As a truly neutral country, we could act as peace mediators

Ireland may consider itself “neutral”, but the restrictions imposed on certain Irish TDs by Russia tell the real story.

We align ourselves more and more with EU position and all that that entails, including closer ties with NATO.

Instead of going with the EU, can we listen to the words of Ukrainian peace activist Yurii Sheliazhenko who says that war attracts the simple-minded, while peace is complex and requires intellectual effort? War is a choice and it’s always a bad choice.

Instead of aligning ourselves with the EU, could we be empowered by the spirit of Section 29.2 of the Irish Constitution and act as arbiters of a peaceful settlement? Prisoners were exchanged and Vladmir Putin opened a grain corridor. Let us listen to the voices of peace and let Ireland lead the way.

Elizabeth Cullen

Thomastown, County Kildare

It’s a stinky World Cup – time to get rid of Fifa

The awarding of the FIFA World Cup to Qatar in 2010 was marred by bribery and corruption and gave the tournament an unpleasant odor that few, apart from the teams and some hardened fans, would want be associated. That Qatar, in collusion with Fifa, tries to “sportswash” its human rights and equality issues symbolizes this World Cup.

The deaths of thousands of migrant workers who worked in unsavory conditions to build the very stadiums in which teams, officials and fans now stand cannot be erased by the public relations stunts of MM. Beckham & Co.

I fully understand that we have to abide by the laws of the country we are visiting, but where those rules are oppressive and demeaning certain sections of the community, organizations like Fifa should ensure that equality and human rights come first plan in any agreement and that the winning country must institute reforms that include these fundamental rights.

It’s not the first time Fifa has been marred by human rights issues – we remember Russia and Argentina and the controversies surrounding them.

With recent allegations that there was an attempt to bribe the Ecuadorian side into losing their opener to Qatar, Fifa needs some top-down clearance ahead of the next World Cup – otherwise that rotten smell and decaying could be Fifa itself.

Christy Galligan

Letterkenny, County Donegal

Starving small schools of funding is not the solution

The 2023 budget lowered the primary pupil-teacher ratio target to 23:1 – the lowest ever in Ireland.

A party? Not quite, as small primary schools remain severely underfunded.

The capitation grant, which is the main income for schools to pay for the rising costs of basic needs – heating, electricity, school insurance, hygiene, cleaning services and paper, to name a few – is calculated by the number of students in the school.

In the current climate, it would take far more than 23 students per teacher to cover the costs of basic needs in our small urban schools. Covering basic needs is a real challenge. While all other major schools in our catchment area are Deis and can provide students with hot meals, after-school care and comfortable basic needs, we struggle.

It is time the children in our small schools were treated with respect and dignity. It is time for small schools to receive proper funding.​

If small schools are not viable, a plan to change this must be dignified and respectful of the school community.

Depriving small schools of funding for their basic needs – so that families choose “better endowed” large sustainable schools – will inevitably end up closing small schools.

This is why the resolution of this problem is vital for the Government. Shaming the school administration is not the right way to go about it.

Sabrina Faulkner Richardson

Cavan National School No 1, Cavan Town

For whom does the bell ring? The Greens in the next elections

Who would have thought? The Greens strike in the name of the capitalist behemoths.

Eamon Ryan tells us that contractually we, the motorist, are obligated to pay the increased toll. It was agreed, he said. In 1978, I joined the public service.

Part of the deal was a guaranteed retirement contract. Two years after my retirement, without consulting me or thousands of retired civil servants, the Minister of Finance at the time simply cut our pensions because of the mismanagement of the economy by Fianna Fáil, which peaked with the crash of 2008.

It seems the big boys operate by a different set of rules than the taxpayers, who pay for everything. So the government defends big business.

Indeed, Apple had Ireland in its corner, battling the EU over a €14 billion tax. Now the toll companies have the Greens. Long live the elections – and for whom the death knell tolls.

John Cuffe

Dunboyne, County Meath

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