Letters to the Editor: 'Parental life lesson poetry'
Sir - As we parents sit in the empty nest, I must congratulate Brendan O'Connor (Mid-life Crisis, Living, Sunday Independent, January 17) on a powerful piece on his moment. No need to go to classes on mindfulness, he said it all.
I immediately reflected on the poem Subh Milis by Seamus O Neill.
I taught this poem in school for many years, but it wasn't until my children were reared that I realised how powerful the poem is.
Life and child rearing is only a flash and one day you wake up and they are gone and you wonder: "Where did those years go?"
So, well done Brendan, on getting your priorities right and realising that life cannot be plotted and planned and that you capture every moment of quality time with your children.
Things just happen and it takes our children to teach us this lesson in life. We learn to go with the flow. Nothing stays the same.
So, look after these precious moments with your girls and the "pounds" will look after themselves.
"Bhi subh milis ar bhaschrann an dorais
Ach mhuch me an corrai ionam d'eirigh,
Mar smaoinigh me ar an la a bheas an baschrann glan,
Agus an laimh bheag
Seamus O Neill.
Translation (There was jam on the door handle, but I pushed away the annoyance that rose within me, because I thought of the day that the door handle would be clean and the little hand gone.)
Anna Casey Donohue,
Never be in fear of farming products
Sir - I feel The Lancet and vegan daftness have gone too far and they seem to be only interested in grabbing headlines. Dairy and farm produce have been healthy, safe-to-eat products for consumers every day for thousands of years. As farmers, animal and environment welfare is our business. It is in all our interests to save the planet, so the carbon offsetting approach is the only way to go.
By this I mean any carbon dioxide we produce should work with tech systems devised to save energy that would otherwise have used carbon products to generate that energy. Now ask what The Lancet and vegans are doing to protect our planet beside blowing hot air?
Are they doing any carbon offsetting in their own lives? We can all make this world a better place and people must be fed nourishing food to regenerate their bodies to cope with loss of energy. Their sensational headlines will only fuel eating disorders which are already at historic levels among young people.
I believe that the growth in young people suffering from anorexia and bulimia isn't an accident, and is been driven by false or misleading information being peddled by people with a different agenda promoting their own products or name - often by fear tactics.
My proof to young people of the quality of food produced on the farm is that they need never be in fear of farming produce because their parents and grandparents eat these products every day and have lived a long and healthy life. I rest my case.
Wake up and smell the methane
Sir - Last week, in a speech straight from the Healy-Rae School of Codology, the authors of The Lancet report on climate change and diet, as well as other campaigners, were dismissed as "keyboard warriors, quacks and lifestyle gurus". Just to remind your readers, the Lancet report was produced by 43 of the world's finest scientists who have spent several years analysing the empirical evidence.
The inability or unwillingness (or indeed both) of the farming lobby, and of our politicians, to show any vision, or give any leadership on the issue of climate change is, frankly, terrifying. It is becoming increasingly clear that if this country is to come anywhere near to meeting its obligations in relation to greenhouse gas emissions, then action on the individual level may be our only hope, and the evidence suggests that this is already happening.
As more and more people adopt a plant-based diet - not just because of climate change, but for ethical and health reasons, too, the farming lobby would do well to wake up and smell the methane. Their futures, as well as the very future of the planet, may depend on it.
Trust the Bible
Sir - Regarding the present controversy that has erupted between vegans and carnivores, the Bible - which must be regarded with some authority on the subject - states at Genesis Chapter 9 Verse 3: "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything."
Rook has nothing to crow about
Sir - With reference to Joe Kennedy's article on rooks (Country Matters, Sunday Independent, January 27), I ask myself: "Is this the most unloved bird of them all?"
I mean, other members of the same clan are universally acknowledged for their power and size (the raven), their thievery and intelligence (jackdaws and magpies), their beauty and evasiveness (the jay) or their maritime soaring acrobatics (the chough). The rook does appear to be the poor relation here, existing on the margins of wildlife and human-life as a shy creature with an over-sized beak. To quote Joe…. "cautious rooks flap to keep us at bay".
Britain 'held to ransom' by DUP
Sir - A 12-year-old girl had to travel to England from Northern Ireland last week for an abortion under police escort. This inhumane treatment of a child who has suffered a sexual assault is unacceptable. What is the reaction of British politicians? As Stella Creasy MP advocates for decriminalising abortion across the UK in the Domestic Abuse Bill, the British government has prioritised the DUP's opposition to abortion over the human rights of women in Northern Ireland.
Is the British government aware that there is more than one political party in Northern Ireland? Is the British government aware that in 2018 the UN stated that "the situation in Northern Ireland constitutes violence against women that may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment?" Is the British government aware that as Stormont collapsed over two years ago, they have a responsibility to act? However, we all know that the British government will not act in the interests of Northern Ireland as they continue to be held ransom by the DUP. With 80pc support for reform in Northern Ireland, the DUP's stance does not represent the majority view on abortion reform in Northern Ireland.
And in the meantime, how many more rape victims will have to travel to England for an abortion?
(formerly of Rathmolyon, Co Meath)
Pro-life groups striking a balance
Sir - Pro-life groups have recently demonstrated outside the premises of government-approved medical centres that have signed up to dispense the abortion pill. Why then does Liam Herrick (Letters, Sunday Independent, January 27) ascertain that this is clear evidence of targeting individual women rather than policy makers? There are no reported incidents of these demonstrators protesting outside any private houses or residences. Their activities have so far been confined to public places outside surgeries and clinics.
