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Online exclusion: when the customer does not come first

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The policies of government departments and services often discriminate against the elderly

The policies of government departments and services often discriminate against the elderly

Sundy INdo rout

Sundy INdo rout

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The policies of government departments and services often discriminate against the elderly

Sir — I’ve just read the article by Liam Collins (‘Customer disservice’) in last week’s Sunday Independent, and I must say it reflects the frustration, upset and anger of those older individuals who are not as tech-aware as are the younger generation.

Last Monday, I received my car insurance renewal notice and it had gone up 100pc, so I tried to phone for a better deal.

Between Monday and Wednesday, I must have interacted with nearly two dozen machines and just one human. I abandoned my efforts, but I will start again tomorrow.

I accept technological advancement is wonderful, but it makes no allowance for a significant element of the population who have little or no access to it.

So, to Liam Collins I say well done — and I hope you continue to highlight how damn impersonal society has become, to the detriment of many people.

Tom Butler, Stillorgan, Co Dublin

Some clue as to who might be next Tory leader

Sir — As any conspiracy theorist worth their salt could tell you, being invited to rub shoulders at the annual Bilderberg meeting can often be a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

One has only to think of Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Emmanuel Macron, to name but a few past attendees.

Therefore, it’s interesting to note that at its most recent meeting, at the beginning of last month in Washington, UK Conservative Party notables Tom Tugendhat and Michael Gove were among the attendees.

You never know, they might be worth a flutter to become next UK prime minister.

John Finegan, Bailieborough, Co Cavan

Boris’s clownfall was all too predictable

Sir — When I reflect on Boris Johnson’s time as UK prime minister, I am reminded of the Turkish proverb: “When a clown moves into a palace, he doesn’t become a king. The palace becomes a circus.”

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John O Brien, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Would Corbyn have been any better?

Sir — By making Jeremy Corbyn its leader, the British Labour Party must bear some responsibility for Boris Johnson becoming prime minister and the cavalier style of leadership that resulted from this landslide general election victory.

Disastrous as Johnson was, Corbyn would probably have been worse — a sad reflection on the state of British politics.

Chris Fitzpatrick, Terenure, Dublin 6

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Boris Johnson gives his resignation speech last week

Boris Johnson gives his resignation speech last week

Boris Johnson gives his resignation speech last week

Micheál no match for cunning Johnson

Sir — I think the reason Micheál Martin is so glad to see the back of Boris is the latter is a real and skilful politician. An Taoiseach is in the ha’penny place in terms of achievement at home — and he was never a match for Boris Johnson.

Robert Sullivan, Bantry, Co Cork

Let’s remember Kevin O’Higgins

Sir — On this Sunday morning in 1927, Justice Minister Kevin O’Higgins kissed his wife and children goodbye before the short walk to mass in Booterstown, Dublin. Within minutes, the deputy leader of our first government lay dying, having been ambushed and shot by three IRA men in revenge for Civil War executions.

In response, the Cosgrave government passed legislation requiring all TDs to take their seats, as Fianna Fáil were abstentionist. Before then, de Valera faced a dilemma between taking the oath of allegiance or adhering to republican ideals.

With this new legislation, the oath became an “empty formula” and Fianna Fáil entered the Dáil.

Making this new young state a normal parliamentary democracy is an extraordinary legacy for O’Higgins, who was only 35 when he paid with his life.

As he lay on the roadside, he said: “I am dying at peace with my enemies. I go to join Michael Collins.”

I remember in 1987, on the 60th anniversary of his assassination, his children arranged a mass in Booterstown — in memory not only of their father, Kevin, but of his killers.

Councillor David McManus, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14

What happened to the boys and girls?

Sir — In response to my letter on the Clifden Orphanage burning in 1922, Martin Mansergh last week observed it would be difficult to think of circumstances justifying burning the Irish Church Missions (ICM) Ballyconree Orphanage in 1922.

I hope he agrees I did not provide any. I revealed an admission by orphanage master Charles Purkiss that espionage on behalf of crown forces resulted in republicans seeking, “two senior patrol leaders”. We do not know when or if that activity stopped.

