tommy Roddy (‘How our church can learn from England’, Letters, Sunday Independent, December 30) resonated with me. As a visitor to London for Christmas, I attended Ealing Abbey’s parish church with my youngest grandchildren for a 3pm Christmas Eve children’s nativity service.
How refreshing it was to come across a lively parish run by a young Dublin priest, with at least 300 young children acting out the Christmas story and 20 or so more performing the accompanying music.
It would be wonderful if our Irish parish communities could replicate the joyful worship that is not uncommon in this part of London.
Sir — I think it is important for Tommy Roddy (‘How our church can learn from England’, Letters, Sunday Independent, December 30) to factor in that tourists have worked out that, to avoid paying the weekday entry charge to UK cathedrals, if they attend Choral Evensong, they get in free. I have witnessed bewildered people, to the consternation of worshippers, wondering why they can’t walk up and down the choir stalls while the service is taking place, clueless as to what is happening.
Of course, it is better to have them in the church under those circumstances than not at all, but I am very sceptical about drawing any appropriate analogies in the matter with the Irish church’s situation.
Remembering the stranger at our door
Sir — I was fascinated reading A Thompson’s letter regarding Sean South (Sunday Independent, December 30) and it brought memories of that time flooding back. As an eight-year-old from a nationalist background, I was well aware of Sean South. I wonder how many people, from a unionist background, remember Norman Anderson?
My story begins on a sunny summer Sunday in 1960. Our home was located along the then very busy Aughnacloy to Augher road, so callers who were strangers was not unusual.
On that evening, the rap on the door announced another stranger, a tall young man. His vehicle had a puncture and he wondered if he could have a hand fixing it. Where was the spare wheel? My father quickly appraised the situation, seeing the young man attired in his Sunday best, invited him in to sit down and he would sort the puncture. While my father carried out repairs, my mother put out tea and homemade soda bread for the visitor as a couple of gawky cubs looked on. He told my mother he was on his way from Larne to visit his girlfriend in Co Monaghan near to the Fermanagh border. Puncture repaired, he was soon on his way.
Fast forward to the end of the following January. A photograph in the papers announced the murder of Constable Norman Anderson. He had been shot, over 30 times, while visiting his girlfriend on the Fermanagh-Monaghan border.
For months after that, as we said our nightly prayers, we prayed for our mother and also for Constable Anderson, who graced our table, for a short time, a few months before.
I believe a band does play in his memory.
A year of promise
Sir — A brand new year, thank God. Precious time to enjoy and spend wisely.
Being kind and considerate to family, friends and colleagues.
New opportunities and unexpected events to deal with well.
Enjoying healthy, relaxing leisure and the outdoors. Helping to protect our earthly home, God’s beautiful planet Earth.
Remembering that a good life is a happy life, that flows easily and gently.