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Dear Sir... Readers' Views (21/12/16)

Your letters, your views.

Only wish is best for our sick children

I write in reply to the recent article that you published by Professor Jonathan Hourihane.

Professor Hourihane suggested that I, as a developer of private hospitals, was irrelevant in relation to the proposed National Childrens Hospital, and that I was interested only in developing for profit private facilities.

This statement could not be further from the truth.

I was cooped to the board of Crumlin Childrens Hospital some 15 years ago with a view to helping and advising them on the redevelopment of Crumlin Hospital. After considerable thought and analysis, I recommended that the future of the hospital was on a green field site, with easy access, parking, room for future expansion and the multiplicity of benefits that a parkland setting can add to the holistic care of our children and grandchildren.

Since then, I have campaigned endlessly against inner city sites, initially proposed at the Mater, and subsequently at St James’s Hospital.

I submitted a 17-page objection to the planning application for St James’s site as a private individual because of my concerns of its unsuitability.

At the recent Oireachtas Health Committee hearing, I offered my services and expertise on a purely voluntary, pro-bono basis, to help deliver the childrens hospital on a green field site adjacent to Connolly Hospital.

I happen to be a retired orthopaedic surgeon, as well as an engineer, developed the Blackrock, Galway and Hermitage Clinics in the past, as well as working in the public service for many years. During this time, I instigated the National Joint replacement Unit in Cappagh Hospital, as well as being on staff in Saint Vincent’s Public Hospital.

I have devoted my entire working life to healthcare and the provision of much needed facilities for our fellow citizens.

From my experience I feel confident that the new Childrens Hospital can be developed at the Connolly site with a saving to the tax payer of over €200m, as well as faster, and co-located with the new Rotunda hospital which is moving to the same site.

Professor Hourihane’s article is a major disservice to the sick children of this country and to the future generations of children.

James M Sheehan FRCSI, PhD, FAEI

Cross Avenue
Co Dublin

Please tell it like it is

I have noticed a growing trend over the last few years of serious revisionism by historians and academics who have numerous new opinions on the reality of life for the Protestant people of Ireland in the turbulent decades before and after Independence in 1922. These clever people are rewriting history without bothering to talk to the people who lived through it and are still surviving. These academics are mostly dreaming and imposing their own ideas onto the reality of life for Protestants families in the ‘good old days’ of Catholic Ireland. Sadly, most of it is wishful thinking and fanciful. Their “facts” are disproven by the reality that many Protestants had started getting out of Ireland even before the troubled times as they believed the game was up for Protestants in Ireland. Control and influence was slowly vanishing from their side and some friendly Catholic people were concerned back then and even today, that’s it’s still okay to kick Protestants. But oddly enough, Protestants didn’t need Catholic to kick them then or now. In fact, they were quite good at kicking themselves.

You doubt me? Then open your eyes to the harsh and brutal reality of life for the unplanned and the unwanted children of single Protestant mothers regardless of whether the father was Catholic or Protestant. These Protestants got a good kicking from both sides — Catholic and Protestant officials alike. While there has been a great deal written about this issue, nobody has ever scratched the surface of just how barbaric it truly was. The horror of being a poor or vulnerable Protestant in Ireland and it’s unique traps and disadvantages was something nobody spoke about. Indeed it is still a taboo issue for the otherwise opinionated academics and historians. We have all heard the horrors that poor Catholics suffered inside and outside of Ireland’s nightmarish institutions and rightly so. However my own experience of being raised in one of the most beautiful places on the earth in Co Wicklow contrasts sharply with my birth and childhood in one of the darkest and cruelest places on earth, the notorious Bethany Home for single Protestant mothers and their babies. I was an unwanted Protestant child in the 1940s. I know the truth better than any academic or historian ever could, because I lived it.

