Letters to the Editor: City council: Give us a sign that you are listening

Letters to the Editor: City council: Give us a sign that you are listening

Flames projected on Cork City Hall to mark 100 years since The Burning of Cork. Picture: Larry Cummins

On Friday night last Cork City Council organised a special commemoration ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the Burning of Cork. However, no Irish Sign Language (ISL) interpreter was provided for the event, either on the online live stream or the television broadcast, which was shown on RTÉ News Now.

The Irish Sign Language Act, which recognises ISL as the language of the deaf community, was passed in December 2017 and commences this month, but in these three years, it feels as though nothing has changed. Access for deaf people at Friday night’s ceremony was the same as it would have been 100 years ago, ie none.

Work is under way at present to implement certain provisions of the ISL Act, such as a register of interpreters. The Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College is also running a training programme for people from the deaf community (including two from Cork) to become deaf Interpreters. This branch of sign language interpreting is well established in other countries, but it is still relatively new in Ireland.

In addition to the ISL Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, EU Directives on accessibility, the Equality Act and broadcasting standards are all in place to uphold the rights of deaf citizens of Ireland to access information on an equal footing to others in society. This includes events of historical and cultural significance. The deaf community should not have to organise an access campaign for every public event run by the council.

The Cork deaf community is extremely disappointed with Cork City Council and with the government, represented at the ceremony by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, for ensuring that members of the community were again excluded from a public event that should have been accessible to all.

In his speech the taoiseach talked about building a better future for tomorrow. But for deaf people in Ireland tomorrow means reading a brief summary of yesterday’s news.

In recent years, ISL interpreters have been provided at a small number of “fun” events hosted by City Hall, such as the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade, a few Culture Night activities and at the turning on of the Christmas lights. The deaf community always turns out in good numbers at these events. But rather than having access at so-called public events chosen for us, we in the deaf community will welcome the day when we can choose the events we attend according to our own interests. That would be a better tomorrow for us.

Graham O’Shea

Chairperson, Cork Deaf Club

MacCurtain Street, Cork

NOTE ADDED DECEMBER 16: 

Director of corporate affairs at Cork City Council Paul Moynihan said: "Numerous changes were made in the days running up to Friday and with the technical and Covid event management complexities, the transmitted version didn’t carry any sub-titling, which would obviously have added to our broadcast.
"We are looking at creating a final official video and I am very happy to look at an ISL friendly version as part of this."

You’re not only nursed, but loved

I hope it’s true to say that we have all appreciated those who work in the healthcare services more this year than ever before, but it’s only when ill health forces you into the system you get a glimpse of how much harder life is for them in the current climate.

It’s frightening for those of us who have vulnerable people in our lives, such as children or those who cannot speak up for themselves, to have to leave them alone in a strange place when they are at their lowest ebb.

Their sense of bewilderment and abandonment only adding to our guilt and worry.

Our recent incident involved a late night scare, made less scary by the presence of a great friend and medical professional who left her home long after her bedtime to come to our aid, followed by a late night ambulance dash and five days in hospital.

From the moment that paramedics Michael and Tadgh took my partner into their ambulance until the moment he left Cork University Hospital five days later, following a full NCT, the medical and pastoral care was exemplary.

The additional work caused by current restrictions means the medical staff also become your eyes and ears, having to reassure not only the patient but those of us anxiously waiting on the end of the phone, and that’s before they even begin to do their job of nursing them back to health.

From the moment that paramedics Michael and Tadgh took my partner into their ambulance until the moment he left Cork University Hospital five days later, following a full NCT, the medical and pastoral care was exemplary.
From the moment that paramedics Michael and Tadgh took my partner into their ambulance until the moment he left Cork University Hospital five days later, following a full NCT, the medical and pastoral care was exemplary.

Stepping into your shoes they try to maintain the love that the patient left at the hospital door, no easy task when you’re dealing with vulnerable people who are scared and sick.

And whilst I missed my person, and worried, deep down I knew he was not only nursed, but also loved.

To all the nurses, doctors and staff in the emergency department and ward 4C at CUH, to the paramedics, to great friends who come when you need them, thank you all, I really don’t know what we would do without you.

