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Media coverage suggests that Irish Rail is relying on outdated statistics to make the case for closure of rural rail services.
Irish Rail cannot be unaware that numbers using our local station in Cloughjordan have increased in recent years. Last Friday evening, 24 passengers alighted or boarded. Only six of them were residents of Cloughjordan Ecovillage, so there are other factors. There has been a similar increase in usage of the mid-morning train to Limerick.
The status given to a census based on a one-day passenger survey is mystifying. Outside of office and college hours, data for a single day will never give an adequate measure of usage. Without a ‘ballast’ of daily commuters to smooth out any variations, passenger numbers can vary widely from day to day. This variability makes nonsense of any apparent trends. Moreover, a mid-week census will miss weekly commuters, weekend visitors, and leisure travellers, who are likely to be more numerous in rural areas.
Community support is the key to increased usage of rural rail. Communities can provide local contact points for inquiries and feedback, run excursions to attract new users, put timetables in local shops, take care of unstaffed stations, use local email lists to alert residents to timetable changes, get local businesses to give discounts to visitors who arrive by train, and, above all, ensure that Irish Rail management do not lose focus.
The Nenagh Community Rail Partnership has been pioneering this approach in Ireland. We work with NCRP to develop a local focus — and the above figures show that we are making great progress. Similar community bodies have been very successful elsewhere: www.acorp.uk.com gives examples from the UK and further afield.
Just five weeks ago, the undersigned had a productive meeting with two directors of Irish Rail. Our aim was to show the potential to replicate this community-led approach across the rail network. We listed 20 steps that Irish Rail could take to increase passenger numbers on rural lines, at little or no cost. Many could be completed within a few weeks. We also reminded Irish Rail that many local journeys are made to connect with inter-city trains, so the finances of the main-line services would also benefit.
When rural rail services have been neglected for decades, it would be lunacy to close them when passenger numbers are substantially higher than reported, when they are increasing rapidly in some areas (without any improvement in services), and when there is a path towards effecting similar increases across the network.
There is also potential in rail-themed holidays and eco-tourism. Rural rail services bring valuable income to some smaller towns and villages. They could bring far more with proper promotion.
Morag Friel, Duncan Martin, and Rachel Vaughan for Cloughjordan Rail Action Group
Ireland is just one of the many UNESCO member states whose government ministers and media outlets have not objected to the shameful UNESCO, anti-Semitic resolution erasing Jewish ties to the Jerusalem Temple Mount and Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. Ireland’s anti-Semitic stance comes as no surprise to those of us who remember that in August, 1946, Fine Gael government ministers refused to allow Jews into the State, including the 100 orphans found at the Bergen-Belsen death camp.
The recent Palestinian-drafted resolution, which passed 24-6 with 26 abstentions, claims that the site of the two Jewish temples is sacred solely to Muslims. It refers to the area only by its Islamic names. It seeks to deny that the two Jewish temples that were situated on the site ever existed, contrary to what is written in both the Old and New Testament scripture writings and archaeological evidence.
Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his response to the “delusional decision”, also wrote that “to say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall”.
I am 82 and deeply ashamed that anti-Semitism is alive and well in the Ireland of 2016.
An expression in a book I was reading last night made me think of our recent governments. “Too many people say they are ready to carry the stool when everyone else can see that it’s actually the piano that needs to be moved.”
As Martin Stern points out, a main point of difference between Judaism and Christianity is the Pharaisical oral tradition, as set out in Judaism’s Babylonian Talmud (Irish Examiner, Letters, October 29).
However, he is mistaken if he believes that in Christian theology the life of the unborn child is ‘legally equivalent’ to that of the mother. Indeed, Catholic bishops have stated, many times, that all efforts must be made to save the life of the mother during the birth, even if that endangers the unborn child, whereas they say the intentional destruction of the unborn is gravely immoral.
This moral stance differs greatly from that of Talmudic Judasim, which expresses sentiments such as those from Rashi, the 12th century interpreter of the Talmud, who said of the unborn child: “lav nefesh hu — it is not a person”, or, as Rabbi Meir Abulafia has said “...the Torah has no pity on it.” And, not to forget Isser Unterman, chief Ashkenazic Israeli Rabbi, who claimed “The foetus... need not be protected...”
It is sentiments akin to these that have eventually led to today’s tsunami of abortions, and with some now even talking of ‘after-birth’ abortion, as if ‘partial-birth’ abortion was not horrific enough.
I have lost track of the number of referendums on abortion we have had and yet still not got it right.
My suggestion is very simple for the next referendum, whenever that may be: confine the right to vote to women only. This is only fair, as they are the ones who are suffering under our out- dated laws.
Rising rents are one element of the housing crisis; prices are being jacked up by up to 60% and many tenants are being squeezed out of accommodation in which they have lived for years. There was nothing in the budget for the protection of tenants who are now forced to pay exorbitant rents to landlords. Twenty per cent of TDs are landlords, who look after their own interests first and will do nothing for the people in rental accommodation.
Many people who are renting cannot afford to save for a deposit for a house of their own. This is the dilemma the Government has left our people in; it is a kick in the teeth to the 700,000 people in the rental market who elected this cobbled-together government to run the country.
I commend Terry Prone on her trenchant article about the suffering of witches in times past. For any woman accused of witchcraft in Europe, from the 1300s to late 1600s, life was anything but a fairy tale. The lives of such women were conveniently ignored by history.
Women and children accused of so-called witchcraft were burnt in market squares throughout Europe, until this was outlawed from the late 1600s. It is estimated that as many as three million were executed as witches, just to rid society of penniless, unmarried women.
Midwives and herbalists incurred the same wrath from the churches. Europe’s market squares ran with melted human fat for days after yet another burning.
The social order of Europe was turned upside down by the Church’s determination to purge the continent of its ‘pagan,’ female-led rituals.
Germany and Denmark now encourage unfettered female sexuality, yet thousands of women were once burnt in these same countries for being sexual!
While Catholic Spain, France, and Italy championed the cause against religious heretics, the young Protestant Europe led the witch craze which, thankfully, did not reach Ireland.
Europe is very good at hand-wringing commemorations for holocausts. There is, however, not one memorial to mark what was a women’s holocaust, as people just don’t want to believe that the barbarity of witch-burning could have happened.
Shame on those who compound this deliberate ignorance by purchasing a witch’s costume for their daughter.
Witchcraft has nothing to do with Hallowe’en, but this means nothing to the interests of grubby profiteers.
Dr Florence Craven (PhD)
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