Pension money stolen in shop
Sir - Last weekend, when I went to the checkout at a supermarket in Rathmines, Dublin 6, to pay for my shopping, I discovered my purse was missing. I nearly fainted, as I had just withdrawn €500 of my pension money to pay my monthly bills.
I will be 85 years old in August. And even though I have had mobility problems since birth, it didn't stop me working hard for 55 years. I get a State pension of €257.30 a week, and from that, I have to pay my ESB and telephone accounts, and buy groceries.
Even though it was hard, I paid the water charges, too. When I realised what had happened, I cried. I couldn't help it. I felt so bad. I have absolutely no family to help me out.
The people in the shop were very kind. One of the managers checked the video from the CCTV cameras and saw that a young woman in her 20s had grabbed my purse when I was reaching for the yoghurt.
I think it's disgusting that a young woman would steal from someone my age, who is clearly disabled - I walk very badly and need a stick. I have never taken anything from anyone that I hadn't worked for.
I had a heart operation 12 years ago. It's lucky I didn't have another heart attack when this happened. I am so disappointed and depressed that someone could do this to me. It makes me want to cry and I have found it very hard to sleep ever since this happened.
Name and address with Editor
Sir - I opened the Sunday Independent (April 30) to read the following: "A book aimed at children up to five years of age, which tells the story of a transgender teddy bear transitioning from male to female, has gone on sale in Irish bookshops."
Where is this all leading to? And - just a thought - in this great age of political correctness and balanced debate, should they not now produce a companion book about a teddy bear who transitions from female to male?
After all, fair is fair?
Sir - Joe Kennedy's article (Sunday Independent, April 30) on the buzzard, our largest common bird of prey, highlights the positivity of nature conservation.
It was disheartening to read that, despite its relatively non-threatening demeanour, the bird was almost hunted to extinction in Ireland. Now, the only persecution it seems to endure is from angry crows which attack it as it glides - and, yes, it is quite a glider show-off.
A treasured sight for nature-lovers with its loud mewing call, it's the nearest thing here to the iconic Andean Condor. Thanks for highlighting this wonderful bird, Joe.
Sir - Eilis O'Hanlon's piece 'Young Rebels Without a Clue' (Living, Sunday Independent, April 30) reveals that a recent survey found more than half of 18- to 34-year-olds would join an uprising. But she glibly states that this would never happen, as young people are so engrossed in social media and therefore couldn't be bothered.
It is dangerous to assume that this will always be the case. These young people are really getting a bad deal.
They spend years at school, studying subjects that have become increasingly difficult, then use up their best years seeking qualifications that may not provide them with a job at all. Many are on zero-hour contracts, with high rents and low wages, and if that continues, they will be chronically poor.
Because they grew up in good times and expected better, they will become very angry and bitter. And the social media that Ms O'Hanlon scoffs at could well be used to organise a revolt. It is only a question of time.
Swinford, Co Mayo
Nuns and situation that will never arise
Sir - When Eoghan Harris and Gene Kerrigan write about their favourite subjects - the cult of Sinn Fein/IRA and our political and economic mess respectively - they are at the top of their profession.
On reading their pieces last week (Sunday Independent, April 30), it is sad when two highly intelligent, well-informed, articulate, incisive journalists display such strong feelings about a situation that will never arise. The poor old nuns don't want a maternity hospital; they simply own the land and automatically own the hospital. If the site is tied-up as security for loans all they can do is sign an agreement to donate, lease long-term or sell when loans are cleared.
As for their behaviour in earlier times. What much has changed? Who presided over the delivery of children by the symphysiotomy procedure and delivered brain-damaged and stillborn children, and in some cases mothers died of neglect? Will we hold the new, aggressive secular liberal religion responsible?
Rights of women and of babies
Sir - At least Dr Ciara Kelly (Living, Sunday Independent, April 30) is honest in admitting to supporting bringing Ireland "into line with the western world" regarding abortion, which is allowing abortion for any reason, or as she said "the woman's own personal reasons".
