Sunday 15 December 2019

Letters to the Editor: 'Let's turn our backs on war'

'Could we ever turn our backs on war? After all, world leaders could not make war if people refused the call to arms.'
'Could we ever turn our backs on war? After all, world leaders could not make war if people refused the call to arms.'
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Last week, we remembered the men, women and children who died in the battles of the two World Wars and in the many wars before and since then.

It makes me very sad to think of the slaughter of all those young people, who died in the prime of their life. Across the world, the graveyards are filled with those who never had a chance at life.

And we shouldn't forget those who survived but were wounded, lost legs and arms, were blinded or suffered mental problems. I wonder, did the medals they got for killing their fellow men help them sleep better?

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I'd like to think that we, the people of the nations of the world, can stop war - simply by refusing to fight. Could we ever turn our backs on war? After all, world leaders could not make war if people refused the call to arms. That's what happened in America during the Vietnam War, when people burned their draft cards.

Hitler would not have started World War II if the German people had stood up to him and refused to fight. And how many people would be alive today if the paramilitaries of Northern Ireland didn't go to war? Sadly they did.

All we have to do is say no to war in thought, word and deed.

Martin Ford,
Saint Anne's Terrace, Sligo

Being gay is not about morality

Sir — I read with interest the curious article by my Senate colleague Ronan Mullen in last Sunday’s newspaper.

He appeared to me to wish to disinfect Gay Byrne of liberal tendencies. In particular he said that Gay Byrne never publicly stated that homosexual behaviour was moral.

Of course, he didn’t. Gay people can be just as moral or immoral as other people and either exploitative or caring in their sexual relations.

I was interviewed many times over the last 40 years by Gay Byrne on this subject on both radio and television and neither in his words nor in his body language was there any suggestion that he thought my behaviour was immoral.

To quote the poet William Butler Yeats “The light of lights looks always on the motive, not the deed, the shadow of shadows on the deed alone.”

Senator David Norris,
Seanad Eireann, Dublin 2

Thanks, Joe for your lovely words

Sir — Can I say well done Joe Brolly on writing such a wonderful column about Gay Byrne. Far removed from the usual GAA football rhetoric, it showed just how gifted a story writer Joe is. He says it as it is and in this article he captured the essence of Gay and The Late Late Show in a extremely well written piece of journalism. Keep it up Joe and continue writing — not just about Gaelic football.

Conor Maguire,
Lisnagry, Co Limerick

It’s an offence to take offence

Sir — God help us, but this age of snowflakes takes some beating. In my mid-80s and, having spent almost a quarter as an ‘Irishman Abroad’ and, almost half away from my native Cork, I believe it should be an offence to take offence. What am I if I go to a hurling match and refer to the opposition as Stonethrowers or Yella-bellies, go to a rugby international and refer to the other side as Sheep Molesters?

Tis time a stop was put to these modern Cromwellians.

God bless freedom.

Cal Hyland,
Rosscarbery, Co Cork

Lovely stay-home Christmas break

Sir — Courtesy of Barry Egan, we are already being advised as to which exotic locations, our ‘national treasures’ and ‘celebrities’, will be heading to for Christmas.

So it’s a great consolation — for me at least — that Beaumont can be lovely at that time of year.

Tom Gilsenan,
Beaumont D9

Homework breeds confidence to learn

Sir — I was a bit alarmed by Sarah Caden’s article on school homework in last week’s Sunday Independent.

Appropriate homework, based on age and ability, is so fundamentally necessary and beneficial it shouldn’t need justifying. It will help the student be organised and disciplined.

Practising examples of new lessons will reinforce their learning and give them the ability and confidence to tackle increasingly difficult tasks. It is a very useful form of self-learning. When it’s corrected, they will be happy with what they got right and learn from their mistakes.

We already have students at second level who are shocked they are expected to do homework at weekends because they weren’t asked do it in primary school. How will they cope with homework every night? No homework means they will miss out on all the significant benefits above.

How did the musician get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. Why should a student be any different to a musician, athlete or anyone else?

