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RTÉ away with the digital fairies

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Sir - The switch-off of RTÉ's digital radio service - which is set for March 31 - was inevitable.

It was optimistic in the extreme to expect a big digital switchover from the public, when there are so few digital radio sets in the country. Back in 2007 when Digital Audio Broadcasting began, there was hardly a digital set in the entire country and still very few exist in homes today. So, who was RTÉ broadcasting to? The fairies?

You need a digital radio or other digital device to listen to a digital channel - unless you listen to it on your satellite system or RTÉ's Saorview system. And may no longer be able to now that the system is being wound up.

Most radio listening is done with FM/AM car stereos or FM receivers, with many smart phones having an FM antenna. What was RTÉ up to in rolling out a system when the infrastructure wasn't adequate?

Trials with digital radio failed spectacularly in many other countries, but RTÉ ploughed on.

What will be the total cost of the white elephant - and will we see the waste of taxpayers' money in any future RTÉ annual report? Or will it not appear, as it would be an embarrassment and a danger to the justification of the controversial licence fee?

Maurice Fitzgerald,

Shanbally, Co Cork

 

Proper sentences will get a message across

Sir - Judge Martin Nolan last week handed down a six-year sentence for the false imprisonment and assault of a 70-year-old woman at Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin, in 2020.

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It's the same length of sentence handed down by the same judge to Dublin businessman Paul Begley in 2012 for evading tax on garlic that he imported from China.

Sentences handed down by the courts should reflect society's abhorrence of particular crimes, therefore setting standards of behaviour in society.

There is much unease among the citizens of this State at the disparities in sentencing by some judges, an unease further fuelled by this recent sentence.

I believe in prison reform and prisoner rehabilitation - but I also believe in the right of citizens to feel safe on the streets, on public transport and in their homes.

Most of us can only look on in helpless bewilderment and confused frustration at our sentencing policies and bizarre bail laws.

One of the four pillars of the Judicial Council of Ireland is public confidence in the judiciary and in the administration of justice.

But I wonder, how many of us have full confidence in the administration of justice?

There appears to be no framework for elucidating clear, coherent sentencing principles in our courts.

Tom Cooper,

Templeogue, Dublin 6W

 

Universities must control students

Sir - The recent partying by students in the vicinity of the University of Limerick once again highlights the need for greater penalties for the offenders.

Here in Cork, we have been told in the recent past by the president of University College Cork (UCC) that students who breach Covid-19 restrictions will be expelled from the university. A number of colleges, including UCC, have now rowed back from that promise and will instead issue fines.

Which brings us to Rag Week.

It takes place in UCC in April and will necessitate a large garda presence in this region.

The students will again cite charities such as the Simon Community to legitimise what is in effect a glorified drinking session, with all the accompanying anti-social behaviour.

It is a sad reflection on society when long-term residents in the neighbourhoods around the college are subjected to this blaggardism year in, year out, not just on Rag Week.

The forthcoming months are also a source of concern for the community as an influx of youngsters from the suburbs of Cork city and beyond is expected.

The "little darlings" are unable to travel abroad due to Covid-19 and so we are expecting to see a return to the partying that was rampant in this region last year.

There are many elderly people residing here, as well as people with young families.

It is high time the authorities put structures into place to deal with offending students and brought landlords to task for allowing parties in their properties.

Tom Harrington,

Connaught Avenue, Cork

 

Future of our way of politics is at risk

Sir -The articles by Jody Corcoran and Shane Coleman on your comment pages last week concentrated on our recent political history and the possibilities that might characterise our political future.

Jody Corcoran examined the problems of the political party that is still suffering from their part in the spectacular collapse in 2010 in which the country went broke and had to be bailed out by the EU and the IMF.

Given that by 2010 they had been in power nearly 80pc of the time since first taking office in 1932, and the fact that they had won five elections in a row between 1987 and 2007, it was probably inevitable that, being human, power went to their heads.

As a result they more than tripled government expenditure between 1997 and 2009 - from €19bn to €63bn - and, with the collapse of the banks, to €103bn in 2010.

The government deficit in that year was something like a world record 30pc of GDP.

In his article Shane Coleman traces some of the present-day "alienation" to what happened then. But he also draws attention to the "jaw-droppingly vicious" attitude towards politicians that we see on social media.

His conclusion is that if the personalised abuse of politicians that characterises present-day social media discourse becomes more dominant, which may well happen, then the future for our democracy will be even more serious than the 2010 collapse was.

A Leavy,

Sutton, Dublin 13

 

Give thanks for support groups

Sir - Thank you for the interview (Sunday Independent, last week) with Barbara O'Connell, the chief executive of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland.

I fully concur with her points on acquired brain injury.

When I, a 73-year-old man, suffered a brain bleed and had a craniotomy, I had an idea that when I was discharged from hospital that there would be ongoing services and training to help me get back what I had lost.

But apart from a few visits from an occupational nurse, I was left to my own devices.

I contacted Headway, where I was encouraged to meet fellow sufferers; the other best thing I did was to contact other stroke survivors, who helped so much.

There is a lack of awareness around brain haemorrhages; not all headaches are migraines.

Pat Kelly,

Blackrock, Cork

 

Davy stockbrokers must take stock

Sir - It is somewhat ironic that Davy stockbrokers was originally founded back in 1926 to break the monopoly of the Dublin unionist business classes that controlled most of the economic life of our capital city and the stock exchange of the Irish Free State.

