Tuesday 12 November 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'God bless our great friend'

Gay Byrne. Photo: David Conachy
Gay Byrne. Photo: David Conachy
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Our country has lost a great friend - the music from Gay Byrne's Late Late Show and his radio programme is going around in my head since his death.

With people like Gay, one takes it for granted (almost) that he will always be there, so to hear such sad news makes it even harder.

He had so many qualities and layers to him that attracted so many people - he was not only a brilliant broadcaster but also a great raconteur.

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So many tried to be like him but couldn't. His shoes were much too big to fill.

He helped so many people and did so much for Ireland; far more than many of our leaders or politicians could ever dream of. He was a lovely gentleman with a fun side, too - always looking for a laugh.

Like many others, I can't believe that he is gone. I'm sure his family will miss him terribly. God bless you Gay and keep you safe. Our loss is heaven's gain.

Roisin Steed,

Rahoon, Galway


A good man and a cowardly crime

Sir - Kevin Lunney is a highly qualified executive who happens to work in QIH. He is also husband to Bronagh, father to six wonderful children and youngest sibling in the Lunney family.

He did nothing wrong, except maybe if you call working hard or over-stretching himself wrong. What fills me and indeed many others with an all-consuming revulsion is that stark fact. Kevin did nothing wrong.

Why then, was he cruelly and brutally forced from his car and subjected to unspeakable torture and attack?

Why, in the name of God did this act take place in Fermanagh/Cavan on a warm September evening when all Kevin was planning was an evening cutting grass?

It is outrageous, it is beyond inhuman and I cannot let it go without citing my condemnation.

A good man has been wronged. A good man has suffered too much. For God's sake, if anyone has any information about these thugs, these lowlifes, who cowardly covered their heads in black, please, please make that call now, today. Let your conscience guide you.

I'm pretty sure those cowardly criminals were not coming from a hard day's work when they donned the balaclavas and the gloves.

Name and address with Editor


Homeless are part of the story

Sir - The homeless, the homeless, I can see no better reason than to turn 15 Usher's Island into a hostel for the homeless.

Joseph Mackey,

Athlone, Co Westmeath


We must refuse to tolerate divisiveness

Sir -In Ireland, we pride ourselves on our warm welcomes and we value inclusive communities and workplaces.

Now is the time to remember our shared histories of emigration and exile. Now is the time to pull together as workers, as business owners, as farmers, as neighbours and friends.

We wish for immigrants here what we wish for Irish immigrants abroad - dignity, community, and opportunity.

We reject racism and refuse to tolerate divisiveness.

Whether we were born in Ireland or came here for work, safety, or study, we can all flourish and thrive together.

Ian Talbot,

Chief Executive Officer,

Chambers Ireland


Danny McCoy,

Chief Executive Officer, Ibec


Patricia King,

General Secretary,

Irish Congress of Trade Unions


Joe Healy,


Irish Farmers' Association


Edel McGinley,


Migrant Rights Centre Ireland


Kieran Stafford,

National President,

Society of St Vincent de Paul


The language of prejudice

Sir - Tim McMahon's poignant letter ('Abuse is rife here if you're English', November 3) is one we should take seriously. It reminded me of an exchange I had with a fellow countryman in a Catholic social club in Willesden in the 1970s. When he heard I was a teacher, he was curious to know which school I taught at. When I told him the name of the school, a well-known, multi-ethnic state school in the area, his wide-eyed response was: ''Sure what would you be wantin' to be taichin' them darkies for?''

On a subsequent visit to Ireland, I was telling another man this story. The conversation touched on whether there was covert white supremacism lurking in the Irish psyche, despite all the plamasey rhetoric. He grew quite heated and indignant and said: ''There is no racism in this country. How could there be? We have no n*****s here.''

Paddy McEvoy,

March, Cambridgeshire


Two good men who marked our times

Sir - Two different but good men have died. They probably would not have agreed on some topics. Each contributed to the times they lived in. The first is of course Gay Byrne for whom a book of condolence was opened in Dublin, Cork and other cities as a mark of respect for how he helped Ireland to mature as a society. He had many showbiz icons on the show, Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Peter Sellers, Peter Ustinov, David Niven and a special interview with Jane Fonda in London. We rarely knew the guests in advance which increased our anticipation. He gave clues in his introductions. The fun was in guessing correctly.

On his show on RTE Radio One from 1973 to 1998, time was given for sensitive topics. It had a fund to which listeners donated to help those in serious need. The death of teenager Ann Lovett and her baby in January 1984 alone outdoors led to thousands of women writing to him on their experiences. He read a sample on his radio show entirely dedicated to them. They trusted him to be their representative.

The second is Fr Des Wilson who died last week aged 94. He is well known in Belfast where he grew up in the Ormeau Road area. He was a community and human rights activist all his adult life until he retired. He believed in the importance of social justice in Northern Ireland and of education for people and communities to be independent and resilient. He sometimes did not see eye to eye with the Church hierarchy. He believed in equality and human dignity.

Gay and Fr Des made an impact and will be remembered by many who appreciate it.

Mary Sullivan,

College Road, Cork


A message of thanks to Gaybo

Sir - Here's just a snippet from one of the letters in ''The Letter I Wish I'd Sent' series published in the Sunday Independent last year:

"Dear Gay, More than 20 years ago when your radio show was the big thing, you had a letter of the week slot. I was astonished to hear you read my submission one morning and that I had won that week's £50 prize. I haven't stopped writing since. Thank you for the encouragement. Yours, Andy."

No more to be said. RIP Gaybo.

Brian McDevitt,

Glenties, Co Donegal


Superb save from a great hurler

Sir - Congratulations to Dermot Crowe on his splendid feature on Art Foley's famous save from Christy Ring in 1956. The only thing missing was a Cork viewpoint!