Many supporting abortion try to garner support by claiming it can be restricted, but it is evident that this does not happen in practice.
Regarding abortion being a "health issue, not a moral one", I suggest that it is a human rights issue. Without the right to life, no other right can apply. In this debate the life of the baby is rarely mentioned, and the fact that abortion is the deliberate killing of the baby. Dr Kelly refers to the "embryo" but considers abortion should be available without a time limit, and unless the embryo is destroyed through abortion a baby will be born.
It is a rather sweeping statement to imply that men "have no concept, no comprehension, of what a crisis pregnancy means for a woman" when many fathers of such babies are left devastated when the woman decides to have an abortion. What about the privilege of motherhood? What about all the care and assistance offered to women with crises pregnancies, especially by those involved in pro-life? It is certainly not the compassionate solution to have the baby killed, and I wonder if Dr Kelly has met many women who have had abortions and cannot get over their grief.
Dr Kelly states that "if you care about women's lives" you have to welcome the Citizens' Assembly's recommendation for unlimited abortion. In considering women's lives, it has to be pointed out that more girls are aborted than boys, and in many countries there has been no condemnation of this practice.
It is time that facts were accepted and true compassion shown for both mother and baby, as provided in the Eighth Amendment.
Mary Stewart (Mrs),
Custodians for the common good
Sir - Sisters, stand your ground. The Sisters of Charity, who own the St Vincent's Healthcare Trust, must not compromise on their Catholic ethos in the proposed new building of the national maternity hospital on their land.
Some journalists and medics have suggested that the sisters sell or lease the land, or, worse still, that a compulsory possession order be made to solve the dilemma.
Now if the sisters sell/lease the land they would be compromising on their Catholic ethos, ie knowing that some medical procedures contrary to their ethos would be taking place on their former land.
Some years ago, I left midwifery in the UK as procedures were taking place on the maternity unit contrary to Catholic doctrine.
Despite the past failings of some sisters, they are still the best custodians of their land for the common good. How many State-funded organisations are squeaky clean?
Those who are now bashing the sisters may not be in powerful positions today only for the education, and healthcare provided by the sisters in the past.
Well done to Bishop Doran again for defending the Catholic ethos. We need to hear from his brother bishops and priests.
Greatest threat to our democracy
Sir - Amid all the guff about border polls and a united Ireland, it was great to read Eilis O'Hanlon (Sunday Independent, April 30 ) once more bringing rationality to matters pertaining to Northern Ireland.
I have lived in this Republic for more than 70 years and the greatest threat in my lifetime to our freedom and democracy came from the IRA.
Leaving aside the fact that unionists have no desire to join us, why would we, in the South, want to enjoin with Northern nationalists who vote in the majority for the so-called "republican movement" which was committed to undermining our democracy? What nation state in the world would want to embrace people who support those who tried to subvert their freedom?
Diplomatic service and US policy
Sir - Your article (Sunday Independent, April 23) stated that the wartime American ambassador David Gray told JFK that Dev was a "lunatic" and a "paranoiac", although "sincere".
The irony is that the issue also included an article (albeit about a completely different subject) by T Ryle Dwyer, the man who literally wrote the book on Dev and wartime 'neutrality', Behind the Green Curtain.
In it, he reveals, in particular, how after the Americans entered the war the Irish diplomatic service effectively became a branch of the OSS (which later became the CIA).
Dev obviously hid this fact from the ambassador himself and indeed, it seems, right up to this day from your own staff. Whatever about Dev's mental state, he was damned good at keeping a secret.
Splendid part of our tradition
Sir - A Sunday rant is as much a part of our tradition as giving out about the weather.
The week often starts well, a promise of a rise in temperatures, then there's a news report on the radio of skulduggery in the Dail; nothing new there, nothing to get worked up about.
