Letters to the Editor: 'Emigrants celebrate home'
Sir - As Saint Patrick's Day rolls around once again, does our national saint's feast day mean more to those of us who remained at home - or to those who emigrated from our shores in their hundreds of thousands during the recession of the lost decade?
Those who stayed at home celebrate this special day by going to Mass, going to a parade, going to the pub, or by watching the All-Ireland hurling and football finals from Croke Park.
Meanwhile, the Irish emigrants - in London, Birmingham, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Chicago, Toronto, and many more far-flung places - get together and march in huge parades to celebrate a heritage which means so much to them.
March 17 has become an international day of celebration worldwide, for the 70-million plus Irish diaspora. The fact that they cannot plant their feet on Irish soil on this day helps to fire the need to walk in solidarity with their fellow compatriots in a foreign land on this 'Paddy's Day'. This gives them a great sense of identity, of pride and togetherness.
I wonder how many of them will return home to the land of their birth - where today they are so badly needed, especially in the health and construction sectors.
Who knows? We do know that the Irish bars, hotels and restaurants all over the world will be filled to overflowing, as emigrants pine for the comforts of home, and the company of family and friends.
And as they celebrate, the songs of home will ring out loud and clear - 'Three leaf shamrock, I adore thee, Your three leaves I long to see, When there's brighter days in Ireland, I'll come home and marry thee'.
It's never too late to learn our language
Sir - The tone of Colm O'Rourke's heartwarmingly honest article on the Irish language (Sunday Independent, March 3) was encouraging and timely, as was the response on the letters page from Tommie Kenoy last week - equally realistic and constructive.
It seems to be generally agreed that fluency in spoken Irish is a challenge, be it due to teaching attitudes and methods or a prevailing 'practical' mindset which questions the value of the language.
However, for the many people still interested in mastering spoken Irish, the best approach to effortless language acquisition was referenced in the original article. While there is ample research validating the immersion method, I feel compelled to add my own conviction and endorsement to those findings, having been immersed in Naionra education for more than 24 years.
Maintaining fun, laughter and enjoyment as central elements to all activities and interactions ensures the learning occurs effortlessly among the children - almost unknown to themselves - just as they learned their first language (still English for the majority). This is satisfying and fulfilling for all, and everyone is a winner.
Are adults any different, other than the likelihood we have developed a 'self-consciousness' over the years about trying out our Gaeilge? In almost a quarter of a century I have yet to meet any parents who did not express a desire to reconnect with and achieve some mastery in spoken Irish.
There are Ciorcail Comhra as well as classes aplenty, including cursai ar line and other parent-led initiatives. So let's get talking - bi ag caint - grammar can wait a while, and let's not compare ourselves to others.
If we need further encouragement, it may also help to take stock at the emergence of some new 'non-Irish' Gaeilgeoiri in our midst, from Russia, Nigeria and elsewhere. D'fheadfaimis tosnu aon am. There is nothing to lose, plenty to gain, and lots of fun to be had in the process!
Nora Anne Luck,
Equality should be for all of us
Sir - I read with interest Francesca McDonagh's article (Sunday Independent, March 10) headlined "Firms must ask if gender imbalance is on merit".
It is great to see people standing up for the equality of women in the Irish workplace. However, I was disappointed her article did not go on to highlight how Bank of Ireland intends to recruit the 50pc female representation in senior management and leadership appointments by 2021.
I would also be interested in knowing how her organisation can be reflective of the diverse communities in Ireland. As I am sure your readers would acknowledge, the workplace should be a diverse place in relation to women, age, race, disability, socio-economic status and religion.
As a black African woman living in Ireland, I understand equality characteristics within the workplace are important in relation to recruitment processes. It is essential employers do not only focus on one group of women, mainly white Irish women.
Dr Margareth Rungarara Keenan,
Uniform had me walking on air
Sir - I refer to the article in last week's Sunday Independent by Niamh Horan headed 'People with self-esteem will still want to wear make-up'.
