Plight of elderly over nursing home costs
Sir - Congratulations on publishing your front cover story and full-length feature (Sunday Independent, September 17) on extra charges levied by many nursing homes on ''Fair Deal'' (FD) residents.
I am the designated next of kin to a 90-year-old man whose sole income is the old age pension of €243 per week. He pays a FD contribution of €199 per week direct to the nursing home, leaving him €44 per week for out of pocket expenses.
The nursing home wants to charge him €35 per week for ''social programmes'' - which would leave him only €9 per week. Social activities are a basic part of minimum HIQA standards for nursing homes and should be covered by the Fair Deal.
Also, many elderly people are unable (physically or mentally) or unwilling to participate in internal or external social activities. HIQA standards suggest that such participation should be tailor-made to the specific ability/needs of residents in his/her Care Plan and should be voluntary, at the discretion of the resident.
Finally, any social programme charges, if legitimate, should be related to the actual social participation of residents and their ability to pay.
Hopefully, the above issues will be clarified and resolved at an early date, as part of the current review of the Fair Deal and the related charges.
(Name and address with editor)
Best ways to ease the housing crisis
Sir - The late Jim Kemmy of Limerick brought down a government for putting a tax on children's shoes. Jim Kemmy obeyed the law of jurisprudence, "thou shall not tax a necessity".
A house should be tax-free and affordable. A house should be constructed efficiently to minimise the cost. Economics is the art of the possible, not wishful thinking like putting into the constitution a person's right to a house. The biggest crisis in housing is that two persons working on average salaries cannot afford a decent house. There is a 40pc tax on houses and the price of a house is 50pc dearer than in other countries. Implement the Kenny Report - commissioned in 1973! - and this would reduce the price of land.
Next, regulation and specifications should be subject to cost/benefit analysis. Speed up planning permission and end corruption. Ireland's new policy of preventing price gouging by more regulation has failed in the past. It is deregulation and increased competition that reduced prices in air travel.
In the regulated economy of communist Russia, people starved and it was said that if the people could eat paper nobody would have starved.
Barrington Street, Limerick
Some do not wish to hear the truth
Sir - At 73, this is my first letter to any newspaper.
I just want to say that when Sean Brannigan wrote of his response to the murder of Tom Oliver in 1991, he spoke a truth that some do not wish to hear. (Sunday Independent letters, September 10).
I come from a predominantly republican family. My IRA uncle spoke only once to me of his involvement in the War of Independence and in the Civil War, saying merely that ''there was savagery on all sides''. I also know he was contemptuous of the modern ''struggle''.
Growing up, I marched for civil rights until I was embarrassed by the company I was keeping. I lived an ordinary life during the Troubles - Austin Currie, John Hume and many others spoke my thoughts more eloquently than I ever could.
My core political belief is that "liberty is too dearly purchased at the price of one drop of human blood" (to quote Daniel O'Connell).
Sean Brannigan's poignant lines stand as a powerful antidote to the humbug and hypocrisy of cagey politicians. He has spoken for those of us who have felt the shame of our nation, but dared not speak. His poem will endure as will the poem by James Simmons on the bombing of Claudy village in 1972: ''And Christ, little Katherine Aiken is dead''.
In Sean's words: ''Clay rattles down on the coffin with a dull familiar drumming… the dull familiar drumming is the sound of a nation's shame.''
Maith thu, a Sheain!
Bessbrook, Co Armagh
Out of the frying pan, into the fire
Sir - Where were all the martyrs when George Hook needed them the most (Sunday Independent, September 17)?
I am, of course, referring to those people whose mantra for years has been: "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll die for your right to say it."
The events of the past two weeks have put that piece of self-deluded nonsense to rest. Hopefully, we won't have to listen to lofty, but ultimately empty, notions of grandeur from these people ever again.
In all the commotion, and the hysteria, of recent times, something really important has been missed. The day George Hook was pulled from Newstalk was the day free speech in this county officially died. Welcome to the new future: a future of group think. Well done us. We have jumped out of the intolerant and oppressive frying pan, and straight in to the even more intolerant, oppressive, and self-righteous fire.
Nenagh, Co Tipperary
Mob getting its claws into Hook
Sir - Has anyone any idea what day the mob are dragging George Hook from his home and family to be publicly flogged at the Spire on O'Connell Street?
A different view of Aung San Suu Kyi
Sir - It's shocking to see the ethnic cleansing that is taking place in Myanmar - and to see that country's leader Aung San Suu Kyi deny any wrongdoing is astounding.
Is this the same woman who was granted the Freedom of the City Of Dublin and who had so many of our politicians, pop stars and celebrities fawning over her?
She certainly took them for suckers.
Donaghmede, Dublin 13
A dose of reality from top writer
Sir - I just want to congratulate Eilis O'Hanlon for another top class article in last week's Sunday Independent. ("It doesn't require a 'British cop' to fix an Irish police problem").
