Tag Archives: Irish Times Letters

Broadcaster Sean O’Rourke

This morning.

Via Irish Times Letters:

For many years now there has been ongoing discussion regarding the salaries paid to RTÉ presenters. If I recall correctly, one of the arguments presented by RTÉ management was the need to keep their high earners on board, to protect the advertising revenues generated by their shows.

This argument suggests that there is a queue of suitors in the form of independent radio stations ready to snap up RTÉ talent at the first opportunity.

We now see a situation where, arguably, one of RTÉ’s finest current affairs presenters of the last decade is out of contract and open to offers. It will be interesting see how RTÉ manages this situation and even more interesting to see how the independent stations react.

If RTÉ does not seize the day and re-engage, it will bring into question the validity of their stated argument. If one or indeed all of the independent stations decide not to pursue the services of this established and available broadcaster, it will bring into question the business acumen and understanding of RTÉ.

Seán Malone,
Dublin 16.


Irish Times Letters

Previously: Putt Me Back On


From top: a National Maternity Hospital ownership protest last Saturday outside Leinster House; Dr Peter Boylan, former Master of the National Maternity Hospital

This morning.

Via Irish Times Letters:

I read with attention the letter signed by 42 of the current consultant staff at the National Maternity Hospital. One sentence that jumped out was that “all care within Irish law is currently being provided at Holles Street and will be provided at the new hospital”.

No one doubts the first part of the sentence, but it is the uncertainty about the second part which is a key factor in the current controversy.

My colleagues’ fears about misinformation are well-founded.

We are being asked to believe that the Religious Sisters of Charity’s successor company, St Vincent’s Holdings, is secular, while the Letter of Grant from the Vatican directed the Sisters explicitly to observe specified canon laws in setting up the company, and the constitution of that company retains the core values of the order. The directors are “obliged to hold the values and vision” of the order’s founder including that “the sanctity of life belongs to all persons from conception to their natural end”.

The extraordinary claims last week that abortions under the terms of the 2018 Act are performed at St Vincent’s Hospital must be verified. Under the terms of the Act, all abortions must be notified to the Minister for Health within 28 days, with information that includes the grounds for each abortion.

The national report for 2020 is due to be published by June 30th. The Minister must now confirm exactly how many abortions took place at St Vincent’s between January 1st, 2019 and May 31st, 2021 and under which grounds.

I do not believe that Archbishops Eamon Martin and Dermot Farrell can continue to remain silent about such serious claims, given the strict prohibition on abortion in every Catholic hospital around the world, except apparently St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin 4.

The NMH must shoulder a large part of the responsibility for the delays to the project.

First, the decision by the board to cede ownership of the hospital to the Sisters of Charity in 2016 caused public and political furore when it emerged in 2017, and led to the Sisters announcing their intention to transfer their shareholding in St Vincent’s Healthcare Group.

Second, after repeated denials by the NMH that Vatican permission was required, it took until March 2020 before permission was in fact conditionally granted.

Third is the failure by the board of the NMH to submit an acceptable business case to Government. The first iteration appears to have been rejected by the Department of Public Reform and Expenditure in December 2020. My understanding is that a revised business case has yet to be submitted.

Following last week’s Social Democrats’ motion on the new hospital, which the Government parties did not oppose, there is now all-party political consensus that the new hospital will be fully State owned and built on State land.

A rally outside Leinster House last Saturday saw a broad range of civil society organisations oppose the current plan and call for full State ownership, including the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

The issue will at some point come before Cabinet, though much work remains to be done, not least the “double-checking” of the legal advice the Government has received to date, and the resubmission of Holles Street’s business case.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that ownership of the land is a red line for the Government and that there is “a risk” the project will not go ahead at Elm Park if the State does not own the land. In a series of thoughtful interventions Taoiseach Micheál Martin has noted that “he still has concerns about governance arrangements and that there could be no semblance or even perception of religious influence”.

Beyond the row about one hospital, the Taoiseach noted in the Dáil last week that “when the State is investing, the State should own”. Finally, I am at a loss to understand why my colleagues are resistant to State ownership. Surely that would give them the hospital they need and cast iron guarantees of medical and operational independence.

Dr Peter Boylan,

Dublin 6.

Irish Times Letters.

Yesterday: Hospital Pass


Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar in the Punjab region of India in 1919

With reference to the appalling massacre in Amritsar, I have recently been given a book about the Raj, and there is an account of the reasons for the massacre. Brigadier General Dyer had just dealt with a dangerous situation where 100 British women and children were in danger of being attacked by a mob. His reaction was in connection with that.

I had known the two Dyer sons when we were young children playing together when we lived in New Delhi. It was a long time ago (I am 92 now), but I recall that the boys always seemed troubled. – Yours, etc,

Maeve Davison,
County Wexford

Irish Times Letters

Mrs Maeve Davison references a book she read about the massacre at Amritsar which suggests the cause of the atrocity might be connected to Brig Gen Dyer having dealt with a dangerous situation where 100 British women and children were in danger of being attacked by a mob. That was not a reason, that was an excuse.

The very same propaganda was propagated all around the British empire whenever British colonial atrocities occurred, including Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972 and Ballymurphy in 1971.

