Tag Archives: Irish Times letters page


The diet of a hedgehog has given it the reputation of being the gardener’s friend. Hedgehogs root through hedges and other undergrowth in search of insects, worms, centipedes, snails, mice and frogs.

They like to make nests with dead leaves and branches, therefore, the pile that makes up a bonfire seems to them a nice place to sleep. So before you light the fire, check for hedgehogs. If you find one, simply release it under a hedge or bush.

If checking is too much bother, at least light the fire from one side only and keep people away from the unlit side so any hedgehogs can hopefully escape.

Eve Parnell,
Dublin 8.

Checking for hedgehogs at Halloween (The Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Hedgehog Street

Colum Kenny

As we approach the blasphemy referendum people on the Yes side who know better continue to claim that the Convention on the Constitution recommended the removal of the provision, while they omit the three significant words “as it is” and ignore the fact that what the Convention actually recommended by 53 per cent to 38 per cent was its replacement with a new general provision on hate speech.

And that’s what a UN committee supported.

The distinction is that between the liberalism of the Enlightenment that understood the balance of rights and the libertarianism of Silicon Valley that resists regulation (of social media and capital for example).

Some Yes crusaders who think themselves progressive not long ago also wanted the legal protection for balance in broadcasting removed because it did not suit them.

Its removal in the US, following a campaign by the right, cheapened public discourse.

Why are Irish citizens who see themselves as liberals or radicals so willing to let the Government set an agenda and claim an easy win by this petty referendum while sidelining free speech issues such as the use of defamation law to inhibit journalism or the prohibitive cost of legal proceedings, and more important constitutional questions relating to the abuse of property rights and other matters?

Colum Kenny,
Emeritus Professor,
Dublin City University.


Blasphemy and the Constitution (Irish Times letters page)


You report that the United Nations has found that Ireland is one of the best places to live. According to the UN’s Human Development Programme Index, we sit behind only Norway, Switzerland and Australia.

This is very strange because, based on a lifetime of reading The Irish Times and listening to RTÉ, I had assumed I lived in a backward, misogynistic, capitalist hellhole.

Karl Martin,
Dublin 13.

Ireland and living conditions (Irish Times letters page)

On page 12 of The Irish Times on Monday, August 27

I am writing to note a case of mistaken identity in the prominent, full-colour photo which appeared on page 12 on your edition of August 27.

In this photo is a man wearing a clerical collar; the caption reads “A Catholic priest walks through a demonstration involving protesters from We Are Church Ireland, members of the LGBTQI community and survivors of clerical sex abuse on the Halfpenny Bridge, Dublin”.

Also underneath this photo is the explanatory note that every Monday the editors select a photograph to feature that “tells its own story”.

If the photo is indeed intended to tell its own story then it needs to be pointed that the man in clerical collar is in fact not a Catholic priest but a deacon in the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church! In addition to his regular ministry among the Estonian community in Dublin, he joins us regularly on Sundays in Christ Church Cathedral, as the Church of Ireland is in full communion with his church. I hope that these small factual corrections might help the photograph to better “tell its own story”.

Rev Abigail Sines,
Dean’s Vicar,
Christ Church Cathedral,
Christchurch Place,
Dublin 8.

The deacon stays in the picture (The Irish Times letters page)

I’ve just heard Pope Francis’s comments during his papal Mass that those who told mothers it was a mortal sin to search for their children and vice versa were wrong.

He said it is the fourth commandment. I looked it up: honour thy father and thy mother.

I’m adopted. Might my mother have searched for me if this society, in fear of the Roman Catholic church, had not shamed her into emigration like so many?

I made a freedom of information request to Tusla. I was shocked to receive 58 pages mostly censored with black ink, many were blank with a large black X covering the whole page and the word “redacted” in the centre.

Your right to identity is a human right; Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) says: “1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognised by law without unlawful interference.

“2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.”

During a Dáil debate on illegal registrations by St Patrick’s Guild adoption society, which dealt with my adoption, Joan Burton TD said “adopted people are still the only people who do not have fundamental human rights in this country . . . there are many people buried in the Irish systems of administration and politics who think the sky will fall in if these rights are realised, but we have provided referendums on gay marriage, reproductive rights and divorce. This is the only issue still outstanding.”

Will the State listen to Pope Francis?

Joan Reidy,
Co Dublin.

Adoption and right to information (The Irish Times letters page)

Pic: RTE

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)