Keith Nolan,

Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim

 

SF's poll theatrics are poorly timed

Sir - Sinn Féin's recent demands for a border poll at this time shows just how far from reality they are. Now, when relations in the North are at a delicate stage, is not the time such vote-getting theatrics should be showing their ugly head. Time this party wised up and used some common sense.

Michael O'Connell,

Cleveragh, Listowel

 

The answer is on the box at RTÉ

Sir - In his letter last Sunday Edward Mahon inquires how RTÉ is disposing of the proceeds from its lands sale at Montrose.

He could look at the Six One news and witness a large group of people revealing the news - a job once done by one person.

M Carmody,

Navan, Co Meath

 

Tired of Meghan 'n' Harry whinge

Sir -Like so many other people, I watched the "explosive" interview between Oprah Winfrey and Harry and Meghan.

What I found fascinating is that Harry married a woman who would ultimately feel trapped in the royal family in exactly the same way his mother Diana felt, many years previously. I believe Harry has never properly grieved over the loss of his mother and has unresolved trauma.

Is the royal family dysfunctional? Is there covert racism in this family?

Yes, the royal family is dysfunctional - but probably no more so than the average family. Regarding my second question, I'm sure you would find worse racism if you eavesdropped on many conversations in Britain and Ireland today.

My advice to the royal family is to ignore these two attention-seeking individuals. It's hard to feel sympathy for people who try and drag their family through the mud for being normal.

Tommy Roddy,

Ballybane, Co Galway

 

Why not celebrate true heroines?

Sir - The whole thing about the Harry and Meghan interview saga is a 21st century Emperor's New Clothes - a non-story of nonsense, and on International Women's day too!

I speak as an educator of nurses and midwives during a pandemic. These heroic women should have been in the headlines last week, not some duchess's royal tiff. The whole interview is absurd and hypocritical. Are the British royal family racist? C'mon - that's not news - the very foundation of their wealth, the British Empire and Commonwealth is built on imperialistic racism. The Sussexes are money-grabbing hypocrites who are taking the limelight away from real heroic women in a pandemic - and to make their whinge they're using the very same tabloid and print media machine they're so critical of.

Forget the whining millionaires and would-be royals, and celebrate the real hard-working and hard-done-by heroic women of our era please!

Paul Horan,

Co Carlow

 

No one believes these numbers from China

Sir - China's official Covid-19 death toll is 4,636. Yes, Ireland is about 100 souls short of overtaking a country that holds almost 18pc of the world's population. This discrepancy is increasingly absurd.

The Chinese are accustomed to their government suppressing bad news; the mystery is how little comment the under-counting has attracted in the West.

We hastily copied the authoritarian state's whole-population lockdown last spring - why not double check if those methods were as successful as they initially seemed?

Might the normal practice of only quarantining the sick and most vulnerable have been equally effective?

Given how much we're going to pay for it in the coming years of tax and inflation it would be nice to know if we bought a pig in a poke.

Aidan Harte,

Donnybrook, Dublin 4

 

Backing our brave whistleblowers

Sir - My God, can it be true, a politician with nothing to say? Charlie McConalogue has no comment on Paul Kimmage's expose of the farce in his department.

It's shocking that a good man's reputation was ignored and impugned, and that cowardly buck-passing on an industrial scale by his department led to no prosecution - in a case where his own legal department recommended it should proceed.

We should all support the whistleblower's actions and vindicate his good name.

Name and address with Editor

 

Give a dog walker a bad name...

Sir - In reply to Maurice Fitzgerald's letter last week, I think it fair to point out that the vast majority of dog walkers - such as myself - are very responsible owners, who do in fact clean up after our dogs.

Unfortunately, there's a small group of inconsiderate people who give all of us a bad name.

As an owner, I dread coming on newly dumped dog faeces - as I know some people will look at me and think my pooch has done the dirty deed and I've walked away and ignored it.

If a walker takes the same route each day and never cleans up, it can look like an epidemic in less than a week.

I do think we need to hold the inconsiderate walkers to task when or if we see it happening. There's no point in whingeing in a letters column if we don't stand up.

Sean Healy,

Summerville Ave, Waterford

 

We salute Horan's service to the GAA

Sir - I fully concur with former GAA president John Horan's views, that the GAA's compliance with public health restrictions during the past year has served the country well.

As he magnanimously offered the use of GAA facilities for the roll-out of vaccines, John added that the association would assist pharmacists and GPs in the roll-out of the vaccine.

John Horan can also be very satisfied by the selfless manner in which he has also served not only the membership of the GAA, north and south, but also the entire country during his term of office. His patriotism was clearly evident in his unconditional support for health guidelines.

Billy Ryle,

Tralee, Co Kerry

 

12 months in, and let's keep it positive

Sir - On March 12 last year I wrote in my diary 'Covid-19: serious now!' Soon after, Leo came on the box and more or less closed the country down. Like most people I was shocked and scared at what lay ahead.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think such a nightmare would arrive on our own shores. How smug I had become.

A year later and we finally have reasons to be positive. Many wonderfully good people have worked to make that possible. Onwards and upwards.

Brian McDevitt,

Glenties, Co Donegal


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