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Save the GAA referee the ire of fans by embracing technology


Mayo’s Keith Higgins protests to referee Anthony Nolan during the All-Ireland final. Photo: Sportsfile

Mayo’s Keith Higgins protests to referee Anthony Nolan during the All-Ireland final. Photo: Sportsfile

Mayo’s Keith Higgins protests to referee Anthony Nolan during the All-Ireland final. Photo: Sportsfile

For many Irish people and for the wider Irish diaspora, the All-Ireland finals, hurling or football, will be the highlight of their sporting year - filled with excitement, expectation and anticipation. Being a hurling fan, the missing of a final, in Croke Park or on the TV, would leave a void in my life.

In these wonderful games, the referee has a mandate to ensure that fair play is administered to both teams, and his performance can enhance or diminish the spectator's enjoyment - a good referee is invisible. However, from the comfort of our armchairs, with the advantage of numerous camera angles - enhanced by slow-motion replays, we cast judgment on the man in charge.

"He's hopeless - that's his second wrong call," we shout at the TV in anger.

Sadly, technology will show that the spoils sometimes go to the wrong team - leading to frustration and annoyance by partisan and neutral supporters. The referee, who has endeavoured to do his best with one pair of eyes, will become the target of the resultant ire.

Millions of viewers will have the advantage of the 'third eye' but the ultimate arbiter will be denied the benefit of this applied science.

I believe that every effort, and every piece of technology available, should be employed to ensure fair play for all.

So we should all spare a thought for the dedicated players who put their lives on hold for their counties - only to be deprived of an All-Ireland medal because of human error in the age of wonderful technology.

Pat McLoughlin

Newcastle West, Co Limerick


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Alternative medicine is a healer

Nowadays so-called 'alternative medicine' is quite popular. However, I think we as a society should stop right there at this very misleading term. In truth, medicine can't be divided into two categories, the right one as we perceive it in the 21st century, which is defined by allopathic (conventional western) drug-related prescribing and treatments, and the flimsy 'alternative' type, a lowly handmaiden of the former superior knowledge-based system.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease". We should remember that the next time we are tempted to look down on, or smile indulgently at, 'alternative' medicine.

Everything is medicine, from our food to our lifestyle, our socialisation, our feelings and generally all that pertains to our entire mind, body, and spirit.

As Shakespeare reminds us through his character Hamlet, "There are more things on Heaven and on Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio".

It is often said that the patient's dreams and hopes are the secret weapon in the physician's arsenal. Hence, a good physician does much more than fix a broken part, or target the erring molecules in the body with a drug.

Every positive intervention and every interaction between the doctor and patient aids and abets the healing process. Many of us in the conventional medical system, as we know it nowadays, are flying on one wing and what so-called 'alternative' medicine aims to do is to help the bird self-soar again on two wings.

For too long, we have laboured under a broken-down model of health care that is eating money, hope, trust and fracturing the wholeness of the human spirit. Medicine should be integrative, not fractured into 'superior' and harmless 'inferior'. Every gp surgery should have access to a naturopath, acupuncturist, herbalist, homeopath, massage therapist, spiritual healer, counsellor, etc. The gp practice should be a clinic in the true sense of the word.

Mary Moloney

Address with editor


Ryanair has been a force for good

The sneering columnists of your paper can poke all they want at Ryanair and its CEO Michael O'Leary, but do stop and think, people.

This company has done an unspeakable good for millions of families throughout the world. Family members have been able to meet, at a cost that does not wipe them out, not once but often many times. What a tremendous boost for brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and lovers!

Sure, Mr O'Leary has been blessed over the years with a rather good income as a result, but is that not the prerogative of a hard worker? Those who signed up to work with Ryanair...is it really their prerogative to gripe and whine, if they are receiving the pay they agreed to?

This whole thing makes me think of the whining labourers in Jesus's parable, who were jealous of those who were hired late in the day: all received the same pay. What's the problem?

There is something rather repellent about the way the columnists, and often editors, of the Irish Independent seem to love to circle a victim - or whom they label a 'victim' - as soon as there's a drop of blood in the waters.

Michelle Gardner

Ballytruckle, Co Waterford


Garfield and our environment

The Garfield cartoon where he is served 'tuna-flavoured' cat food and asks when did they stop making actual tuna, although humorous, may be a reflection of reality where our overfishing of the sea and poor fish-farming techniques are harming the environment. We may all be eating 'flavoured' rather than real fish products soon. Time to protect our environment.

On a side point, the supermarkets have mouse-flavoured cat food. How was this achieved and who confirmed the taste was right? I doubt there is a shortage of mice.

Dennis Fitzgerald

Melbourne, Australia


GAA damaged by dirty tactics

Has Gaelic football descended into a dark place?

My belief is that Gaelic football in the modern era has regrettably reached a win-at-all-costs mentality at the top level.

I started out playing Gaelic football as thousands of other kids did, playing at U12 in the 1970s, up through the age groups in club football, and secondary school and third-level college football. I enjoyed final wins and losses in each.

I played for 25 years at competitive levels. In all of the matches I played, I've never witnessed the cynical play as is now becoming common place.

GAA players have ambitions to play with their county and dream of winning an All-Ireland final playing for their county.

What we witnessed in the September 17 All-Ireland final was a serious disincentive to any young Gaelic footballer thinking that training hard and achieving the best footballing skills is what it takes to win and maybe play on a winning All-Ireland team.

It's very regrettable that cynical tactics can go unpunished and help reach the eventual result.

Noel McHugh

Co Leitrim

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