Letters to the Editor: 'Show misses Army riders'
Sir — The Dublin Horse Show, which for this year comes to a close today, has for close on a century-and-a-half been a constant highlight of Irish summers.
An enduring feature of this renowned event has been the participation of Army Equitation School riders in the international competitions, especially the Aga Khan Cup.
The bearing, decorum and mastery of our soldiers riding horses, owned by us taxpayers, uniquely gilded our sense of citizenship and bestowed us with a sense of pride that was especially cherished against the backdrop of our many foreign visitors during ‘‘show week’’.
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It is sad to note the scarcity of Army riders in top-level competition this year, another ‘‘nail in the coffin’’ of our Defence Forces and symptomatic of the ongoing neglect of the organisation, other indicators of which have been making uncomfortable headlines for some time.
It is shameful that the nation can no longer be stirred by the character and craft of the likes of Billy Ringrose, Con Power and the many who wore our Army’s uniform with great distinction, not just in the RDS, but throughout the show jumping arenas of the world.
Thomas’ Square, Kilkenny
Road safety and speed limits
Sir - A growing number of HGV drivers have received penalty points after being caught by camera van speed traps for travelling at 90kmh (55mph) on national primary routes. While the limit for goods vehicles on these roads is 80kmh (50mph), most gardai allow trucks to travel at 90kmh in the interests of traffic flow.
A study in the US found that crash involvement significantly increases when trucks travel much slower than passenger vehicles.
The difference in speed between cars and slow trucks seems to cause crashes that otherwise might not happen.
If three or four trucks are bunched together, the situation becomes even more hazardous as frustrated motorists at the back of the convoy attempt to overtake.
Truckers are increasingly reluctant to drive on the hard shoulder and allow cars to pass due to the huge rise in traffic volumes, cyclists and leisure walkers.
Currently, moves are being made to introduce speed limiters on goods vehicles in the USA. Some transport experts have warned that if the limit is set too low, "unsafe disparities" between truck and car speeds could have an adverse effect on road safety.
Many truck drivers here fear that if the speed limit for trucks on national primary routes is not increased to 90kmh, it could result in more dangerous overtaking, more head-on collisions and, sadly, more fatalities on our roads.
Friars Walk, Cork
Fiona teaches us a lesson in decency
Sir - I'm enjoying dipping in and out of your columnist Fiona O'Connell's lovely book, Lay of the Land - Reflections on life in rural Ireland. One of the many lovely tales which caught my eye is entitled 'Learning the hard way how to be kind', in relation to a time when children in schools got thrashed by their teachers daily, be they religious or lay. A dreadful time indeed - take it from one who knows.
Fiona is so right in that one learnt a valuable life lesson from all the abuse, and I quote: "The determination to be decent to anyone as vulnerable as they once were." Write on, Fiona.
Glenties, Co Donegal
Ireland needs more words of welcome
Sir - In the US media, it is common enough to hear talk of the troubled people who are always out there in the world ready to hurt others with guns or knives. But such troubling words of warning, though necessary, do become bad poetry when they are repeated too often. This is because they make the world we live in seem ugly and despairing.
So I think it is necessary to counterbalance negative words with more positive words because, as the Bible states in Matthew 12:37: "For by your words shall ye be justified and by your words ye shall be condemned".
So, for example, if vulnerable patients under stress arrive in an Irish hospital and the first written message they see in a notice is "decontaminate", this is unfortunate. Another unfortunate sign that patients might well be greeted with while waiting in A&E is, "don't interfere with the hospital staff". Such warning signs in hospitals are fine and necessary but not without some counterbalancing positive messages beside them. This is because too many negative messages in Irish public buildings or private businesses could, as Paul McCartney sang in Hey Jude, make a person's "world a little colder".
But if we had a sufficient quota of welcoming signs in every building in Ireland, we might thus once again live up to our old reputation of having a 100,000 welcomes for one and all. And perhaps in time our American relatives and friends might copy this good example.
Kilrush, Co Clare
Car insurers hold drivers to ransom
Sir - By law, you have to have pay income tax, PRSI and USC. By law, you have to pay your property tax. By law, you have to have a driving licence, a TV licence, a dog licence, even a fishing licence. By law, you have to have a NCT certificate. And to get all the above, you go to an agency of the State, regulated for conduct and pricing.
By law, you have to have car insurance but in this instance you have to apply to a private body who can charge you what they like and even refuse you cover if they so wish.
Recently, I have had three different quotes for my car after submitting the same detail to three insurance companies. One company offered me a discount of €100 if I took out insurance online instead of over the phone . How can that be if the details are the same?
It is a grossly unfair system and the fact that the Government allows this practice to continue beggars belief.
When policy holders can be held to ransom in order to feed the greed of fat cat shareholders with the blessing of the law and the Government, something's wrong. Maybe this is what they mean by "insurance fraud".
St Mullins, Co Kilkenny
Carry on the good work, Mr Gavin
Sir - It is amazing how practically every sports writer in existence has some kind of plan or advice for Dublin's remaining opponents on how to beat them. Surely one or two must want Jim Gavin and his exceptional squad to claim the handful. My advice to Mr Gavin: keep doing what you are doing.
Michael Teehan, Fethard, Co Tipperary
A call for more tolerance
Sir - Harmony in life, as in music, needs difference.
Embrace the difference.
