Sir - I feel compelled to write because of the fiasco unfolding about the Leaving Cert.
I understand the Government is in a difficult position, but at this stage they simply must make a decision without delay.
My daughter is due to do the Leaving Cert this June. On returning to school the teachers basically said this year there would definitely be exams (that's what the Government said, too), so she concentrated from September on those exams.
She didn't place as much emphasis on class exams as she was expecting predicted grades. However, the teachers went all out on class exams, nearly having daily class tests (which make study impossible).
The pendulum then swung the other way and a form of predicted grades was expected. The talk is of a choice - either exam or predicted grades.
Sorry, but how do you expect 18-year-olds, under severe pressure, to make a choice like that?
Then we've the ASTI acting totally irresponsibly, walking out of talks. Now we have reached mid-term break and my daughter doesn't know what to do - and I don't know what to tell her.
At this stage I think the same system as last year should be put in place - predicted grades and the option of doing an exam later in the year if the student is not happy.
A decision must be made and students informed today.
Name and address with Editor
Youth paying price for our mistakes
Sir - Why are Ireland's youth not playing sport, or at least training? For nearly a year our children have been bereft of the full interaction they need to grow as individuals. Children learn through play. Without this interaction, what will be the consequences for their mental health?
Most parents bemoan the amount of time their children spend on technology, but I think the battle against the obsessive insularisation of our kids has been lost in many houses.
Sport, music and learning are the tools children use to individualise; they are the tools that give them self-realisation, self-worth and freedom.
I coach an U-12s team. During the last relaxation of restrictions parents dropped their kids off at the training venue and left. There was very little interaction among adults, but the kids got to train three times a week.
Now that the schools are about to reopen, things are looking up. But the surge in Covid cases after Christmas had little to do with children playing sport - and almost everything to do with adults not following guidelines. Yet it was our children who were punished.
We need to achieve a balance that protects our children's future mental health.
Media bias on full display with Biden
Sir - That was an interesting article by Peter Vandermeersch on journalism last week, in which he stated that "we have to be open to answering questions from readers" and "stronger trust in journalism could be one of the essential ingredients of a better society".
I couldn't agree more, but this would certainly make for a much different form of journalism to what we have now.
The US election and the coverage of the Trump presidency are perfect examples of what is wrong. All we have had here and in the US was biased reporting - Trump bad, Biden good - supported only by, dare I say it, 'fake news'.
During the election campaign, Trump was subjected to every possible scrutiny, which would have been acceptable if only the same had applied to Joe Biden.
The violence on Capitol Hill, which would not have happened if sufficient police had been on duty, did not compare with the violence in Democrat-run cities which were not even condemned by the Democrats. The reason for the lack of security was probably because all the Trump rallies had been peaceful, apart from attacks on some of the supporters.
Money also played a big part in the win for the Democrats. The Democratic Party is now the elite one with the support of the richest in the US. It will be interesting to see how the Biden presidency works out, but from the evidence to date it will not help the poorest citizens.
First off was the diverting of funds to International Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the world. Then there was the stoppage of the oil line, putting thousands out of work. After that was the opening of the Mexican border, allowing unchecked entrance to the US and fewer jobs for Americans. Are our borders allowing unchecked entrance to our country and our workforce?
Fake news able to claim real victims
Sir - Good journalism is more important now than ever. I was pleased to read Peter Vandermeersch's comment that Mediahuis has launched a trust programme within their group.
I have lost a son to fake news and the conspiracy theories of QAnon. I am faced with what was a highly intelligent, highly educated, articulate and loving son to one who is intent on indoctrinating his mother on satanic rituals, false and fake media, body doubles, etc.
He doesn't communicate with me much anymore. I had to stop dismissing such content as rubbish and advising him on real life issues as he just argued loudly.
I keep in brief contact every other day as I'm the one and only person in his life who is somewhat grounded. I miss him greatly. However, in order for me to keep grounded and sane, I yearn for, and depend on, good journalistic integrity.
