Letters to the Editor: 'Feargal's gift of kindness'
Sir - Please may I add my story to the wonderful stories we are hearing about the late Feargal Quinn?
Years ago, when Feargal opened his Superquinn store in Finglas, my mam had a fall in the store. She slipped and her glasses fell off. She was so embarrassed she got up immediately and insisted that she was fine and her glasses were intact so really there was no harm done. But the manager insisted on having a driver bring her home and she was back home in no time none the worse for the experience.
Later that afternoon, Feargal Quinn himself rang the house to enquire if she really was OK and on the same afternoon a massive bouquet and fruit basket were delivered to Mrs Rose Abbey with best wishes from Feargal Quinn and staff of Superquinn, Finglas.
This incident happened more than 40 years ago and my mother never forgot the kindness of the Superquinn staff and the subsequent follow-up from the man himself. May he rest in peace.
Centres of excellence not the only answer
Sir - Two years ago, I would have agreed with Dr Ciara Kelly that health resources should be concentrated in centres of excellence (Sunday Independent, April 28) but that's no longer the case.
A close relative had a stroke in South Tipp General hospital where she received the prompt care that allowed her to return to independent living. Despite trolleys in A&E being backed up all the way to the ambulance bay doors, each staff member we encountered showed endless patience, compassion, and humanity to my mother and ourselves.
I can only say that the standard of care was faultless, but it was also the sheer thoughtfulness and kindness that stood out. From the doctor who gently squeezed my mother's shoulder to reassure her during her emergency treatment, to the nurse who brought her some of the straw from the Christmas crib, as someone who had believed that the preferred place to be was in a centre of excellence, I was proved wrong.
By contrast, a younger family member was admitted through A&E to a large teaching hospital, a centre of excellence, where her care bordered on negligent. This was not due to pressure on staff, it was simply bad practice and lack of any visible governance.
In addition, hygiene was an issue, the remains of a partially digested tablet were in her bedside locker, presumably from a previous incumbent in the bed. We can't generalise about standards of care, they are unique to each location and it must be remembered that hospital patients of all ages are vulnerable and often scared. The dignity and emotional wellbeing of all patients, but particularly the dying, should always be considered.
For oncology services there is a valid argument for having centres of excellence with better overall outcomes for patients, but cardiac events are mostly emergencies and speed is of the essence. Yes our roads have improved, but travel times from county hospital catchment areas to major hospital centres are still too slow. Helicopter transfers are subject to weather conditions, costly, and under resourced. Not all patients require centres of excellence.
Most hospital deaths are in the elderly groups for whom compassion, caring and dignity, matter as much as the hi-tech treatments available. Many patients fear being alone, and having family close to hand can be reassuring for them.
Before we start closing county hospitals, or cutting funding to them, can we think of what it is like for families of sick relatives, many with little chance of good outcomes anyway, who would have to travel for hours to visit and support their loved ones? And if the hospital morgues that initiated this discussion (Waterford) are also to be concentrated in centres of excellence, are we suggesting that the dying should be moved to centres of excellence in their final hours to be near suitable refrigeration?
Where is the dignity in that? Our centres of excellence have little spare bed capacity, if trolley data is accurate, so where are the Waterford, Tipperary, or other county patients meant to go? Hospital and morgue facilities should be of concern to all of us, they are an unavoidable part of life for everyone at some stage.
Airey Neave vs Loughinisland
Sir - What's the difference between the Airey Neave assassination (1979) and the Loughinisland massacre (1994)? The former case has been reopened recently due to the intervention of the British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, while the latter case remains closed. Although the Loughinisland massacre is significantly more recent, a renewed investigation is probably unlikely as key evidence in the investigation was destroyed.
Political expediency plays a part, too. It's regrettable that acts of terrorism, equally abhorrent, are viewed prejudicially by political spokespeople on both sides. For some, the reopening of investigations into terrorist acts during the Troubles is seen as a 'witch hunt' against the alleged perpetrators, while others are welcomed. It seems to be a case of cheering on the home side. People of all persuasions benefit from the impartial investigation of all terrorist acts whether it be the indiscriminate murder of people gathering at a Remembrance Day memorial, or people sitting in a pub watching a football match.
