Sir - As we enter the last week before voting, we the electorate - irrespective of who we may vote for - should reflect on some recent national polls in ''Brexitland'' and across the Atlantic.
The internal political wars and level of dysfunction within the opposition in both the UK and the US has not adequately served their people, and has impaired both nations.
Voting for change for the sake of change - variously fuelled in these states on the basis of a lying bus slogan and a ''drain the swamp'' incantation - is a matter we need to reflect on before marking on the ballot paper.
When the votes are counted any ''change'' needs to be achievable for the betterment of all, underpinned by the competence and diligence of opposition - as much, if not more, as of government.
St Thomas's Sq, Kilkenny
One for all and all for one in the elections
Sir - The FF election posters declare: "An Ireland for all."
Does this mean there is one for everyone in the audience?
Bantry, Co Cork
Garda letter is required reading
Sir - There was a letter in last week's Sunday Independent written by a retired Garda detective which should be required reading for anyone interested in the Irish criminal justice system.
It is a letter from someone who knows how the world works.
Name and address with editor
Look to past for guide to future
Sir - It is understandable that voters under the age of 30 or so might view change of any kind as a viable option, given their current work-life experience.
What some might not fully appreciate, however, is the level of austerity and fiscal discipline that brought this minor miracle into being.
As a country, we paid dearly for the kind of mistakes that must, in future, be avoided like the plague. Remember, when we needed outside help we had to pay through the nose for it.
That vicious cycle will hit the country again if we insist on repeating the same mistakes. It is a time for cool and thoughtful heads and is no game for inexperienced players.
New parties with serious designs on power must avoid the temptation to buy votes by throwing more of our hard-earned money at intractable problems. Sinn Fein, through its manifesto, has already failed on that account.
Killester, Dublin 5
We all need a new vision of equality
Sir - We all like to get a bargain, but taking a free package bound up in brown paper at the counter of our auction politics is not a good way to decide on our future.
We should be basing our decisions on the real issues plaguing our country like homelessness, lack of a decent health service and climate change. And while money is needed to fix these it is not the essential element. We need a new vision of an equitable future where all citizens are treated equally.
Malahide, Co Dublin
Keyboard warriors observe no limits
Sir - The sooner this election campaign is over the better.
I cannot recall a campaign where the level of personal attacks on candidates has been so prevalent. Candidates' looks, sexuality, clothes and of course political persuasion are all wrapped up together to create combined attacks and insults.
These "brave" keyboard warriors see or observe no limits to where they can deliver a low blow. The personal attackers, I bet, have never even contemplated putting their own names forward for election. No!
It's much easier to hurl insults from the ditch.
Pat Burke Walsh,
Gorey, Co Wexford
Take local issues away from Dail
Sir - Pat Breen's letter in last week's Sunday Independent might have begun an important debate on reform of government.
He advocates a reduction in the number of TDs (158) by two thirds, which would effectively take them out of parish-pump politics. I would double their salary, making the job more attractive and allow them to devote all of their time to running the country - legislating and getting things right first time round.
With local issues removed from the equation, the dynamic of the electorate would change - better educated and better informed, which might not suit the "left".
There should be more emphasis on government by committee rather than the endless and childish opposition for the sake of it - or the rant to guarantee a slot on the evening news. Better still, stop televising Dail proceedings.
Let the councillors deal with the local stuff.
There is a wide positive consensus that the Inland Revenue is ruthlessly efficient - because it can be.
Civil servants in other departments should be similarly empowered to take more responsibility.
The brain power within the civil service can be used positively or wasted, so an attitudinal change is required.
Rathmines, Dublin 6
Don't blame us for climate change
Sir - The electorate is being sold a pup by the Greens.
By this stage we all believe in climate change. It has been changing for thousands of years and the only question is whether man is responsible for it or not.
I grew up without central heating and if we were cold in bed at night we put our overcoats on the bed as an extra blanket. So my generation is not responsible for the burning of the oil and gas.
If the schoolchildren protesting against climate change by taking valuable time off school and disrupting city traffic wish to make a statement, why don't they get their parents to turn off the central heating and put on extra clothes if they are cold? I think not, it is much easier to block streets and baz off school.
Kilmore, Co Wexford
Does anyone know right from left
Sir - With Ireland heading into another General Election, I have heard many times this last week, and many times before, that "it's time for a change".
But I know that, whatever the outcome, we will not get a real meaningful change this time either. In almost 100 years of its existence Ireland has only voted for governments led by two particular parties which originated from differing attitudes to "The Treaty".
It could be argued that these parties were initially composed of people with military involvement and not necessarily the political know-how to run a country.
Over time, however, they did evolve into political parties - both being primarily to the right of the political spectrum.
In its century of existence Ireland has never voted for a government of the left-wing variety - and probably won't this time either.
I sometimes wonder if the Irish electorate knows about the ideologies of left and right.
All we seem to consider are the differences - and they are not many - between the Treaty parties and our decisions are often coloured by historical prejudices and loyalties which have little to do with politics.
St Patrick's Hill, Cork
Leo's brass neck on Brexit speculation
Sir - The speech made by Leo Varadkar as the UK prepared to celebrate their leaving the European Union surely demonstrates his brass neck.
