Sir — I understand moves are afoot to decriminalise the personal use of cannabis by getting a Citizens’ Assembly to rubberstamp the move.
This is mainly to ensure that people would not be dragged through the criminal justice system and get a criminal conviction. This should ensure that young Johnny — who was foolish enough to smoke some cannabis—would not be blocked in his ambition to emigrate to America or Australia in the years ahead.
I believe the best outcome for Johnny — and society in general — is to increase the awareness of the dangers of smoking drugs. Sanctions or deterrents exist to protect the general good and societies into the future.
Young Johnny can make his own choices. Society in general shouldn’t suffer because of his silly choices.
The question of using cannabis for pain relief must be dealt with in the same way as all medicines — with licence and prescriptive authority.
To those who would say “recreational drug use” should be addressed not through the criminal justice system but as a medical issue, do they not realise that we have nearly one million citizens awaiting medical appointments. They’ve been waiting for months, sometimes years, and they have major ailments — so how on earth could we accommodate young Johnny when he’s just looking for a few joints to smoke?
Despite the ever-growing issue of street drugs, the biggest drug issue affecting this country is alcohol. The HSE numbers indicate that six in every 10 people have direct experience of alcohol addiction — perhaps in a family member, colleague or friend.
Given these numbers, the chances of having adequate healthcare facilities available for addicts — of any and all substances — in the years ahead are minimal. To proceed to decriminalise or legalise the use of “recreational drugs” for personal use would be detrimental to the welfare of society into the decades ahead.
Even now, we don’t have the facilities to meet current healthcare needs.
No one yet has been able to tell us how we can slow the ever-increasing demand of citizens to take illegal substances.
They are rushing towards destruction — but before they get there they’ll cause themselves and those closest to them years of heartbreak and misery.
But just because there’s an ever-increasing appetite for drugs, do we really have to make laws to show the coming generations how to self-destruct in the quickest possible time?
The challenge for us is one which the Citizens’ Assembly might not get. And it’s this: are there ways in which we can be guided to have a greater appreciation and understanding of ourselves — a loftier ideal of our choices as free people?
How can we learn to have a meaningful life? To help ourselves, our children, and their children enjoy a well-lived life?
I don’t know where the answers are — but I’m pretty sure that making it legal for young Johnny to score drugs is the answer to nothing.
Seán O’Grady, Killarney, Co Kerry
Sir —As a 74-year-old retired medical consultant I’m pretty sure I could easily be still working to almost full capacity. Faking the empathy, however, was becoming more tiresome.
Watching my 50-year-old plumber crawling under my sink, I realised that the retirement requirements are different, particular for manual workers.
I talked to the plumber about it, and he had a list of reasons why he didn’t have an apprentice to do the more physical stuff — but, if offered early retirement on the understanding that he would in return be prepared to train up apprentices, he thought that might work.
Michael Foley, Rathmines, Dublin 6
Sir — I wonder what page of the Windsor Framework document the DUP have got to, in the nearly two weeks since it was published?
So much has happened in the meantime — bank failures, drone drama over the Black Sea, a UK budget, to name but a few.
Is the DUP in danger of being lost in time as the world continues to turn on its axis?
Joseph Mackey, Glasson, Athlone
Sir — Eilis O’Hanlon wrote that “the only way to avoid damaging groupthink, whether on Covid or the teaching of gender issues in school, is for all sides of the debate to be heard.”
Surely nothing here you might object to?
You’d think so but, on the issue of abortion, this certainly is not happening. Last week the final report on the review of the state’s abortion laws was sent to the Health Minister. But the Minister has declined to meet any pro-life groups, and has appointed only those who support abortion to be involved in the review.
Newspapers are now reporting “sources” saying there will be a broadening of the legislation. But all sides of the debate have not been heard — and those who do not support abortion have been silenced.
Do we live in a democracy, or a controlled society where only the views of the politically correct are allowed to be heard? Surely proper debate is needed?
Mary Stewart, Ardeskin, Donegal town
Sir - I really enjoyed the vast bulk of your coverage on the ever unfolding Gary Lineker story in last week’s paper.
However I was disappointed in Eamon Dunphy’s remarks, specifically where he referenced one very well respected RTÉ soccer commentator, calling him “George f**king Hamilton”. It was unnecessary, added nothing to the piece — and in my view should have been omitted from the final article.
George is owed an apology by someone for this slur on his good name. Hopefully someone will do the right thing.
Richard Healy, Douglas, Cork
Sir — Here we go again. I see the inner circle, headed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, has appointed former HSE boss Paul Reid as chairperson of the Citizens’ Assembly on drug use.
We are not told what pay is attached to this new appointment, but I’ve heard figures of €650 a day being bandied about.
In case anyone had forgotten, it’s about four months since Reid stood down from his €420,000 a year job at the HSE.
When dealing with such an important issue as this, I would love to know what the selection process was. Certainly, when it comes to a "citizens’ assembly"’, there might be many more people out there who would better suit the qualification of an ordinary citizen.
Brian Lube, Co Meath
Sir — I keep seeing the expression “culture war” being used in articles about gender issues.
I don’t know what men intruding into women’s toilets, healthy children being medicalised and having unnecessary surgeries, and trying to stop mental health professionals doing their jobs have to do with culture — but it definitely seems to be a war on common sense and reality.
We need to cop on to ourselves, to limit the number of victims.