Political spokespeople who play to the gallery should be looked upon with contempt while the clarion call should be and should always have been 'justice for all'.
Hillsborough, Co Down
The mighty Quinn
Sir - Brendan O'Connor's fine tribute (Sunday Independent, April 28) to the late Feargal Quinn was well deserved. Although not our nearest store, Superquinn was our choice for quality, value, friendliness and courtesy, perhaps the pleasure of meeting Feargal also. Although we were not related, he sure lived up the Quinn family motto, "Do a good turn if you can and never a bad one".
Sean Quinn, Blackrock, Co Dublin
Time we paid less for election leaflets
Sir - As people start to see the flurry of election literature coming in their doors, they may be unaware that they are paying for it and how much it costs.
For the European elections, just as for the general, Seanad and presidential elections, candidates are given the benefit of a paid individualised postal delivery to every voter or household in the country. While candidates cover the printing costs, the delivery by An Post is paid for by the State - you, the voter.
With 19 candidates in Dublin, 17 in Midlands-North West and 22 in South, and 1,697,665 dwellings across the State, that is potentially tens of millions of euro being spent to hand-deliver information about each to voters.
Combining these deliveries into a single booklet, with a random order and with no candidate information appearing on the cover pages and page 3, would save us all millions in unnecessary election costs while preserving access to the electorate for those candidates of limited means.
It's long past time this simple and cost-effective reform was implemented.
Daniel K Sullivan,
Good reason to confront Russia
Sir - The Sinn Fein MEP Lynn Boylan reckons we are "overly confrontational" towards Russia in the EU (Sunday Independent, April 28).
Because of this, it seems, the party's MEPs voted against a recent European Parliament resolution which was critical of Russia's annexation of Crimea and its interference in other countries' elections. I find this difficult to understand.
For a party that has flown the flag for human rights and LGBT progress, to support Putin and his opposing philosophy is baffling.
Ms Boylan and her colleagues should turn to page 18 of the Sunday Independent. There they would read how Putin has already tried to destabilise president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky by offering Ukrainian citizens fast-tracked Russian passports.
Russia used a similar tactic in Georgia in 2002. Six years later, Russia invaded that country citing protection of their passport holders as the reason. As a result of Russia's annexation of Crimea, 13,000 people have lost their lives since 2014. Sinn Fein should reconsider its support for this repressive regime. It will have to proceed without my support in the European elections if it continues with this policy.
Pat Burke Walsh,
Gorey, Co Wexford
Sir - I loved Barry Egan's article on Madness (Living, Sunday Independent, April 28). Their talent on stage and their lyrics are incredibly good.
The article finished with "Madness play Dun Laoghaire Pier on June 1". Mick Dolan also has them in the big top in Limerick Docklands on May 31, their first gig this year here and also I feel equally mentionable. There are other great venues in this great little country of ours.
The shareable lightness of being
Sir - Thank you for Brendan O'Connor's article 'Summer is a state of mind' (Sunday Independent, April 28). It fits very well with current thinking on how nurturing our innate, compassionate awareness can be of immense benefit to ourselves and others.
When we view our awareness as a ''big container'', it feels like it has room for everything - all our thoughts and experiences, even the ''negative'' ones.
We have more ''space'' in our minds, and feel lighter and freer, like Brendan's ''summer feeling''. If you put salt in a glass of water, it would taste awful. But put salt in a huge lake and drink from that, and you'd barely taste it.
Summer time brings this ''lightness'' home to us, as Brendan describes. But it's available to us at anytime, and can be developed through mindfulness, meditation and similar practices.
Perfect pet portrait from a loving child
Sir - I have to say that the sentiment revealed by 11-year old Sarah Daly from Portlaoise ('Perfect Pixie is our furry alarm clock', My Pet, Sunday Independent, April 28) about her cat was heart warming and very uplifting. I can only congratulate Sarah for how she wrote such a sincere account of her love for, as she said, ''one of my best friends''.