Kate Durrant

Blarney, Cork

Labour’s right: Born here, belong here

I would like to highlight an issue that has, since 2004, been affecting every second generation migrant who has been living in Ireland. It is the issue of birthright citizenship which was removed as a constitutional guarantee, after a political campaign filled with misinformation and xenophobia. Furthermore, current legislation does not provide for birthright citizenship, which it could and should.

Hence, I would like to commend Labour Youth and the Labour Party on launching their “Born Here, Belong Here” campaign and the Irish Nationality and Citizenship (Citizenship for Children) Bill, aimed at restoring birthright citizenship. Currently, children who have grown up and built their lives here often face difficulties accessing education, getting a passport, voting and more. In worst cases it leaves children born here undocumented for years. Some can even be deported to a country which they don’t know. It is wrong, blatantly xenophobic and completely unnecessary. It does not represent who the Irish are as a nation — we are, after all, the land of a hundred thousand welcomes.

The cost of acquiring Irish citizenship exceeds €1,000. This particularly affects working class people. As a frontline worker in retail, I couldn’t imagine being able to afford citizenship any time soon, given the low wages in the sector and the current high cost of living. This is something that should be a given right to all born in our country.

Second generation immigrants are in all ways just as Irish as non-foreign nationals, they shouldn’t have to ‘buy’ citizenship just to be equal with others. Being a 23-year-old first generation immigrant from Poland, I couldn’t imagine my life outside of Ireland. I am proud to say that this is because of Irish people’s hospitality and integrity. I feel a part of Ireland and no doubt so would my children. It is difficult to imagine where Ireland, with a prominent tourist sector and vibrant, diverse culture and social and economic scenery, would be without immigrants, who have worked hard alongside us all for it. I am therefore delighted that the Labour Party’s bill is making progress in the Oireachtas and that this government is, for once, seeing sense and wants to cooperate with the opposition. Let’s value our humanitarianism, open-mindedness and hospitality. Let’s make sure that our country remains diverse, welcoming and beautiful to all.

Szymon Pindel

Kinsale, Co Cork

Limerick dark-art hits blotted win

Limerick hurlers were immense, awesome, superb. Hard to see how any team could have lived with them on the day. Their hyper-fitness, intricate precision teamwork and phenomenally eerie accuracy were simply “imperious” as Dónal O’Grady flags in his match appraisal (December 14).

Limerick manager John Kiely and Dan Morrissey celebrates winning the All Ireland Hurling Final.
Limerick manager John Kiely and Dan Morrissey celebrates winning the All Ireland Hurling Final.

Sadly, however, I feel that they blotted their wonderful copy-book very badly, with a series of dark-arts tackling hits and strikes which were both unnecessary for the winning of the match and totally beyond the pale of sporting decency. It flies in the face of ethical sportsmanship to stoop so low.

They are, of course, fully deserving All-Ireland champions again, on foot of their hurling skills and consummate dedication. But the cynical hits were no less than appalling at times and unbecoming of true champions, besmirching their achievement and bringing the game into disrepute for any fair-minded observer.

Such things will be forgotten as time ebbs away. It’s becoming a regular facet GAA encounters these days, that not only is the opposition’s key player closely marked in terms of tactical play, but physically marked with below-the-belt hits and thumps.

Does hurling have to suffer such grim travesties of sportsmanship to thrive ? With seven officials supposedly keeping an eye on events on the field of play, it’s hard to reconcile how such dark-arts play is so frequently overlooked for sanction. Is it time to have occasional retrospective video scrutiny to illuminate some explicitly dangerous play/fouling?

Jim Cosgrove

Lismore, Co Waterford

Try Googling volunteerism

YouTube failing is the modern equivalent of a power failure and thus no TV.

What do we do? We might have to speak to our family. We might find out that Monopoly comes in a physical version.

More importantly, we won’t be able to upload our latest, greatest video clip. Time to send in a strongly worded protest email? What? Gmail is also down?

Another advantage of living in Australia, apart from almost being free from Covid-19, is that this happened during our night time hours.

With the weird, and scary 2020, it might be best to revaluate what is actually important, our families, our friends and our health, not our screens. Turn off the screens voluntarily and go out to see how you can volunteer to make the world better. Go on, lots of other people are already out there.

Dennis Fitzgerald

Melbourne, Australia

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