By midweek it's still damp and cold, newspaper articles of more bonuses to Irish Water, or another tribunal finally ending but offering nothing conclusive in its report has cranked up the blood pressure a notch or two.
Sunday morning, gloomy and overcast, the morning papers are the tipping point. It may often be nothing, some innocuous article mid-way through the paper, but it's the last straw. The relief valve can hold back no longer, the pressure is too great, it has to let go! This bloody country... and so it goes. A repeat of the previous Sunday's rant with no more than a few new characters thrown into the mix.
Yet, what few of us are willing to acknowledge is that this is good. We feel so much better for it. All the week's disappointments can be corralled into one great, big ball of frustration and spat out on a Sunday morning. We can purge ourselves and be ready to face another week, and hope in vain that the weather will be better and the politicians will lie to us a little less!
Transcending game that he adorned
Sir - Before the throw-in for this year's National League final between old adversaries Kerry and Dublin, an announcement wished Colm Cooper the best of luck on his retirement from inter-county football. Even the 'Ranks of Tuscany' on Hill 16 'could scarce forbear to cheer'. In fact the salutations from that quarter were prolonged. Why?
They may have been relieved that 'the Gooch' would no longer be around to torment them with his wizardry, but the more likely reason was that they were simply acknowledging one of the finest footballers ever to grace the Croke Park sod.
Colm Cooper, like Brian O'Driscoll, transcended the game he adorned and his innate humility, which one associates with Kerry people, endeared him to the public at large. If some author was to write a sequel to the late Raymond Smith's book The Football Immortals, Gooch would feature in the Pantheon of the greats.
As the late, great Con Houlihan would say, 'he's up there'.
Turning coursing fields back to crops
Sir - I applaud the proposed sale of Harold's Cross Greyhound racing track for the building of much-needed schools. I suggest it be followed up with the sale of the country's coursing fields. Most of these are used only for one or two days annually for so-called "sporting" purposes and lie idle for the remainder of the year. Some of the fields could serve for building; others for crops or grazing.
What a welcome change that would make from serving as venues for public exhibitions of animal cruelty. It might be a bit eerie or discomforting for some people, naturally, to live in a house built on ground formerly associated with man's gross inhumanity to his fellow creatures, but in time they'd get over it.
Land is precious and it's crazy to let so much of it go to waste just to prop up a vile blood sport like hare coursing.
Peacekeepers and the drones
Sir - Criticism of the decision by the Irish Defence Forces to buy sophisticated electronic and intelligence gathering equipment from Israel is not just "facetious nonsense" as described by former soldier Declan Power.(Sunday Independent, April 30).
From a military perspective, an important use for these drones will be monitoring both sides across ceasefire lines or border areas in UN peacekeeping missions in areas such as Lebanon and the Syrian Golan Heights, where Israeli forces are involved in frequent violations of sovereign territories. In such situations, it is vital that the forces being observed do not have access to the design and electronic components of such drone equipment.
Given that almost 500 Irish soldiers are serving in Lebanon and the Golan Heights, it is most unwise to purchase such equipment from Israel, when similar equipment is available from other sources.
Price alone should not be the deciding factor when the lives of Irish peacekeepers may be at stake. The Israeli price might have reflected the advantages that Israeli intelligence services might get from such a sale. These drones do not in my view provide the "greatest possible force protection" to Irish troops. Irish soldiers have been killed and injured in the past by military actions by Israeli forces and its militia allies. It is likely that the Israeli forces would be able to disable or counter these drones if they were used to spy on Israeli forces.
Declan Power's statements that "the people who make those kinds of statements demonstrate their lack of knowledge about such matters. They are hugely politicised and know nothing about operational reality" are at best inappropriate and inaccurate. His question, "are we supposed to down tools because some group of political extremists and malcontents have an issue with that?", is particularly inappropriate.
Edward Horgan, Commandant (retired),