Letters to the Editor: No excuse to hunt whales
Sir - What sickening news… that Japan is going to recommence the hunting of whales. Some Japanese, including, unfortunately, the ones with political clout, see it as part of their culture, and place great emphasis on this pathetic pretext for whaling when challenged about the ethics of the practice.
So these magnificent creatures will be hunted and killed by human predators, even as their numbers dwindle in the oceans of the world.
It's about time culture was rejected internationally as an excuse to engage in the tormenting, or senseless killing, of animals.
Bullfighting continues in Spain and a few other countries under the same pretext. The deliberate torturing to death of an animal is deemed a "heritage gem" and has been endorsed by successive Spanish governments, despite all the evidence of extreme suffering involved.
Burning people alive as sacrifices and throwing virgins into volcanoes in homage to assorted gods and goddesses were once deemed cultural activities, too.
Yet we have dispensed with these traditions.
We should also consign "cultural" attacks on endangered species, and deliberate cruelty to animals masquerading as tradition, to the dustbin of history.
Fight Irish price creep injustice
Sir - Price creep, the upwards price of goods and services, is an insidious by-product of Ireland's retreat from an economic depression ghetto.
An example close to home; my domestic waste collection service provider has increased the 2019 charge.
In addition, changes downwards were made in bin waste weights and allowance excess charges were increased.
To avoid upsetting the sensibilities of its customers, this collection charge increase was not displayed on the company's website or notified via electronic/postal communication.
The business model applied was: increase the waste collection charge, say nothing and with 'no other option' customers will continue to pay.
As customers supplying the raw material for waste companies to reuse and extract a profit from a discussion point would be: should a waste collection service be at a nominal charge in exchange for the sorted clean raw material that is supplied?
In 2019 householders should adopt a New Year's resolution based on asking every commercial entity supplying goods/services to their house to justify their charges.
If the price does not fall within your budget then switch your financial allegiance to a goods/service provider that does.
Ireland is an expensive country to exist and live in.
As citizens we should cease blindly paying for goods/services that are overpriced.
Adopting a firm and polite approach to managing your financial outlays will let services/goods providers know that price gouging will not be tolerated.
Fight price creep and demand services and goods be supplied at a fair price.
Fuel for thought
Sir - Strange, 13 or 14 years ago, they were afraid oil was running out. Now they say there is a glut of oil! What could be next?
How our church can learn from England
Sir - Last week's paper (Sunday Independent, December 23) carried the following quotation referring to a Sunday Independent/Kantar Brown opinion poll that "a massive 86pc believe the celebration of the birth of Christ has become too commercial".
In an age of decreasing Mass attendances, this is good news for the Catholic Church in this country, but also a wake-up call that must be properly interpreted and acted on.
Last week, I attended three different church ceremonies associated with Christmas here in Galway. On Sunday, I attended a pay-on-entry carol service in the Abbey church. A full congregation was treated to a superb evening of musical excellence. On Christmas Eve afternoon, St Nicholas' Collegiate Church of Ireland Cathedral was packed for "Carols around the Christmas tree". This blended readings from the Bible with carol singing where those present were encouraged to join in.
Likewise, Christ the King Church in Salthill was full for Christmas Eve mass at 9pm. It would be hard not to be deeply moved by the solo performance of O Holy Night by one of the female choristers towards the end of the ceremony.
In England, a strange phenomenon has been occurring in Church of England cathedrals. After years of declining attendances, this trend has reversed in recent years. The Church of England's 'growth research' programme stresses the cathedral as a place for "peace, contemplation, worship, music and a friendly atmosphere". Significantly, it is midweek evensong that has boomed, not Sunday matins, with attendances doubling in a decade.
Most of us have a spiritual need which must be met. For many people the pressures of everyday living take over and they are caught up in the rat race. Despite the over- commercialisation, Christmas does offer people the time to slow down once they get their holidays from work. It's as if only then they allow themselves the chance to get in touch with their spiritual side.
The well-attended events I was at last week, as well as what's happening in English cathedrals, give me hope for the Catholic Church here in Ireland.
There needs to be more music in our churches, both at Mass and in separate events. The Catholic Church needs to adapt to a changing Ireland. In a turn- around in history we could find inspiration from the Church of England.
Appreciate every precious moment
Sir - As we face into another year, I would love people to take a moment to appreciate all the great things in their lives, to notice the things about each day that bring them happiness, and to stop being unhappy that their lives aren't like everyone else's.
We all spend too much time looking at what other people have, instead of engaging with what's going on around us. I felt sad looking at stories on Instagram of people from school going out together when I had no particular plans.
Then I realised that I should have been delighted with my day, during which I did the GOAL Christmas Mile for charity, had lunch with my twin brother whom I rarely get to spend time with, had dinner as a family which is so rare these days, and watched the fourth Harry Potter movie, which will always be a work of art to me.
And now I'm writing in my toasty home-kitchen (I'm living away for college, hence the qualifying of 'my kitchen') with my beautiful golden retriever at my side. There is nothing amiss at this moment, and yet we perpetually live rubber-necking.
Enjoy your precious moments on this Earth.
Full name and address with the Editor
Dig deeper, Bono
Sir - Bono urges the people to dig deep into their pockets and bring hope to the homeless. "The power of one's example is greater than the power of what one says?"
A stranger called back in the day
Sir - I risk people thinking I have nothing better to do but write letters to your paper, but the letter in from Eddie Walsh of Nottingham (Sunday Independent, December 23) referring to Sean South revived memories of an incident that happened in my family home 62 years ago, almost to the day.
