Letters to the Editor: 'Similar and different'
The mason works quietly at his ancient craft, selecting the next correct piece of granite.
So many he discarded, perhaps for another day, some chosen after his skilled chipping.
I've never seen such a lovely, well-crafted, simple garden wall that is now taking shape.
My new poem comes to mind, it is also under way, taking shape, another ancient craft.
Like my mason friend, I must also discard, always seeking and selecting what is needed.
Words, old and new, a turn of phrase, so many, some hidden deep in my memory box.
The mason's work will last, I'm sure, easily seen and should be admired by passers-by.
A poem is ephemeral, a thought hidden in words, to be sought-out, perhaps translated.
A craft is seeking beauty, creating beauty, hopefully to enrich, and bring joy to our lives.
Honest picture of farm hypocrisy
Sir - I refer to the excellent article, 'Haunted by our little ghosts and hawthorn', by Fiona O'Connell (Lay of the Land, Sunday Independent, May 12).
She painted an honest picture of the hypocrisy that exists right through the farming world here in Ireland where defenceless creatures such as calves that are supposed to be protected by "strict animal welfare laws" are little more than pawns in a world of absolute insatiable greed.
It is refreshing that Ms O'Connell has her finger on the pulse and is very aware of her subject matter.
Whether she writes about wildlife, country or farming issues, she brings awareness to people and sums up the current situation in a very clear and balanced manner.
Her journalistic skills are to be admired when so many people are just concerned about themselves or the "me, me factor" and blind to environmental issues or the suffering of animals.
I, along with many other like-minded people, was appalled at the way exported calves were treated in Cherbourg - shown on Prime Time.
For once I felt proud of RTE.
I am also delighted you have a journalist who gives me a reason to buy the Sunday Independent, who is committed to truth and provides interesting, stimulating articles to read.
Address with the Editor
Great days of RTE
Sir - I agree 100pc with Gene Kerrigan's comment 'Politics needs more than staged TV brawls,' Soapbox, Sunday Independent, May 12).
It was a privilege to watch and listen to the following current affairs presenters at RTE down through the years: John O'Donoghue, Brian Cleve, Dr David Thornley, Bill O'Herlihy, Brian Farrell, John Bowman, Sean Duignan, Vincent Browne and Mark Little.
Mallow, Co Cork
Murder film shock
Sir - I could not believe the heading ('Jim Sheridan eyes Mr Moonlight murder for film,' Sunday Independent, May 12).
Where has our sense of decency and kindness, and understanding of those in pain and common decency gone?
Surely this event is too raw in everybody's mind - especially all the families involved. Maybe in 100 years' time it would be film material, but not now.
Please, Jim Sheridan, think again. If you were related to any of the families would you consider doing this? Give all those involved time to rebuild their lives. Do the decent thing, Jim.
Address with the Editor
Cynical political game over unique wildlife
Sir — The Government has committed itself to significant action to safeguard Ireland’s biodiversity. Let’s hope that action matches words because, as we know, politics can so easily get in the way of doing the right thing.
A quarter of our species in Ireland (birds, mammals, insects and wild plants) are facing extinction, thanks to the shameful absence of any effective measures to arrest that trend.
Birds like the corncrake, skylark and yellowhammer are rarely seen any more in a country where once they thrived and were a favoured theme of poets and songwriters.
The curlew has declined by an alarming 96pc since the 1970s, and 91pc of Ireland’s internationally important habitats (bogs, grasslands) are categorised by conservationists as having ‘bad’ or ‘inadequate’ status. Only one-third of Ireland’s hedgerows are capable of catering for birds and other wildlife.
Far from working to preserve our biodiversity, the two largest political parties when in government have consistently demonstrated their true priorities on the issue: the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), which strives to conserve and protect Ireland’s diverse flora and fauna, receives State funding of just €11m a year… while €16m of taxpayers’ money is granted per annum to the greyhound industry, and a whopping €64m a year goes to horse racing.
Governments have also played a cynical political game with the conservational well-being of our iconic Irish hare. This sub-species of the mountain hare — which is unique to Ireland — has been in decline for the past half-century after surviving the Ice Age of 10,000 years ago.
Yet, despite knowing that this mammal is under threat from loss of habitat resulting from urbanisation and aggressive modern farming, the Government permits the capture of more than 7,000 hares per year by coursing clubs.
The destruction of hare habitats by the netting gangs and the trauma caused by using these sensitive, gentle creatures as live bait at venues nationwide could not happen without political approval and official State licensing of enclosed hare coursing.
The plight of the Irish hare, entangled in a net and awaiting a contrived chase for the amusement of a baying mob, could well symbolise the disgraceful failure of successive Irish Governments to protect our wildlife heritage… and the scant regard they have accorded, up to now, to Ireland’s imperilled biodiversity.
Callan, Co Kilkenny
St Francis’s warm welcome for Doris
Sir — It was with much sadness that I learned of the passing of late, great lady Doris Day. She had a difficult life in many ways but brought great joy to us on the silver screen. A friend of mine saw her when he visited Carmel in the USA; Doris was out collecting with volunteers for the local animal charity. I have no doubt that St Francis organised a great welcoming party for her when she arrived in paradise.
Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W
Depleted pro-life group resources
Sir — Marianne MacDonald raises a very relevant point concerning lack of research into the causes and prevention of miscarriage (Letters, Sunday Independent, May 12). However, she did not take elected representatives to task for their omission in this matter.
All of the larger political parties poured considerable finance into removing the last vestige of constitutional protection from the unborn child; money which could have been better used for medical research into sustainable pregnancy and successful delivery of the intrauterine child.