Students may understand concepts in class but unless it is reinforced they will forget much of it. Guaranteed. They won’t know what they don’t know and teachers won’t know either without correcting homework.

What are they going to do instead? Piaget’s theories are wonderful, but difficult or impossible to achieve in typical classes of 25-plus. Children do have a natural curiosity but they won’t spend their free time getting the area of a triangle or the proper use of the apostrophe.

Like most of us, children will take the easiest option. Telly, tablet, phone and frequent trips to the fridge — all the things the medical profession is constantly warning us about.

The title of Sarah Caden’s article should read ‘The end of homework is the end of learning’, not the start of learning.

Jim Cooney,
Macroom, Co Cork

A wishlist for our children’s learning

Sir — It was with great interest I read Sarah Caden’s article last week on the decision of a Dublin primary school to stop giving written homework.

I am no psychologist and I have not read any research on this subject. I am just a regular ‘stay-at-home mom’ to three young children. When they are all grown up and I get time to reflect, these are the thoughts that will come to mind on homework — and these are my wishes for homework.

I wish homework was like it was this evening. Being Science Week, the children had to build a tower from sheets of paper and stand a hard-boiled egg on top. We laughed so much doing this.

I wish homework was a walk in the woods spotting different kinds of trees, birds and animals.

I wish homework was going for a run or a cycle.

I wish homework was time spent chatting to a local fisherman and learning his skills.

I wish homework was an hour chatting to the elderly in the community and hearing of their childhood.

I wish homework was children going to a meeting of local committees.

I wish homework was the children having a chat with local business people.

I wish homework was an evening picking up litter in the village.

I wish homework was doing the food shop with me.

I wish homework was doing some chores around the house.

I wish homework was doing some baking and bringing it to school to share around.

I wish homework was an evening planting seeds or flowers.

I wish homework was an evening foraging, picking blackberries, apples or wild mushrooms.

And I also wish there would still be time to do just a little bit of homework as we know it!

G Morrin,
Co Galway

Public funding for true public service

Sir — The toxic karma wafting around Montrose these days will likely solve nothing, but will merely serve to exacerbate a seriously challenging financial dilemma for the so-called national broadcaster.

Listening to some crude and crass interrogations of both Dee Forbes and Moya Doherty by some of RTE’s high-earning inquisitors, one was struck by a sense of almost vitriolic disgust being aimed at two decent people who surely are simply doing their utmost to tackle an endemic issue in broadcasting, both private and public, as it pertains to the national broadcasting flagship service. A courtroom dynamic prevailed, shamefully, throughout the interviews.

The two women being held to account hadn’t committed a national treason. They were merely trying to manage a very tricky corporate assignment.

The leak of the restructuring blueprint was reprehensible and corrosive, of course, but it was neither the director-general nor the RTE chairperson who sanctioned that malicious glitch of confidentiality.

Of course RTE was never an authentic public broadcasting service in the pure sense of the words. It has always been a hybrid beast, with both public and private sponsorship tentacles — the licence fee and advertisement revenue. But for some reason, we keep using the word ‘public’ to differentiate it from a raft of independent broadcasters. It is simply not that, by either definition or operational funding practice.

The exponential surge towards a plethora of online platforms and digital media access ensures a dwindling advertising income from all traditional sponsorship conduits.

Perhaps now is an enforced opportunity to down-size the whole operation and have the statutory funding-only model hold sway to spawn a true public broadcasting service to cover the zones that are truly precious to this country and free us from a litany of imported junk-fest material, endless game-shows, shallow and embarrassing reality TV and second-rate soaps.

Obviously the statutory fiscal realities of such a re-orientation are stark, but the Government must step up to the plate and ensure the funding is found by either reshaping the current licence fee template or creating central collection.

The painful process of such fundamental reconfiguration for all those at RTE will be severe, so sympathetic treatment of their plight should be de rigeur, and carefully graded.

But for the country as a whole, we clearly need an authentic public broadcaster which is just that: a public broadcaster independent of private revenue streams. However, saying that, one is immediately haunted by the adynaton  “if pigs could fly”.