The events at Amritsar whereby British Indian troops slaughtered hundreds of Indian civilians, reflected the ultimate success of British colonialists in India in that the colonised not alone defended the coloniser but denigrated the colonised. – Yours, etc,

Tom Cooper,
Templeogue, Dublin 6w

Irish Times Letters

AR writes:

Anything good in the Irish Times letters page? Only Chris De Burgh’s mother (top) excusing the massacre at Amritsar, during which British soldiers opened fire on a peaceful protest in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab in April 1919, killing anywhere between 400 and 1,600 innocent civilians. Subject to subsequent ‘correction’, as you’d expect, from a Tom Cooper from Templeogue (above)…


Amritsar Massacre?

Pic: Nehru Memorial Museum

Further to Dr John Doherty’s letter, the difficulty of distinguishing the ironic from the literal in writing has long been recognised.

In the 17th century, the natural philosopher John Wilkins, who married Oliver Cromwell’s sister, proposed that irony should be marked with an inverted exclamation mark (¡).

In the 1960s, the French author Hervé Bazin suggested the Greek letter psi (appropriately pronounced sigh) should be used.

To substitute intonation in speech, Bazin put forward other punctuation marks to signify love, acclamation, certainty, doubt and authority. Since none of these have come into use, perhaps emojis could be used?

Blair Noonan,
Dublin 6.

No typeface for irony (Irish Times letters page)


The queue to get into Ireland at Dublin Airport on the eve of the same sex marriage referendum in May 2015

Brian Boyd makes some interesting observations on what is referred to as “Generation Snowflake”.

As he points out, it is the prerogative of every generation to look at the generation that succeeds it with an often unjustified sneer of pity and disdain. It was the meat that was dished out to us as teens by the generations that preceded us; and we took in so much of it that we want to impose the feast of our moral superiority on a generation whose only obligation, like the generations that preceded them, is to embrace knowledge and to take delight in their own youth and in the marvellous gift of life.

However, a major social experiment has occurred over the past 20 years that has elicited very little debate. The children coming into adulthood now are the first generation to be shaped by the internet.

Once upon a time our parents were charmed when we invented an imaginary friend; now children can have a thousand imaginary friends and we call it Facebook. Rather than interacting with the rough and tumble of real children, it is easier for children to sit in their rooms and morosely compare the amount of “likes” their picture receives in relation to others whom they can so easily perceive to be more attractive, affluent and intelligent than they.

A teenager won’t burn many calories staring at a screen, nor do they acquire much in the way of life skills. Depression and self-harm are a growing issue among the young. Rather than dealing with the individual when they have the courage to present themselves, or castigating a whole generation as “snowflakes”, we should perhaps ask ourselves how smart is it for adults to hand children smartphones and unrestricted access to the internet.

It is an issue that we need to take seriously, otherwise we may find that these “snowflakes” rapidly accumulate into a blizzard and change, not for the better, the fabric and culture of society.

Kevin Ryan

Generation Snowflake (Irish Times letters page)


A seagull on Suffolk Street, Dublin this week

It would appear that there is a seagull out there somewhere determined to buy my car, almost daily leaving a deposit on same.

Tom Gilsenan,
Dublin 9.

Seagulls (Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Kirsten Williams



On display in Dublin City Council Civic Offices, Wood Quay

Vinny O Reilly writes:

They’re really our friends…


I find it curious that acknowledging the increased numbers and aggressive nature of urban gulls provokes such smug hilarity if not outright contempt. The increased number of urban gull colonies in Ireland and the UK is readily acknowledged by ornithologists.

It seems at least plausible to me that bad waste management practices and conscious human interactions (deliberate provision of food) have led to a change in size and behaviour of the seagull population, not to mention their feathered counterpart, the urban pigeon.

Anyone who has tried to eat lunch in Heuston Station will be familiar with the pesky pigeons emboldened by easy meals from foolish people who think it’s cute to feed these flying pests. Meanwhile, outside on the Liffey the magnificent cormorants and herons are outnumbered by those awful scavenging gulls.

Paul Kean,
Dublin 8.

Seagulls (Irish Times)

Previously: Mean Gulls

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews


I see that the ESRI has found that most minimum wage earners are not the sole earners in their households.

This would suggest that people working on the minimum wage [headline minimum wage, €9.15 per hour] can only do so as a viable option because someone else’s job supplements their income and helps to pay for rent, food and other necessary living expenses.

The minimum wage can therefore not be considered a living wage.

Sarah Grimley,
Dublin 16.

A minimum wage is not a living wage (Irish Times letters page)

Yesterday: Union Pandering Surrender Monkeys


National Museum of Ireland

I write to congratulate Rosita Boland on her excellent article on the necessity or other wise of the Irish language. She decries the waste involved in the State funding and supporting something so unnecessary, and I agree with her.

Surely though, we should not stop at our national language in an effort to eradicate this shameful waste.

I propose the following, not exhaustive, list of unnecessary institutions supported by the State that should be scrapped: the National Museum of Ireland, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the National Concert Hall and Culture Ireland. I look forward to living in Rosita Boland’s particular vision of utopia.

Barra Mac Niocaill,
Co Kildare.

Is Irish a necessary language? (Irish Times)

Pic: Juanfran