It was odd that all the well off Protestant farmers were always happy to use me as a young boy growing up, with a bit of casual work here and there, but when it came to a proper full time job with regular wages, they would always employ a Catholic although there were well known cases where both Catholics and Protestant advertised with blatant sectarian language and prejudice. For me, it was a Catholic family that finally employed me full time but as they say, they got the full shilling’s work out of me as I worked 24/7, never had a day off, lived in, and very rarely paid. But I did have a bed and decent food and was left to get on with it. I was a far better slave then any ‘coloured’ lad would have been as they had families that wanted them and loving homes to return to after their days work, but for the abandoned Irish Protestant children, we did not have families or anyone who wanted us. We were illegitimate Protestant children and good for nothing but hard work as soon as we could walk and carry and fetch.

Many of us are still being kicked by Catholics and Protestants today in the year of the centenary of the Uprising. Our so called Protestant Church leaders have abandoned us and our Catholic governments are still employing all of the familiar dirty tactics of time wasting Commissions of Inquiry that can only tell us what we have already told them. And when they are finally done, many years from now, this current Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby homes will not to give us justice and redress. All its staff will walk away after handing their final report to the Government.

Several volumes of a report instead of justice and redress for living survivors. The Bethany home survivors are a living proof of how the Irish State and the Church of Ireland have kicked us again while the last few of us still alive are now old and in ill-health. They all hoped we would have joined our 227 brothers and sisters buried in pauper graves in Mount Jerome in Dublin.

But we are still here. Still hanging on to life and still waiting for justice and redress.

To the historians and academics: please stop playing with romantic notions and stop twisting history. I am living proof that your fantasy interpretations are nonsense. Please tell it as it is, and if you don’t know what it is, and cannot find out, leave it alone until you do. You might consider talking to survivors of injustice done by Protestants to the most innocent and vulnerable Protestant babies and children of the ‘good old days’. A few of us are still here to bear witness and if you can’t be bothered to listen, then go to Mount Jerome cemetery and witness the names of out 227 fallen brothers and sisters. That silent monument says more about the reality of life for poor Protestants than all the clever and learned academic articles ever written.

I remain, etc.

Derek Linster

Founder and Chairperson of the Bethany Home Survivors group



Tidings of good will

I would like to take this opportunity to wish our fantastic, caring, Government, a very merry Christmas, and a happy new year. Hope they get this before they have their well deserved break till Easter.

My year has been so full of wonderful experiences thanks to The Politico. I have lost three stone in weight thanks to the low food diet they placed me on. And now, just like Prince Charles, I never carry money on me, cause I don’t have any, so that’s a big weight off my pockets. I have really acclimatised to the winter cold. Now, instead of having the heating on, I am very fit due to running up and down the stairs all night to keep warm. None of those big turkeys to buy, and no ham to cook. Beans on toast so much healthier, and part of my five a day. No hangovers, just lots of lovely tap water, and that will be great for giving my insides a good clean out.

It’s been fantastic being part of the recovery, let’s keep it going. This new Government has me really excited, and looking forwards to more of the same next year. I know they will do all they can to make 2017 a special year in my calender. I’m so blessed, and lucky to be part of this new dawn of politics. Hope you all come back refreshed, and ready to keep the good work for the people going.

Anthony Woods

Marian Ave

Homes for animals

As Christmas Day approaches, the joy giving of gifts will be in the mind of your readers and some may be thinking of buying a dog or cat as a present. However, they should reflect before doing so and instead contact one of the animal rescue organisations which find them a pet in need of adoption. A very large number of unwanted dogs and cats are euthanised each year across Ireland. So, if people were to contact one of the animal charities instead of buying animals from moneymaking breeders it would truly be a kind gift.

Tony Moriarty

Shanid Road
Harold’s Cross

Local global trader

I shop global, I buy local.

I look for the best deal online then add shipping cost and delivery time and then I see if my local shops have the item I want. If they have what I’m looking for, I ask them if they will match it or come close to the online price. My local shops have never failed to make a sale with me.

So shop global and buy local.

Kevin Devitte

Mill Street
Co Mayo


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