Tag Archives: Irish Times letters page

Former Fianna Fáil TD and former Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern; Former Fianna Fáil Minister Michael Woods ,who brokered the indemnity deal with the religious.

“I spoke to him in no uncertain terms about the separation of powers in Ireland and how the Irish State was a Republic and about the redress board [set up to compensate people who had been in religious-run institutions as children].” (Dermot Ahern, “Vatican proposed State indemnify it against clerical abuse claims”)

Was it not Mr Ahern’s FF colleague Michael Woods who passed on the compensation bill of a cool billion for clerical child abuse to the innocent taxpayer; and the same paragon of republican secularism, himself, who blessed us with our current theocratic blasphemy law? In no uncertain terms.

D Flinter,
Co Galway.

No uncertain terms? (Irish Times letters page)

Vatican proposed Irish State indemnify it against clerical abuse claims (Patsy McGarry, Irish Times, August 8, 2018)

Previously: Spotting The Woods For The Trees

Pic: Jadedisle

Cyclists in Dublin City Centre

I read with interest your Editorial on cycling safety.

I drive, walk, and cycle around Dublin regularly. I have been knocked off my bike three times, each time by a driver.

The first time a car driver opened their door into the cycle lane while I was going past. The second a van driver turned left onto the cycle lane without indicating (or looking).

The third time, recently, another car driver turned right across a junction I was going through (and where I had right of way) onto me.

These incidents all occurred in broad daylight, and I was perfectly visible to anyone who looked for me. I was fortunate in these to have escaped without serious injuries, but many other people who cycle have not been so lucky.

The common link is that these people driving did not look for the cyclist they were sharing the road with.

While it is all very well to ask cyclists to behave better, and there is a role for that, it just amounts to victim-blaming; what kills and injures others are the people driving cars.

What we really need is to separate vulnerable road users such as cyclists from cars with proper cycling infrastructure such as exists in many European cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Where we do have to share the road, we need to educate drivers to be more aware of people on bikes.

A bicycle has many advantages over a car in Dublin: it’s cheaper, it’s faster in traffic, it’s better for the environment, parking is easier, and it’s better for your health. With better infrastructure it could also be safer.

Eoin Kelleher,
Dublin 14.

Making the roads safer for cyclists (Irish Times letters page)

The Irish Times view on cycling safety: a dangerous road (Irish Times, August 8, 2018)

Related: Irish Times view on cycling safety shows the newspaper hasn’t a clue (Cian Ginty, Irish Cycle)

Pic: Dublin Cycling Campaign


It’s escalated.

The real Irish unity comes in the form of the fan who held up a placard at the World Cup on Sunday in London, which read: “Hockey ár lá”.Take note, Mary Lou McDonald.

Robert Sullivan,
Co Cork.

Ireland’s hockey players can hold heads high (Irish Times letters page)

Pic: The Hook/World Sports Pics


Independent.ie reports:

The €1.5m announced by Sports Minister Shane Ross yesterday at the homecoming of Ireland’s hockey heroes is extra investment for 2018, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has confirmed.

There had been suggestions that fresh funding was the same €1.5 million for high performance programmes announced as part of the National Sports Policy last month but this is not the case.

A spokesperson confirmed to Independent.ie that the €1.5m Minister Ross revealed will be added to the Sport Ireland budget for 2018 and the amount announced in July refers to the 2019 budget.

Some described Minister Ross’ announcement as a PR stunt.


Confirmed: The €1.5m promised by Minister Shane Ross at hockey homecoming is new investment (Independent.ie)

Eircom engineer, Larry Doyle, feeds fibre broadband cables through a cable blowing machine to reach other installers in Knocklyon, South Dublin in 2012

The national broadband plan is supposed to provide high-speed internet services to 542,000 of the most isolated homes and businesses in Ireland.

This will require the laying of 110,000km of cable and cost upwards of €1.5 billion – an average of 200 metres of fibre and nearly €3,000 per home or business. By comparison, the cost of building the long-delayed children’s hospital is a paltry €1billion.