Pixie certainly does not sound like a ''plain Jane'' by any means as originally named by the ISPCA where she was rescued from! No, she sounds and looks like a right diva! I love how Pixie responds to Sarah's mammy, and goes up to wake up Sarah and her sister! As Sarah wrote: "She is our personal, cute alarm clock."
Sarah's description of Pixie, which is beautiful, sincere and full of fun and mischief, could only have come straight from the warm heart of a loving child.
If every animal that is rehomed by the ISPCA, etc, goes to a similar family and befriends a lovely person like Sarah, there is no doubt there would be many happy animals.
I hope Sarah is now inspired to keep writing - as she has done so eloquently, at only 11 years of age, about her pets.
Who knows, her tales may become a published book some day!
Sir - Ingrid Seim (Letters, Sunday Independent, April 28) contains one factual error, when she refers to ''10 women a day flying to the UK for abortion services'', she conveniently omits the 10 babies these 10 women are carrying in their wombs. She also is ecstatically happy that ''there won't be any Irish women forced to travel to a foreign jurisdiction for abortion services". No one ''forced'' these women to travel to abort their babies. It was their own choice.
She calls aborting one's baby ''medical treatment''. Most people regard medical treatment as a means of saving a life, not taking it, as abortion does.
A right to uphold
Sir - So Ingrid Seim (Letters, Sunday Independent, April 28) laments the fact that women in Northern Ireland are denied the right to an abortion, or, as she refers to it, ''medical treatment''.
Now count me slow, if you will, but in what way does abortion, the deliberate killing of the baby in the womb, constitute medical treatment? Ms Seim claims that women in Northern Ireland deserve ''better'', but what is certainly better for them is providing every support and assistance they require to protect the baby in the womb, not destroy it. That is definitely a right worth upholding.
Sir - I get the bus every week after visiting my sister who lives in the centre of Dublin and I can't help but notice that there are 20 flats boarded up in a terrace off Dorset Street.
I would like a politician to explain why there are so many flats boarded up when there are 10,000 people homeless.
Maybe most of them don't want to live in flats but wouldn't it be better putting the money into the flats rather than spending it on hostels? Maybe somebody could come up with an answer. I am baffled by it all.
Blanchardstown, Dublin 15
Great dilemmas in judging players
Sir - Joe Brolly (Sport, Sunday Independent, April 28) told us that Sean O'Neill was "the greatest ever Northern footballer". I don't know how he knew this. Did he see them all?
Certainly, I would agree that he was a tremendous footballer, a major contributor to Down's successes. But there were others on the Down teams that were as good as any I have seen - Mickey Linden and Greg Blayney being others, to mention just a few of his contemporaries. And some of the Down players of the 1960s could be mentioned, too.
How does one judge or compare players? Some players make a contribution to team success through style and skill, like O'Neill, etc. Then others may make an essential contribution to success by their strength, stamina and raw courage.
One of the best players I ever saw was the Derry player, Jim McKeever, a superb midfielder in the 1950s. It was no accident that the Derry midfield outplayed Kerry in the 1958 All-Ireland semi-final, when the renowned Mick O'Connell was on duty for Kerry. Because Kerry has had many successes, O'Connell is an acknowledged "great" while few now remember McKeever.
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen" and this could be said of many players from counties whose teams never graced Croke Park on All-Ireland days. I remember the "effective" Jim McCullagh playing for Armagh and Fermanagh as well as many years for Ulster teams in the 1930s and early 1940s. Eddie Devlin and Iggy Jones, Tyrone, were superb players. There are others I could name from Antrim, Monaghan, Fermanagh, Armagh and Donegal, not to speak of the Cavan players who dominated Ulster football in the 1930s and 1940s.
There is no such thing as "the greatest ever Northern footballer" but, perhaps, you could talk of "the best ever Northern footballer" if you spoke of soccer football.