Letters to the Editor: Dr Holohan has no monopoly on opinion

CMO is an adviser, not an elected leader
Letters to the Editor: Dr Holohan has no monopoly on opinion

Dr Tony Holohan.

Joyce Fegan’s wish that Dr Tony Holohan would be Taoiseach fills me with horror (Irish Examiner, February 6). The public might trust doctors but many doctors do not trust other doctors.

The inaccuracy of the comment “advice that Nphet has given has been created by science, and fact. It’s not opinion, and it considers only health and wellbeing, not economics” is self-evident. 

Economics has a massive impact on public health. The opinions of Dr Holohan have often dismayed me. The latest, on opposition to AstraZeneca vaccine for the over-70s, is not sensible.

The storage and preparation phases of vaccines should be as simple and robust as possible. Vaccinate as many as possible with any available vaccine is the best policy. 

Also, the 5km radius for living is a matter of opinion, not science. I could go on, but Dr Holohan is tedious and should be cut down to size as an adviser. He is not an elected leader.

As a reflection of policy — remember the mask fiasco? 

Dr Varadkar was correct to call Dr Holohan out last year. People should always question the edicts of our betters.

Bill Tormey

Registered medical practitioner

Glasnevin Avenue

Dublin 11

Martin’s regret on Christmas too late

Our Taoiseach, Micheál Martin (a man I respect), gave an interview during which he is reported as stating he now regretted relaxing restrictions for the Christmas holiday period.

He is alleged to have said that the consequences could not have been foreseen. Unbelievable.

The dogs on the street were aware of the consequences. How can a well-educated man, with so many well-educated advisers, make such a statement?

Very sad reflection of our government.

Michael A Moriarty



EU membership very good for us

In his letter, Pádraic Neary tells us that our relationship with the EU is summed up in the sentence “we forgot you” (Irish Examiner, February 8).
He details his criticism of the EU by indicating that the EU-funded bailout in 2010 should not have had to be paid back.

He ignores the fact that up to recently this country had a net gain from EU policies since entry of €43bn.

He asserts that Ireland had no right to renegotiate the terms of EU referendums and do as any democracy does, change our mind.

He says that the EU does not think that Ireland’s opinion matters.

Mr Neary seems to ignore the fact that membership of the EU, with access to a 500m-person home market is a major boon to this small democracy.

It is definitely an improvement on centuries of exploitative colonial rule from London. It is also a major improvement on the centuries of imperial/ totalitarian wars in Europe.

He also ignores the fact that our public representatives can participate as democratic equals in the administration of this most advanced effort at international co-operation in the world. 

The fact that all the democracies of the EU held together in our support, when our former colonial masters declared economic war on us and tried to tear up the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement, shows that we were not forgotten and that our opinion does matter in Europe. 

All of that is to be appreciated, not ignored.

Anthony Leavy


Dublin 13

TV cameras in hospital abhorrent

Permit me to registrar my utter abhorrence of the decision by RTÉ to send television cameras into hospital wards. This is gross interference in the daily life of a hospital.

Hospitals are places apart, places where the profound mysteries of birth and death are realised daily. With this pandemic the work takes on a heightened intensity.

Staff members work themselves to the bone and beyond, day after day to alleviate suffering and save lives.

Every day they look death in the eye and battle to defeat it, sometimes they succeed, but so often they fail. And when they fail, they face up to the moment of death with humanity and humility, with reverence and respect.

Due to the nature of the virus they take the place of family at the profound moment of death.

This is time for prayer and poetry. It is no place for the black cold eye of the camera.

Máirín Quill

Wellington Road


Kilkenny hit by dose of graupels

Having endured 70 winters, I thought I knew all there was to know about Irish precipitation.

 Apparently not. A man from a neighbouring county, Carlow, tells me I have just been caught in a shower of graupel, further denting my self-assuredness in these disquieting times.

Michael Gannon

Thomas’ Sq


Factory farms mock animal rights

In the introduction to the Animal Welfare Strategy for Ireland 2021-2025 published last week, you will find a very interesting declaration.

“Our starting point in developing this strategy is that animals are sentient beings who can perceive their environment and experience sensations such as pain and suffering or pleasure and comfort, and can give expression to these sensations, sometimes in ways that are easy for people to perceive and understand, and at other times not.

“Veterinary professionals and other experts now acknowledge that in addition to their fundamental behavioural needs, animals’ feelings are also important, while [another] perspective is that animals’ wellbeing is best assured if they can live according to their nature.”

This is a remarkable paragraph. It would sit easily beside an animal rights’ charter.

However, this is not an animal rights’ charter, this is a welfare charter for the next five years.

How can cramming 50,000 chickens into a single shed for their 40-day life honour their sentience?

Many broilers are unable to stand during their final days due to their massive upper body weight and their brittle bones. How does this honour their sentience?

How can forcing a sow to have two litters a year while spending much of her short and stressful life in a sow stall and a farrowing crate in a huge, windowless shed honour her sentience?

It’s all very well producing animal welfare strategies filled with colourful images of the perfect farm with seemingly healthy and happy animals, but until factory farms disappear from the Irish landscape, there is no possibility of animal sentience being recognised and honoured.

The very existence of factory farms makes a mockery of this new strategy.

Gerry Boland


Co Roscommon

Small modular nuclear reactors

Apropos the excellent letter from Anne Baily regarding the Irish Examiner ( efficacies of renewables, February 9), she rightly stresses the lack of landmass to support the country’s energy needs entirely from renewables.

Moreover, a true unbiased cost-benefit analysis of the renewables sector, notably wind, has yet to be undertaken.

All we have to rely on are bloated statistics form the Irish Wind Energy Association.

One canot simultaneously rely on massive amounts of wind and sunshine, dispense with fossil fuel-derived energy, and nevertheless tell people that electricity will definitely be available in the future from wind and solar.

What happens should we get a persistent winter high-pressure system coupled with dense fog?

Germany abandoned nuclear and placed greater reliance on renewables, the latter unable to maintain an energy threshold requirement of 50 gigawatts, essential for domestic and industrial consumption, despite an expanded network of wind turbines and solar systems.

Consequently, Germany will not in the future be able to depend on renewable energy regardless of how much new capacity will be built.

For decades, the French have had 90% of their energy needs from nuclear power.

Ireland should be seriously contemplating the adoption of small modular nuclear reactors as a means of electricity generation.

The additional reason for interest in small modular nuclear reactors is that they can more readily slot into brownfield sites, in place of existing coal-fired plants, such as Moneypoint, Co Clare.

Small modular nuclear reactors development is proceeding in Western countries with private investment. The involvement of these new investors indicates a profound shift taking place from government-led-and-funded nuclear R&D to that led by the private sector.

Energy generation from small modular nuclear reactors enables the deployment of affordable clean energy, without carbon dioxide emissions.

Patrick L O’Brien MSc (NUI)

Kerry Pike


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