Sir — I watched with sadness and anger last week’s propaganda circus on Red Square, when Vladimir Putin redrew the map of Europe, slicing off portions to add to his Russian empire. After the recently staged joke referendums, where the occupied regions of Ukraine ‘voted’ to join Russia, it was a bitter punchline.
Putin referred to these recent plebiscites as referendums and, as they took place in the occupied territories of Ukraine, they are yet another Russian crime.
This annexation has to be seen as invalid and non-binding by all. Putin and his cronies knew exactly the results of these elections before they had even happened. It’s ridiculous to hear Russian election officials reporting 93pc of ballots cast in the Zaporizhzhia region were in support of annexation, as were 87pc of the ballots in the southern Kherson region, 98pc in Luhansk and 98pc in Donetsk.
Putin knows the international community did not come down in the last shower — but he also has a domestic audience he must pander to, and an iron curtain that he must rebuild.
It’s heartbreaking to think the people of these territories were forced at the barrel of some Russian gun to give the land of their forefathers to Vladimir Putin.
I believe Ukraine has every right to restore its territorial integrity by military and diplomatic means and I have no doubt that they will continue fighting to liberate these temporarily occupied territories. One cannot see Ukraine ever agreeing to any Russian ultimatums, and we will support them.
But we in the West must also extend our support to Russia’s anti-war rejectionists.
These are the demonstrators who run the risk of arrest, beating, fines, imprisonment and who knows what else simply for disagreeing with Putin’s war. Many poor souls are trying to flee conscription into Russia’s murderous army. It’s especially appalling that they are now unable to enter most neighbouring EU countries.
Russia has transmogrified into a neo-fascist police state.
What a disaster for a once great people.
John O’Brien, Clonmel, Co Tipperary
Sir — The Budget was more generous than expected, but the problem of inflation remains.
The relieving effects of subsidies and welfare lump sums will be wiped out in a flash if prices do not stabilise and retreat from their dizzy heights.
It seems we cannot interfere with market conditions and are unlikely to see price controls brought in by our Government — no matter how high they go.
Energy prices are skyrocketing. Essentials such as childcare costs, food and clothes are too — and the salves of the Budget do not erase the problems.
Health services which should be available locally are not, with many of our people travelling to Northern Ireland or farther, under the cross-Border directive.
Generous budgets do not make things better because they do not address the crux of the problem with all capitalistic economic models: the widening social gap created by privilege and greed.
Maurice Fitzgerald, Shanbally, Co Cork
Sir — With so much talk about the cost-of-living increases, how come no one has mentioned the day of infamy when the Dáil handed over the key to price control to the multinationals and the cartels?
It was the late, unlamented Progressive Democrats that campaigned with the slogan “Let the market decide”, which led to the Government of the day relinquishing its precious duty.
No wonder we have a Government that doesn’t have a clue as to how high the prices of energy and food will rise in the coming months.
If any crisis demands price control should be brought back, it is the present one — but don’t expect the “market” to agree with that. They had their chance, and they blew it. It’s time the Government brought order to a chaotic situation that was of their own making.
For once, let them legislate on behalf of the worker. The big-shots have had their chance, and proved they are not up to it.
Seán Ryan, Dundrum, Dublin 16
Sir — I was saddened to hear of the passing of the Dublin football great Brian Mullins.
He has to be regarded as one of the greatest midfielders ever in Gaelic football and his illustrious career saw him play on Dublin teams that won All-Irelands in 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1983. He was a remarkable man and has left us with some fantastic footballing memories.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Seán O’Brien, Tipperary
Sir — I wish to congratulate Christy Galligan who on last week’s letters page called a spade a spade in relation to thuggery and anti-social behaviour across our country.
He put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, who has destroyed the force by his constant media outbursts — for instance in relation to alleged corruption, citing the 10 to 12 serving members in Limerick and Clare that have been suspended for no reason other than not proceeding on a few minor RTA offences.
Excessive paperwork has now become the norm, depriving the rank-and-file members the time necessary to do their duty. We are now in the lamentable position where there are no gardaí to be seen walking the street — these were the men and women who got to know the local people and were respected by them.
Mr Harris appears not to understand our culture this side of the Border, a culture which has served our people for 100 years.
We now have at least three ex-PSNI officers appointed to the force in Dublin, Why? Were there no suitable candidates already within the force?
I’d ask Mr Harris to remember that for the past 100 years An Garda Síochána has been a police force of the people and for the people.
Seán Corcoran (Supt Rtd), Ennis, Co Clare
Sir — As gardaí fail, and fail visibly, to deal with a wave of assault, theft and vandalism in the capital, why is the Justice Minister bent on inventing new crimes?
Brandishing a hate crime bill that reads like it was drafted at the Social Democrats Ard Fheis, Helen McEntee’s department hopes to award itself even more sweeping power to censor the speech of Irish citizens.
The last time Irish puritanism was at such a high tide Kevin O’Higgins was minister. He argued that the government could not be trusted to police free speech. He was ignored. The Committee on Evil Literature, appointed in 1926, was given draconian powers. They used them extensively and capriciously — banning books by Frank O’Connor, Brendan Behan, John McGahern and Edna O’Brien — not to mention Balzac, Aldous Huxley and JD Salinger.