The return on this enormous broadband investment is predicted to be so low that so far no private company has sustained confidence that contributing even a third of this amount would provide a profit.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the cost of attending to the needs of people in remote areas is considerably higher than attending to the needs of those in more densely populated areas. Ireland has, of course, the highest percentage population in the EU living in remote areas.

The 2016 census found that 38 per cent of Ireland’s population live outside of settlements of 1,500 people or more, compared to the EU average of just 22 per cent. The number of people living in such remote locations actually increased by 258,000 (17 per cent) between 1996 and 2016.

Ireland has not been subject to a “bungalow blitz” in recent decades, so much as a “bungalow apocalypse”.

When we consider the poor standards and high costs of Ireland’s public services, the highly scattered nature of our population must be a very significant factor indeed.

Those Scandinavian countries whose public services we most admire have as little as 13 per cent of their populations living in such isolation. This enables them to concentrate their funds to provide superior services in a limited number of locations, while we struggle to provide even basic services over a greater area.

Perhaps the State should reconsider its traditional approach of encouraging isolationists with grant and subsidy, and instead incentivise more sustainable living patterns.

Withholding subsidised broadband might be an easy place to start. The savings could fund a second children’s hospital in Cork instead – after all, if people really want Netflix that much, they could just move to a town with fibre.

John Thompson,
Dublin 7.

National broadband plan (Irish Times letters page)


Cloverhill Prison

Your editorial (July 10th) on the lack of accommodation for forensic psychiatric patients must be welcomed, in so far as any mention is better than none at all.

However, by simultaneously drawing attention to the generic areas of “mental health issues” and “mental health problems”, you manage to fudge (not for the first time in your paper) the core difficulty.

This remains the failure, at the highest level, to prioritise the treatment of patients with severe and enduing mental illness.

Hence the scandal of inadequate State provision for persons who are acutely mentally ill, whether in prison or elsewhere.

The reasons for this failure are many and complex.

However, semantic confusion also plays its part, and it is regrettable to find Ireland’s leading newspaper being so beguiled.

Michael Mulcahy,
Consultant Psychiatrist,
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

Acute mental illness services (The Irish Times letters page)


A modular home by Big Red Barn in Co Mayo

I read Kitty Holland’s article regarding the Dublin couple seeking planning permission for a log cabin in a back garden with great interes. It appears I am not the only one having a frustrating time with Dublin City Council’s planning department.

I run a successful company, Big Red Barn, in Co Mayo. We build “temporary permanent structures” and our products can be seen at many national events, including the National Ploughing Championships this autumn, where our Big Red Barns will be used by seven well-known companies, including Lidl, Limousin and JFC.

I have approached Dublin City Council with our own design of a modular home (not a log cabin), made from Scandinavian pressure treated timber, fully insulated, double glazed, safe and secure, all for €34,000 plus VAT, delivered on site, where each one can be erected in three days.

Despite numerous efforts, I have, so far, failed to get any engagement with the council.

Fortuitously we have a far-seeing team in our Mayo Local Enterprise Office who have set up business contacts between Mayo and Rhode Island, a US state that also has a housing crisis.

We began negotiations with the Rhode Island authorities at the start of this year and the first of our Mayo-made modular homes with be built in Rhode Island this September (following a six-week sea voyage). This new contract added ten new badly needed jobs at our Swinford manufacturing plant.

Why, oh why, is a US state, with extremely rigorous building regulations, happy to buy and erect our high-quality Irish-made product to help solve their housing problems while in Ireland our own housing officials refuse to engage with a company that can have highly affordable houses on site and fully built, in weeks? The Minister for Housing might take note and take action.

Donal Byrne,
Chief Executive,
Big Red Barn Company,
Swinford, Co Mayo.

Modular homes and the housing crisis (The Irish Times letters page)

At the Dublin Bus Ringsend Depot

If we are to prevent the outbreak of panic in our busking community, then it is imperative that we as a society address the urgent concerns raised by Patrick Judge about reconciling the lyrics of Bagatelle’s Summer in Dublin with the new letter-based naming system for Dublin buses.

