Sir - I was surprised by the decision to cancel the Big LC.
I can't help but feel a hint of sadness for the Covid class of 2020. They will have regrets as they lose out on so much school time - and not just in class. No debs, no party bus, no shopping for the dress, no dressing up, no fake tans, no hairdos, no manicures, no pedicures, no Grads, no post-exam parties, no post-exam analysing papers, no get-togethers, official and unofficial, no memories to recall, a time lost forever in Covid-space.
You know your classmates inside out, you've sat in class with them for the past six years, plotted and planned and covered for them and grew up all together, and now... nothing.
The best lessons about life are not necessarily learned from books or the teacher, and I say this as a retired teacher. It's the drudgery and craic of everyday life in the corridors, and ducking and dodging in the loo and the yard or at the lockers. I recall Peig Sayers's infamous phrase, with a twist: "Ar scath a cheile a mhaireann na daltai" - students live in each other's shadows.
Anna Casey Donohue,
Kinvara, Co Galway
Hospice needs help more than ever
Sir - As we look forward to the first easing of Covid-related restrictions tomorrow, can we note this also marks the start of LauraLynn Children's Hospice week (May 18-24).
In some ways, the parents and families of children living with a life-limiting condition have been better equipped to deal with the recent realities of infection control, cocooning and social distancing. They are all too familiar with having to protect their child from catching a virus that could have catastrophic consequences.
However, this pandemic has caused huge anxiety and even greater isolation for them. Non-essential contacts were quickly stopped. Fear of 'what will happen if I get infected or exhausted and can't care for my child?' is prevalent.
Now more than ever, these vulnerable and marginalised families need our support and recognition. They need to know they are not alone, that they have our support.
LauraLynn is Ireland's only children's hospice and provides tailored hospice and palliative care to children with life-limiting conditions and their families from across the island of Ireland.
During this crisis we launched the first virtual hospice for children, bringing specialist care into the family home virtually when we can't be there in person. We are stepping up during times of crisis and at end-of-life, providing care in our hospice facility. If you'd like to help - and I hope you do, as we need that help - visit lauralynn.ie.
LauraLynn Children's Hospice,
Leopardstown Road, Dublin 8
Keyboard warriors have the answers
Sir - I am 70 and while sitting at home cocooning I'm also reminiscing about all the years I've lived through - and it's fair to say these months are the most unusual I've ever experienced.
I have been very impressed by Leo, Tony Holohan, the two Simons, Cillian de Gascun, Sam McConkey and many others. I respect their Trojan efforts in our battle against Covid-19.
So imagine my surprise when I discovered there is a group of people among us who would have been able to eliminate Covid-19 almost immediately. If this wasn't enough, they would also have eliminated homelessness, HSE waiting lists and solved the climate crisis.
I think every Irish citizen should stand and applaud these new experts, collectively known as the Keyboard Warriors. It's only lately I have started to use social media and, boy, am I glad I have. But for social media I would never have known these special ones, like Joe Dolan, have the answer to everything.
I feel sorry for Leo and the rest of the experts. They are doomed to failure and cannot hope to match the awesome ability of the Keyboard Warrior.
I'm feeling a bit tired now so I'm going to relax in my grandfather's chair, have a wee snooze. I might even play my favourite tune. Yep, you guessed right, Joe Dolan singing The Answer to Everything.
Ballinasloe, Co Galway
Respect for those recovering in AA
Sir - I read Emer O'Kelly's article (Sunday Independent, May 3) in which she wrote: "Alcoholics can be selfish, dishonest and manipulative - even if alcoholism is an illness."
I like Emer's articles and think she is a very good reporter, but that is not true of all alcoholics. It may perhaps be true of active alcoholics, but you cannot recover from alcoholism unless you first admit and accept you are an alcoholic, and then work daily towards recovery.
In AA there is a programme of recovery which works, if you work at it one day at a time. Alcoholics on the programme are not the people Emer describes - they are, in fact, the opposite. They undergo a great change and are gradually filled with gratitude, humility, honesty and a willingness to help other alcoholics and people in general.
The untreated alcoholic is living the nightmare - out there with all the usual character defects, deep in denial and so sick they can't reach out for the help that is there in AA.
Untreated, alcoholism leads to havoc in the family, friends, workmates, relationships - and plays a huge part in homicides, suicides, abortions. I have seen and heard it all - I am a retired psychiatric nurse. I'm also 32 years sober and still attend AA.
Name and address with Editor
It was the oath that led to war
Sir - I fully endorse Manus O'Riordan's letter, 'They died with their guns blazing', in which he rebutted the character assassination of De Valera over the death of Collins.
De Valera was too intelligent to see any gain in Collins's murder. The deed was probably carried out by some rogue individuals who seized opportunity to avenge shootings by pro-Treaty forces loyal to Collins.
One should not forget it was Collins and Arthur Griffith who were the main architects in the signing of the Treaty, Collins calling it "a means to an end".
I feel Griffith was a closet monarchist, advocating the 'Hungarian model' which included the dualism of royalty and the people sharing power equally.
No wonder he agreed to the oath of allegiance, a red letter line insisted on by the British delegation. It was mainly this oath that led to the subsequent Civil War.
Bantry, Co Cork
So just how many GAAs do we have?
Sir - Jim O'Connell's letter about Joe Brolly's article (' GAA was our language') suggests there is a GAA in the North and another in the South. Have I missed something from the last Congress?
Belfast, Co Antrim
Health insurance down to priorities
Sir - There has been a lot of debate recently about public versus private hospitals. Surely it is a matter of choice of how you spend your money.