A day for our young people to be proud
Sir - It's not easy being young in a world of virtual reality, cyber celebrity and fake narcissistic achievement. The misuse of 'beautiful people'' and 'trend-setters'' to influence the lifestyles, opinions, standards and actions of young people is all-pervasive. Body image, sexual preference, personality and attitude are under constant scrutiny on social media.
The publication of the Leaving Cert exam results on Tuesday is an opportune time for young people to take stock and realise that they are the best-educated generation in Irish history. They are more equipped with the skill-set, work ethic and confidence to avail of higher education and career opportunities than ever before.
They are a generation that need not be outsmarted by vested interests or malevolent manipulators. On the contrary, the young people of Ireland have the ability and ambition to play an important leadership role in a progressive and inclusive country.
Don't believe it when the naysayers tell you that your Leaving Cert is worthless. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Leaving Cert doesn't define who you are, but it is a prestigious and valuable document. Enjoy your results on Tuesday. Be proud of them. They are a tangible and real achievement. There is nothing virtual or simulated about them. You have worked damn hard for them. Your results open the window of opportunity for you. The sky is the limit if you stay grounded in reality and prioritise your education and career goals. Go for it and seize the moment. Carpe diem!
By the way, your Leaving Cert results are personal and private. You decide who should know about them. They are far too precious to share on social media.
Tralee, Co Kerry
The hard realities of united Ireland
Sir - On the face of it, the country seems to be doing okay. The economy is performing well even though, anecdotally at least, money is really tight and this is a very expensive country in which to try and grind out a living. Of course, Brexit will bring nothing but bad news. Why then are we even discussing this United Ireland nonsense?
To those chasing unicorns and rainbows, please consider this. How would your life really change? Will you be better off if there was a united Ireland tomorrow?
The die-hard unionists will never accept it, regardless of any vote, and the British will be delighted to be rid of it. The ''North'' will become our ''problem child'', our very own little ''Middle East''. The fallout would be appalling (goodbye tourism euros and foreign direct investment) and as the fires burn the only people rejoicing will be Sinn Fein. But no matter if we can't fund the health service/education etc, we can all sleep more soundly knowing the ''four green fields'' are together again!
Put the proper consequences of a united Ireland on the ballot sheet and let's see who will vote for it then?
Sandyford, Dublin 16
We must stand firm on Brexit
Sir - I would like to express my thoughts on the growing number of writers in your paper who seem to be of the opinion we should say nothing to upset our British neighbours.
Firstly, we did not create the Brexit problem, they did, and we are going to suffer because of it - do they care?
Secondly, we should support our Government, which I believe has acted in the best interests of the people, and is also supported by Fianna Fail.
Thirdly, we should have confidence in our own ability to make our own way in the world without our once great neighbour. After all, we have 26 friends in Europe.
Tuam, Co Galway
There can be no compromise
Sir - Congratulations are due to Colm McCarthy for his article on Brexit on August 4. He states that the UK has "failed to resolve" the Brexit issue over the last three years and has "effectively gone rogue".
At the same time, however, some of the coverage in the Irish media is moving towards the message being spread by much of the London media. Effectively, that is asking Ireland to dump the EU and grovel to the UK.
The long-term damage to Ireland's future relations within the EU, if taking that advice, would be catastrophic.
In calling for the chaos of a no deal, Brexiteers are demonstrating that they have nothing but contempt for fellow citizens of the EU. In addition, Brexiteers are willing to dump the Good Friday Agreement on the scrap heap.
If there is to be any regard for international relations and any kind of respect for fellow European citizens there can be no compromise with that Brexiteer agenda.
Colm McCarthy's final sentence says that Johnson's 'no-deal crash-out' is a 'blatant pretence'. In that situation the pro-Brexiteer argument that Ireland should grovel and eat humble pie, or that Paddy should shut his gob, is nonsense and should be ignored.
Sutton, Dublin 13
Price of freedom is no submission
Sir - The cost of freedom is always high but Irish people have always paid it.
One path that we never choose is the path of surrender and submission, and we are not going to do so now, Brexit or no Brexit.
Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
Pat O Callaghan,
Mallow, Co Cork
Golf funding is wrong priority
Sir - Given Ireland's proclivity for holding referendums, perhaps our next exercise of this self-determination act should be on replacing the national emblem, the shamrock, with a banana.
Ireland is entering banana republic land. The latest example of how askew this country's social priorities are is the €50m pledge of taxpayers' money towards a golf tournament.
In a spin narrative that Zanussi would be proud of, we are being told the 2026 Ryder Cup will be a revenue earner for the country - with exposure that cannot be bought.
This country is in financial hock, presiding over crumbling social infrastructure, and has the spectre of climate change looming.
Alongside the financial input, resources, time, and energy will be applied to promote a golf tournament for the well-heeled. Contrast this with the crisis in the HSE-provided home support services.
This vital dignity agent for the elderly is beset with access and funding issues. The thrust of the service appears to operate on balancing budgets, reducing costs and ensuring that the service is finance-centred rather than people-centred.
This Government and its previous incarnations have authored a long litany of failure to allocate public money based on visible need.
Public money can be found to finance the most trivial of projects while vital services are left to wither on the financial vine.
Fews, Co Waterford
Poor healthcare for Irish women
Sir - Just how long more will the treatment of women's health in Ireland be, at best, third-world standard, as shown in the wrongful information of tested results and further complicated by the standard of administration?
Kilcoole, Co Wicklow