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Sickness does not come by appointment, so neither should our shared sense of community

Letters to the Editor


Charlie Bird. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Charlie Bird. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Charlie Bird. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Covid-19 has taken so much from us, yet it has given back our sense of community – values once near extinction before we entered the reality that we are no longer too busy for our neighbour.

Memories get blurred with time, just as time gets blurred by memories.

Yet the lines of sacrifice remain uncovered behind our masks as we certify ourselves into a new world and wash our hands of the old.

Where do we go from here? I wish I knew.

All I know is I am mesmerised by the silk hands and shiny suits generating words constructed to make us feel grateful, not for what we lost, but for what we had.

We are all in this together, so the chorus goes – the lyrics that keep us together, yet in reality have kept us apart.

It may be the authority that built the houses, but it is the people who built the communities.

The carpet of society, I say, and when you lift it up from time to time you get to see the real foundations of who we are.

Long Covid is something that affects the whole community, with a disproportionate effect on the elderly.

The realisation that a new normal remains and proposes to replace an existence for many with a virtual reality for life must be properly addressed by the Government.

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Many will only cry for help when they think there is help to cry for. We must let them know we are here, not only for when they need us.

Paul Byrne, a great friend and colleague, recently told me that “the greatest sin in life is not to be curious”.

And there’s plenty to be curious about.

Discretion, that form of self-censorship, must be uncovered and abandoned. Let people know how you feel.

Sickness doesn’t come by appointment. Neither should our sense of community. Pick up the phone – check in on your neighbour. I just know you’ll be glad you did.

Darren Lalor

The Law Library, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8

Best wishes to my fellow crossword fan, Charlie

Reading the news regarding Charlie Bird and his serious challenges on the health front (‘In my heart of hearts, I knew there was something serious there’ – Charlie Bird on motor neurone disease diagnosis, Irish Independent, October 27), I note he enjoys a pint and the crossword in his local.

By coincidence, and being indeed the same vintage as Charlie, that is one of life’s simple pleasures that I also appreciate. I will raise a glass to him, and needless to add, wish him the very best of luck for the future.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, D9

Carey article on Armagh service was very brave

I just couldn’t get Sarah Carey’s wonderfully brave article (‘Why President Higgins’s refusal to attend service in Armagh was a terrible mistake’, Comment, October 23) out of my mind all week.

Well worth repeating – she wrote: “If I have a Theory of Everything, it’s that humanity cannot progress until we let go of the primitive and powerful instinct to despise that lot over there with a different identity, be it religious, ethnic or political. At every opportunity, the moral imperative of political and religious leaders is to demonstrate our supposed opponents are fellow human beings and friends.”

Brian McDevitt

Glenties, Co Donegal


Down under we fear some eejit with a cigarette butt

Michael Gannon thinks Australia has cracked climate change (‘Sounds like they’ve solved the climate crisis down under’, Letters, October 27).

Well, it’s only October and 35 degrees, the wind is swirling in a way that reminds everyone of the 2019 bushfires. We’re all praying some eejit doesn’t throw a cigarette out of his car or that unsettled weather doesn’t cause lightning strikes. But don’t worry, Scotty has a pamphlet or an advert for that. At least this year we’re masked up already. It’s cracked all right.

Pauline Bleach

Wolli Creek, Sydney, Australia


It only suits the Tories for Northern Ireland to fail

In response to Frank Schnittger (‘Just how low can Boris Johnson go?’, Letters, October 29), watching the antics of British Tory ministers and advisers since the Brexit brouhaha began, I am of the opinion that none of them wanted to realise the difficulties and problems Brexit would incur, let alone examine them.

Tories being Tories, as usual Northern Ireland is only useful when there is violence there. Johnson and Frost – “two halfwits that would not make one wit between them” (as an Irish councillor remarked on his colleagues, circa 1980) – need Northern Ireland to fail, as this would create a massive distraction from the coming winter of discontent in the UK.

The old Irish adage, “England has the ear of the world’s press on Irish affairs”, may be lurking in the foolish mindset of the Olde Englande crowd, as is the sectarian mindset, “Shout at them [the EU] if they don’t speak English”.

It is a known fact that the Tories of the world have the ability to go far lower than even a snake’s belly, thus absolutely nothing is beyond them when it comes to “Lies, damn lies and deceit”. Time for the peaceable people of Northern Ireland to demonstrate to London they are not interested in a return to violence merely to suit Johnson and his cohort of thundering gobs**tes.

Declan Foley

Melbourne, Australia


The ballot box can deliver so much without violence

I agree with Frank Schnittger (Letters, October 29). The British government, in reality, finds Northern Ireland an inconvenience it would happily abandon at the first opportunity. A referendum should be held in the near-future on Irish reunification. If a Yes vote is recorded, Ireland should be peacefully reunited, with protections incorporated for the Protestant community.

As there has already been power-sharing in the North, a general election should be held after reunification, with Sinn Féin hopefully winning and thus obliged to fairly govern Ireland for Catholic and Protestant alike.

So much can be achieved by the ballot box without a shot being fired.

Dominic Shelmerdine



Green subsidy favours those who least need it

The Government gives a subsidy to those who install solar panels on their roof. It subsidises the purchase of bikes under the Cycle to Work scheme. The carbon tax helps pay for these subsidies.

But not everyone has a roof of their own. Flat dwellers, renters, those in high-rise accommodation, can’t possibly obtain this subsidy. But of course they all pay carbon tax.

With the Cycle to Work scheme, it’s possible to have the cost of the bike deducted at source from salary. It’s a selling point of the scheme. This means those who pay the highest rate of marginal tax get the bike half-price. Those on lower salaries, or those who don’t go to work, including the retired, get little or no subsidy.

If we want a bike to help cut our use of cars, we must pay the full price. Again, we all pay the carbon tax. It’s like a reverse version of Robin Hood, and a sad reflection on the Government’s lack of awareness and fairness.

Philip Samways

Newport, Co Tipperary


This Government protects the vendor above all else

It can hardly have come as a surprise that the anti-touting legislation contained a huge loophole that rendered it impotent to protect football supporters wishing to attend the upcoming Ireland v Portugal game (‘Ireland-Portugal ticket outcry’, Irish Independent, October 27).

A cursory look at other legislation enacted to supposedly protect citizens from exploitation shows the same pattern; housing and healthcare are the most obvious examples. The fact is that everything this Government does has two primary objectives: Give the appearance that the intention is to protect citizens, and protect the interests of the vendor above all else.

It may seem to politicians that the forbearance of the nation is endless, but surely some among their ranks must have heard the caution to beware the fury of the patient man.

Jim O’Sullivan

Rathedmond, Sligo