Mr Mansergh observed that “retaliation for extinct mid-19th century evangelical proselytism is also a weak justification”. So weak that no one uttered it.

It may be that such notions justified the institution endangering the safety of inhabitants through active involvement in a military conflict. A belief that orphanage boys were part of an “English family”, obliged to be loyal to king and empire, is indicative of the ICM’s association of religion with nationality.

Returning to Ballyconree, we do not know what happened to 12 of the 33 boys removed from Ireland in 1922, and nothing about any of the 23 girls removed from another ICM orphanage. The last trace I found was from 1923. The Archbishop of Canterbury wanted “more information as to the legal position of the children and as to the duty of the government”. This warrants further research.

At that time, Barnardo’s shared the ICM ethos and sent thousands of unaccompanied children to Australia. It might put some effort into it.

Niall Meehan, Cabra, Dublin 7

Schools need a lesson in teaching gender

Sir — I support delivering education free from religious influence. I think faith formation is private and should take place outside the school day.

For this reason, I campaigned for the Educate Together body to be awarded patronage of new schools in my locality.

But I now find myself disturbed by Educate Together’s adoption of gender identity ideology — up to and including socially transitioning children in primary school and describing lesbians as “non-men attracted to other non-men”.

The resources being used in my children’s Educate Together school say gender identity is a fact, but it is not — it is a belief, one that neither I nor my children hold.

I asked the school that the resources used to teach gender identity ideology in my children’sthe school be contextualised — to state that “some people believe they have a gender identity” — but the resources remain unchanged.

They state: “We all have a gender identity. Gender identity is how we think of ourselves as a boy, girl, neither or both.”

I have been given the option to remove my children from the SPHE classes during which gender identity is being taught. This is no different to my being told I could remove my children from religious instruction in the local Catholic school — and that’s what I wanted to avoid when deciding on an Educate Together school.

Children should not be “othered” for not holding a belief.

The Department of Education must address how and why gender identity is being taught in schools. They could also ask why children with autism, traumatic childhood experiences and mental health co-morbidities are over-represented in the numbers presenting as gender confused.

Sex is real; gender identity is a belief. Children must be taught that there is a difference between the two.

Sandra Adams, Baldoyle, Dublin 13

More like a passport to an early grave

Sir — My journey for passport renewal began in May when I discovered my current passport goes out of date in September.

At the GPO, the lady behind the counter told me to go online. I told her I lived on my own and only had a clothes line.

She gave me a passport application form, which I took home and filled in. Eventually, I went to Store Street garda station and asked for my form to be signed and stamped. I was told to go to Coolock garda station. As I was out of breath, the garda relented and signed and stamped it.

I went for passport photos in Abbey Street, which I got. I asked the woman there if she knew where the Passport Office was, and she said Mount Street. So I got the No 7 bus there.

When I got to the Passport Office, the receptionist said I had to make an appointment, but I could always go to the GPO. I went back to the GPO and handed in my form, only to be told I needed to get my photos signed by the garda in Store Street.

I was fit only for the departure lounge in Beaumont Hospital. I went home with my forms to rest my case and my body.

Christy Mulligan, Coolock, Dublin 5

Brass neck Brolly should just shut up

Sir — Joe Brolly (in ‘Armagh’s Rotten Culture’, July 3) has some neck. This is written by a man who, on several occasions in this paper, has treated us to stories about a club and county colleague punching people and what a great man he was.

If memory serves me right, he even made fun of the time a recipient was knocked out.

On the following page, Colm O’Rourke glosses over the antics of the Meath team of the Nineties as “a team who were not known for being too delicate”.

Mickey McMullan, Omagh, Co Tyrone

Tennis smashed off court by developers

Sir — In recent articles on your paper’s sport pages, questions were asked as to whether Ireland can ever produce a world-class tennis player.

Until we revive derelict courts all over this country and replace those built on or used for other purposes, we lack the facilities to nurture raw talent.