Ms Horan was referring to the fact "Aer Lingus has become the latest airline to drop mandatory make-up rules for cabin crew". This will be introduced in November with the introduction of the newly designed uniform by well-known designer Louise Kennedy, which includes trousers for female cabin crew.
Hmmm. I hope Aer Lingus's new policy includes male cabin crew being allowed to choose to wear make-up or not!
Having said that, maybe it is all relevant. I was one of the young ladies in the late 1970s and onward who got the opportunity to don the then lovely new Aer Lingus air hostess uniform designed by the famous designer Paul Costelloe.
It was Mr Costelloe who made the comment that headed this article, regarding those with self-esteem still wanting to wear make-up with the latest uniform.
I can honestly say my self-esteem was practically non-existent when I first donned Mr Costelloe's lovely ensemble along with a dab or two of make-up!
However, it was not long before I encountered a new-found self-esteem as I began to enjoy 'strutting my stuff' down Aer Lingus's aircraft cabins and worldwide airport terminals, feeling downright sexy!
Thanks to Mr Costelloe's wonderful uniform design and Aer Lingus for helping to put a spring in my navy stilettos back then. More importantly, thank you for helping to increase the spring in my self-esteem!
Use woman-power for gender balance
Sir - Despite all the hype behind International Women's Day on March 8, your editorial on March 10 regarding the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and on gender inequality in general admits 'the glass ceiling remains a reality'.
The fact that it depends on powerful decision makers - mostly male - in all sectors of society to empower women raises major questions whether any change is coming in women's situation in the near future. In addition, it does not help when women do not use their power in situations in which they have that power.
Even though women - because they live longer - are a majority in nearly all democracies, they are grossly under-represented in most parliaments.
Parliament is the most powerful decision-making forum in a democracy. The truth seems to be that nothing much will happen until women use their majority status in the electorate to elect more women to the democratically elected parliaments of the world.
We should remember that, even after the imposition of a quota, our own Dail is still nearly 80pc male. The situation will certainly not change unless and until women's attitude changes in relation to their own under-representation in what are supposed to be representative democracies.
For example, it is hard to see much of a move to a more gender-balanced world until women themselves move from an outlook in which a large proportion of them voted for a misogynist like Donald Trump when they had a competent and experienced woman like Hillary Clinton on the ballot paper for the most powerful political post in the world. Until that attitude changes, the glass ceiling will remain a reality.
Mortgage rates are just down to greed
Sir - Irish banks are making money. They are raking it in by the bucketload. After all, Irish borrowers pay the second highest mortgage rates in the eurozone, second only to Greece after a recent rise in interest rates by Greek banks. But why are mortgage rates so high?
Finance minister Paschal Donohoe says "loss-making trackers" are to blame, but the TSB chief executive recently said his bank yielded 1.1pc from trackers and other economists have said that, at worst, banks now break even on trackers.
Irish banks are greedy - the average mortgage rate across the EU is 1.79pc but the average in Ireland is 3.04pc. Does this mean the minister in charge cannot do a simple Google search to see what the banks are saying about the tracker mortgages before making a statement? Mr Donohoe also believes the cap of €500,000 a year on bankers' pay needs to be reviewed. Really?
So it looks like government is set to let this situation continue for another 20 years. I have to ask the question while I bang my head against a brick wall - why do we let the banks screw us?
Reinstate Leixlip tram service
Sir - In the 1970s, Irish Rail announced plans to electrify the Greystones rail service. It prompted me to look for the restoration of a rail link for Leixlip, just 10 miles from Dublin, and for commuters in other north Kildare towns, all of which were growing rapidly. (I'm a former chair of Leixlip Town Council.)