So, thank you to all those hard-working journalists out there who are at pains to look for, and publish the truth.
Name and address with Editor
EU contribution can't be ignored
Sir - In a letter last week, one of your correspondents tells us in very negative terms about "our relationship with the EU".
He details his criticism of the EU by using terms such as "foul up", "a taker rather than a giver".
He also says the EU does not think that Ireland's opinion matters and that it "will nullify any advantage Ireland has in attracting investment".
He seems to ignore the fact that membership of the EU, with access to a 500-million home market, is a major boon to this small democracy of ours.
He ignores the fact that our public representatives can participate as democratic equals in the administration of this most advanced effort at international co-operation in the world.
The fact that all the EU democracies held together in support of us when our former colonial masters declared economic war on us and tried to tear up the Good Friday Agreement shows that our opinion does matter in Europe. All that is to be appreciated - not ignored.
Sutton, Dublin 13
Don't bank on any sense of gratitude
Sir -Last year my wife and I paid off a very small balance on a mortgage we took out 30 years ago to establish a business and raise a family. I am more than proud of how we have done. However, my pride appears only to be reserved to ourselves.
Several years ago I went guarantor on a bank loan that the borrower did not pay, but I, over many years, paid off the debt and received what I would call a genuine letter of appreciation from the bank manager, thanking me for discharging my liability.
Millions of euro have been written off by our banks, on all sorts of mortgages, private and commercial - but yet, having discharged our liability, in full, not a word of appreciation or thanks to the people from our bank manager.
There was a time when I would spell that 'bank manager' in capitals. Not anymore. Who even knows their bank manager today? After all, it was their money we borrowed - maybe not, I am still paying taxes to bail out my lender, a bank owned almost entirely by the State, but hold on, that's me and you, or is it?
Kilmore, Co Wexford
This hardy bunch survives
Sir — I am an 81-year-old widower living on my own and I am fed up with all the
so-called experts telling me that I should be lonely, depressed and vulnerable to Covid, etc.
I am not. Sure, I do not see my family and friends as much as I would like to and I miss my travels — but so be it. I am a positive person. I don’t let these things get me down.
I’m well able to look after myself and I continue to do my shopping as I never considered that cocooning applied to me.
I am sick and tired of all the moaning and groaning, and have had it up to here with all the negativity shown by the middle-aged politicians who seem to call the shots.
Those of us born before 1940 were born before television and discos and before man walked on the Moon.
It was a simpler time. We thought “fast food” was what you ate three times a day during Lent and “sheltered accommodation” was where you waited for the bus.
“Making out” referred to how you did in your exams and “going all the way” meant staying on that bus right to the terminus (after you had caught it from your sheltered accommodation).
We were a hardy bunch. And we still are. So don’t patronise us. We have survived and, with the grace of God, we will continue to do so. You might be so lucky. Accept the situation we are in and adopt a positive attitude — like Professor Luke O’Neill. He is the only person worth reading about Covid; all the other contributors are all too negative.
Remember, this is only a temporary situation we are in and it shall pass.
Sutton, Co Dublin
Picking up the tab for pubs
Sir — Following in the footsteps of the PMPA, Quinn and Setanta insurance levies on the public’s insurance policies, is there now to be a pub levy on the Irish public in the light of the FBD court decision?
Gowran, Co Kilkenny
Hannigan played like a rock star
Sir — I was very sad to learn of the recent death of Ben Hannigan, a superstar of League of Ireland football from the days when schoolboys in Dublin dreamed of playing for Shels, Bohs and Rovers just as much as they did for Man United or Liverpool or the Dubs.
Ben Hannigan’s name was shorthand for a unique, swashbuckling style of upfront, two-footed football that won him three League and two Cup medals in a glittering career with a variety of Irish clubs.
