Pope deserves warm welcome from us all
Sir - I disagree with Gordon Cunningham's scathing attack on the Pope's upcoming visit. (Letters, Sunday Independent, July 8). It's not often the Pope makes a trip to Ireland, so I think we should extend every courtesy to him.
He does, after all, represent millions of Catholics worldwide, including in Ireland, and his essential message is one of peace and love. He stands against corruption, oppression, social and economic inequality and has given important leadership in the global battle to save the environment. Even if Francis were a dyed-in-the-wool atheist with no interest whatsoever in religion I would admire this compassionate and inherently decent man who, following in the footsteps of St Francis, earnestly wishes to ease the suffering of the world and make it a better place for all of us - humans and other sentient beings.
So, yes, there should be a warm welcome for Pope Francis here in August, just as we ought to extend a cead mile failte to the Dalai Lama as spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists or to Queen Elizabeth as head of the Church of England if they decide to visit in that capacity.
While sceptical of teachings promulgated by the various organised religions, I wouldn't be as casually dismissive as Mr Cunningham of the belief or theory that the universe was created, or somehow brought into being, by an intelligent entity whose essential nature is beyond human understanding.
The theory that the universe came about completely by accident, is without purpose, and that life has no meaning at all is full of holes.
But is it not reasonable to keep an open mind on the true origin of the universe in the absence of a reliable explanation as to how it really begun?
Life after death? The materialists may scoff and yet there is no evidence to refute the belief, while millions of people down the ages have had experiences that strengthened their belief in survival of bodily death. Energy can't be destroyed, the scientists agree, so who's to say we humans, and other sentient creatures, don't go on living in a different form? That's apart altogether from the near-death experiences and alleged communications with the "dead" that we read and hear about almost daily. Are all mediums, past and present, mistaken or delusional? Is all the evidence of life after death to be dismissed or ignored?
I suggest we keep an open mind on these profound questions that have exercised the greatest minds for millennia.
Forget Big Bang, I believe in God
Sir - So another zealous atheist claims to have reason and logic on their side (Letters, Sunday Independent, July 8), while the rest of us are, basically, just nutters.
But wait a minute, aren't these the same people who believe that a Big Bang created the universe? To me, that's the most illogical thing I have ever heard in my entire life.
As for evolution, there's a slight problem with that theory, too. The problem, basically, is that it contravenes the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Unlike evolution, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is not a theory, it is a scientific law (like the Law of Gravity), and is thus irrevocable. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the universe (and everything in it) is in a constant state of dystrophy; that is a state of decay or decline.
If the Second Law of Thermodynamics really does apply (and it does), how was it possible for pond scum to transform itself into Albert Einstein in the space of just a few billion years, when, in fact, the opposite should have happened: the pond scum should have regressed into something even lower?
If the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution are the best mankind can come up with to explain away God, then it only convinces me that God really does exist.
Catholic faithful also pay their taxes
Sir - Gordon Cunningham ('Let Pope pay his own way', Letters, Sunday Independent, July 8) asks why Irish citizens should have to contribute funds to facilitate the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland.
They don't have to. The expected cost of the proposed Papal visit is estimated at €20m. A statement from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin indicated that €5m has already been raised through church collections and the remainder will come from fundraising and perhaps a Vatican contribution.
However, I believe a contribution from the Irish State, if realised, would be appropriate.
I regard it as churlish and mean-spirited to oppose some State financial assistance for a visit to Ireland by the spiritual leader of the worldwide Catholic Church especially as the Catholic faithful are voluntarily contributing generously to the cost of the visit.
It may be a surprise to Mr Cunningham but Catholics also pay taxes here.
I do not recall similar opposition, when Queen Elizabeth II, as a head of state and head of the Church of England, visited Ireland at costs in excess of €40m at a time when our coffers were depleted and the country was teetering on the brink of financial armageddon.
