Other nations can show Ireland the way on flood defence
We hope 2016 will see the Office of Public Works (OPW) swiftly implementing plans to stop or lessen the impact of river floods like those this winter, which caused hundreds to leave their homes and saw some areas that had never been flooded before being submerged.
Fermoy and Mallow have two flood defences each and one more for each town is under construction. Clonmel's flood defences worked well, but Bandon was flooded twice in December and is in urgent need of any defences, like Midleton and Glanmire. Cork city will have to wait some years more.
The OPW surveyed nearly all areas in the country at flood risk.
There have been worst floods in the Northern Hemisphere, such as the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, when the river flowed at a peak of 2 million cubic feet per second, leaving half a million people homeless.
They had a flood in 1993 with about 1 million cubic feet per second. Compare this with here, when up to 500 cubic metres (17,657 cubic feet) per second were released on the River Shannon's Parteen weir after days of rains in December.
The year 2011 saw another major Mississippi flood caused by storms and spring snow melt in some states. Over the decades, US army engineers built higher levees, pump stations, flood gates and flood walls, costing billions of dollars, along parts of the 2,320-mile-long river, which is seen as the artery of the United States.
After the 2011 flood, however, the US authorities consulted experts outside their country for more ideas.
Perhaps, with their successes and mistakes in this area, the US army engineers can be consulted on our flood defences.
The Netherlands have had serious river floods over the years which caused the authorities to move people from their homes in areas regarded as indefensible from floods to live on higher ground - a process funded by the government.
For me, the photo of this winter's floods was the one of the black and white working dog Murphy as he swam through a flood, leading his owner.
And, finally, great work by the Scouting Ireland groups in Bandon and Glanmire providing hot drinks and food during the floods.
Bad planning caused flood chaos
I have the greatest sympathy for those people affected by the recent flooding. However, the insurance companies should not be compelled to insure these properties. As one of their representatives pointed out, they insure against risk, not against certainty - also, it would be most unfair to impose a levy on all those others insured.
Surely the answer is for the Government or for a group of those affected to sue their local councillors or planners, who gave planning permission to build on known flood plains? One councillor's quoted answer to the problem was to "build the houses on stilts". And yet we continue to vote for these types!
Also culpable are those builders and developers who built in these areas.
I also feel the banks who gave out mortgages on these properties should bear part of the responsibility. Banks always insist on a surveyor's report before offering a mortgage, were they not aware of the problem?
Templeogue, Dublin 6W
Fear of Catholic hierarchy
David Quinn is correct that "fear of sparking anti-Catholicism and anti-clericalism did not prevent a thorough investigation of clerical sex abuse scandals and their causes." (Irish Independent, January 15).
Rather, it was fear of the influence of the Catholic hierarchy that prevented such investigations for generations.
Dr John Doherty
Gaoth Dobhair, Co Dhún na nGall
1916 Rising's child victims
Ivan Yates suggests that "The centenary commemorations should encompass respectful remembrance of all deaths, including the 40 innocent children." (Irish Independent, January 14).
Certainly, they should, though it is striking that there are many memorials erected across Ireland which are dedicated to the 1916 Rising, but to my knowledge there is none to remember the 40 children (aged between two and 16) that were killed during the fighting.
Since most of these children were from poor, working-class backgrounds, they were soon forgotten.
Thanks to meticulous research in recent times, we now know their names and something of their circumstances.
This year, we have a timely opportunity in which to acknowledge those short young lives.
While it is inevitable that political parties will prioritise their efforts on the pomp and ceremony that is likely to accompany the commemorations, it would be heartening if a few would promote the erection of a prominent memorial for these victims, who had remained anonymous for far too long.
Dunleer, Co Louth
Elaine Howley is right to raise the alarm about the difficulties experienced by disabled people (Irish Independent, January 13).
The rights of people with learning and physical disabilities have long been recognised. However, in practice these inalienable rights are violated in countries that often pride themselves on being tolerant, fair, open and accessible to all.
Inequality remains an insurmountable obstacle in our societies, which is usually compounded by many forms of hidden racism, discrimination and bias, depriving societies of their cognitive assets and as a consequence preventing them from achieving their full potential.
I have seen clinics, schools, colleges, arts and community centres and physiotherapy centres, where the physical structures had not been built to accommodate disabled people's needs.
As Mahatma Gandhi put it, "without action, we are not going anywhere", and so it is time to champion the cause of disabled people, the elderly and the marginalised, challenging inequality and shaking the world in a gentle way.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London NW2, United Kingdom