Analysis & Comment

Letters to the Editor: 'Just the work of cowards'

Sir — The Haunting Soldier sculpture, right, marking the end of World War I and honouring the memory of all the decent, honourable, brave and courageous young men, from every country in the world, who fought, died or were injured in it — fighting for peace with justice, freedom and democracy for Europe and the whole world — was meant for all of us to value what these great people achieved for us.

It is a reminder to all to work as peacefully and as democratically as possible to co-operate and end warring.

President John F Kennedy said that if humanity doesn’t end wars, wars will end humanity.

So it was so sad to hear that cowardly gurriers, chickens, scum, selfish in the dark of night and isolation when no one was around, disfigured and defaced the image of a brave, courageous, selfless, upright worthwhile man — a soldier. And then they ran away into hiding.

Bravery versus cowardice.

All they achieved was to highlight their own cowardice and worthlessness.

There will always be cowards. But there will always be more brave and courageous people than the cowards.

By their actions will you know them.

Margaret Walshe,


Dublin 15


We must have space for Brexit debate

Sir – Liam Weeks’s article is most welcome (Sunday Independent, November 18).

The prevailing narrative that everything Brexit is bad and everything EU membership is good, and where aggressive criticism and derision of the former is perfectly permissible but is considered utterly non-PC and downright stupid regarding the latter is a dangerous echo chamber we find ourselves in.

Irish media and broadcasters have in the main been complicit in not encouraging open, measured and mature discussion on the pros and cons of EU membership and in particular the pros and cons now that our nearest neighbour with which we have deep-rooted social, cultural, historic and economic ties is leaving.

It is far from inspiring to see the Irish Government glow and relish at the positive attention and support it is presently receiving from the EU, like a lovestruck teenager as Dr Weeks points out, while at the same time it is choosing to ignore the darker side of the EU as it does its utmost to ensure the democratic vote of the British people to leave results in that country becoming an economic and social basket case.

An institution of the EU, namely the European Central Bank (ECB), threatened to destroy Ireland only a few years ago if we didn’t toe the line and bow to their undemocratic instructions.

We did what we were told back then and thanked our masters for showing us the error of our ways. This same ECB, along with others, near ruined Greece and imposed massive suffering on its people for attempting to challenge diktats from Brussels and Frankfurt.

The Irish Government stood by without as much as a murmur of solidarity for Greece. Britain should not be surprised, therefore, to see the same Irish Government willingly accept whatever instructions and diktats are sent its way from EU HQ regarding Brexit.

Space and freedom to discuss, argue and debate the question “what if Britain IS correct to leave the EU?” must be permitted. Just because the Government wants to shut down such debate doesn’t mean the media has to facilitate it.

Noel Wardick,


Dublin 3


UK is still one of our strongest allies

Sir – I agree with Brendan O’Connor’s assessment of Ireland’s alignment with the EU versus UK post-Brexit (Sunday Independent, November 25). Our shared history (with England) has indeed been troubled but our relationship is on a different footing now.

Our connections, language and trade with our nearest neighbour are of great value and cannot be replicated with any other EU country. Let us not be victims of our history by refusing to let go the wrongs once done to us by England but rather let us assess carefully how best our country can advance and our independence safeguarded.

Our population is too small and we are too remote from Brussels to have any real influence in the EU (without the UK as an ally) post-Brexit.

Mary O’Donovan,


Co Limerick


Britain was never satisfied with EU

Sir – In his article, Brendan O’Connor (Sunday Independent, November 18) says in relation to Brexit that ‘we have decided to sell our biggest trading partner and our closest ally down the river and side with the gang against them’. That seems to be indulging in overstatement to a considerable degree.

First of all, the fact that Cameron was only the most recent UK leader to request ‘reforms’ shows that the UK was never satisfied with the conditions involved in the treaty that it signed with nearly 30 other European democracies to cooperate in matters of mutual interest.

Secondly, it is possible that through Brexit the UK could have torn up the Good Friday Agreement signed with this former colony.

The GFA, together with the recent visit of Queen Elizabeth to the Republic, drew a line under nearly eight centuries of colonial rule.

Thirdly, through Brexit the UK has declared economic war on the citizens of the democracies of the EU. This despite the fact that they had signed a treaty to cooperate with them in matters of mutual interest.

As one of the largest economies in the EU the UK wants to have a position that allows it to take advantage of the rest of the EU, including former colonies of the Soviet Union – not to mention this former colony. The fact that it could do major damage to this country seems to be of no concern to the Brexiteers.

That shows that the UK is not, as Brendan O’Connor maintains, our closest ally in the Brexit talks.

The way the negotiation is going also demonstrates that the members of the EU are not, as Brendan O’Connor says, a ‘gang’.

In contrast to the UK the member democracies of the EU, from the poorest to the richest, have maintained their adherence to the agreement that they signed to cooperate in matters of mutual interest.

A Leavy,


Dublin 13


‘Brilliant’ Tommy

Sir – Sometimes I love Tommy Tiernan. I thought his article (LIFE, Sunday Independent, November 18) was just brilliant.

Marie Nolan,



Licence shambles

Sir – Minister for Transport Shane Ross should visit my local National Driver Licence Service centre.

The booking machines are out of order. There is a lack of seating. People are standing for hours waiting to be called.

There seems to be no porter, or any staff member to assist people who are seeking advice.

If this was in Stepaside it would be sorted.

John Hannon,

Address with the Editor


Bit more balance

Sir – As a regular reader of the Sunday Independent, it has become predictable that the Eilis O’Hanlon and Eoghan Harris columns will have one thing in common – an excoriation of Sinn Fein.