Now it seems that the leader of the Catholic Church should only be welcomed to Ireland provided the entire cost of the visit is met by contributions from the public and other voluntary donations. If any other religion or religious leader was targeted as the Catholic Church is being targeted in this instance there would be a public outcry.
There's nothing boring about buses
Sir - Dr Eoin O'Malley (Sunday Independent, July 8) made suggestions with regard to the Dublin bus system, with particular reference to the BusConnects plan.
As far as I can perceive, the greater Dublin bus system is based still on those routes established over a century ago by the Dublin United Tramways, and much of Dublin is unaddressed by BusConnects.
It isn't a secret that Ballsbridge is a very active part of the inner city. It is home to the RDS where many events take place annually, such as the world-famous Dublin Horse Show. Also, the area is home to many five-star hotels and a number of embassies. But if I arrive at either Connolly or Heuston railway stations, can I board a bus directly to Ballsbridge? No...
There's nothing 'boring' about buses. They are the most efficient vehicle for city transits; the road-space ratio of a double-decker bus versus a private car is hugely in favour of the bus. Not so the articulated bus with which Dublin had a failed flirtation.
Surveys undertaken in London show that bus passengers do not like changing from one route to another.
What needs to change is a comprehensive look at the Dublin bus system. Why is there no city-centre shuttle service (eg, Grafton Street, Connelly Street, Henry Street) operated by either all-electric or hybrid single-deckers, with a flat fare? Yes, I know many of the above-mentioned thoroughfares are pedestrianised, but in both the UK and mainland Europe, shuttle-bus services operate in such restricted areas, without accidents.
As I see it, the main problem facing bus operation in Dublin (and for that matter all of our major cities) is the private car.
It isn't scheduling that delays buses, but traffic congestion. And in today's major cities, what is the cause of traffic congestion? The private car.
Just look south from Heuston along the quays. Each side of the river is a huge parking lot, and then add in all of the squares, etc, etc.
Unless we tackle the problem of the private car and unrestricted delivery times of commercial vehicles, plus the relocating of the present markets, the Dublin bus system doesn't stand a chance.
It ain't rocket science. Ding, ding...?
The learning curve of life
Sir — Getting older need not be frightening for you have
encountered and made
Learning from them, you move on. With age comes a slowing down. Again not a bad thing, as most people seem to be like headless chickens, running around at 100kmh, and going nowhere. Now you think before you act. And having thought through whatever it is, you can say: “Damn it! Who cares?”
What people think about you becomes irrelevant. You haven’t the time to pamper to their egos.
Nature takes on a new perspective, as you realise that in spite of all the power-mad freaks on this earth, it is still a wonderful place. The dawn chorus of our feathered friends, as they sing their love song to the morning dew. The rising newborn sun each morning telling us we live another day. The flowers opening their buds to embrace Mother Nature, as she weaves her universal magic in our own Garden of Eden.
Dear friends, old and new. The beautiful memories of those who have been called to the other side. We all come in with nothing and, rich or poor, depart with nothing. To where — who knows? Just another journey on our karmic learning curve. We are only here for the ride, spiritual hitchhikers on a pilgrimage of transcendental consciousness.
Ennis, Co Clare
We all should pay for our water
Sir — Michael Gannon (Letters, Sunday Independent, July 8) blamed two named politicians for the ‘water mess’.
I am afraid the blame for the water mess goes much wider than that. In fact, the renewed coverage of the water supply issue highlights the hypocrisy with which this issue has been managed right back to the foundation of the State.
For nearly a century, the maintenance of water infrastructure has been underfunded so a very high percentage of water is lost through leakages.
When the country went bankrupt, water charges for urban areas were introduced in the budget of 2009. Rural areas have always paid for their water.
One political grouping, who if they had been in power this country would now be somewhere between Greece and Venezuela, took to the streets and protested loudly.
The political group, which
has been in power for around 70pc of the time since independence and who introduced charging for water in 2009, has joined them in opposing water charges.
