Tag Archives: Irish Times letters page

James Joyce with his grandson Stephen in 1934

Terence Killeeen reflects the predominant view of the late Stephen Joyce as a tricky, awkward custodian of the James Joyce estate. I have a different take on Mr Joyce.

In 1999, while resident in the Middle East, I wrote an article for the London Independent describing the work of my friend and translator, Mohammed Darweesh, entitled “The Last Joyce Scholar of Baghdad”.

Mohammed had recently completed a PhD on the challenge of translating James Joyce’s work. He loved Joyce and Beckett but had few to share his literary passions with in Saddam’s Iraq.

Stephen Joyce got in touch and offered to pay for Mohammed to travel from sanctions-bound Baghdad to London to attend a Joyce symposium in the UK – a considerable challenge and an enormous expense. He was as good as his word and Mohammed travelled to London and on to Dublin in 2000.

It was a rare joyful experience for Mohammed, as his country and his life were subsequently torn apart by invasion, conflict, murder and pointless wars.

Richard Downes,
Co Dublin.

Remembering Stephen Joyce (The Irish Times letters page)

Stephen Joyce, last direct descendant of James Joyce, dies aged 87 (The Guardian)

Pic: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Election literature for Dublin West

Has anyone else received “Sorry I missed you” pamphlets in their letterboxes from electioneering politicians without any attempt having been made to ring the doorbell or knock at the door?

I suspect I will also miss their names on the ballot paper. Sorry.

Pavel Marianski,
Co Waterford.

Canvassing and knocking on doors (The Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Ross Boyd

A tent in Parnell Square, Dublin last month next to a message on the pavement saying, “If I’m not here then please just give the change to my fiance who is in the tent unwell”

This morning.

As a group of doctors and pharmacists from Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, we wish to make an appeal on behalf of a constituency who will not be voting in the forthcoming election.

We provide medical services to the homeless communities and rough sleepers in our respective cities, the most marginalised and unrepresented group in society.

Currently this vulnerable group of patients are required to pay a €2 levy per prescription item.

These patients are forced to choose between paying up to €20 per month on prescription charges or funding essentials such as food and/or their addiction.

This minuscule, perverse tax actually results in higher costs for our already overburdened health system. It acts as a deterrent to these patients who are most in need of medical treatment.

Medicine is prescribed but not collected. Coughs become pneumonia, cuts become cellulitis, sores become septic.

Minor ailments which could be easily treated with a prescribed medication become ambulance calls, emergency department presentations and hospital admissions.

We know that a substantial number of these presentations could be avoided by the simple abolition of the prescription charge for this vulnerable group.

There will be much talk of healthcare over the next few weeks. Can we please eliminate this unnecessary and unhelpful charge for the most marginalised and voiceless?

Dr Kieran Coleman, GP,

Dr Patrick O’Donnell, GP,

Richard Collis, Pharmacist,

Prof Peter Weedle, Pharmacist,

Dr Austin O’Carroll, GP,

Dr Maitiu O’Tuathail, GP,

Frank McAnena, Pharmacist,

Homeless people and prescription charges (The Irish Times letters page)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan has said yoga is not suitable for parish schools

Bishop Cullinan’s crusade against mindfulness and yoga in schools is to be applauded – let the streets of Waterford and Lismore be spared the scourge we in Dublin endure of calm, mindful youngsters terrorising us with their placidity.

Yet this should merely be the first step in ridding schools of subjects that, as his grace notes, are “not of Christian origin.”

We inculcate our children with algebra and arithmetic, as though we are ignorant of these dark arts’ Sumerian and Babylonian roots.

Considering too geometry’s origins in classical Greece (you say pre-Christian? I say un-Christian!), one must conclude that all maths should be banned from primary and secondary education.

The heathen Greeks were also responsible for the pestilence that was natural philosophy, which – in its elaboration by the heretic, occultist and alchemist Isaac Newton – gave us classical mechanics. Thus, let us scrap physics.

Biology too must go, given its origins in a Humboldtian conception of science as separate from religion, while our Creationist brethren in the US and elsewhere have shown the fallacy of many so-called sciences from geology to archaeology.

I know from Bishop Cullinan’s valiant efforts in 2017 to discourage the administering of the Gardasil HPV vaccine to schoolgirls that he is with me in this crusade against science.

Were Herodotus and Thucydides Christian? Of course not – no more than Anaximander or the Imago Mundi. Thus we must ban history and geography.

We teach innocent children English literature, yet examining its development from the bawdiness of Chaucer, to the violence and licentiousness of Shakespeare, it seems clear that English too should be jettisoned from the curriculum.

What of our own native tongue? Tracing the origins of the Irish language back through Old and Primitive Irish, we arrive at ogham, inscriptions in which were (largely) non-Christian.

Ban Irish from our schools!

“So teach them practical stuff,” you say – “boiling eggs and darning socks.”

Phylogenetic analysis demonstrates that the origins of cookery go back two million years, far pre-dating Christianity. Sewing too is palaeolithic, while weaving is neolithic.

Free our schools of the un-Christian tyranny of home economics!

The only subject worthy of being taught is religion, though when the reforms I propose above are implemented, its teaching will be impossible owing to the lack of literacy skills.

As such, we may sack all teachers and sell school land for residential development, resulting in savings of billions to the national exchequer.

Dr John Kearns,
Dublin 6W.