PJ Cosgrove,
Lismore, Co Waterford

Stay visible to stay alive on our roads

Sir — So there I am, driving home after visiting the folks and having a fabulous walk with my wife in Curraghchase Forest Park. I’m looking forward to going home to the fire to read my Sunday Independent.

It’s 6pm, dark and drizzling, horrible conditions to be out in.

A man, big black umbrella and black coat, just walks out, hoping I will stop. I did.

Another mile or two on into Limerick city, there’s another one. He’s cycling, all in black, but no reflector, back or front light. These people will meet a bumper or worse if they are not seen.

The serious cycle club people are hard to miss: bright colours, bright lights. Brilliant!

The Dairygold shop in Parteen recently had hi-vis yellow vests on offer for €2 each. I bought 10 and gave them to anyone: strangers, invisible cyclists, my sons’ friends, anyone.

Why can’t it be made a law in daytime and night-time to wear a hi-vis when cycling or why not have some government initiative to give them out free? They’re cheap. What a price for a life.

If it keeps someone alive, out of hospital, some family living longer, happier together, wouldn’t it be worth it ?

Mike Holland,
Parteen, Co Clare

Grealish should say sorry to Nigerians

Sir — Now that the CSO figure of €18 per week has been established as being the true sum being remitted home by Nigerian people, rather than the  “astronomical amount” touted in the Dail by Deputy Noel Grealish, he should apologise to the 17,642 Nigerian people resident in Ireland for deliberately impugning their integrity and further apologise to the Dail for misleading the House.

Hopefully the people of Galway West in the coming election will elect someone more worthy of their trust and who will represent our traditional Irish welcome for all people who arrive on our shores.

Brendan Butler,
Malahide, Co Dublin

Racism will scar future generations

Sir — The noxious drift of racism, which has been surreptitiously gathering density for sometime in our society, is beginning to unveil itself, most disquietingly, in recent political discourse and communal dissension.

We are now faced with seriously questioning societal hypocrisy in this country. Failure to do so will further incubate a level of national self-righteousness that can conveniently ignore the fact that stipends from our emigrants abroad greatly contributed to relieving the impoverishment of our past, thus relieving ourselves of any duty to or understanding of those among us who now seek to sustain families and communities in their less fortunate and often distressed homelands.

If we do not wilfully embrace multiculturalism, with all its hallmarks, as fundamental to building our future nation a more insidious impoverishment will be visited upon us, one that will shred the notion of ‘lreland of the welcomes’ and be an enduring scar on the well-being of future generations.

Michael Gannon,
St Thomas’s Square, Kilkenny

Wishful thinking on reunification

Sir — In last week’s Sunday Independent Eoghan Harris was critical of the Ireland’s Future letter calling for a “conversation” on “reunification” — a giveaway term.

I must agree. I didn’t notice the names of many prominent unionists on the list of 1,088 signatories to that letter. For any “conversation” to take place between equal parties, there must be shared enthusiasm or need expressed for such an engagement to take place, if it is  to be fruitful, that is.

It seems to me, certainly from some of the names I recognise on the list, that there is a strong element of wishful thinking at play, along the hoary old lines of ‘England’s difficulty being Ireland’s opportunity’.

There are two very imperfect political entities on the island of Ireland. I suggest that both get their houses in order — which could take some time — before deigning to sort out their neighbour’s problems.

The time to address the success or failure of Brexit, assuming it happens in the first place, is when we all know what we are talking about.

Paddy McEvoy,
Cambridgeshire, UK

Toibin: thinking out of the box

Sir — The passing of Niall Toibin brought one memory to my mind.

Some years ago, I was given a ticket for the Olympia Theatre where he was performing Brendan Behan’s Borstal Boy. To my surprise, when I presented my ticket I was conveyed to a box overlooking the stage.

As Niall was about to perform, he looked up at me as I sat alone  and said in his great Dublin accent: “Will yeis all look up at that fellow sitting like a Lord of the Manor.”

Tony Moriarty,
Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6

Sunday Independent

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