Since most of the developed world has water services which are paid for by users, the present position in this country in which, up to the recent restrictions due to weather, people can waste water at will is indefensible.
To see the people who agitated to suspend water charges now complaining about water shortages is a sight to behold.
The people who live in Irish urban areas should pay for the usage of water the same as the people in Irish rural areas and the people in the rest of the developed world do.
Simple steps to staying afloat
Sir — It appears to me the long-term secure provision of water for Ireland can only come from storing the water from the annual floods and desalination of seawater.
A one-acre reservoir, one-metre deep filled from free floodwater holds more than four million litres which would go a long way to secure agricultural activities.
This is the time to build them.
Regarding desalination,the Middle Eastern countries can surely offer some good advice here. And thanks to the abolition of the water charges, it should be possible to raise the necessary finance for this from private investors.
North Circular Road,
Designated driver is the safe way forward
Sir — Under new drink-driving legislation, anybody convicted of driving with more than 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in her/his system now faces an automatic three-month driving ban. The blood alcohol limit for learner drivers and professional drivers is 20mg.
This legislation will further deter motorists from risking a drink-driving conviction and encourage them to adhere to the Road Safety Authority’s appeal to never drink and drive.
Of course, people are entitled to have a few drinks of an evening. Nursing a bottle of stout at home on your lonesome bears no comparison to enjoying a cool, velvety pint of black in the convivial atmosphere of the local pub. It’s often left to kind neighbours to ensure no rural dweller is denied a relaxing evening in the pub. In that regard, a nocturnal rural transport service would be a great help. Another very feasible option is a “drop and collect” by a local taxi or minibus service.
Whenever I’m travelling to a match or a social event with family or friends, we have an understanding that the driver remains alcohol-free. It’s a great system which is ideal for rural socialising and sports fixtures. If five people car-pool, four occupants can enjoy a drink in comfort knowing they have a designated alcohol-free driver to get them safely home.
Safety on the road depends on a number of variables. Mobile phone misuse, fatigue, defective vehicles, inexperience, excessive speed and illegal drugs all contribute to road accidents. But if each one of us were to make a moral decision never to drive with alcohol in the system, the Road Safety Authority’s ongoing campaign for safety on our roads would get a welcome boost.
There should be no rural exception
Sir — I think the TDs opposing the new drink-driving limits could have been more mindful of the plight of those families who lost relatives to drink-drivers during their debate on the issue in the Dail.
I felt a few were going to collapse from the heat, so vociferous were they in their opposition.
Time to let that favourite
bugbear leave their system, and desist from playing devil’s advocate for the borderline drink-drivers. Being a ‘spokesperson’ on this and to promote the ‘rural exception’ is to dilute driver responsibility for their own often dangerous habits.
Continuing to be allowed to live in relative safety for the population, without booze sitting behind the wheel, is much more vital than silly, histrionic pleadings about the “absolute right to somewhat drink and drive”.
No need for this legal closed shop
Sir — I so agree with Shane Ross’s article on the Judicial Appointments Board (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, July 8).
Look at it this way: we have just appointed a new Garda Commissioner, the most senior police officer in the land. A very serious matter, yet applicants were assessed by Public Appointments Service (PAS) at the request of the Policing Authority.
Current members of the PAS board are as follows: chairman Tom Moran, former secretary-general, Department of Agriculture and Food; Board members Fiona Tierney, chief executive, PAS; Paul Lemass, assistant secretary, Department of the Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government; Dr Eddie Molloy, HR consultant; Anne-Marie Taylor, HR consultant; Mary Connaughton, CIPD Ireland director; John O’Callaghan, assistant secretary, Department of Justice and Equality; Damien McCallion, national director, HSE; David Cagney, chief HR officer for the Civil Service, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Not a garda or police officerin sight. So? So why does the Judicial Appointments Board have to be dominated by lawyers, with a lawyer in the chair?