Sometime in the late 1960s (long before selfies), I remember asking Ben for his autograph when I saw him playing football with his pals in Fairview Park.
Though I’d seen him from the terraces on many occasions, up close that day he looked like the coolest dude on the planet — a shock of unruly hair, tall, stripped to the waist, hipster denim bell-bottoms, bare feet.
If he wasn’t playing football, he looked like he was on his way to playing a gig at Woodstock.
Not alone did Ben give me his autograph on an ice-cream wrapper (writing on his knee) but he also played a few one-twos with me.
His memory will live on as a gifted footballer of the League of Ireland’s golden age. In a kickabout in Fairview Park, even a kid could see his star quality.
Terenure, Dublin 6
Big Phil would’ve made bigger mess
Sir — There seems to be an undercurrent forming that if Phil Hogan were still an EU commissioner then Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol would not have been invoked.
Given the Kilkenny’s man belief that “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” (his words), it’s probably likelier than not that if the former trade commissioner were still in situ then a Brexit deal would not have been done before December 31.
If Ursula von der Leyen were anything like Phil Hogan and had not only failed to realise her mistake when it was pointed out to her but also had taken no actions to rectify it, then we would now be in full-blown crisis in Northern Ireland.
Tournageehy, Co Kerry
Sport is a path that takes us to heaven
Sir — Last Sunday I tuned into mass on the web, broadcast from Blackpool in the heartland of Glen Rovers hurling club in Cork city.
In his sermon the celebrant related that before mass he goes to O’Reilly’s garage every Sunday morning to get a cup of coffee and the Sunday Independent.
That morning he had read Dermot Crowe’s article on Sean Flood’s disappointment on missing the All-Ireland hurling final in 1996 through injury.
The sermon concluded with a quote from Flood’s speech to his fellow Wexford players on the morning of the final: “You don’t realise what you have until it is taken away from you.”
It was a good mass — and it showed how sport and religion can combine to inspire hope of victory, even in a Covid lockdown.
Clonakilty, Co Cork
Love is... what we do all year round
Sir – Although Valentine’s Day is lovely and we sure do need something to cheer us up in these hard times, love is not about spending money on flowers and chocolate one day a year. It’s about all the little things we do for each other every day.
It is love that kept us going in 2020 up until now in 2021. All the sacrifices people made for one another and the good deeds that were done. The hard decisions that had to be made, and the heartbreak for some people. It brought many families closer together and made us think of others instead of ourselves.
Many poems and songs have been written about love and when times are tough and we are up against it, it is love that binds us and keeps us together.
Love is powerful and wonderful and not to be confined to one day. There are 364 other days — and I bet if you ask anyone what makes them happy then they won’t say flowers or chocolates on St Valentine’s Day. They will say health and being able to get out for a walk. They will say family and friends. Sunshine and lovely views and many more things.
Just remember, every day can be Valentine’s Day if that is what we want.
Lord mayors must be remembered
Sir — Congratulations to Liam Collins on last Sunday’s article on the killing of two lord mayors in the War of Independence in Limerick.
Quite rightly he pointed out that it was mercenaries that supported the British army who killed the lord mayors.
Cork County Council has two lovely statutes outside its building in memory of its two lord mayors killed in the War of Independence, Terence MacSwiney and Tomás Mac Curtain.
In this centenary, perhaps Limerick would consider doing the same in memory of George Clancy and Michael O’Callaghan.
Sutton, Co Dublin
Embrace the life we have today
Sir — How to survive the pandemic and remain sane? It’s how you react to it that counts. Just go with the flow.
Firstly, follow the sensible guidelines. We have time to appreciate, enjoy our home, family, and belongings. Music, books, what you put aside, for when you had time.
Sunday religious services in your warm bed, too, when it’s freezing outside.
Home deliveries, whatever you need, with no need to go shopping.
If you are lucky, not going to work, but paid to stay at home.
Enjoy our new normal lives.
Blackrock, Co Dublin