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Readers Blog: Explore life’s options in hard times

Few things are more heartbreaking than hearing of the suicide of a young person, as I did today.

Please young people — whatever is going wrong in your life, it can be resolved. Everything feels more intense when you are young, because you are going through it for the first time.

If you are depressed and/or anxious, there are very effective treatments available now — medical, psychological and complementary. You can help your mood a lot by eating healthy, getting regular sleep and exercise, and staying away from drink and drugs.

If you are being bullied in school, at work or online, tell someone about it. It can be stopped.

If you have broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, you may be devastated, but you will come out of it stronger and wiser.

If you don’t get on with your parents or siblings — and many people don’t — then a counsellor can help; they deal with these kinds of problems all the time.

If you think you have become addicted to drink or drugs or porn or gambling; there is lots of help out there, online and in person. Google it.

If you have ADHD or Asperger’s or dyspraxia or any of these neurological conditions, they don’t have to hold you back. Many successful people have them.

If you are worried about being gay or trans or bi, there was never a better time to be any of these. There is lots of support and information available.

If you are pregnant or your girlfriend is pregnant, it’s not the end of the world. Families are usually very supportive, once they get over the initial shock.

If you are not doing well in school or work, don’t worry. You can get help to catch up, or maybe you just haven’t found what you are good at yet.

If you think you are not good enough and have nothing to offer — you are wrong. If you feel you have no future – you are wrong. It can take time to find your mission and purpose in life.

Everyone has a unique set of gifts, talents, abilities and passions. The world needs them all. The world is in crisis on several fronts and we need all the creativity and new thinking that only young people can bring. Your family and friends love and care for you, even if they don’t always show it well.

Please young people, whatever might make you feel life is not worth living, it’s not true. Everything is sortable. Talk to someone, go online for help, but please, don’t harm yourself.

Maeve Halpin


Dublin 6

Behind the uniform is a human being

Laurence McKeown may not be a familiar name to a lot of people, but the name certainly does ring a bell for those interested in the turbulence of recent Irish history.

Today Laurence is better known as a writer and playwright. He has a long list of plays to his name which is not surprising since he completed a doctoral thesis at Queens University Belfast and uses theatre to explore the issues surrounding the issues of conflict at home and abroad.

Laurence McKeown stands tall in the history of Irish militant republicanism, as a dedicated member of the IRA since his teens, he spent 16 years in jail as a political prisoner.

What makes him stand proud and tall (well over 6ft), is the fact that he put his own life on the line for his beliefs, he did 60 days without food in the 1981 hunger strike, alongside Bobby Sands and nine comrades who died in intolerable conditions in the H-blocks. Fortunately for us Laurence survived the hunger strike. He now spends his time working on cross community projects and co-founded the west Belfast film festival which has now expanded citywide to become the Belfast film festival.

I went to see one of Laurence’s plays, Green & Blue in Amharclann Gaoth Dobhair on Sunday.

It was very humorous exploration of the realities faced by RUC on one side of the border and gardaí on the other during some of the most vicious periods in the six counties conflict. Behind every uniform there is a human being and this play is based on an oral archive of past and present PSNI and garda officers. Green & Blue with actors Vincent Higgins and James Doran in the roles of the RUC and garda officers, has been played in a PSNI barracks to an appreciative audience of former and present members.

It has recently been watched in Letterkenny by 25 members of An Garda Síochána at a special showing. It’s about breaking down barriers and reflecting what happens on the other side of the fence when the uniform is peeled off. It is surprising how much we have in common when animosities and uniforms are removed.

James Woods

Gort an Choirce

Dun na nGall

Coercion complex

Niall Behan of the Irish Family Planning Association whose letter ‘Reproductive coercion has no place in Constitution’ (Irish Examiner, July 24) states his belief that the denial of abortion on demand in Ireland amounts to a form of ‘reproductive coercion’. Would he consider that the deliberate removal of a developing life from its mother’s womb and the accompanying denial of all rights to both the unborn child and its father, might be the real reproductive coercion.

Rory O’Donovan


Co Cork

Lack of water not ‘an inconvenience’

As Elaine Keogh’s article ‘Cancer survivor Graham among the thousands affected’ (Irish Examiner, July 26) demonstrates, being without water is not “an inconvenience”. The UN General Assembly recognised the human right to water and sanitation, and formally acknowledged the human right to water which entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.

Eve Parnell

Schoolhouse Lane

Dublin 8

Political hypocrisy is nauseating

I wonder can there be anything more nauseating than having to listen to the barefaced, shameless hypocrisy of Mr Barry Cowen TD when it comes to matters of Irish Water.

In the first instance, having taken the credit for the abolition of water charges with grandiose aplomb on the plinth of Leinster House, we are now treated to his wonderful sense of moral outrage, because the Government has announced that the refunding will come from general taxation. What is his problem? Isn’t that what he and Paul Murphy and Sinn Fein have been demanding? Where else is the money to come from? Does he not realise that budgets are finite and defined?

If the Dáil demands that moneys be spent in areas not budgeted for, then the consequence is that other areas will be shortchanged. Cowen’s crocodile tears for underspend in health and education impress nobody. Opposing modest charges (for most people the equivalent of the price of a half pint of beer per week) has led to this underfunding.

Those who have been preaching about the serious deficiencies in our water and wastewater infrastructure have not been crying wolf, and sadly today if ever proof was needed, it is there in stark form in the North-East of the country.

Cowen’s response to this emergency is just to blame Irish Water. The complexity of the problem in Drogheda and its hinterland starkly highlights the need for massive replacement of strategic trunk mains, and Cowen’s interview on radio starkly highlights his absolute ignorance of the issues involved.

The billions required for the upgrading of our water and wastewater systems are real figures, not imaginary. But for political expediency, and political cowardice Irish Water could borrow this money on a planned and phased basis, and the water charges if paid would service these these loans on an ongoing basis, and the exchequer would not be burdened.

Cowen and Murphy will sleep well tonight. For them there won’t be the worries of no water for toilets, showers, drinking, airlocks, fire hydrants. Fianna Fáil’s failure to reign Cowen in, makes the party share in this responsibility and raises the question of their suitability for government in the future.

J Kennelly


Co Cork

Water situation has been brewing

The burst water main that has consequences for people who live in or near Drogheda and the refunding of water charges are covered in media daily at present.

That situation is a result of decades of underfunding and neglect of the water/sewage infrastructure by those responsible but that fact is seldom mentioned.

That is a continuation of the failure of the Irish media over the same decades long period to highlight the fact that the system was leaking up to 50% of its water.

When the country was bankrupted by the decisions of many of the same people who ignored the water/sewage problems a water charge was approved in the budget and agreed with the ECB/IMF when they were approving an €85bn bailout for this country in 2010.

The same media that ignored the loss of 50% of water from the system for decades highlighted the water charge issue nearly daily so that it became one of the major issues of the anti-austerity campaign.

To cap it all the people who were in power when the country was bankrupt and who introduced the water charge in the budget did a U-turn and now oppose the water charge.

Hypocrisy is too mild a word.

A Leavy

1 Shielmartin Drive


Dublin 13


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