The mainline service closed, around 1955, with just pilgrims to Knock catered for thereafter. I started the Western Area Rail Travellers' lobby. Soon Maynooth commuters joined in. We got the service, starting with Greystones' cast-off plastic bucket-seats in ancient unheated diesel railcars. Now we have comfortable trains on the half-hour or so; it's been a great success. But only commuters close to the line are well serviced.
The National Transport Authority seems to copy the culture of the former National Roads Authority. It's a case of "Just let us get on with our plans" for an horrendously expensive Metro link between Dublin Airport and where the decision-makers probably live, and not a whisper about the exclusion of competing projects.
Well here's one: reinstate the tram service we had between Dublin to Leixlip, via Chapelizod, Palmerstown, Lucan to Leixlip which we had in 1883 onwards.
It started at Conyngham Road and came first to Lucan and thence to Leixlip. It carried passengers, and separately flour, from the local mills.
Leixlip is as near to O'Connell Bridge as Dublin Airport. We have no Luas. There is scarcely a day that there isn't a report of congestion on the N4/M4. Western suburbs, close to the city, are growing. There's land purchased for a park-and-ride in Lucan Demesne lying fallow, which could serve as a tram terminus as well.
To pay for it, may I suggest VAT on aircraft fuel?
No planet B so act now for our future
Sir - Last Friday morning, 1,000 students took part in a school strike in Ennis, Co Clare. We stood together to show we were there for climate action. We were there to make the Government see we care.
As children and teenagers, we cannot vote. So we were doing one of the only things we can do to get the Government to hear our voice - skipping school.
This Government won't be here in 50 years' time to clean up the mess they are creating and ignoring. If they don't start to change now, we may never be able to clean it up. There is no planet B.
Greta Thunberg started striking on Fridays in August 2018. Then, she was one person with a cardboard sign. Seven months later, tens of thousands of children and teens are striking for climate justice. When the time is right, it only takes one person to change the world.
When you're young, you have big dreams. Right now, I have a dream for my future but that dream is sliding rapidly away from me, because our future is uncertain due to the lack of response to climate change.
Instead of saying "I will see the year 2070," we have to say "I hope to see the year 2070".
Hoping for a future is not good enough. And the politicians of Ireland are the ones taking that future away from us.
In the words of Greta: "You say you love your children above all else - and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes."
Change is inevitable, and while we can see climate changing before our eyes, there is no sign yet of the system changing. I appeal to the politicians: change the system and give us a future to dream for.
Kate Harty (15),
Colaiste Mhuire Green Schools Committee,
Thank you for speaking up, Ruth
Sir - I won't be alone in lamenting Ruth Dudley Edwards's departure as a regular contributor to this paper.
Ruth and a small number of others played a key role in articulating a stream of Irish opinion that had been largely forced underground. She did more to build bridges of goodwill with our Northern neighbours than many other would-be architects of unification.
Ruth wasn't afraid to find and celebrate the blunt decency of the average Northern unionist.
While the republican propaganda mills spewed out an endless conveyor-belt of derision against 'revisionists', Ruth made the case for a type of Irish world view that wasn't obsessed with green jersey insularity.
Sir - Gay Byrne's comments in the Sunday Independent last week regarding the "silent t" reminded me of the man booking a holiday.
"I'd like to go to Majorka," says he. "No doubt you mean Majorca," the agent replied, "so when would you like to travel?"
"Any time in Une or Uly," came the reply.
Triple the laughs
Sir - can I address my letter to three of your writers? Dear Katy, Eleanor and Aine - when I get the Sindo, the first page I open is page 4 of Living and read each of your columns.
It's a great start to a Sunday morning. I live on my own and am almost 70 (quite handsome for my age but, alas, no money). I wouldn't mind asking any one of you for a night out - just for a laugh, that is.
Don't let the address fool you. I'm a Dub, but due to the housing crisis, I would have to get rid of my dog and squeeze into the kennel up there!
Anyway, I'm not into this writing lark but just to let you know, I p**s myself laughing at your antics. By the way, what do the three of you do for a living?
Are you all journalists?