Sir - The handling of the detail, for the necessary greater good, of the first victim of Covid-19 on this island has been appalling and disturbing, especially from the point of view of the ongoing challenge this virus will pose.
Respecting the privacy of the victim, whose gender need not have been disclosed, is an absolute - but so, too, is respecting the maturity and 'cop on' of our citizens. There is no reason whatever, that flight details, approximate journey particulars to Belfast and other relevant information pertaining to locations and timings, could not be disclosed so that the vast majority can comfortably discount any fears of contact and that the few can be alerted and thereby take relevant personal precautions.
There is no way that all relevant contacts, throughout the person's journey stages and personal interactions, have been contacted and traced (as is being assured), unless the person did not queue at passport control, wait at a baggage carousel, take a lift, use a bathroom, queue for a bus, hold numerous handrails etc. The reality is that the list of ways and means whereby people subliminally interact is all but limitless.
All of which brings to mind past reassurances, as in October 2008, when we were told Irish banks were among the best capitalised in Europe within days of 'the crash' and the iodine tablet 'reassurance programme' in 2002.
'Chinese tactics' didn't work in China, so neither will they work here, show some respect please.
SF is equivalent to Greek wooden horse
Sir - We read Mary Lou McDonald announced exultantly to supporters at a rally that "the barbarians are through the gates". I wouldn't quibble at 'barbarians', but with the analogy of the Trojan War in mind, I would substitute 'Greeks' for 'barbarians'.
Sinn Fein is the political equivalent of the wooden horse and there are striking parallels between Sinn Fein's recent gains and the Greek victory at Troy.
Firstly, the Trojans were fooled into thinking the Greeks had sailed away but, to paraphrase the words of Gerry Adams, "they hadn't gone away you know". Some were concealed inside the wooden horse and the remainder were lurking out of sight of their enemies.
The Trojans, like the Irish electorate, who had struggled through a long recession and recovery, were weary after 10 years of hardship and deprivation. They were happy to believe the wooden horse was a gift and a sign their troubles were over.
There was one dissenting voice - Laocoon. The Trojans did not listen to his warning and joyfully dragged the horse into the city, thus sealing their doom. In the present political climate, it might be worth reflecting on the immortal words of this ancient: "I fear the Greeks bearing gifts."
Blackhorse Ave, Dublin 7
We should worry about the economy
Sir - A new virus disrupts everything, everywhere. Apart from health issues, the unease indicates an economically insecure and fearful world.
Fear of a pandemic posed by the virus poses dangers of economic upheaval and possible collapse. It might be expected that the primary worry would be to contain and control the virus, while an antidote was developed.
Anyone watching RTE Prime Time last week, however, would be left in little doubt that an equal if not greater worry is of serious economic impact.
World economics are in a fragile condition; any serious event, such as fear of a pandemic, could put them in freefall. They are sustained only by enormous injections of borrowed monies, in vain attempt to stimulate consumption beyond the needs or desires of the human race.
Only through enormous borrowing can the fallacy of "growth economics" be kept on life support. The borrowed monies are also used to create millions of "shadow" jobs with little security or entitlement, to disguise the fact that automation and robotics increasingly usurp or diminish practically every task dependent on human input.
The threat to global economics is caused by a failure to adapt ideology which can manage and administer modern technological economics with emphasis on distribution rather than creation of wealth.
And it's a far greater threat than any pandemic or even global warming. In fact global warming would benefit from a new economic ideology with emphasis on sharing abundance, sufficiency for everyone and preservation of the planet, rather than continual effort to eliminate shortage which no longer exists, insatiable greed to own everything and destruction of the planet.
A good example of establishment ignorance and apathy is the tourist industry.
The immediate result of pandemic fear is substantial reduction of travel and tourism. This will cause difficulties for tens of millions engaged in the hospitality and travel business.
A complacent establishment, however, feigning present concern, ignores a technological phenomenon which will transform tourism forever. Increasingly powerful virtual reality can bring the wonders of this great world to the virtual tourist without having to travel.
The crash of 2008 was a first warning of serious economic change.
The fear of global pandemic is a second cautionary tale of how things have changed; which we would do well to heed.
Yet the economic establishment of the world refuses to even contemplate that modern technology has changed anything at all.
Tubbercurry, Co Sligo
Are our hospitals ready for virus?
Sir - We might all remember the old refrain which goes "thank God we are surrounded by water" - as if seawater were all the protection that we needed against the invader.
But this new invader will come not with might or power but with cunning and stealth.
Our Health Minster Simon Harris was asked if we were ready to combat this coronavirus invader and he answered, "Yes, we are ready."
But somewhere in the back of my mind there is a nagging doubt.
I would like to think that zones of isolation in our hospitals are being prepared for the coming infected - a safety net, as it were, to keep others safe.
But a persistent doubt lingers telling me that if I presented myself to any Irish A&E unit with a high temperature, I would be left sitting in a crowded room for 10 or 12 hours before being seen.
I would then more than likely be given a packet of paracetamol and told to go home and rest for a couple of days.
In the meanwhile all of those who were in the waiting room would probably go home infected to spread the disease.
I could be wrong. I hope that I am wrong. I pray that I am wrong.
Michael O Meara,
Faha, Killarney, Co Kerry
It's high time for a vote on euthanasia
Sir - I've had my fill of witnessing decent people suffer horrendous, long-drawn-out endings to their honourable lives. Any political party that offered a referendum on euthanasia would get my number one vote, irrespective of my past voting preferences. People should have the choice of a dignified ending.
