* As I sat watching the news yesterday evening, I couldn't help but wonder what kind of Europe we have been left with.
In Kiev, 'protesters', with their faces covered by balaclavas, draped in the EU flag and armed with bricks, Molotov cocktails and other weapons, were attempting to overthrow a democratically elected government.
In the same news package it was reported that the EU – which supports these 'protesters' – is to consider sanctions against the Ukrainian government. Jose Manuel Barroso said: "There are no circumstances that can legitimise or justify such scenes."
Where, I wonder, were the sanctions for the governments of Spain and Greece when they deployed their respective police forces against relatively peaceful workers that had the audacity to march against the financial upheaval being foisted upon them by EU crisis-management policies? Where was the "shock and utter dismay" from the EU?
Yet in Kiev, there are people wearing balaclavas and throwing petrol bombs – people that in other circumstances would be classed by some as terrorists – and they appear to be enjoying the support of the EU. Perhaps the EU sees them as a means to an end – of bringing Ukraine into the European fold.
CRUMLIN, DUBLIN 12
ROASTING FOR SPUDS
* I read with interest the article in Wednesday's Irish Independent about the decline in the consumption of potatoes and how people are eating more rice and pasta.
Faced with the poor quality and price of potatoes currently, is it any wonder that busy families are opting for faster, cheaper-quality carbos?
In the past couple of years, the quality of potatoes has dropped and the price has increased. Which would you like to do – open a bag of pasta and pop it on the stove or wade through a bag of potatoes to find enough good ones for a meal, then peel them and cut out the bad bits?
And I am talking about the washed product here. If you buy unwashed, be it on your own head, with muck and stones included.
If the IFA, Bord Bia and Teagasc are serious about promoting potatoes, they need to look at what is being produced and put on sale, rather than scratching their heads wondering why consumers are switching.
And price is an important factor. The price of potatoes is high and one would expect a correspondingly high quality of product.
So let's look at the real issue here.
ENFIELD, CO MEATH
STAY POSITIVE LIKE JESUS
* To my knowledge, the early Christians facing the daily threat of persecution and death wasted precious little time complaining or criticising the pagans. God knows they had every right to. They were positive in their undying faith.
It is discouraging nowadays to find the Catholic media constantly harping on about those who disagree with us. For example, why waste time and space complaining about the United Nations? Would it not be better to show the world an example of Christian magnanimity; take the good part of the UN statement for what it's worth and use it to help us tidy up our own house?
Accentuate the positive; forgive, show good example, like Christ on the cross.
ADDRESS WITH EDITOR
PLAYING THE VICTIMS
* Once again we have the usual furore relating to the supposed ban (as it is portrayed in some quarters) on gay persons participating in the New York St Patrick's Day parade.
It needs to be emphasised that there is absolutely no ban on anyone taking part in the parade because of their sexual orientation per se. The ban is on carrying banners, which is a different matter altogether.
Given that there are other occasions, such as Gay Pride parades, when gay organisations can proclaim their sexual orientation and carry banners to that effect, why do they insist on wanting to use another event for a purpose for which it's not intended, ie as a sort of sexual orientation identity parade?
Would it not be deemed utterly ridiculous if heterosexuals in the NY parade were to carry banners proclaiming their sexual orientation?
Besides, America being America, if the organisers of the NY parade were to concede to one group in this matter (carrying banners proclaiming their orientation or whatever), how many other groups would demand similar rights?
Lastly, if the mayor of New York (or Boston or anywhere else) decides to boycott the parade, that's his choice.
ATHBOY, CO MEATH
* Patrick Neary (Letters, February 20) believes that "work is dead" thanks to modern technology. There may be some merit in his argument but since the dawn of the industrial revolution, the same assertion has been put forward, yet the sky hasn't fallen in.
Back then people quickly moved from an agrarian society to an industrial one. Increased mechanisation did not result in a reduction in employment but due to labour laws being weighted in favour of industrialists, those driven to seek employment in manufacturing were often forced to live as paupers.
Thankfully, in most western countries that is not the case today. It has been over 200 years since the industrial revolution, yet humans through their ingenuity and imagination keep finding ways to create employment through new enterprises.
The cyclical nature of modern economies means we will encounter low points such as the one we are currently enduring. That too will be overcome by dint of hard work and the human will to succeed.
PAUGHANSTOWN, DUNLEER, CO LOUTH
DON'T APPLAUD VIOLENCE
* At the present time, elderly men can be seen on television breaking rocks and elderly women filling glass bottles with petrol in the city of Kiev, to be thrown at their own sons – the police – all in the name of democracy.
This conduct appears to be lauded by the leading political heads in the West!
ENNIS, CO CLARE
GIVE ABSTINENCE A TRY
* With regards to Colette Browne's article (Irish Independent, February 19) concerning the so-called inability of Irish youth to consider any reining in of their sexual liaisons, it may be useful to paraphrase the wisdom of the late, great GK Chesterton: "Abstinence has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried!"
FR JOHN MCCALLION
COALISLAND, CO TYRONE
* I have noticed the term 'begrudger' being bandied around quite frequently when describing the typical Irish person, especially in the context of the payment of massive salaries. I think it is an unfair and lazy insult mainly used by those (and there are many) of the 'I'm alright Jack' brigade.
Many of the so-called begrudgers are decent, hard-working (or unemployed through no fault of their own) ordinary people, who are smart enough to see that a huge amount of the high achievers and elite in this country have got to where they are through nepotism, political connections, corruption and cute hoorism. Are we supposed to applaud these people and accept gracefully that they are worth so much more than the rest of us mere plebs?
I have only respect for decent people who have done well for themselves through sheer endeavour and honesty and I firmly believe the vast majority of people feel the same.
ADDRESS WITH EDITOR