E Bolger, Dublin 9
Sir — Regardless of the clamour that Enoch Burke and his family are creating in the courts, it is time they accepted that free institutions will only survive where there is a rule of law. This is an absolute on which there can be no compromise.
The Burke family has been protesting in the courts and in the streets in response to a legal outcome that did not please them.
Surely they realise that once the law is humbled all else that is valuable in our society will disappear.
The subjection of everyone to the final arbitration of the law is more important than democracy itself. It's something Enoch Burke and his family would do well to remember and to respect.
Wilson Burgess, Bonds Hill, Derry
Sir — According to legend, Maewyn Succat (aka St Patrick) was a fifth century “non-Irish national”, trafficked into Ireland and forced into slavery as a herdsman, dehumanised to the extent that he had to eat and sleep alongside the animals in his charge. Through the generations since, he has become the core and the heartbeat of everything Irish to the extent that his cloak dresses the great buildings of the world in green on our national day.
No one expects the present generation of non-Irish nationals — the refugees, the trafficked and the homeless — who are trying to live among us, to be granted the same standing as our national
saint. But a civilised response to their essential needs would be wonderful — and, I suggest, would be appreciated by Patrick too.
Michael Gannon, St Thomas’ Square, Kilkenny
Sir — I cannot believe the silence of all the opposition parties regarding the Coillte vulture fund forestry deal. I also did not know how low our levels of forestry in Ireland were is.
Thankfully Birr Castle and Dunsany Castle have planted hundreds of trees as have some public communities.
I think we’ve also grown dependent on distinguished visitors to Áras An Uachtaráin to plant the odd tree. Wake up!
Tommy Walsh, Coolock, Dublin 17
Sir — Your columnist Conor Skehan (‘The time that bans solved our problems is over’) has got it wrong when he says landlords will solve the country’s housing crisis.
Housing should not be a business, exploiting people’s need for a roof over their heads. This is why, despite what Conor says, the words “landlord” and “eviction” have exactly the same meaning as they did in the bad old days of landlordism.
The housing crisis of today is no different from the time of my grandparents in the 1930s when they were rehoused by Dublin Corporation from a slum in Lime Street to “the flats” in Townsend Street — Markievicz House, to be precise.
Many’s the time when I was growing up they reminded me of the sheer joy of having two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen — and most joyous of all, their very own toilet.
The corporation then went one better by building three-bed houses in estates in Ballyfermot, Cabra, Finglas and Coolock.
Surely that situation should be replicated by every council?
Peter Pallas, Bantry, Co Cork
Sir — Conor Skehan asks about the emotional impact of words “landlord” and “eviction”.
Well, they’ve been provocative to the Irish psyche ever since the land campaign by Michael Davitt and the Irish National Land League to abolish landlordism and protect the rights of Irish tenant farmers.
The three Fs — free sale, fixed tenure and fair rent — were demands made by the Land League. Free sale meant a tenant could sell the interest in a holding to an incoming tenant. Fixed tenure meant a tenant could not be evicted if they paid the rent. Fair rent meant rent control by Irish land courts — not absentee landlords.
Conor raised the appropriateness of the word “landlord”, and maybe it’s time to replace “landlord” with “property owner”.
Nevertheless, the eviction of a tenant or a family in a country that has suffered centuries of property aggrandisement is cruel. In a housing shortage, a tenant must have a guarantee of fixed tenure and fair rent.
Allowing cuckoo funds to enrich themselves in an accommodation crisis will cause another Traveller-like ethnicity, but this time we can’t blame Cromwell.
Billy Ryle, Tralee, Co Kerry
Sir — Now that Ryan Tubridy has decided to step down from The Late Late Show, we can now hopefully watch it for the first time in many years.
Tubs’ inability to ask pertinent questions of guests and the love-ins he had with others were a real turn-off. Even when his guests were people you were interested in, you couldn’t watch, because nothing interesting would be asked of them.
Of course, much now depends on who his replacement will be.
Patrick O’Brien, Aspen Gardens, Limerick
Sir — Minister Eamon Ryan last week quoted Daniel O’Connell as justification for Ireland’s support for Ukraine in its war against Russia: “There was a famous Irish patriot, Daniel O’Connell, and he said, ‘Nothing that’s morally wrong can be politically correct’.”
Daniel O’Connell was a dedicated pacifist who would have been appalled at the carnage in Ukraine. He was dedicated to peaceful, non-violent means throughout his public life.
“Not for all the universe contains would I, in the struggle for what I conceive my country’s cause, consent to the effusion of a single drop of blood, except my own,” he said.
In typical government doublespeak, Eamon Ryan added: “While Ireland remained a militarily neutral country, it was not neutral on the war itself.”
The coalition, and the Greens in particular, should promote peace by peaceful means only. St Patrick would be appalled at his name day being used to promote the continuation of war.
Edward Horgan, Castletroy, Limerick
Sir — One of my go-to Sunday Independent articles has to be Fiona O’Connell’s “Lay of the Land”, in which she eloquently writes about nature and the destruction wrought on it in recent decades — for instance, the destruction of hedgerows, as discussed in last week’s article.
Why do we think so little of removing as much nature as possible, and why are so many people disconnected from its infinite wonders?
In my own area, I’ve seen the disappearance of the corncrake, the lapwing, skylarks, curlews, snipe, cuckoos, grey wagtails.
Why have governments not declared a national emergency and put measures in place to reverse this slide to extinction?
Bridget Goulding, Kilmurry, Co Cork