Saturday 19 October 2019

Line gives help to combat loneliness

Retired people are more likely to be overpaying for insurance than any other age group. (Stock photo)
Retired people are more likely to be overpaying for insurance than any other age group. (Stock photo)
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Following Alan O'Keeffe's article (Sunday Independent, June 17) and the recently published report by Dr Keith Swanick on loneliness in Ireland, I would like to tell you of a free service available to all older people that aims to lessen loneliness.

Senior Line is a national confidential telephone listening service for older people provided by older trained volunteers. We are happy to talk to anyone who would like some company or has a problem they would like to discuss. We received more than 10,000 calls last year from older people all over Ireland.

I am one of more than 170 volunteers and I know from my own experience how helpful people find us. Some callers tell us we are their lifeline. Our freephone number is 1850440444 and we are open every day of the year, including Christmas Day, from 10am to 10pm. So don't be alone - give us a call.

Name and address with the Editor


Man of results

Sir - Declan Lynch in his World Cup Diary (Sunday Independent, June 17) refers to a man who would read out the football results on the day in England and Scotland in tones of the deepest seriousness. This man was in fact the late James Alexander Gordon who from 1974 (following the style of his predecessor John Webster) read out the results at 5pm every Saturday on BBC Radio 2 and later 5 Live on Sports Report, presented from 1955-64 by our own Eamonn Andrews.

James Healy,



Let's praise Rory

Sir - There is a sad amount of begrudging in this country with so many people taking out their frustration on others who actually achieve something.

Golfer Rory McIlroy is certainly one that some love to hate and some unkind comments about him have been heard. The ''star of County Down'' incurred the wrath of several critics after taking the decision not to declare for Ireland for the last Olympics.

But McIlroy has pointed out that he is not into flags and anthems, and fair play to him as there is far too much waving and playing of such around this land.

Rory's detractors should appreciate his involvement in raising money for various charities and giving his time freely and politely to the media.

Shay Coogan,

Navan, Co Meath


Trump's rhetoric

Sir - It is wearying to read your perpetual bias against Donald Trump and sad to have to coach you, the ''word mongers'', about your response to his rhetoric (Sunday Independent, June 17). Most of us recognise Trump's rhetoric for just what it is: superficial, bombastic attention-getting (he always gets yours by the way), designed to deflect, sometimes to irritate and certainly not intended to reflect any deep analysis.

Much of the East Coast (US) media are like Roger Cohen - sucked into the superficial rhetoric and matching it with their own while adding in any random street psychoanalysis. Cohen decides that Trump must yearn to be a totalitarian leader, that Trump wants to build condos in North Korea and that he would have congratulated the builders of the Berlin Wall. Roger plays the expert analyst and can deduce all of this from Trump's meaningless rhetoric.

Joyce Anderson,

Belgooly, Co Cork


Attitude problem

Sir - In her Radio Review column 'The constant sneering at Trump is tiresome', Eilis O'Hanlon (Sunday Independent, June 17) writes that ''there's barely any point tuning in any more because you know exactly what the contributors are going to say''.

Week after week, I read articles by Ms O'Hanlon. Week after week, I hope for a change from the preachy and judgmental tones adopted by Ms O'Hanlon towards people with differing views (usually left wing liberals).

She manages, somehow, to inject every piece with the same smug tone.

Jacinta McNab,

Glenageary, Co Dublin


Sarah, you nailed that one

Sir — Sarah Caden, you breath of fresh air, you!

To read such an honest, nail-on-the-head article by Sarah (Sunday Independent, June 17) in relation to parents and parenting about the video game Fortnite really was a relief among all the generic, people-pleasing, politically correct trash we’ve become over burdened with.

 A brave woman in this day and age!

My parental control ‘top tip’ would be this... Parent!

Paula E,



EU migration policy failures

Sir — Paddy Agnew is correct in highlighting a European Union failing — a lack of a coherent EU-wide migration policy (Sunday Independent, June 17).