Take families with a disposable income of €5,000. Family A spends it all on drink, cigarettes and weekends away, cannot afford health insurance and complains about public health service. Family B spends €2,000 on private health insurance. It is a question of priority.
Santry, Dublin 9
Our lockdown spells an economic disaster
Sir — I usually avoid Eoghan Harris (beware of the zeal of the convert); however, it breaks my heart to say I agree with his recent musings on the lockdown and its financial consequences.
As a 77-year-old myself, with underlying health issues (four times in hospital during the past seven months), I view the virus as just another health hazard to be added to all the others which can afflict us oldies.
I certainly don’t want to acquire it and have no wish to die today or tomorrow, but to put the country into economic paralysis simply to save a few ould fellas like myself, is totally disproportionate.
After all, 30,000 people die here every year, most of them elderly. Most years we see 1,000-plus victims of the winter flu. Are they less important than Covid-19 victims?
I had no problem with the Government’s initial restrictions. It was a new phenomenon and they did what they thought was best at the time.
However, we now know more about the effects of the virus and we know better who is, and is not, mostly at risk. I read that WHO believes we shall just have to learn to live with it.
Renvyle, Co Galway
Green Party pushes for a vegan society
Sir — John Hourigan is to be congratulated for his letter on farming and climate change.
Irish livestock farmers are the whipping boys of the evangelists of the Green Party. Of course, our farming emission figures are bound to look high, relative to most other European countries.
For this, there is a very simple reason. Ireland has a large land mass devoted principally to grassland, relative to our population and no heavy industry, so farming emissions are bound to seem disproportionate.
For all that, much of the anti-livestock sentiment is driven more by a vegan agenda which is using climate change as a smokescreen for their ultimate and well-stated aim of making us a vegan society.
Kilmallock, Co Limerick
Right to raise Irish citizens’ concerns
Sir — I would like to clarify the situation regarding a reference to me and the HPV vaccine in an article by Gene Kerrigan in the Sunday Independent on May 3. I have always supported the HPV vaccine and I have said that publicly over the years and will continue to do so.
However, confusion arose when I raised the matter on behalf of constituents, who had concerns with the vaccine. My point, at the time, was that I had the right to raise citizens’ concerns — while not necessarily agreeing with their views. I defended that right publicly, which led to confusion on the issue.
People should always have the right to ask questions on all political, social and medical matters and they do this on occasion through their local political representative. I always welcome the fact that journalists like Gene Kerrigan hold politicians to account, but citizens also have that right.
Minister for Disabilities,
Griffith Avenue, Dublin 9
The joy of seeing my letter in print
Sir — I just sent a letter and it was all about Covid and my feelings about it.
But while wondering if it would be read, let alone printed, it occurred to me how challenging it would be to go through so many letters. What a grim task.
I wanted the buzz of seeing my letter in print, but the whiskey prize motivated me the most.
Stop pussyfooting please, lads
Sir — I am led to believe we might have a government sometime in June. If memory serves me right, we had an election in February.
So no great rush, lads. Take it handy. (I’m assuming it’s mostly lads doing the talking, hence the pussyfooting.)
Nothing to be worried about, as the country is flying. We currently have no great problems — so I look forward to our new government some time in June. Though it might as easily be July...
Whitegate, Co Cork
‘Buy Irish’ on the road to recovery
Sir — When eventually we begin to tiptoe back to normality, it will more than ever be so important for us to “Buy Irish”. With quiet determination, each one of us must play our part in the recovery of our country.
It may even be the most patriotic thing we ever do.
Drogheda, Co Meath
Add their names to the Memorial Wall
Sir — Instead of putting up names of the British Army, Black and Tans and the RIC on the Memorial Wall in Glasnevin, why not put up the names of all the people on the island who have passed away due to Covid-19? It would be the right thing to do and make proper use of the wall.
Swords, Co Dublin
Eoghan’s common sense badly needed
Sir — I was very sorry to hear of Eoghan Harris’s illness and I pray that he will make a full and complete recovery.
Few journalists have the understanding and insight of what is happening in Northern Ireland. He writes to inform, not to inflame, and does it with sensitivity, concern and compassion. He’s a credit to his profession.
Archbishop Oscar Romero once said: “Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.”
Thank you, Eoghan, and may you be long spared to inject the rarest of all qualities into the complexities of our situation — “sanctified common sense”.
The Very Rev John FA Bond,
Broughshane, Co Antrim
Now, let us talk about Bono
Sir — With the entire nation gripped by the same issue lately — Bono’s birthday — I rushed to Life magazine for a sense of where we are at, as a people.
I wasn’t disappointed.
In Life, a journalist wrote: “Then I moved to Ireland and my feelings became complicated. Living here demanded I develop the same difficult relationship with Bono as everyone else had…”
It jolted me, reminded me of our obligations regarding Bono. Urgently, I set up a Zoom conference with some local farmers. Mick (top right) was holding the Farmers Journal in one hand, a calculator in the other. He muttered something about seeking out cattle prices.
There was a bit of small talk then, as ever, we got on to the subject of ageing rockers and our relationship with them. I looked them all straight(ish) in the eye. I acknowledged Covid, the closed pubs, the dwindling incomes. But I told them the intelligentsia needed to know.
“Lads, have ye all developed a relationship — difficult or otherwise — with Bono?”
Silence. Then Mick, still perusing the Farmers Journal, tipped his glasses up towards his forehead, which was quite arts-y, in fairness.
“Paul, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” he said.
I relaxed. I knew what he meant, on so many levels. In that moment, I just knew that everything was going to be all right.
Newtown, Co Roscommon