First, this is a time for calm, and the situation is not quite as grave as he suggests. The line he quotes as “I jumped on the A to Dun Laoghaire” is actually “so I jumped on a bus to Dun Laoghaire” and, thus, need not be changing. It may be worth capitalising the “A” however, to maintain currency, at least in written versions.

Second, of course, this is no time for complacency. The iconic bus is referenced earlier in the song – “My humming was smothered by a 46A” – which is indeed problematic.

It might be best to draw inspiration from how well our neighbours are managing the comparably byzantine Brexit process, and so to use both bus naming systems for a two-year transitional period.

This would allow our ministers for transport, culture and the arts to work together, and perhaps secure Unesco world heritage status for the route. This would obviate the need to retrain a whole generation of street musicians. Finally, Mr Judge is to be commended for highlighting this worrying development.

Brian O’Brien,
Co Cork.

Whither the 46A? (Irish Times letters page)

Yesterday: Taking The A Bus


I see that the new bus system will include changing from numbering to letters A to F, inclusive.

While Billy Strayhorn wrote Take the A Train for jazz pianist Duke Ellington in 1939 (lyrics by Joya Sherrill, 1944), it may be a while before “Take the A Bus” comes into popular use in Dublin. Somehow a revised Bagatelle song Summer in Dublin won’t sound quite the same with “I jumped on the A to Dún Laoghaire”, rather than the iconic 46a.

Patrick Judge,
Dún Laoghaire,
Co Dublin.

Any excuse

Dublin Bus route redesign (Irish Times letters page) 

Image: Clickworks

Previously: Redesigning Dublin Bus

When My Humming Was Smothered

Ella McSweeney’s article on bees highlights the loss of wildflower and meadow habitats and the mass extinction of invertebrates.

An immediate remedy would be to curb herbicide use in verges and hedgerows and introduce a yearly (July/August) cut-and-clear-debris regime to facilitate wildflowers.

Herbicides kill most perennial plants and encourage coarse weeds- nettles, cow-parsley and cleavers, and need to be used again the next year.

Cut-and-clear weakens coarse weeds and promotes biodiversity, with the return of species such as cowslips, ox-eye daisies and native orchids.

New wildflower meadows are a possible solution – they require cut-and-clear if they are not to revert to scrub, or become dumping grounds.

If introduced in existing public parks and grassy spaces, such as the Phoenix Park, a cut-and-clear regime (hay-making, instead of the current mulch-mowing), combined with introduction of the native yellow rattle (which weakens coarse grass and thus facilitates perennial flora), would over a few years create wide acres of “new” wildflower meadows at little public expense.

Dr J Holden,
Dublin 8.

To bee or not to bee (Irish Times letters page)

Related: A third of all bee species in Ireland could be extinct by 2030 (Ella McSweeney, Irish Times, June 28, 2018)

Pic: Donegal Diaspora

Redwood trees in California

Darragh Murphy asks “Why is just 10 per cent of Ireland covered in trees?

Crann – Trees for Ireland is a voluntary organisation whose aim is to promote the planting of trees, especially those native to Ireland. A joint initiative, of which I am the project group chairwoman, in partnership with Birr Castle, is Giants Grove (giantsgrove.ie), the planting of a thousand redwood trees in the grounds of Birr Castle in Co Offaly.

Redwoods were once native to Ireland, and at Birr we are bringing them “back home”, creating the largest plantation of giant and coastal redwoods outside of California.

Crann’s patron, President Michael D Higgins, said at the launch of Giants Grove, “The planting of these mighty trees, here, at the heart of Ireland, is not just an extraordinary silvicultural undertaking. It has been devised to symbolise, too, the abiding bonds that unite those who have passed away and their loved ones and the equally strong bonds through which Irish people all over the world are connected to this island”.

He further said: “We all know how vital trees, forests, and woodlands in general are to our collective future”.

These redwoods will be growing for the next thousand years, creating the perfect ecosystem, of which we can all be proud.

Clara Clark,
(Chairwoman, Project Management Group, Giants Grove),
Co Dublin.

Trees and the long-term view (Irish Times letters page)

Giants Grove

Pic: Lonely Planet