In the late 1980s, having been involved with Irish emigrants in Britain, I had an opportunity to attend conferences in various parts of Europe dealing with migration issues and related polices that would be in place after 1992. I assumed that there would be a common migration policy, akin to other EU-wide common policies.

On my return to Ireland in 1999, at the invitation of teachers and community groups, I conducted migrant education talks to about 600 schools and community groups throughout Ireland. I was surprised to find sporadic anti-immigrant attitudes, some racist. At that time, there were the beginnings of anti-immigrant headlines in the tabloid press. Then, to my dismay, I discovered that there was not an EU-wide common coherent migration policy.

Knowing something of European colonial history experienced at home and abroad, I saw the rise of intolerance, misinformation about migration and the resurgence of racism, a European fault line. From 2003 onwards, watching the rise of anti-immigrant attitudes, I began to fear that immigration could be the cause of the break-up of the European Union which would be a disaster.

Immigrants are now being framed as if they were invaders, occupiers, criminals and scroungers. Few, if any, are looking at the causes of the present crisis similar to that in Ireland in the 1940/50/60s.

People are leaving newly independent, post-colonial, hope-less states on a journey of hope as the Irish and other Europeans did in the past. People on the move are following investment. Their wealth has preceded them into secure investments in the northern hemisphere.

Immigration was always a risk. Today immigrants are portrayed as a risk. Why the hostility? Why not have an EU burden-sharing policy?

I still hope that there can be a coherent EU-wide policy on migration coordinated with the areas from which migrants are leaving. It is an insult to human decency to observe what is happening in the Mediterranean.

Bobby Gilmore SSC,

Migrant Rights Centre


Fry case shows that blasphemy act works

Sir — While I agree with much of what Eilis O’Hanlon says in her well thought out article about the proposed referendum to delete the law on blasphemy, I fear she misses the main point (Sunday Independent, June 17).

Blasphemy is not about passing comments on God, or the beliefs people hold about God; these are already explicitly allowed for in our Constitution. Nor does it refer to expletives.

Rather, blasphemy is about bullying and denigrating people because of their religion. As such, it is distinct from, but a precursor to hate speech, discrimination and persecution.

To be found guilty, one must not only cause widespread offence among a religious grouping but be found to have had this intention. Works of genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value are not subject to it.

Prosecutions can only be taken by the DPP, hence all comparisons with Pakistan — a state where the rule of law does not seem to apply — are spurious. The failure, at the first hurdle, of a disingenuous complaint (linked to the advocacy group Atheist Ireland), against an outburst by Stephen Fry on RTE shows that the act works as intended.

Its existence is comforting to all who value free speech and wish to live in a Republic that values “parity of esteem” for all its citizens.

The beginning of human rights is frequently traced back to that freedom of religion and belief allowed by King Cyrus of Persia (circa 500BC), and it is often seen as the freedom on which all other freedoms rest.

The purpose of the Constitution and the law is to protect the citizen and to provide a means of settling grievances. It would be foolish to disregard this pillar of democracy.

Gearoid Duffy,



Time to respect the Catholic faith

Sir — For those of us in this country who are still practising Catholics and who cherish their faith dearly (and there are many of us who do), I find the constant negativity towards the Catholic Church, on air and in print, excessive and insulting.

Yes there have been regrettable flaws and misdemeanours with tragic outcomes committed within the Church over many years, but there now seems to be an active rebuttal of God in Irish society.

Between the lifting of the baptism barrier in primary schools, to the passing of the abortion legislation, to removing saints’ names from hospital wards and a proposed referendum to remove the blasphemy law in the autumn, it appears that we are trying to completely de-christianise our country.

A country in which our forefathers battled pagan traditions, and several were martyred in the process, in order to introduce Christianity to Ireland.

A significant number of people, including myself, still value their Catholic faith, and take offence to it being constantly derided and belittled. It’s time to put a halt to this and respect every citizen’s views, including those that appear to some to be in the minority.

We live in a democracy — or do we?

Aisling Bastible,


Dublin 3


Pope’s kind words on LGBT people

Sir — My thanks to your journalist Alan O’Keeffe for his uplifting article on the Pope’s stance on LGBT people (Sunday Independent, June 17).

