Letters to the Editor: Sensible steps towards recruiting more teachers

The head of the Catholic Secondary School Parents Association responds to an 'Irish Examiner' editorial, while other readers consider topics from the Middle East conflict to assisted dying
Letters to the Editor: Sensible steps towards recruiting more teachers

Alan Whelan writes that 'Ireland’s over-centralised education system is controlled by a central government unable to find commonsense, innovative solutions to soluble problems and unwilling to listen to national parent associations'. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

Your editorial — ‘‘Struggle to find teachers is shocking’’ (Irish Examiner, November 16) — was rightly entitled; surely what is even more shocking is the inability of the Government to explore viable solutions.

Other countries have faced similar problems especially in their major cities. I began a teaching career in London 50 years ago. At the time the Inner London Education Authority, faced with what is now a Dublin problem, decided to pay a London allowance.  

This worked and soon outer London authorities followed suit. Schools situated in areas of significant disadvantage paid a Social Priority Allowance. In time I also benefitted from this incentive.

Years later as a London secondary school principal I was able to reach an agreement with a housing association that secured a number of housing units for newly appointed teachers. In addition, I was able to open a nursery school on our secondary school premises with very favourable rates for teachers’ children. Our school budget enabled us to reimburse substitute teachers with daily travel expenses.

When I later moved to my second headship in rural Essex I was given very generous removal and relocation expenses. In my final years I was able to work with a local university and other local schools to set up our own onsite teacher-training facility which attracted graduates, many of them our past students, interested in a teaching career. These new recruits received generous grants during their training.

My wife and I returned to Ireland some years ago as legal guardians of two young children and we involved ourselves in parent associations of their schools. We quickly concluded that Ireland’s over-centralised education system is controlled by a central government unable to find commonsense, innovative solutions to soluble problems and unwilling to listen to national parent associations.

Alan Whelan, President, Catholic Secondary School Parents Association, Killarney, Co Kerry

A life sentence should mean life

Having read the victim impact statements made by the family of Ashling Murphy at the sentence hearing of Jozef Puska, this case like other murder cases cries out for life sentence to be just that: life.

Life without parole for someone, who not only is found guilty of murder, but who lies about the circumstances of the murder itself or who fails to give an adequate explanation into their actions. They should never see the light of day ever again.

All too often judges are restricted at sentence hearings where sentences they think should be enforceable are restricted by way of rulings from the higher courts.

Unlike America where there are minimum and maximum sentences, Ireland is constantly tinkering around the edges because of lack of definitive sentencing guidelines.

We saw this in the case of vile rapist Larry Murphy where the judge wanted to impose a maximum sentence for Murphy’s henious crimes, but was restricted from doing so because the judge knew it would be appealed to a higher court.

The legislator, ie, the Government and the Attorney General, must deal with this issue of life tariffs or minimum sentencing, and whether those indicted should ever be allowed a parole hearing, before we have to deal with another Puska or Murphy.

The higher courts who hold much sway on the type of sentencing that can be imposed must also take responsibility for the inadequate sentences imposed on these terrible crimes.

While Puska is accommodated in one of our more modern prisons and provided with an ever ending legal aid system of appeals, the victims family and loved ones are left with memories of a talented and special young woman whose life was so mercilessly taken.

Christy Galligan, Letterkenny, Co Donegal

UN intervention needed in Gaza

The focus of Irish Government diplomatic efforts should be with the US government and president Joe Biden. Our immediate focus should be at the UN where we must take the lead in using the mechanism available to the General Assembly to bypass the Security Council veto process.

The procedure is known as ‘uniting for peace resolution’. There are plenty of successful precedents for UN administrations; the UNTAES mission in East Slavonia in Croatia in 1996; the UNTAET in East Timor in 1999 where the UN took over as a temporary government. The UN General Assembly must authorise a UN mission to take over the administration of Gaza — the clear divergence between the US and Israel on this creates a window of opportunity which must be exploited before more ‘facts on the ground’ make it impossible.

The mission will need a substantial military backing, maybe up to 50,000 ‘Blues’ — otherwise the Israeli’s will continue to thwart the UN as they have been doing for decades. There can be no question of allowing Israel to impose full military control over Gaza despite their stated wish to do so.

Con Hayes, Blarney, Cork

Turning tables

Reading Séamas O’Reilly’s column (‘Farewell to the incompetence, cruelty, and cringe of Suella’ — Irish Examiner, Weekend, November 18) reminded me of a saying I first heard about 50 years ago: “People go on holiday to London for the changing of the guard and to Paris for the changing of the government.”

How times have changed.

Pascal Ó Deasmhumhnaigh, Inis Corthaidh, Co Loch Garman

Return via Rwanda

Former prime minister David Cameron has rejoined the UK government as foreign secretary.

I remember Cameron in 2011, along with French president Nicholas Sarkozy, decided to remove Muammar Gaddafi from Libya.

However, how to follow this up? No plan, the same with Tony Blair and US president Bush, and Iraq. Result was, Libya became like Iraq, a broken country.

Hundreds of people on small boats left the Libyan coastline to try and seek refuge in Europe and along the English coastline.

The UK prime minister Rishi Sunak now wants to squeeze them back into Africa via Rwanda.

Peter Kennedy, Sutton, Dublin 13

No simple way to end life of a human

The process of intentionally ending human life is not simple.

The most common lethal drugs prescribed to ‘assist suicide’ have been very high doses of barbiturates — pentobarbital or secobarbital. However these barbiturates have become scarce/expensive and alternative drug combinations are now being used. In US states where assisted suicide is legal, one drug combination includes diazepam, digoxin, morphine sulfate, and amitriptyline (DMMA).

To euthanise a human being a general anaesthetic is commonly administered first (frequently a barbiturate/sedative such as propofol) to induce unconsciousness. On occasion an anxiolytic (eg, benzodiazepine) is administered prior to the coma-inducing sedative (ie, to mitigate propofol-induced pain if appropriate). A neuromuscular blocking agent is administered after the anaesthetic. 

These drugs paralyse all striated muscles, eliminating any movements, both to prevent respiratory effort and to eliminate muscular spasms which could be interpreted as signs of distress by observing relatives, doctor, or nurse. Monitoring the cognitive levels of the person being euthanised presents difficulties.

Internationally, the drugs and doses prescribed or administered to cause the intentional death of a human are not always reported. There are problems of uncontrolled and unregulated experimentation with drug cocktails which have not been monitored and whose mode of action is unclear.

If assisted suicide and euthanasia are being described as a ‘medical procedure’, involving medical professionals such as doctors, pharmacists, and nurses, then the practice must be held to the same standards of any other medical procedure.

Bernadette Flood, Kilcock, Co Kildare

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