Her articles are, without exception, witty, informative with original thinking and a dose of reality that many in this country could do with.
Can we not keep Yeats's letters?
Sir - We pride ourselves on the celebration of culture, but recent events have made me question whether this pride is misplaced.
I have been surprised and saddened by the fact that so few commentators have been exercised by the imminent auction of the Yeats family collection - an absolute treasure of paintings, sketches, furniture, personal effects and letters.
The State was given the opportunity to purchase the collection but now the individual lots will be sold in Sothebys of London on September 27.
Funding, of course is limited and as I write this I hear you screaming "housing crisis" and "dysfunctional health service" - but surely the Government could have acquired at least the 133 precious letters for less than €400,000?
In his poem September 1913, Yeats lambastes the ruling class of the day for its refusal to support Hugh Lane's proposal to establish a modern art gallery in Dublin. The poet was utterly disillusioned by the corporation's rejection of the plan and he lashes out at those who "fumble in a greasy till and add the halfpence to the pence", concluding that "Romantic Ireland is dead and gone". Sadly I believe his depressing refrain holds true in September 2017.
Stamullen, Co Meath
Where are all the women?
Sir - Is it time to call for more equal representative democracy in Ireland?
Last week, the last lone female representative on Carlow County Council resigned after a distinguished 13-year period.
The departure of Anne Ahern has created the situation that Carlow County Council is now uniquely the only county council in our democratic republic devoid of a female member!
This situation begs a number of questions.
First, should the practice of co-option to replace vacant county council seats continue?
Furthermore, does the current lack of female representation on Carlow County Council now reopen the argument for the need for a gender balanced candidate list system for political elections in Ireland?
Finally, how is it that in a county with 28,472 males and 28,403 females there are so few female political representatives elected to public political office - and currently none at local authority level?
Paul Horan, Asst Professor,
Trinity College Dublin
Well done, Dubs, but ref missed huge call
Sir - I would like, first of all, to congratulate Dublin on winning three successive All-Ireland Football Championship titles. It's a major achievement for them - but I would query the way they won it.
We have heard so much in the past week about the wrongs committed by both sides - but the most significant aspect of the final happened in the first half. It could have made for a different outcome - had the referee acted.
The replays have shown that a Dublin player tried to make contact with a Mayo player's eye, and before that he should have been booked for making a few body hits off the ball. I think Dublin should have been playing with 14 men for almost an hour.
It was the biggest call of the game - but the referee missed it.
Lecarrow, Co Mayo
Lady Luck smiled on boys in blue
Sir - People say hard work and desire to win are the key ingredients for success. Who possibly worked harder or wanted it more than Mayo?
Rosary beads worn to the bone, enough candles lit to illuminate New York and the support of past arch-rivals were not enough. Lady Luck didn't have red and green in her wardrobe, she seems to have eyes only for boys in blue.
Small margins are the foundations of luck. It is further made up of ifs, buts and maybes. A ball hitting the post, dropping left or right, or a wrong call by referees or umpires.
But in the words of Maya Angelou: "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." So keep creating, keep pushing, the fashion will change and the tide will turn towards the red and green.
Using the native tongue in school
Sir - And I thought I was the only one! A big thank you to Declan Lynch. Like him, during my 58 years as an 'Irishman', I have never encountered another soul who attempted to engage me in our so-called 'native tongue'. I feel safe now, that I'm not alone. My parents, with only a primary school education, managed to render me fluent in English, years before I started school, yet all those 'professional' Christian Brothers failed to give me a grasp of Irish in 12 odd years of schooling.
God knows they tried, I'm sure I have scars of leather straps and timber blackboard dusters which were regularly swung and flung in my direction.
As I watch my kids struggle with something they will never need, I still wonder. Why, after all these years of trying and failing to teach the language, can they not simply spend one hour, each day, speaking nothing but Irish in the class, forget about reading or writing, just simply teach them how to speak? There might be some hope then.
Russellstown, Co Kildare
Thanks for great memories, Jimmy
Sir - Having known Jimmy Magee for close on 50 years, I always found him a mind full of knowledge, not alone in sport, but in other subjects.
It was a pleasure to meet him - and his jovial smile and greeting would make your day.
At the start of our friendship, when I worked in the media, I mentioned to Jimmy that I was going to Croke Park on that coming Sunday. Jimmy took his jotter from his jacket pocket and with his pencil on a fresh page, told me how to keep an account of any game. "You start by dividing your page, by drawing a line down the centre of the page - home team on the left, away team on the right side of the page. Then taking a note of the time that events have happened and editing your notes at the end." A simple recommendation, but it was great advice.
Jimmy, by now I am sure you have located Con Houlihan up there - and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks it'd be fascinating to hear that conversation.
Clonskeagh, Dublin 14