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The sorry tale of the 20th century can give us a little perspective on our current difficulties

Letters to the Editor


Troubled times: French paratroopers capture a guerilla of the Communist Viet Minh forces in a swamp during the Vietnam War. Photo: Getty Images

Troubled times: French paratroopers capture a guerilla of the Communist Viet Minh forces in a swamp during the Vietnam War. Photo: Getty Images

Bettmann Archive

Troubled times: French paratroopers capture a guerilla of the Communist Viet Minh forces in a swamp during the Vietnam War. Photo: Getty Images

May I share this quote on perspective, credited to Koushik Roy in the 'Times of India': "For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were an American, and born in 1900.

"When you are 14, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday with 22 million people killed.

"Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until you are 20. Fifty million people die from it in those two years. (Yes, 50 million.)

"When you're 29, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25pc, global GDP drops 27pc. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.

"When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren't even over the hill yet.

"When you're 41, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthdays, 75 million people perish in the war and the Holocaust alone kills six million.

"At 52, the Korean War starts and five million perish.

"Approaching your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could well have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening.

"At 64, the Vietnam War begins, and it doesn't end for many years. Four million people die in that conflict.

"As you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

"Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that? A kid in 1985 didn't think their 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was. Yet those grandparents (and now great grandparents) survived through everything listed above.

"Perspective is an amazing art. Let's try and keep things in perspective. Let's be smart, help each other out, and we will get through all of this."

Robert Verschoyle

Ballymurn, Co Wexford


Enda has earned right to wear hair how he wants

So what if our former Taoiseach Enda Kenny has not had a recent hair cut and is sporting a full beard?

Perhaps he could not find a barber open during the lockdown, or maybe in keeping with his relaxed lifestyle nowadays he has decided to adopt the scruffy look. For a man who got up early in the morning all of his long political career, and always presented himself in immaculate dress, this is a major sea-change in dress code.

However, the bald facts are, whatever attire Enda decides to use in retirement, it's neither hair nor there.

Tom Towey

Cloonacool, Co Sligo


College performance link to Irish language complex

In these times which are difficult for pupils, parents and teachers, I read with interest Katherine Donnelly's article on the Irish language and subsequent performance in college ('Gaelscoil and grind pupils do less well in college', Irish Independent, May 21).

There were a number of postulations made to possibly explain the statistics. One was that the extra points for Irish, "up to 10pc", was a possible cause of this poorer performance.

I think this demands some more probing commentary. All international experience to date would indicate that multilingualism promotes educational performance.

Secondly, the 10pc debate is an old chestnut. It is often included in debates about compulsory Irish. Students do not get an automatic 10pc increase in their mark. The 10pc is drastically reduced as the grades increase. More interesting is how many grades are increased by doing the exams through Irish. Marks certainly do but it is not clear that the actual grades in the subjects increase. It is difficult to get exact numbers on this.

The other factor is that the students studying through Irish, particularly in Stem subjects, have to relearn terminology for their subjects in college.

I think the study's findings are very interesting but more definitive information is still needed.

Tadhg Crowley

Co Kilkenny


Maura and Dáithí's work on Covid second to none

May I please thank RTÉ for its very wise decision to leave Maura and Dáithí in our sitting rooms for a further two weeks.

Their brilliant afternoon show 'Today with Maura and Dáithí' has been a real comfort. The wonderfully casual and understanding way they have discussed the pandemic beats any of the other programmes on the subject hands down.

Brian McDevitt

Glenties, Co Donegal


Memories of Munster and 'loyal Kerryman' Moss

Since Covid-19 put a stop temporarily to sports in March, newspapers turned to reminding sports fans of famous past games and players.

During lockdown I read John Scally's book '100 Great Irish Rugby Moments' (2019) and here are my favourites: when Munster beat the All-Blacks for the first time in 1978, Limerick-born actor Richard Harris sent a telegram: "Your historic victory over New Zealand made roaring headlines in every South African paper. I've been on the dry for 10 months, but I can't think of a better occasion or excuse to acquaint my liver with the drowning sensation of a drop. I wish I was there. I rang Richard Burton [actor and fan of Wales] and although he extends his congratulations, I detected a tinge of jealousy."

Moss Keane was on that Munster team in 1978. When once asked was he afraid of flying, he replied: "Afraid of flying? No. Afraid of crashing? Yes."

He was playing for the Wolfhounds with a teammate who had diabetes. At half-time, when the team was in a huddle, a medic rushed on with a sugar lump and asked Moss if he was the player it was for, only to be told, "Who do you think I am? Shergar?"

His finest interview may have been in New Zealand where he was on his first Lions tour. The other Lions players told the BBC they would not give any more interviews until their team-mate was included, as the BBC feared his accent would not be understood. The BBC relented and on live television he was asked: "Well, Moss, you have been here for two months and you've played in your first Lions Test, met the Maoris... what's been the best moment of the trip for you?" Moss replied: "When I heard Kerry beat Cork in the Munster final." Moss Keane was a loyal Kerryman at all times, no matter when or where. I admire that.

Mary Sullivan

College Road, Co Cork


Helping undocumented migrants is right thing

I read with interest about discussions within Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens about giving legal status to up to 17,000 undocumented migrants.

I was very pleased to know that discussions were happening, and not only does this make sound economic sense, but it is the right thing to do.

I say this out of my 25 years working with the undocumented in Boston.

In the early 1990s, the Morrison Visa programme enabled thousands of undocumented Irish to regularise their status. It brought hope and great joy to the estimated 30,000 Irish in Greater Boston; no longer did they have to live an 'underground existence' with the fear of deportation; the fear of not being able to return home in an emergency; and not being able to advance their career. As executive director of the Irish Immigration Centre in Boston, we helped thousands of applicants secure their green card and eventually US citizenship. Many of those are leaders in their field, are very successful and contribute greatly to the US economy.

The Morrison Visa happened because of the lobbying of Irish Americans and successive Irish governments, especially during the '80s and '90s when an estimated 150,000 arrived in the US in search of work. The Irish Government showed it cared for the Irish abroad by funding organisations helping the undocumented Irish.

My hope is that the Government would show the same concern for the undocumented migrants who come to Ireland in search of work, work that's essential to our economy and to caring for our most vulnerable citizens.

Migrants enrich our country and fill positions in key sectors, often in low-paid jobs where work is difficult.

Sister Lena Deevy

Ballymun, Dublin


Not a good time for public sector to demand pay rise

If Ictu leader Patricia King is expecting pay rises to be honoured in October, I think she is treading a dangerous path.

There are a lot of people suffering at the moment in the private sector. The last thing we need is a divided country fighting over pay rises while others haven't even got a job.

I appreciate what the staff in the public sector have done during this crisis but don't forget, a lot of private sector workers did the same, keeping goods on the shelves.

Tom Mitchell

Loughrea, Co Galway

Irish Independent