The struggle to retain the Eighth Amendment depleted the resources of the pro-life groups, which were mostly voluntary and left the impartial observer to conclude that its repeal demonstrated a greater momentum in Ireland for ending life in the womb rather than preserving it.
Thurles, Co Tipperary
Sir — Marianne McDonald (Letters, Sunday Independent, May 11) opines that anyone concerned with the protection of the defenceless unborn is secretly trying to control women’s lives.
Oh dear! A cursory glance at the statistics would quickly dispel that hairy chestnut. A disproportionate number of unborn females are aborted for societal reasons. Parents have total control over their children when they are at their most vulnerable, be they born or unborn. So, let’s not confuse concern with control. The difference can be vital for those who have no control — like the unborn.
Charleville, Co Cork
Sir — I wish to compliment Eilis O’Hanlon on the quality and consistency of her articles. She is balanced, insightful, and politically correct in so many areas of her journalism. She is one of the reasons why I like to buy your paper each week.
Use and abuse of Irish language
Sir — John Hyland (Letter of the Week, Sunday Independent, May 12) gives an interesting insight into the use and abuse of Irish Language since the foundation of the State, propagated today by the gaelscoileanna, which among other things, are exclusive and elitist. Achieving a Leaving Cert honours opens doors but the reverse slams them in important careers like teaching, not to mention the bonus marks of up to 10pc for answering certain subjects through Irish. Surely this is unconstitutional.
Rathmines, Dublin 6
The voiceless can still have their say
Sir — Fianna Failers who might still blast out in his or her cups The Men Behind The Wire in an unguarded moment when they think the pub holds no fear of being seriously found out, become all sentimental and hold sweet tenor tones in the ‘sneaking regard’ of the “bit-for-Irelanders”.
Leopards and grassroots type spots of republicans of the small ‘r’ variety still stalk the minds at election times.
I’ve heard them... the men whose fathers held mass meetings in the old days with rallying cries such as: “There’s men here tonight who fought and died for Ireland.”
One such offspring told me lately that my grandfather and his brother fell out because they took opposite sides in the Civil War and never spoke again for the rest of their lives... “not even attending the funerals of each other” (sic).
He appeared dewy-eyed and half cut as he imparted his unnecessary information.
I did not know of his friendly nudge and wink, carried-for-a-lifetime secret, prior to him literally bumping into me, thankfully. But we can only work with what we’ve got and listen to thunder at these times.
Good luck all to all participants, especially the passionate unknown individuals whose photos look down from the poles, and who have personal and real, small local community concerns; yet their presence among the ‘big boys and girls’ shows me that despite my inherent cynicism regarding ‘established’ parties and Dail politicians, the voiceless can sometimes have their say at polling stations, albeit rarely.
They are possibly the new voice of the defunct town commissioners/council, which was a retrograde step too far.
That everyone can stand in this election gives us the hope that democracy still lives, and we applaud those ‘little people’ who put themselves before the electorate, in times when local voices go unheard.
Bantry, Co Cork
Time to shine light on harassment issue
Sir — Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan is quoted as saying (Sunday Independent, May 12) that Ireland has disturbingly high levels of sexual harassment and sexual violence. This is the reason the Government has launched the No Excuses campaign, raising awareness on this topic.
The very topic of sexual harassment makes people uncomfortable. In some ways highlighting this topic points the finger at everyone. When does flirting become harassment?
It becomes harassment when the person becomes uncomfortable with the situation. That shouldn’t be too difficult to perceive.
The advertisements being shown on TV show a number of scenarios involving men and women. They are designed to make people reflect on their own behaviours and in fact can empower people to speak out. For far too long a truckload of issues have been buried under the carpet in this country. It’s time to shine a much-needed light on the disturbing topic of sexual harassment.
Back those happy to work in home
Sir — I wonder if Wendy Grace’s excellent article on women in the home (Sunday Independent, May 12) will have any effect on the dreadful lack of respect and support for these women, in light of this treatment continuing for many years despite efforts by those who value diversity and a woman’s right to choose being ignored.
Will the result of the poll indicating that two-thirds of women working in the home are happy to do so really make no difference?
Is there no way the Government and those exerting undue pressure on women to work when they prefer to rear their own children can be held responsible for not supporting their choice but, rather, penalising them through the tax system? What now for a woman’s right to choose?
Our consumerism is unsustainable
Sir — This year’s European elections and the referendum on regulating divorce coincide almost exactly with the anniversary of last year’s vote to delete the right to life of the unborn from our Constitution.
In fact they are all intimately linked. Such has been the calamitous decrease in birth-rates right across the developed world that all 28 EU states are failing to replace themselves.
As Europeans, we are progressing towards self-annihilation. Liberal democracies’ very existence may well be a historical footnote by the time today’s first-time voters hit their projected pension age.
Yet our European candidates and media are silent.
This impending demographic Armageddon has been masked because people are typically living longer and we are ‘out-sourcing’ having babies to Africa, south-east Asia and elsewhere in the world.
We speak of climate change, and rightly so, but this social-climatic change is far more acute. Ethnic Europeans are disappearing. Our model of living to excess (hyper-consumerism) is not only environmentally unsustainable, it is also socio-economically unsustainable. They are two sides of the same coin.
Liberal democracies are underpinned by the social capital of centuries of Judeo-Christian values — virtue, redemption and the dignity of the human being, expressed politically as human rights, solidarity and subsidiary.
We need to urgently change tack. We need to recover and reinstate basic human rights such that they are unambiguously acknowledged, socially respected and vindicated by the State.
We need to rediscover happiness, meaning in life, and the spiritual energy that raises man from looking only to himself — from looking out only for himself. We need to rediscover an intrinsic human worth unconnected to consumerism.
Lee Road, Cork