The Irish Government expelled four out of 30 registered Russian diplomats in Ireland, allegedly for meeting dissident republican and loyalist paramilitaries in an attempt to stoke tensions here and in Northern Ireland. In response, Russia expelled two of our six embassy staff in Moscow – one third of our full complement, which is equivalent to us expelling 10 of their diplomats here.
Russia has also been seeking to develop its four-acre site on Orwell Road as an intelligence-gathering hub for western Europe while doing nothing to prevent the activities of Russian-based hackers inserting ransomware software on our health service’s systems, costing us millions and putting lives at risk.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine will cost us billions of euro in aid and refugee hospitality costs, not to mention the Irish-owned aircraft worth billions that Russia has effectively stolen by re-registering them as Russian. Irish lessor Avolon has already lost €173 million this year after it could not get back aircraft leased to Russian airlines.
Now the most popular state-owned television channel, Russia-1, has broadcast mocked-up clips of nuclear weapons destroying Ireland in a report introduced by Dmitry Kiselyov, a close associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
What more provocation do we need before we finally break off diplomatic relations with this odious regime and expel the Russian ambassador who now claims to speak for Ukrainians and has been encouraging pro-Russian demonstrations here?
Surely the time has come to advise all remaining Irish nationals to leave Russia immediately and shut down our embassy there completely?
In the meantime, we can use their ample grounds in Orwell Road to house Ukrainian refugees and, if necessary, sell them off to fund our relief efforts.
Frank Schnittger, Blessington, Co Wicklow
TWO former Army officers have been quoted recently as saying Ireland’s defence is in worse shape than before the Troubles.
The Defence Forces are even less capable of defending the State now on land, sea or in the air, as our numbers are hopelessly depleted. We are under-strength, out-gunned and unprepared. Our troop numbers are down 20pc since 1971, half our ships are tied up in dry dock and our barracks closed. Our aeroplanes are still propeller-driven and are scarcely more technologically advanced than the Spitfires of the 1940s.
We could hardly defend ourselves against a well-organised and fully focused swarm of stinging wasps.
This would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. In light of what we saw on Russian state TV in recent days, we are in a bad place in terms of adequate state defences.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has called on Russian state TV to apologise for airing that clip, but it has apparently fallen on deaf ears. Our state defences are in great need of some swift attention.
Tom Towey, Cloonacool, Co Sligo
I HAVE just been watching a great match between Manchester City and Real Madrid. I enjoyed it enormously, except for the feigned injuries and time-wasting tactics.
Sadly, this is prevalent in the modern game, but it’s very easily fixed: the game should be timed only while the ball is in play. If a player goes down injured, stop the watch and restart it only when the player is fit to resume or has to leave the field of play.
Under Fifa rules, the goalkeeper is allowed to hold the ball for only six seconds. Breaching this rule results in an indirect free kick for the opposition. In all my years of watching football, I have never seen a goalkeeper penalised for this offence.
I believe the permitted holding time should be extended to 10 seconds and a breach of this rule should result in a corner.
For wasting time over free kicks and throw-ins (with 10 seconds allowed to complete the move), reverse the decision. In the case of a goal kick, award a corner. Reduce the playing time to two halves of 30 minutes. In the modern game the ball is only in play for about an hour anyway.
Finally, only the team captain can approach the referee. Yellow card for harassing the referee. The beautiful game can be even more beautiful.
David Cleere, Gorey, Co Wexford
WELL-meaning people are advocating negotiating a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine.
In 2002, Russia ignored warnings about a possible Chechen terrorist attack and the subsequent Beslan school siege was resolved not by negotiation but by the use of the Russian army, including tanks and flame throwers. More than 300 Russian citizens died, over 150 of them children.
If that is a marker of the standard of value placed by the Russian state on its own people, how can anyone expect a rational response?
Eugene Tannam, Firhouse, Dublin 2
It was one of those odd headlines that you often miss, but the story is common in many countries. Sierra Leone now has a law against loitering, which initially sounds reasonable, but it is often just being used to move people on. It often affects those in poverty who do not have a place to go.
There are about 30,000 laws in America, but how many of them help those in poverty rather than make their lives worse? There are too many people in poverty or need, despite whatever efforts they make in life. No one should be punished for being poor.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia
I HAVE no intention of getting involved in the morass of discussing compulsory purchase, leasing land and so on. The national maternity hospital matter is very complicated, so let me add one simple comment. There is no way a public hospital should be controlled by a private company.
If the enormous cost of the new hospital is to be borne mostly by the taxpayer, it should be under the control of the HSE or some other public body. This is the central point here.
Brendan Casserly, Bishopstown, Cork
THERE are at least three reasons why the voting age should be lowered. They are all related to the fact that short-term political opportunism and populism take precedence over the care that should be provided for the future of our young people.
The first, and most important, is climate: it’s a survival issue. But, as in the case of turf, water and farming methods, it looks as if many politicians want to outdo each other in the art of doing nothing. The second reason is the lack of restraint or concern in relation to our national debt, which is growing. This is likely to burden future generations with unmanageable debt.
The third reason is the pensions time bomb and the lamentable lack of courage displayed recently by our politicians in their failure to face up to the issue in a rational way.
Younger people might get a bit more consideration if a bigger number of their votes counted.
Pat O’Mahony, Westport, Co Mayo
IF THE leaked draft US Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v Wade turns out to be true, a seismic shift in abortion rights and possibly other civil rights will have taken root in the western world.
Any student of American political life will know this was the goal of former vice-president Mike Pence and the evangelical right from day one. Trump was just a puppet, albeit a lucky one that got to nominate three Supreme Court Justices during his tumultuous four years as US president.
To those women in particular who voted for Trump, you now have very possibly given your bodily integrity and reproductive rights over to grey-haired men in suits. Was Hillary Clinton that bad a candidate that you were blinded to this predictable outcome?
Tom McElligott, Listowel, Co Kerry