In Christy Ring: Hurling's Greatest (2010), the latest book about Christy, Cork forward Mick Regan says: "I was close to Ring when he beat his man and ran across the goal. Unfortunately, another Cork forward, Paddy Barry, got in his way and narrowed the gap.

"Despite that, Christy struck a very good ball which Art stopped with his hurley, then caught the rising sliotar and passed it out to a Wexford back."

Twenty years later, Donncha O Dulaing on RTE asked Ring if he shook Art's hand after the save. "No, I was coming from behind and I tapped him on the back and said well done. I don't think he heard me."

Incidentally, Wexford had five hurlers honoured by The Gaelic Echo in 1956. Art Foley was among them but top spot went to Christy Ring.

Peter Cronin,

Ballyvolane, Cork


Body-cams pose a threat to our rights

Sir - Last week in these pages the Justice Minister described our concerns about body-worn cameras for the gardai as "premature and misguided".

We were surprised by the accusation that our intervention was "premature". We responded to an invitation by the Department of Justice to feed into a consultation process to help them develop good policy in this area. And we were concerned the minister would brand our concerns as "misguided".

Our initial reaction to the proposal for body-worn cameras was not one of opposition. We highlighted our concerns but also understood that there were possibly benefits to the technology.

Since then, a carefully guided reading of emerging research from the US and elsewhere has shown us that the promised benefits are not delivered. In fact, the oft-cited Rialto study which has been used as the justification for body-cams around the world has been discredited numerous times, including by its own authors.

The concerns we had for our fundamental human rights remain.

Our privacy is important because it protects our right to be ourselves without judgment or fear of retaliation. Privacy protects our right to free speech, to associate with whomever we choose, and to participate in our democracy through protest and voting.

It's proven that we change our behaviour when we know we're being watched, even if we're not doing anything wrong. That's why the Government is obliged to show that any interference to our privacy is both necessary and proportionate.

It's neither necessary nor proportionate that close-range images of our faces and audio recording of what we're saying on the streets or at protests should be gathered by mobile State cameras. How long is this data stored and what happens when it is misused? What mechanisms exist for redress when, for example, sensitive personal information is breached and shared on social media?

The balance of power is already tipped towards gardai, who can arrest, detain and prosecute us. Their word is often given more weight in court. Not only do they not need cameras for protection, but research shows the cameras don't offer them protection anyway.

Much has been made of the evidence-gathering potential of the cameras. But, as with any camera, it only captures one angle. The notion that this kind of evidence might be relied upon in court is frankly terrifying.

The question we at ICCL are left with is why Government would proceed with this expensive project if it doesn't achieve the benefits promised? Wouldn't those resources be better allocated elsewhere, in a way that doesn't threaten our fundamental rights?

Liam Herrick,

Executive Director, Irish Council for Civil Liberties


Passion and strategy led to rugby victory

Sir -Neil Francis (Sport, November 3) attributes the Springbok Rugby World Cup victory to Joe Schmidt's "game plan", implying that the Springbok coach and his team were incapable of creating and implementing a match-winning strategy! This is a gross failure to recognise the degree of commitment and strategic planning, coupled to unbridled determination and passion, that characterised the South African players and their coach, Rassie Erasmus, in preparation for what turned out to be a masterclass performance. The new rugby world champions need to be credited for their well-earned and spirited success, and their contribution to the healing of the rainbow nation back home.

Dr Neville Wilson,

Rathcore, Co Meath


Our real problems at the centre stage

Sir - The recent open letter from the Ireland's Future group to an Taoiseach calling for a new conversation about the constitutional future of our island troubles me more than somewhat.

To say that Brexit has changed everything is an unacceptable broad brush assumption, especially as it has not yet happened, despite the best efforts of the many and because there is no clarity of detail on the ''end game'' at this point.

Stating that the reunification of Ireland has moved centre stage demands clarification as to the centre of whose stage. Perhaps this is true for those within the defined groups of the letter's signatories but I do not see it central to those who are poorly served by our health, housing and transport services nor to those of us who are greatly concerned about the future of the planet.

The ''weighted'' reference to unionists, I would maintain some rather than many, discussing their future within this island, is not in balance with the demeanour and actions of their elected representatives as witnessed since Brexit began.

Reference to a ''new conversation'' on Ireland is misleading, cueing that a utopia awaits discovery. Any conversation must be based on the wealth of discourse to date and while future conversation should not be constrained by the past it will have to be earnestly informed by the past.

In noting the various groups of signatories, I do not see a category for retired citizens. Is this an omission or is it perhaps an indication that those of us who have lived, worked and raised families through some of the darkest days in our modern history would take a more astute and courtly approach?

Michael Gannon,

St Thomas' Sq, Kilkenny


Inclusiveness is the best way forward

Sir - I like to read Eoghan Harris every week and though not always agreeing with him, enjoy the other perspective. Last week I did not exactly agree with his ideas or his affection for the DUP as I find they don't listen to the people they supposedly represent. They seem to stir anger and wrath when tranquility and peace breaks out. They change all agreements and agendas to suit themselves and certainly would not be a voice of reason. Mr Harris is also not a supporter of the Alliance Party and actually called them ''The Dalliance Party''.

I think they are far more moderate in their views, non-sectarian and a progressive party for the future in Northern Ireland. The way forward is not with bitterness or hatred but integration and moving to an inclusiveness for all on our island. The largest parties in not working for nearly three years have neglected some very important issues, both social and economic. With an election in a month's time, the people must consider all options and see who will work best for them and not complain if they haven't exercised their franchise!

Ken Maher,

Kilcoole, Co Wicklow

Sunday Independent

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