Friday 17 January 2020

Letters to the Editor: 'Marian’s death brings back memories of JFK'

National treasure: The death of Marian Finucane is a ‘deep and personal loss’. Photo: Collins
National treasure: The death of Marian Finucane is a ‘deep and personal loss’. Photo: Collins
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

The announcement of the sudden death of Marian Finucane saw the nation take a collective deep breath and ponder a deep and personal loss.

To people of my generation it brought back memories of the death of JFK because we lost something good, something tangible. More than the late Gay Byrne, in fact, more than any other presenter I have heard on either Irish or British TV or radio, Marian had a beautiful God-given talent to draw people to her.

She made them feel they were the most important person in her life at that moment because they were and she was very, very genuine.

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Her unique compassion was in many ways borne out of the death of her beloved Sinead. Christian teaching tells us that they will be united as mother and daughter.

Our Saturday and Sunday mornings will not be the same with her passing.

Aidan Hampson

Artane, Dublin 5

AI presenters the answer to cut down on 'gotchas'

Looking back on the turbulent year of 2019 one of the things that struck me most was how broadcast journalists had to get a "gotcha" moment.

Will you apologise? Will you apologise? Apologise! Followed by endless derivative news cycles about the fact that he or she did or didn't apologise. Yawn. Double yawn.

I was longing for an in-depth conversation about the actual political parties and their ideologies during the British general election.

On the BBC, Andrew Neil almost burst a blood vessel trying to make Boris Johnson submit to his interrogation on air, having already clocked up significant blood pressure points during his attack on Jeremy Corbyn. It was all about Andrew Neil.

One solution is to let artificial intelligence (AI) presenters do the questioning.

Here are the AI questions I'd like to have seen the party leaders asked. Only single word answers permitted or the program crashes:

:: Do you agree with the British government licensing the export of military equipment to the gulf when it is known that the arms will be used in airstrikes that kill civilians?

:: Do you agree with taxing high net wealth individuals to support public services?

:: Would you have made the same decision as Margaret Thatcher made to defend the Falklands?

:: Would you have made the same decision as Tony Blair to go into Iraq?

:: Do you agree with privatising the probation service?

:: Do you believe segregation of schooling (by gender, religion or wealth) creates more or less harmony in society?

:: Did you feel momentarily happy or sad when you heard Osama bin Laden had been killed?

With this kind of Q&A, the electoral algorithm might have spit out an entirely different result.

Alison Hackett

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin

The '12 days of Christmas' - who are we kidding?

Now that the "12th day of Christmas" is almost upon us, we can reflect on the crazy season that is concluding.

Despite the aforementioned term, Christmas is in fact just one day, similar to Easter Sunday or St Patrick's Day. However this doesn't stop the marketeers reminding us earlier and earlier each year to splash the cash.

Galway City Council, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, extended the annual Christmas market by two weeks - it began just two weeks after Halloween.

People flock to Christmas religious services on the day itself, the majority of whom won't darken a church's door until this time next year, except perhaps for the odd wedding or funeral.

The sales start in earnest generally the day after Christmas, although between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, other pre-Christmas promotions, as well as online shopping, you'd wonder what's the point!

Galway City Council shot itself in the foot by bringing in restrictive new busking by-laws, from January 1, which the busking community opposes. Not such a happy new year for the street performers. Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture my backside.

Talking about the new year, most people like to mark it in some way. The madness continues simply because one day ends (sorry, year/decade) and another begins. It won't be long before we see the green paraphernalia in the shops before our patron saint's day, followed shortly by Easter eggs.

The cycle begins again later in the year. We might even see the Galway Christmas market begin at Halloween this year. Sure why not?

Tommy Roddy

Salthill, Co Galway

Figures throw spotlight on our welfare system

Your report (Irish Independent, January 2) states that unemployment is now below 5pc, but 11pc of children are growing up in households where no adult works.

Perhaps I am looking at this the wrong way around; but this means those not working are twice as likely to bring children into the world as those in the national workforce.

Are we to regard this as a triumph of our welfare system, or yet another burden on the working taxpayers?

Gerry Kelly

Rathgar, Dublin 6

Action, not handshakes, needed as fires take hold

Sometimes it's the small events that bring home an issue to you, as the saying 'you can't see the trees for the forest' can be so true.

At the usual Friday coffee catch up, one of our group mentioned in passing that they had lost their holiday house in the fires that are attacking so much of Australia at the moment.

When you are safe and the fires are nowhere near you, the losses of life and property shown on TV and discussed on the radio seem distant and unconnected to your comfortable life.

There is, of course, a feeling of regret and sadness over the tragedies, but the realities are not so clear.

Like most young people who grew up in a farming community, I contributed to fire risk reduction exercises by clearing breaks and reducing the fuel loads around houses by burning them off before they accumulated too much material.

It was hot, uncomfortable and actually boring, but it had to be done each year and it was just a part of the farm routine. It was also effective.

My acquaintance's beachside holiday house was empty as they wouldn't allow any of the family to go there while there was danger. The house and all of its contents, including the new table and fridge, were gone - although insurance will help cover losses.

It has been a part of their annual holidays from before their children and grandchildren were born, although it's not likely to be replaced as the fires are likely to become more common due to climate change.

It might now become a camping ground for the younger family members. All that really has been lost are some memories.

This country needs to look at why these fires are becoming bigger and more frequent and find a solution before more lives and property are lost, although at present the politicians are mostly offering words and handshakes, many of which are refused.

One house out of hundreds lost and fortunately no lives is a small item in a massive issue, but we all need to address it.

Dennis Fitzgerald

Melbourne, Australia

'Victimhood' used to gloss over Keeler's past actions

Had Christine Keeler looked more like Quasimodo, these half-century's pathetic attempts to rehabilitate her, such as the BBC's 'The Trial Of Christine Keeler', would never occur.

In this Disneyesque farrago, where beauty equals good and truth, married to bubblegum feminism mental gymnastics where women are never to blame for their actions, Keeler is exonerated and celebrated for exploiting her attractiveness for favours whereas the satyric wealthy are vilified for paying her stated prices before she sold her story - and them - to the gutter press for one last meal ticket.

Her culpability over the company she kept is veneered over with her 'victimhood'.

Keeler was an accomplice of (amongst others) the evil Peter Rachman, who made "Rachmanism" a by-word for preying on the vulnerable.

She was no honest courtesan, or even an honest blockhead, merely a selfish teenage airhead devoid of a teaspoon's common sense who never matured with age - the frightening embodiment of the generations to come.

Mark Boyle

Renfrewshire, Scotland

Irish Independent

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