Sir - While I share Brendan O' Connor's sadness at the needless deaths of people, including teenagers and children, from illegal drug abuse (Sunday Independent, 24 May) I don't agree that the answer lies in making it easier to obtain drugs of a less harmful variety as part of a containment process.
What is needed is a far more effective and absolutely unrelenting anti-drugs education programme aimed at primary and second level schools.
Teenagers are not stupid. They tackle challenging subjects at school and have access to the best computer courses and top notch career guidance.
They already know they are risking their lives if they buy pills of any kind from criminals. But some of them, for whatever reason, choose to ignore the risk. Teachers ought to be hammering home the message that the lowlifes who sell drugs on the streets couldn't care less if the buyers become ill or die after swallowing or injecting whatever filth they've bought.
But more than that: they need reminding that every cent handed over to a drug dealer is a direct contribution to organised crime; that the money exchanged for a few scraps of that poisonous life-destroying garbage helps to perpetuate the bloody cycle of gangland murders and the heartbreak of families affected by drug abuse.
I've heard people casually chat about seeing friends or other drinkers in a pub popping pills obtained on the street. I believe it would be so much better, and the act of a true friend, to at least attempt to dissuade someone one cares about from playing what Brendan rightly dubs a game of Russian Roulette, bearing in mind that "bad batches" are common these days.
It would equally be an act of compassion, and a potentially life-saving initiative, to report any illegal drug taking one witnesses in a pub or anywhere else to the gardai.
Brendan mentions that all of us do silly things in our youth. A fair point, but if I had considered buying illegal drugs back in my young days, or was tempted to use them, I would look back with more favour right now on someone who tried to talk me out of it than a so-called "friend" who just stood by and said nothing.
It may not be "cool" in some quarters to shop drug dealers to the gardai, but it's better than turning a blind eye to a crime that has claimed many young lives. And it's better than contributing, by our silence, to another needless death from drug abuse.
O Riordain can make a difference
Sir - I have recently seen and heard members of the public complaining about needles being found in public places, addicts using heroin on the streets in daylight and rising crime resulting from the need of addicts to feed their habit.
As a recently retired Garda sergeant with over 35 years' experience, this is certainly not news to me. As a young Garda in Dublin in 1980 I first encountered heroin and its associated carnage.
It was a major problem then and it remains a growing problem to this day. I have witnessed many initiatives over the years designed to combat the rising problem of drug abuse but unfortunately with little apparent success. Crop failure was the only factor that had an effective impact on the drug scene, from the dealer right down to the user on the street. But this was intermittent and temporary.
There are many individuals and organisations, voluntary and statutory, who are making Trojan efforts to try to stem the flow of drugs onto the streets. There are also those who are helping the end users of the various products by offering counselling, rehab, detox facilities and more. They are sticking their fingers into the many holes in the dam but unfortunately they are fighting a losing battle.
To have a serious impact, politicians and law enforcement agencies must admit that their efforts so far are not sufficient and that the drug situation is spiralling out of control.
There must be a real political willingness to tackle the problem with proper resourcing for the law enforcement agencies. And there needs to be a change in attitude to the way the users are supported. Consideration needs to be given to the idea of providing safe, clean, supervised injecting areas, as well as a modern, properly-resourced education module.
Aodhan O Riordan has an opportunity to make a difference.
Education is the key on drugs
Sir - Thank you Brendan O'Connor for your insight into the failure of the present so-called war on illegal drugs (Sunday Independent, 24 May).
O'Connor ends his article saying: "Don't we owe it to Ana Hicks and kids like her to actually face the truth here rather than continuing to live in the deluded belief that we are winning the war on drugs?"
Yes we do.
Unfortunately for the past eight years I have read similar brilliant articles and letters to the editor on the failure of our present approach to the sale, manufacturing, distribution and transportation of illegal drugs around the world. None however have put forward a long term strategy to remedy this failure.
We need to begin an educational program across the nation on the failure of the present approach to dealing with illegal drugs. We owe it to today's children and to tomorrow's children.
Vincent J Lavery,
Dalkey, Co Dublin
Panti for the Park next time out
Sir - Sir - We're not out of the woods yet. Panti Bliss must be around the correct age to run for the Aras next time around, when we could see another miracle of the young and trendy deigning to vote in another meaningless enterprise.
And he is an atheist and doesn't believe in an afterlife, but for that alone he gets my vote.
Gene Kerrigan is spot on
Sir - I have never read a more truthful article than "You can't make it up. Unless you're Enda" (Sunday Independent, 24 May).
As usual Gene Kerrigan gets it spot on. We really are a sorry nation accepting this excuse for a government. However, after last weekend's wonderful result, maybe - just maybe - the times are a changing (including for the Government).
Revolution may not last
Sir - Eoghan Harris, (Sunday Independent, 24 May) put it well: "No economic or cultural issue could have energised first-time voters like the same-sex issue transmitted by social media".
He excludes what in the old days we called social injustice, particularly structural social inequality from the category of social issue. In 2015 this only applies to "liberal leafy suburb" niche issues.
The "result" has generated a huge feel-good factor among those of us who believed that we had more, as a people, than the dark and vicious side.
Appropriately, there will be a massive life-changing effect on a certain number of people - but only for a tiny minority within what is already, statistically, a minority.
It will affect not a whit the grim lives of people for whom the real, daily future is dark and forbidding.
"Let's treat everybody equally" blared Labour Party posters. "The human rights cause of the decade," pontificated Eamon Gilmore. But it's business as usual for this Government of the comfy - by the comfy, and for the comfy.
Tralee, Co Kerry
Jonathan's struggle with his demons
Sir - Reading Sarah Caden's article on Jonathan Rhys Meyers, (Sunday Independent, 24 May) was heart-breaking.
A reality check for us all fighting our demons. I was so glad when Sarah wrote at the end of her article that "the next day, he looked like he dressed to convey that he was fighting back".
God bless him.
Brian Mc Devitt,