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Two warrior women taken too soon, but songs in their memory will evoke their heroic energy

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CervicalCancer campaigner Vicky Phelan died earlier this week. Photo: Mark Condren

CervicalCancer campaigner Vicky Phelan died earlier this week. Photo: Mark Condren

CervicalCancer campaigner Vicky Phelan died earlier this week. Photo: Mark Condren

When the news broke that Vicky Phelan had died, I was reminded that music has a way of transporting us.

Her death comes only weeks after Lynsey Bennett’s. Both women were heroic in their fight for justice.

These two ordinary people became warriors for women’s health, and despite the pain, toil and stress they never backed down.

Their bravery and courage, their quest and zest for life and deep love for their families can never be forgotten.

So often we just go with the flow and put things off and it’s wrong. We go through life with a misguided perception that we are destined for long lives, but nothing is certain.

Life is wonderful and precious. Lynsey and Vicky taught us that. They told us to find the wonder and joy in the little things, to appreciate what we have and to hold on tight to the things that matter.

When I listen to Dermot Kennedy’s Days Like This, I will think of Lynsey, who in a Late Late Show interview quipped that she wanted it played at her funeral. Similarly, Vicky, a fan of The Stunning, asked that they play at her funeral.

Songs have always been written for heroes and to recall great events, so it seems fitting to remember these two women through song.

Julie Bennett, Mountrath, Co Laois

Fallout of climate crisis is already affecting millions

With all eyes on COP27 in Egypt, the climate crisis received much-needed attention. But after all the extensive deliberations in Sharm El Sheikh, and at the G20 summit in Bali, which ran parallel to the COP process, those on the front line of the climate crisis still seem to be forgotten.

A prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa has already pushed 22 million people to the edge of starvation, yet we have received little clarity on how global leaders will respond on the massive scale that is so urgently needed to stem a widespread famine.

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We need to be very frank about this. This drought – the result of a fourth successive failed rainy season – is already resulting in excruciating deaths. BBC reports have described, in agonising detail, the slow, painful, silent death that young children are experiencing and the suffering of parents who can only watch.

Can there be any doubt that this devastation – fuelled by a climate crisis rooted in western consumption – is the most urgent issue of our time?

We need to recognise that none of this is inevitable. The collaboration and extraordinary action shown during the Covid-19 pandemic, although uneven, resulted in a massive reduction of suffering and saved countless lives, and we urgently need that now. History will not be kind to us if we fail.

Dominic MacSorley, CEO, Concern Worldwide, Camden Street, Dublin 2

Getting to the (beet)root of carbon footprint problem

The answers to our climate crisis may not all be found in Sharm El Sheikh. This week in local shops I found beetroot from France, onions from Spain and carrots from Denmark.

Surely we could substantially reduce our carbon footprint by meeting as much of our needs as possible locally, if not nationally?

Elizabeth Cullen, Kilcullen, Co Kildare

Lyrical reminder that the times, they are a-changin’

At COP27, world leaders gathered and admitted the waters around them have grown, but have they accepted that soon we will be drenched to the bone? that we better start swimming or we’ll sink like a stone.

Writers and scientists have prophesied with their pens, now is the time to act and our chance won’t come again, as Bob Dylan wrote decades ago. For years the doorways of progress have been blocked by congressmen and politicians have failed to heed the calls for action. The science is unwavering: “He that gets hurt will be he who has stalled.” The battle outside raging will soon shake our windows and rattle our walls. The “old road is rapidly ageing”, the climate is changing, and the old order is quickly fading.

Our sons and daughters are beyond our command, and they have been going to great lengths to make us understand. The line has been drawn, the curse it is cast, as the present now will later be past.

The times, they are a-changin’, and I wonder if our leaders have taken (or will take) the steps needed to make a significant difference? Do the actions they have taken suggest they really believe our world is worth saving?

Elliot McCarthy, Rochestown, Cork

Focus on football and be blinded to human rights?

I am writing to express my outright abhorrence and disgust at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar as well as my concerns regarding how this tournament may be covered over the coming month. The numerous extensive issues and likely death toll associated with this stomach-turning tournament have been well-publicised and documented over the past decade.

It is surely tempting for broadcasters such as RTÉ to, as Fifa so patronisingly put it, “focus on the football” once this tournament starts. As unnervingly evidenced by the sanitised ads currently broadcast on RTÉ, one might conclude this is exactly what the state broadcaster plans to do throughout its coverage of the World Cup. We deserve better than this.

Of course, I am well aware that a ball has not yet been kicked. But as the tournament looms, I sincerely implore RTÉ to take note of the fundamental principles of journalistic integrity that it so often upholds and will hopefully continue to do.

I extend this plea to all organisations engaged in covering and reporting on Qatar. Please do not cave in to the temptation to be blinded by the lights of this World Cup. It is not right to allow the spectacle to obscure the human-rights disaster that is this event.

To those football fans who may tune in regardless, take note of Fifa’s request to “focus on the football” and ask yourself if you should really be giving this tournament the time of day.

Craig Connolly, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Sport should not be used to sanitise oppression

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob tells us, in the context of the upcoming Qatar World Cup, that sport is a bridge for reconciliation, tolerance and cultural amicability (‘World Cup shows we should not tolerate discrimination’, Letters, November 17).

While I am tolerant, as I must be, of people’s right to believe as they wish, I will never be reconciled to a society that deems women second-class citizens or a culture that considers homosexuality deserving of the death penalty.

Although sport may indeed be used as a means of speaking out against discrimination, it should not be used to sanitise or normalise such oppression.

For the first time since 1966, I won’t be watching the World Cup.

Bernie Linnane, Dromahair, Co Leitrim

Beer ban is an early win for true fans of football

It was interesting to read that fans have been left fuming as Qatar bans beer at matches just two days before the World Cup kick-off.

I would have thought it would mean fewer people getting up to go to the toilet, never mind people arriving back late to their seats after half-time, thereby annoying those who are there for the ball, not the beer.

For some spectators this is an early World Cup win.

Stephen O’Hara, Carrowmore, Co Sligo

Why lorries deserve a free ride on our toll roads

As an island nation, all exports must cross the sea, which puts us at a disadvantage compared with our competitors in Europe.

We are totally dependant on the haulage industry, which should get a free ride on our tolled roads.

This would take the HGVs out of small towns and obviate the need for multi-million euro bypasses. Removing the toll on the Mary McAleese Boyne Valley Bridge is such an obvious and simple solution for Slane, Co Meath.

I would go further to include buses, taxis, white vans and hired cars – in effect, the people who are working every day and paying my pension.

Dr Michael Foley, Rathmines, Dublin


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