Before Brexit day, Leo was heard to say: "We hope Brexit works out for them - but if it does not, there will always be a seat for them at the EU table."
It might not have occurred to the Taoiseach that if Brexit is indeed a success, there might be several more empty seats at the EU table. It may even become a lonely place to sit - such is the growing anti-EU sentiment across some European states.
Midleton, Co Cork
Trolley numbers and FAI bailout
Sir - I read two interesting headlines during January.
The first: 'Trolley numbers this year are the highest since records began'.
And the second: '€20m rescue package for FAI'.
I suppose we're lucky then that it's an election year.
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Mallon a beacon in dark times
Sir - Your tribute to Seamus Mallon was warmly appreciated.
I admire Seamus Mallon to the point of loving him for his refusal to accept violence as a means of advancing his political views. I admire all those who are prepared to fight for their beliefs by constitutional methods and those who exercise their right in a parliamentary democracy by voting in elections.
Parliamentary democracy is a wonderful thing in a violent world and those committed to it shine a great light in our history.
Man of peace is now with God
Sir - Like everyone in the country, I was saddened to hear of Seamus Mallon's death. He - and John Hume, and Gordon Wilson, and others besides - did much to bring a peaceful solution to the sad and painful situation that once dominated Northern Irish society.
If, as I have long suspected, our purpose for being in this world is to make a positive difference and leave the world a better place, then the late Seamus Mallon played his part with dignity.
He's with God now.
Clonsilla Road, Dublin 15
Waterford sinks without a trace
Sir - Lunch in the oven, the Sunday Independent spread out on the floor, cup of tea in hand, ready to watch the Week in Politics.
Everything went OK until Aine Lawlor said "after the break we will go to the south-east for more on the election campaign".
Right, I said to myself, this is us. Time now to take stock and see how our local candidates are doing. First came Wexford, then Wicklow. At this stage I'm thinking to myself we are coming close now, sit up, girl.
Next Carlow/Kilkenny - and what do you think happened after that? Yes you guessed it, not a mention of Waterford.
We now know for definite that RTE thinks we don't exist.
I know we are partially surrounded by water, but are we gone to sea, or just gone fishing?
Portlaw, Co Waterford
Is this an FG boast or just an excuse?
Sir - Maybe I'm becoming a grumpy old man but I find the constant references by Fine Gael ministers to the youth of the Cabinet irritating. I'm now wondering if they're using it as a boast or an excuse.
Pat O Mahony,
Dalkey, Co Dublin
China's hospital plan puts us to shame
Sir - My jaw dropped when I read the report on the coronavirus in last week's Sunday Independent.
It read "and work began on a second new hospital to be built within 14 days" and then further on it said, "Chinese authorities said they would build a 1,300-bed hospital within two weeks".
I am well aware of the population difference between China and ourselves, but if it's possible for them to build a hospital of 1,300 beds in a matter of a few days, surely we could do the same within, let's be generous, a full year...
After all, with over €1.5bn in hand, we could probably fly over some workers from China... just to give a dig out.
Naas, Co Kildare
Brexit banter and some light relief
Sir - As I sit here in a pub in the West Midlands, UK, I cannot help but notice the chatter is punctuated with discussion about Brexit.
Everybody is openly talking about it in a way they would not have done before. People before would have been reluctant to speak openly out of fear that it might upset somebody so divisive was this issue.
Now though there is light relief, including the following contribution: Brexit walks into a pub. The barman asks: "Why the long farce?"
On a serious note, I cannot help but get the feeling that British people will have to seriously manage their own expectations as to what Brexit will mean.
Meanwhile, I raise a glass to wish them well and while some might be celebrating the UK departure I can always celebrate the end of January with cheap EU drinks.
Malahide Road, Dublin 17
EU's final farewell to Farage & Co
Sir - The debate last Wednesday in the EU Parliament on Brexit was a triumph for vice- president and chair Mairead McGuinness.
I was very proud of her as she warned Nigel Farage about his conduct, until finally running out of patience with him, she cut his microphone off.
Several times she asked him and his gang to resume their seats and desist from their flag waving. I think her exact words were "please leave now and take your flags with you".
With any luck Farage and his motley crew will fade into oblivion, never to be heard from again. Time will tell.
While I was never a supporter of Fine Gael, I do think there is great credit due to McGuinness for her handling of this most annoying group of imperialists.
Au revoir Mr Farage, you will not be missed.
Sixmilebridge, Co Clare
No one is safe from excellent Kerrigan
Sir - These days there's a lot of hand-wringing going on about the death of investigative journalism. Given the multiple crises we are living through, having an inquiring mind becomes all the more important.
So I'd like to say that no one is safe from Gene Kerrigan's hard-hitting meticulously reported and genuinely investigative journalism.
It's part of what makes the Sunday Independent great, the tradition of the free press.
Pat O Callaghan,
Mallow Co Cork
It's time to show respect, Jurgen
Sir - As a lifelong supporter of Liverpool - from Shankly to the present day messiah Jurgen Klopp - can I ask who does Klopp think he is, after that dreadful performance against Shrewsbury Town?
Jurgen, swallow your pride, manage your team, play some of the so-called first team and show some respect to your supporters and the FA Cup.
Sandyford, Co Dublin