It seems these columnists have an obsession with this party that seems to lean towards bias. Rarely do we see similar criticisms of the other parties – on a myriad of topical events.

A little bit of balance and less vitriol wouldn’t go astray.

Nicholas Parker,


Co Cork


Consult staff about nursing homes

Sir – Philip Ryan’s story ‘Nursing homes to be phased out in the next 20 years’ (Sunday Independent, November 18) reports on Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly’s plans to reform the nursing homes model.

Supporting people to live independently whenever possible is the right option.

But as the previous chair of the Irish Association of Social Workers, I would like to advise Mr Daly that closing all public mental health hospitals has resulted in many patients now living in homeless hostels or remaining for years in acute psychiatric units, taking up beds that are often needed for those in crisis.

In the absence of full multidisciplinary primary care teams in many parts of the country, I think it is both reckless and naive to talk about phasing out all nursing homes rather than improving standards in the homes for those who need this level of care.

Perhaps Mr Daly should speak to health care workers who work with patients both in the community and in hospitals.

Frank Browne,


Dublin 16


Clongowes and gravel football

Sir — Fergal Keane, in an otherwise excellent article (Sunday Independent, November 18), erroneously states that the football game played in Clongowes Wood College, and, described by James Joyce in his novel A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, is rugby.

Contrary to common belief, the game played here is not rugby, as many commentators and writers maintain.

It is, in fact, gravel football and was played on the gravel area at the back of the college and not on the grass.

Gravel was organised long before any other field game in Clongowes and was the dominant game for most of the 19th Century. It was an unusual game and was unique to Clongowes.

The ‘scrimmage’ mentioned by Joyce in the book was a melee, rather than a rugby scrummage, and was an integral part of the game. The ball could not be handled and was played only with the feet, but it could be punched with a clenched fist.

The goals consisted of tall uprights, placed about nine-feet apart but without a crossbar. The only score was a goal and that was registered when the ball passed between the uprights.

Gravel was played during the winter months, the season lasting from the end of September to St Patrick’s Day. In the late 1800s, soccer and later rugby were introduced and gradually replaced Gravel which was phased out around 1912.

Brendan Cullen,


Co Kildare


Keane wearing rose-tinted glasses

Sir — In reference to Fergal Keane’s column (Sunday Independent, November 18), please correct me if I’m wrong, but having attended the Munster-All Blacks match on October 31, 1978, it is my recollection that Christy Cantillon was the only try scorer on the day, following a gut-busting run by Jimmy Bowen.

My admiration for Fergal is limitless, and it may be, merely, that his rose-tinted glasses are focusing on the PBC rather than the (equally meritorious, of course) CBC contribution.

Sean Seartan,


Cork City


Sing both our songs to the world of rugby

Sir — Having watched our wonderful rugby team beat the All Blacks, what a rendition of our national anthem! The crowd sang with pride.

Next year, at the World Cup in Japan, we will not have our anthem played and there is no reason for this. We should do as South Africa do and play our two songs together.

I know as a musician that can be done very easily. I wrote to World Rugby and they rang me and said they have no objection.

It was Nelson Mandela who said when he became president: “If we take away a people’s anthem we will lose the people.”

This is our chance to win a World Cup and if the Irish Rugby Football Union do not let this great team have both songs next year, and if we lose the World Cup, I will not blame the players. I will blame the IRFU for not representing all the people in this country. Play our anthem.

Brendan Savage,


Co Dublin


Mixed messages

Sir — What a mixed grill of matches we’ve had recently — and political uncertainty as well. Our beloved country is in crisis.

I will start with the good news and how proud we all were of our wonderful rugby team and their never-say-die attitude against the All Blacks. Bring on the World Cup.

The bad was having to watch our soccer team drop to such a low position with only Darren Randolph up to standard.

I always loved soccer and played it a lot in my youth, even though it was banned to do so by the GAA bullies. But the ugliest thing of all is the violence at what is supposed to be a sporting occasion, which seems to be getting out of control.

We have a great love of sport in Ireland, so why not make it sport and accept it with grace if you lose as we can’t try to win at all costs. Never in my playing days did I try to hurt anyone.

Brian Connolly,

Co Monaghan


Ask GAA for help

Sir — Why, oh why does the FAI continue to bury its head in the sand when searching for replacements for Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane, when the answer to their problem is practically next door? Yes, I did say next door. Why not have a chat with the GAA and ask how they do it?

Year in, year out, their players are ready to die for the jersey, when they fill stadiums for football and hurling, when their clubhouses and pitches can be seen in every village in Ireland.

In fairness to soccer, gone are the days where the skills of the game were learnt on the streets of the cities. Now it’s all done via data boards and stopwatches.

Suits and those who talk a great game contribute nothing, except that of their own importance. I’m sure the GAA would be glad to lend a hand to an organisation that is fast losing its grip and with it the great fan-base that is the Irish.

Wake up FAI before you lose it all.

Fred Molloy,


Dublin 15


Stay happy

Sir — In the school yard almost 90 years ago, when I started, they used to say a tongue-twister: “I rattled my bottles against Wallace’s back door,” to be said quickly.

Well, it came to my mind this morning and I laughed out loud.

Do you know, it sure raised the serotonin (happy hormone) and I really felt better as I hobbled along.

Real laughing is a must. Hell, I’ll keep rattling.

Kathleen Corrigan,


Co Cavan


All’s well…

Sir — Our parish priest, Father Gerard, makes wonderful homilies. He recited a wonderful old lady’s words last Sunday. I can’t seem to get them out of my head. Wonderful words coming up to Christmas.

Please let me share them with your readers: “All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”

Brian McDevitt,

Co Donegal

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