In Cork city, the wipe-out of so many courts has been seriously disappointing. The Tennis Village was knocked for apartments; courts at UCC and MTU were built on or used for parking; Highfield courts, more car-parking; The Mardyke courts, also built on; Collins and Harlequins, also gone.

The surviving clubs can be expensive for juniors or are over-subscribed.

That great game of handball suffered a similar fate, with alleys in many small villages and towns strangled by ivy and left to crumble. Where ball-alleys survived, we have been able to produce world-class players, such as in Mallow.

People enjoy watching on TV, yet how many have been denied the opportunity to play?

Eileen Caplice, Dromore, Mallow, Co Cork

We need our own oil and gas for security

Sir — Colm McCarthy (Opinion, July 3) is quite right to say Eamon Ryan’s policy is to keep his fingers crossed with regard to Ireland’s energy security.

The huge quantities of oil and gas off the Cork coast would last us some time, if only the minister would give the operational licence for the Irish firm that already has permits to develop the field. He just needs to authorise its opening and testing.

If the war in Europe continues, we will need an alternative fuel supply before we can become carbon neutral.

Joe Standen, Bantry, Co Cork

Sweetman insults anti-abortionists

Sir — Overturning Roe v Wade in America has made abortion a topical issue. Reading Rosita Sweetman’s article (Opinion, July 3), one contentious paragraph grabbed my attention: “Terrifyingly, abortion is now one of the central glues binding extreme evangelicalism, white supremacy, monogamy, anti-semitism and proto-fascism.”

While Ms Sweetman may be presenting one side of the abortion debate, it is insulting to insinuate a link between extremism and those who choose to disagree with her stance. Neither do I subscribe to the assumption anti-abortionists are all gun rights advocates and proteges of Donald Trump.

Her rhetoric denigrates those sharing an opposing perspective. Generalising and labelling them as diehards and fanatics is more than disproportionate, it’s extreme.

D Walshe, Sutton, Dublin 13

Offaly lads robbed by poor refereeing

Sir — Poor standards of refereeing in GAA matches in recent times have been causing unnecessary annoyance and frustration for players and supporters.

The situation plummeted to a new low in last Sunday’s All-Ireland minor hurling final when the young lads of Offaly were cruelly denied the victory merited by their performance.

A couple of decisions were difficult to understand and allowed Tipperary, who were the second-best team on the day, to claim the title. Young players often sacrifice much of their outside life for their team, and they deserve better.

Liam Wilson, Waterford city

O’Hanlon joins the dots in trans debate

Sir — I write in response to the letter of July 3 by Susan Lanigan, in which she refers to the views expressed by your columnist Eilis O’Hanlon as “transphobic bilge” and “vomit”.

O’Hanlon is brave enough to join the dots, and that’s why she elicits such sound and fury and such flak. Ditto The Countess.ie, the group I set up in 2020 to advocate for women and children.

Under the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), filling out a form and making a solemn declaration (whatever that means) is enough to change one’s sex to one’s “preferred sex...for all purposes”.

There are no criteria and no gatekeeping. Sexual offenders can acquire them as a matter of course — or, as senator Regina Doherty memorably described it last month before the Scottish GRA committee as “part of their journey”.

Seven years on, the unintended consequences of this central fiction are being felt across society via a slew of policies that enforce this ideology. According to materials endorsed by INTO, schoolchildren are to be taught as fact that a boy can become a girl.

We campaigned successfully against the replacement of single-sex toilets with mixed-sex toilets in secondary schools by providing template letters that reminded parents of their robust rights under the Education Act 1998.

Our campaign and video, These Words Belong to Us, forced a rethink on the planned removal of the word “woman” from maternity legislation.

The conversation we have facilitated for the past two years is not about trans rights. It is about the dismantling of the category of woman, of sex, and how that impacts equality legislation. It is about the erosion of rights, language, safeguarding and the indoctrination of children.

Fuzzy terms like “inclusivity” mask a radical re-ordering of society that is taking place without any consultation or consent.

Laoise de Brun, founder of The Countess Didn’t Fight For This, via email


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