We need to have faith and believe . . . then everything is possible
Today, I wish to publicly apologise to my country, for last night as Robbie Brady rose like a salmon over Leixlip to head the Irish winner, I was in my bed fast asleep. I have followed my country through thick and thin for decades. I remember my debut at Lansdowne Rd in 1977, when Liam Brady scored a winner against France and I was thrown into the air by my father. I was so happy.
That was the beginning of the love affair with Irish football. I can't believe it is nearly 40 years. I remember the lean Eoin Hand years when we nearly qualified, but didn't, then Jack Charlton took over and it seemed like we qualified for everything. Germany in '88, Italia '90, USA '94, and then Mick McCarthy took us on a voyage of discovery to Japan and South Korea.
It seemed Irish football grew up at the same time as I did. We grew up together and I have always kept the faith. But last Saturday it seemed to change.
I took my family out to watch the Belgian game - my wife, son, who is nine, and two daughters.
My love affair with Ireland was hanging by a thread, and on Wednesday, when I decided not to watch the Italy game with the lads in the pub, the decision sent shock waves throughout my house.
It seems I had given up. I could see no way back. In my eyes, we were doomed. We were heading home. My son woke me early yesterday morning to tell me the result and to give me a big hug. I had turned my back on my country and broke rule number one when it comes to following Ireland. I decided not to believe.
To support Ireland, you truly have to believe that anything is possible. On Sunday, I am going back to March 1977 in my mind. It's Ireland versus France again, back to where the love affair began and if Ireland do manage a victory it will be my turn to throw my son in the air.
Rejoin the Commonwealth
Considering Brexit is a possibility, what should Ireland do, given Britain is our largest trading and nearest neighbour? Should we not follow suit and leave the EU and even consider rejoining the Commonwealth?
There are two billion people in the Commonwealth and these would all become potential customers. We would have potential markets in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and dozens of other countries.
Certainly, Ireland benefited greatly when we joined the EU initially, in particular the farming community, as we were considered one of the poorer countries.
But now, apparently, we are a wealthy country in comparison to other countries in eastern Europe. Therefore we would not benefit any more from EU funding, indeed we would now be a net contributor.
Let us not forget that all the EU organisations imposed the bailout on Ireland. Irish GDP is less than 1pc of the GDP of the whole EU, so why then were all the austerity measures imposed on us?
I will never understand why one small toxic Irish bank, the Anglo-Irish Bank, could possibly have negatively affected all the large banks in Europe.Our political leaders from that time have a lot to answer for.
One last point, the idea of joining the British Commonwealth may be anathema to those of republican or nationalist persuasions, but this would effectively eliminate the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
Templeogue, Dublin 6W
Polluter, not consumer, should pay
A pay-by-weight system for non-recyclable household waste, without a corresponding contribution from or levy on the big manufacturers and retailers of these products, is unfair on the consumer.
To implement a 'polluter pays' policy, we need clearly to identify the polluters. We only have to walk into any supermarket to see profligate waste on every shelf yet there is no incentive for the producer to reduce it.
There needs to be a tax on products that are avoidably polluting, wastefully designed, over-packaged or made for single use only.
A stroke of a Dáil pen stopped millions of plastic bags being wasted and this example was widely admired and emulated.
What about tax relief for companies producing compostible nappies?
The second category of polluter is the consumer who does not separate waste properly because he doesn't care, or lacks sufficient information or incentive to do so.
It was a no-brainer to reject charges for recyclable waste. How to provide incentives for effective separation of all waste streams while avoiding those to dump or burn is the second challenge for the minister. A public awareness campaign is needed so that everyone discovers the vital benefits to our health, to planetary conservation, to our economy and to future generations.
Kinsale, Co Cork
Professionals at the Olympics
Can somebody can tell me when the Olympic Games first allowed professional athletes to compete?
I believe professional golfers may be going to Rio. Am I right in thinking professional tennis players and other professional athletes shall be competing also?
If this is the case, that's fine, but I think poor Jim Thorpe must be spinning in his grave. One of the finest athletes who ever graced the modern Olympics, Thorpe, in the 1912 Games, was the first athlete to win both the pentathlon and decathlon.
Within a month or so after the Games, the Olympic officials took back his medals. They had found out that, prior to the games, he had played baseball and received a small salary.
Would that have happened if Jim Thorpe were not a Native American?
Now we have professionals competing in the Olympics - but at least some small measure of justice was done in 1982, when the IOC presented replicas of Thorpe's two Olympic medals to his family.
Clonmel, Co Tipperary