That era of official philistinism is now forgotten. Once again the do-gooders know best. If this progressive power grab is nodded through, how can any self-respecting conservative vote Fine Gael?
Aidan Harte, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
Sir — Shane Ross refers to Leo Varadkar as a bull in a china shop and says there are snakes in the long grass waiting for him.
I think this is a bit far-fetched. Shane thinks history will repeat itself and that we’re going to see a repeat of the fate that befell the late Albert Reynolds — when said snakes exacted their revenge for the night of the long knives.
He thinks Leo has opened a rift in the Coalition and that he will be taken out by his own party.
He also says Leo should have resigned following the last election. Yes, Leo Varadkar did lose seats, but no other alternative government could be formed.
Shane Ross himself has participated in this type of government — with mixed results — but surely he must have picked up a few little things after all that time sitting at the cabinet table.
Tom Garvey, Claremorris, Co Mayo
Sir — It is estimated up to 80 people under the age of 35 die from sudden cardiac death in Ireland, north and south, each year.
Last Thursday we saw people across the globe come together for World Heart Day in an effort to advocate for better heart health while creating awareness of the many cardiac conditions.
I’m a member of CRY Ireland, a registered charity supporting families who have lost a young person to sudden cardiac death and those diagnosed with a cardiac condition.
We have a freephone helpline and our volunteers are here to provide a caring and listening ear and to offer comfort and support to families and friends. For further details please go to cry.ie.
Noelle Condon, Chair, CRY Ireland, Dublin 24
Sir — The Budget is a bit like Murphy’s dog, isn’t it?
It goes a bit of the road with everyone.
Leo Gormley, Dundalk, Co Louth
Sir — I enjoyed talking to your journalist Liam Collins for his piece about my brother Jim Kemmy (‘Remembering Big Jim’, September 25).
However, it’s important to correct a misunderstanding in the article. Liam wrote that the late Tom Byrnes was proprietor of The Pike Inn in Limerick, where many Kemmy campaign meetings were held, but added that Tom did not vote for him.
In fact, Tom Byrnes was one of the biggest supporters Jim ever had.
Nothing was too much trouble — he did everything he possibly could to help the Kemmy cause, including voting for him.
Joe Kemmy, Greenfields, Limerick
Sir — I am one of the many adults reported as homeless by your journalist Wayne O’Connor in last Sunday’s paper.
I am an ordinary and handy Joe Soap. I can arrange for a digger to dig a trench and fill it with concrete. I can lay a concrete block upon a block and I can fill in between with stones and pour a concrete floor.
I can build four walls and put triangular frames on top, cover them with felt and tiles to have a roof over my head.
All of this I can do and it is still reasonably cheap — but I cannot get planning permission. I’ve spent a fortune trying
Upon receipt of a planning application, the first thing the planners do is to find fault. It seems that the priority is to preserve the countryside for tourists and wildlife rather than the needs of the people they are supposed to be serving.
If there was good constructive planning there would not now be 290,000 people homeless.
Joe Soap (c/o Michael Kiely), Ovens, Co Cork
Sir — An Taoiseach, while in New York recently to attend the UN General Assembly, spoke to the media about the soaring gas prices in Ireland and was quoted as saying: “In terms of Flogas, again, the future pricing is out of our control in terms of what is happening in terms of the wholesale markets.”
Could An Taoiseach be rendered speechless if he was unable to use his favourite euphemism, “in terms of”, which he used three times in this one short sentence?
E McGorman, Emyvale, Co Monaghan
Sir — Colm McCarthy suggests young people are unhappy with modern Ireland, especially over housing and pensions. His piece in the last week’s Sunday Independent centred on keeping the pension age at 66.
He says this would be “unfair on the younger generation”, as young people and their employers must “pay extra, so older people can have an additional year or two of pension”.
Of all the problems in the world, are our young people worried by older generations drawing down a small state pension at 66 after 40 years of work? I don’t think so. Though they may worry about more important issues.
You’ll be hard pressed to find any of Generation Z (those aged from the mid-20s to 40 or so), complaining about the pension age being unfair.
What is unfair to young people is the bailouts we handed to the banking industry and developers, and the house grabbing and rent gouging by the institutional landlords.
I would relegate the appropriateness of a change to the pension age until we solve the myriad of other problems that really worry young people.
Aidan Roddy, Cabinteely, Dublin 18
Sir — the whole world is now aware of the horrific story from Iran of the killing of 22-year-old Masha Amani by that country’s “morality police” for not wearing her hijab in public.
When I first read her story in your paper, I sat silent after reading of this horror.
In my view as a woman, this story should have been front page news. Perhaps Masha Amani wasn’t the right skin colour or from the right part of the world to make us take an interest and stop to care.
More, much more, needs to be done to stop this crime against women — and to be honest, sticking it in the tiny corner of your “worldwide” section just doesn’t seem good enough.
I’m not trying to complain about the person who wrote this article, but I just felt very strongly that it should have been given the light it deserved.
RIP, Masha Amani.
Anita O’Kearney, Lucan, Co Dublin
Sir — Spotted a bumper sticker on a senior’s car the other day: “I am speeding because I have to get there before I forget where I’m going.”
I don’t have that problem — yet — but thank God for sat nav!
Tom Gilsenan, Beaumont, Dublin 9