In the 1950s my family lived at a crossroads in rural Tyrone with a road leading to counties Monaghan and Co Fermanagh.
As there were few cars at that time in rural Northern Ireland, it was not unusual for people to call at our house seeking a drink of water or tea or even to have five minutes' rest, as most travelled by bicycle or walked, and thumbed lifts from those who had cars. As there were even fewer televisions, people calling broke the boredom of country life for us as children.
One day a young man called and asked my mother would she cook him some sausages. She said: "Of course, son, but you keep your sausages for later as I have some in the house."
She also made him tea and a sandwich and he chatted about Christmas and the weather etc. As he was roughly dressed and spoke with a southern accent we assumed he was a gypsy. When he left, I remember my father saying, "Well, if he is a gypsy he has very clean, smooth hands."
It transpired that he worked in an office somewhere in Limerick. Three days later, after he was killed during the raid on Brookeborough police barracks, his photo appeared in the press and it was obvious he was the young man who had been in our house.
My father even reported the incident to the local police sergeant. As someone from a unionist background, I take a little delight in telling my nationalist friends: "I could never be offended by the song Sean South of Garryowen; sure my mother cooked him sausages three days before he was killed."
Let's embrace a year full of joy
Sir - Let joy reign free and fraternal this coming year,
Let's embrace a New Year spirit of collective cheer;
May harrowing tragedy not visit us by grim stealth
But let's take care to enjoy with a balanced health
Indulging a little, but with common safety uppermost;
Let bells ring out their caring peal from every outpost,
tolling our collective delight, not our grief unsurpassed,
like so many sad and regular scenarios of recent past.
May we celebrate, recreate and perhaps inebriate
But always, always taking care to thrive and survive.
Patrick J Cosgrove,
Drone nightmare is yet to be seen
Sir - The next attack by Isil or whatever name they will have on the day will be simple but far bigger than 9/11. We had a first taste of what will happen during the recent drone incident at Gatwick Airport in the UK.
Some years back, I walked through an open-air market in Brighton and saw these domestic drones for sale. Something clicked in my head. Do they not realise the damage these things can do and now anybody can buy them with no licence, no compulsory ID - just £100 and away up the road you go with a lethal weapon?
A few weeks ago, I heard something in the air near Lansdowne Stadium. I looked up and saw a drone hovering over the stadium; it was saving security forces the bother of a full security crew going up in a helicopter to record movements of crowd control.
This was great, but the other extreme will be when 10 or 20 of those drones will be sent into the air at the same time close to different major international airports, and guided into aircraft taking off.
Terrorists could take down large passenger aircraft by simply guiding drones towards the engines, where they would be sucked into the blades, destroying the engine and destabilising the aircraft.
It's frightening to contemplate what the consequences could be.
GPs can take hope from Ashers ruling
Sir - This is indeed a difficult time for Irish doctors. Our local GPs have cared for our children from the age of six months before they were born until they grew up and left home.
Many of them believe passionately in the "two-patient" approach to caring for an expectant mother and the baby she carries.
They are now coming under intense pressure to either take part in an abortion, or else refer the woman to a doctor who will do so.
Doctors and medical personnel in this situation can, however, take great reassurance from the recent UK Supreme Court decision in the case of Ashers Bakery (October 2018).
The five judges unanimously confirmed that the courts could not oblige the Belfast bakery to supply a cake bearing a message with which they profoundly disagreed. Daniel and Amy McArthur had argued that the law risked "extinguishing" their consciences.
Surely Irish doctors can similarly expect not to be forced or bullied into making abortion referrals which would, not only "extinguish" their consciences, but would also extinguish the lives of their unborn patients!
Christmas break is all right for some
Sir - Having read (Living, Sunday Independent, December 23) that Leo has "volunteered" to go to Cork for his Christmas Day... I was somewhat incensed!
As a nurse for over 40 years and able to count on my two hands the number of times I have had the privilege of being off-duty for Christmas, it struck me that I would love the opportunity to do the same.
My colleagues and I have accepted that this is the path we chose to follow but our parents, families, children, and friends have had to compromise over the years and have got used to having their special day only when circumstances allow...
I for one have never had the opportunity to travel over Christmas because despite Leo's statement that festive holidays should be not allowed for nursing staff, the fact is that for all my career it has never been an option.
M Therese Sharpe, RGN, SCM,
Address with the Editor
Full steam ahead for a happy 2019
Sir - The music was loud, while the loudspeakers boomed, "Come in number 18 your time is up". As the old year reached the scrapyard of calendars, the band now played Auld Lang Syne - "Should auld acquaintance be forgot".
Further down the strand the new ship was being launched. It's called Hope for 2019.
All who will sail in her will do so with confidence. No more talk of going away! Less talk about the oncoming crash! Jobs to be provided paying proper wages! Houses to be built for people to rent! A health scheme where you'll get to see a doctor and no more sleeping on the streets!
Are these dreams? Or words from a group trying desperately to hang on to power.
We can but hope.
Happy New Year everyone. May all your wishes come true.
Memories of a smiling Ashdown
Sir - The death of Paddy Ashdown came as a great shock to me. Back at the height of the Provisional IRA murder campaign/ the Troubles he visited Dublin. Applications for members of the Provisional IRA to be extradited to the UK were being refused on technicalities such as the misspelling of a word or the use of a wrong address.
I asked Ashdown if the British could not submit a draft of the warrants to the authorities in the Republic first to see if they were in order to ensure they would be successful. He gave a big smile and said something to the effect that would go a long way to solve the problem, however your minister for justice might need to increase his security to protect his kneecaps.