Bishop Cullinan, yoga and Zen (Irish Times letters page)

Catholic bishop warns against yoga and mindfulness in schools (Darren Skelton, The Irish Times)

Houses on Inis Mor overlooking the Atlantic towards Connemara, Co Galway

For as long as I have been reading the pages of this newspaper, and observing political debate more generally, public discourse has been gripped by the trials and tribulations of a place called “Rural Ireland”.

While nobody ever defines where this place actually is, by common consensus it seems to be somewhere, or everywhere, out there “beyond the M50 motorway”.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan was the latest to incur the instant wrath of “Rural Irelanders” by having the temerity to suggest that the radical lifestyle changes, which every major political party agrees will need to be brought about in response to climate change, may require a future with fewer cars.

The reality is that the narrative of “Rural Ireland” is now often deployed as a catch-all euphemistic trope to camouflage the deeply reactionary, car-based culture that we have allowed to develop over the past half-century.

We know from the census data that, in general, the vast bulk of “Rural Ireland” is located within 10 kilometres of a large town or city; those commuting greater than 30 minutes to work typically have higher incomes; and live in much larger houses.

“Rural Ireland” has a lot of genuine challenges which need urgent, sustained attention, but it is not a homogenous space.

North Leitrim is not the same as north Kildare. Much of what we class as “Rural Ireland” is, in fact, the sprawling geographical extension of “Urban Ireland”, or what is more pejoratively referred to as middle-class flight.

As the debate on what we do about climate change intensifies, so too will the prominence of “Rural Ireland”.

It therefore behoves us to have more nuanced media reporting. This will require a recognition that; not only does its car-dependent legacy create very many real and practical problems for decarbonisation; it is also a state of mind that needs to be challenged.

Gavin Daly,
Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place,
University of Liverpool.


Finding ‘Rural Ireland’ (The Irish Times letters page)

Previously: It Takes A Village

‘We Deeply Regret The Hurt That Has Been Caused’


Senator Ivana Bacik

Brian Dineen takes issue with Mia de Faoite’s article supporting the 2017 Irish law criminalising the purchase of sex.

However, he has missed her crucial point about decriminalisation of the (mostly women) sellers of sex.

It is true that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 did not repeal some ancillary offences that can criminalise those engaged in organised prostitution or in pimping, such as the offences of brothel-keeping or of living off the earnings of a prostitute.

Most rational people would agree that these clearly exploitative behaviours should remain criminal offences.

But the 2017 Act did repeal the critical provision in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 under which many individual women had been prosecuted for the offence of offering their services as a prostitute in a street or public place.

This change has effectively decriminalised the practice of selling sex in public, as we suggested on the Oireachtas Justice Committee which recommended the introduction of the 2017 law.

Mr Dineen also suggests that the criminalisation of the (almost invariably) men who buy sex has led to increased violence against women engaged in prostitution.

However, there is no evidence for this assertion.

Indeed, on the Oireachtas Justice Committee we heard strong evidence from Sweden that criminalising buyers can have a significant effect on reducing demand for prostitution and thereby reducing the harms caused to women through prostitution.

Mia de Faoite and others have spoken powerfully from their own personal experience about these harms, and about the grim reality of selling sex; it is inherently dangerous.

That is why, as legislators, we sought to tackle harm through reducing demand.

Our law, like the 1999 Swedish law, is also premised upon the core principle of equality.

Laws that facilitate the purchase of sex undermine women’s equality by enabling men to buy sexual consent.

But if consent is bought, it is not freely chosen. Those who take issue with our 2017 law tend to overlook that reality.

Senator Ivana Bacik,
Seanad Éireann,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2.

Criminalising the purchase of sex (Irish Times letters page)



Sex Workers Alliance Ireland tweetz:

We are looking for sex workers to participate in a study into the lived experiences of sex workers in the Republic of Ireland in relation to prostitution law, conducted by SWAI.

Please email linda@swai.eu if you are interested in talking to us

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland

Previously: “It Is An Extremely Dangerous Piece Of Legislation”

Why is it that we say that two men rescued a child from drowning, or two men won a Nobel Prize, but we say that two males were arrested for burglary, or two males were brought to hospital after a traffic accident?

Is a man only a “male” when he does something bad or comes to the attention of the emergency services?

Aoife Lord,
Co Meath.


When is a man a male man? (Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Dreamstime

Meath TD and Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty

The resignation of Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty, on foot of the very expensive Public Services Card debacle, is not “compulsory”, but it is “mandatory” if we are serious about the creation of accountable governance.

Jim O’Sullivan,

Public Services Card debacle (The Irish Times letters page)

Previously: House Of Card


Cows cool off in County Cavan in the summer of 2017

Máire Geary is of course correct to point out that those who adopt a vegan diet “should be mindful of where food is sourced and grown when adopting this type of diet” because of the contribution of the relevant “food miles” to environmental harm.

It is indeed the case that vegans consume foods “not grown in Ireland and imported from long distances”.

However, the implication that vegans are significantly different in this respect from their fellow citizens is difficult to accept. Ireland is a country where more than 90 per cent of the agricultural land is used for grazing livestock.

Predictably, in order to give citizens even a moderately balanced diet, we have to import large amounts of nearly everything that is not meat and dairy. Indeed much of the crops we do produce are grown as feed for animals.

Those trying to reduce or eliminate their intake of animal products may not have emission-free diets, but at least they can hope that their behaviour will begin to change the pattern of demand, and that more than a tiny fraction of that glorious Irish soil will be used to grow some vegetables.

Christopher McMahon,
United Kingdom.


Climate change and veganism (The Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Lorraine Teevan




Thanks Bebe