Mr Herrick states that where two rights are in conflict a balance must be struck. This was what the people who framed the Eighth Amendment attempted to achieve. To protect the life of the mother by providing medical treatment and intervention where necessary while simultaneously giving legal protection to the life of her unborn child. The repeal of Article 40.3 has allowed laws which favour the right to choose as the supreme right and has completely removed any legal rights benefiting the child. This would appear to be the imbalance these demonstrators are striving to redress.
Shame of hares sent to the dogs
Sir - Callers to RTE's Liveline last week lambasted an Irish army officer who shot elephants and other exotic animals in Zimbabwe, and rightly so, as these magnificent animals are endangered species, apart from their right to live their humble lives in peace.
But spare a thought for the hares that will be forced to run from frenzied dogs at the so-called National Coursing Festival. The gentle Irish hare doesn't roar like a lion, or carry itself with the elegant gait of a Siberian or African tiger, but it's surely as entitled to live its simple life free from the "sporting" attention of human predators as any of the exotic fauna that feature in wildlife documentaries.
Thanks to political cowardice and inaction on the part of Ireland's political establishment, the supposedly "protected" Irish hares will be set up as live bait at a latter-day colosseum in early February.
Deliberate cruelty to wildlife is a crime against the animal kingdom, whether the victim happens to be a mighty elephant, a lumbering hippopotamus swishing its way across a river... or an Irish hare fighting for its life on the coursing Field of Shame.
Sir - Recently in the Sunday Independent, Kate Moss declared that she has never worn a bra. At last, one has something in common with a top model.
We need to speak customers' language
Sir - It seems that Ireland is finally waking up to the fact that polyglots are in short supply here (Wayne O'Connor and John Walshe, Sunday Independent, January 27). It's a pity that it took the advent of Brexit to bring this fact home.
The whole world doesn't speak English. Accept it. The IDA is continually trying to get multinationals to move to Ireland. One of its arguments is that we have the multilingual talent. We don't. We have to import it. It costs us over €1,000 per person in relocation allowance for candidates who may stay here six months and then return home, and the whole foreign recruitment process has to start again.
Make no mistake, when Brexit kicks in, it won't be "grand", as many companies seem to think. The pound will sink, Irish goods will become too expensive and, if there is a "no-deal" UK exit, then trade tariffs will exacerbate the situation even further.
Irish exporters will have to look elsewhere. They will have to persuade continental Europe, the Middle East and China to buy products. Speaking the customer's language will go a long way towards convincing clients that you are a contender for their business. Forcing them to speak your language will make for a much stiffer, arms-length and sporadic relationship. Customers may not understand everything, they will be more sceptical towards signing English language contracts and will not feel as comfortable, loquacious or open as they would when dealing in their own language.
I work for a multinational firm in Dublin. I am the only non-indigenous employee dealing with foreign markets. My clients are impressed, they are beguiled and they are very open to doing business with me. Who will join me?
Name and address with Editor
Martina could get to the crux of Brexit
Sir - I must admit to missing Martina Fitzgerald's captivating presence on RTE's current affairs and news programmes. As a political correspondent, she was without equal. She was a gifted communicator with a thorough command of her brief. Night after night, she graced our living rooms with style and panache. She reduced the most complicated unfolding political drama to a comprehensible narrative for those of us unfamiliar with the political lexicon. She even managed to make the interminable Brexit saga sound interesting.
Martina would have been able to explain why Theresa May wants to renege on her pre-Christmas withdrawal agreement with the EU when the ink is scarcely dry. In her inimitable style, Martina, right, would have told us why the British PM wants to put a full stop instead of the backstop.
While the current RTE political staff are very knowledgeable about the politics of the day, their reportage can sometimes be melodramatic as they bamboozle us with subplots and subterfuge more appropriate to a MacGill Summer School debate in Glenties. With a twinkle in her eye and a back sweep of the blonde hair, which the evening breeze had blown across her face, Martina would unravel the inane political-speak of the British Tories and cut to the chase of the real story.
There was something compelling about Martina. She had the common touch and friendly body language which made you feel that she had your back. You could rely on Martina to explain why there is so much talk about soft borders and hard borders when, in fact, as Dominic Behan proclaimed in song, our green and fair isle needs no border other than the sea around us:
'The sea, oh the sea, is the gradh geal mo croide
Long may it stay between England and me
It's a sure guarantee that some hour we'll be free
Thank God we're surrounded by water'
Enjoy splendour of springtime
Sir - A favourite season for many, spring is here! Longer and warmer days to enjoy.
We celebrate our patron, Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity and new life to Ireland.
Our beautiful countryside awakens, calling farmers and gardeners into action.
The great outdoors calls all, our hills are alive with walkers, nature is blossoming.
Let's enjoy every lovely springtime moment, as we explore and help protect our beautiful island, our earthly home, Deo Gracias.
Vote out politicians
Sir - It is inconceivable that the members of Dail Eireann are unable, or unwilling, to look after people who literally do not have a roof over their heads.
Politicians have come dangerously close to accepting the homeless situation as a problem they cannot solve.
If these politicians don't deliver, then with all the earnestness at our command, we must ask ourselves some very serious questions when we next enter the polling booth at the next general election.