My wonderful gay son is, according to present Catholic teaching, “intrinsically disordered” and also “a force for evil”.

I have to say I can’t see that in him.

Fr James Martin lifts all our hearts here with the great news that things are changing for the better through this Pope’s words. His tolerance and basic humanity have almost enticed me back to attending church services which I stopped because of the Catholic Church’s pronouncements on LGBT folk.

Let’s hope that Pope Francis has the courage and support to carry on this journey of hope and compassion and really include all our people.

Would Jesus have thrown gay people out of the temple?

Not the Jesus I believe in.

Pat Burke Walsh,




We should end church hierarchy

Sir — “In the (wholly appropriate) outcry over Pope Francis’s remarks at the weekend, in which he compared 1.4 million Irish voters to Nazis, let it not be overlooked that this so-called humanitarian Pope also said that only heterosexual couples can form families.

“The family [as] man and woman in the image of God is the only one,” Pope Francis told Forum delle Famiglie, an Italian forum on the family not dissimilar to the event he will address here in August.

I feel great sympathy with Catholics, both here and around the world, who have been let down time and again by the cruel pronouncements of the Church’s leaders.

However, with each passing day, it becomes clearer and clearer that the out-of-touch Catholic hierarchy should play no further part in deciding the laws and institutions that guide our nation — whether that be our schools, our hospitals, our counselling agencies, or the drafting of our laws.

Valerie Casey,


Co Cork


Cackling away

Sir — So Ruth Dudley Edwards had to laugh (as she ruminated) when she read about children at a hurling tournament being taunted that they were “British bastards”. I can almost hear the cackle as she thundered the keyboard with her fingers.

She felt no sense of disquiet or despondency? No, “ …it made me laugh”.

Kevin Shannon,



Proud of this place

Sir — I am in a better position to tell people about Dungannon than Ruth Dudley Edwards (Sunday Independent, June 17). 

I came to live here more than 40 years ago from Southern Ireland and — call it “pride of place” or whatever — I found her opinion upsetting, unbalanced and negative. Dungannon is a fine town with positive features.

Most people are tolerant, welcoming and hardworking. I say most and that applies to any town. Far from being the narrow-minded, sectarian place she describes, Dungannon is multicultural and progressive.

Breda Quinn,



No, Neil, hurling is the national game

Sir — I consider Neil Francis to be an excellent journalist; however, his view that rugby is now our nation’s game is delusional. He has put forward this opinion twice in the past couple of months, most likely on the strength of a great season by our rugby team. I enjoy most sports (including rugby) and have been involved with gaelic and soccer for most of my life.

There is a chasm between his view and reality. Hurling is our nation’s game and the GAA is our nation’s top sports organisation, with close to one million members in Ireland alone. The fare offered up this year in the Munster Championship has been superb.

There are more GAA clubs in Cork than rugby clubs in Ireland. For those who mistakenly believe that a nation’s game must have an international dimension, I would point in the direction of the NFL in the US or the AFL in Australia.

Rugby can be a great game and is popular in small pockets and certain schools in Ireland. My son attended the same school as Neil Francis; my other son is a student there and I understand how Neil developed his views. He even wrote about the topic twice to convince himself!

Take a look at every parish, townland, village, town and county on this island — what do you see? Kilmacud Crokes, which is up the road from his alma mater, has more than 5,000 members and more than 100 teams. If you still feel rugby is the game of the whole nation, then take a good look at soccer. Growing it may be, but rugby remains a distant third on a national level.

Peter Lynch


Co Dublin


Beautiful views

Sir — As always I love reading your ‘Quotes of the week’ section every week. A magic one last week (Sunday Independent, June 17) by Catherine Zeta-Jones as follows: “One thing I’m not as humble any more. I’m sick of being humble. I really am. ‘So sorry I’m rich, so sorry I’m married to a movie star, so sorry I’m not so bad looking’.”

Bravo, Catherine, bravo. By the way, Catherine, you are beautiful. Just a fact. End of story.

Brian McDevitt,


Co Donegal

Sunday Independent

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