Christians will argue that this shouldn't be the done thing, but for how long, it must be asked, did Jesus himself have to suffer - Spy Wednesday to Good Friday? That's two days, and would include physical and psychological suffering as well.
As things stand, one would have to undergo expensive travel to one of the few European countries where it's available. And that brings back the unhappy memories of Ireland passing the buck to the UK recently to get what they should have got at home, until similar constitutional action was taken on it by ourselves. It could be strictly regulated.
Balally, Dublin 16
'Boxer' is setting a truly fine example
Sir - I've never met Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, but I have been impressed by his behaviour since losing his Dail seat.
For the past four years, he worked tirelessly to bring flood alleviation to people living near the Shannon. His best efforts haven't solved the problem - but his determination and attitude lead me to have confidence in the man. Given more time, I think he could succeed in solving the flooding.
Unfortunately, because of his association with the outgoing Government and an appetite for change, Moran lost his Dail seat. He could have thrown in the towel and left his constituents to sink or swim - but he didn't.
If the TV cameras are to be believed, he is still fighting the good fight on behalf of a constituency which rejected him at the polls.
I have to admire his positive energy, his optimism and his hard work. There is no ill-feeling, no recrimination, no plague on all of their houses. There he is, in the middle of his own people, working day and night since the flooding returned. It's a manifest example of true patriotism.
Perhaps the incoming Taoiseach should reappoint him to his current junior ministry. He deserves a few more rounds in the ring against his nemesis, the mighty Shannon.
Tralee, Co Kerry
Coalition is vital to end impasse
Sir - Hugh O'Connell is correct in his survey of the present political impasse (February 23) by his assumption that the country needs a coalition, however reluctant Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are to work together. The alternative - another election which no party would welcome and least of all the electorate.
A period in opposition would keep the latter-day democrats at bay and give them the opportunity to become fully fledged parliamentarians and lead a diligent and trenchant opposition which would be doing the State a good service. If the historical pattern of Irish politics is pursued, their day will inevitably come.
Has the final paragraph of Hugh's article a cryptic message? Is he suggesting the coalition is "the poignant way to mark the Civil War centenary" or has he further unity in mind? After all, both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael grew from the same root and a grafting to secure the Grand Alliance, perhaps?
Glasnevin, Dublin 9
We need more daylight in our lives
Sir -I have long thought of how much better it would be for us all if our time change happened on March 8, like our American cousins.
Our time change in Ireland is currently March 29. Changing to the US method means dark winter months would be shorter, and longer evenings would arrive earlier in the year. Winter time would be just four months instead of five currently. More daylight in our lives means a better quality of life for all.
Hollymount, Co Mayo
Public votes are a TV line of revenue
Sir - Your letter writer PJ Maguire (February 23) may well be right when he questions the wisdom of the choosing of winners in the Dancing with the Stars contest being left to the whims of public opinion. While I'd prefer to see the winners chosen by the TV panel only, the present system will continue due to the revenue raised by the phone-in lines (with RTE getting their cut) by public voting.
Drogheda, Co Louth
Boom, bust and the decline of housing
Sir - People often ask whatever happened to local authority house? Well, just 20 years ago, the then government changed policy, all future housing developments had to have a percentage of "social housing"! There was an opt-out clause for developers.
Instead of housing, they could give money to the housing authority. The housing boom of the early 2000s was followed by the big bust. Few, if any "social" houses were built. All the skill and experience of councils in building houses disappeared.
Populism rises again in Germany
Sir - Populism is alive and well in Europe and, despite our media and politicians congratulating themselves that the centre has held, we have not escaped as the recent election has shown. Germany, in the 1930s, had the most vicious form of populism with the rise of the Nazi state. With the defeat of Hitler in 1945 and the details of the Holocaust laid bare, we all believed that the shadow of Hitler was gone forever.
Let us look at Germany where Angela Merkel has for years urged voters to reject Alternative Fur Deutschland (AfD) as far-right extremists. But she is now struggling to persuade her own party, let alone voters, that AfD is beyond the pale.
Last week, local politicians in her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) teamed up with AfD to oust the premier of Thuringia. This German state was the first state in Germany where the Nazis started their rise to power. The "crisis" in German politics is so severe that Mrs Merkel's anointed successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a standard-bearer for old German centrism, also resigned as CDU party leader - shocked at events in Thuringia. In doing so, she has admitted she cannot win against her party's rank and file, which want the CDU to rival the AfD with restricted immigration.
Mrs Merkel got another shock last Sunday, when, as a result of some of her party getting close to AfD, she lost in the state vote in Hamburg, finishing third behind the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green Party. Mrs Merkel is now having to hold a congress in Berlin on April 25 to find a successor.
If the most successful politician in Europe over the last 15 years, with her economic success and leadership in the EU, cannot hold back the 'tide' of populism, what chance have our politicians? They may succeed in the short term but our voters are no different to European voters.
Cleggan, Co Galway
A constitution for a perfect country
Sir - There was me last Sunday morning, eating toast and reading the letters in the Sunday Independent. Lo and behold, I almost choked perusing Maurice Fitzgerald's urging constitutional reform for mother Ireland.
The unmitigated temerity to describe Dev's Holy Scripture, as "an antiquated document" with "troublesome and outmoded clauses belonging to a long-gone age in our difficult history".
The 1937 Bunreacht na hEireann was conceived, and given birth to, by the greatest Irish-Yankee ever to walk this earth. It enacted an Ireland, where every female was a virgin until the night of her marriage, there were no children born outside of marriage, everyone went to Mass on Sunday and every Irish businessman was a model of integrity, decency and honourable in all their dealings.