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The People’s Letters Page

Here is this week’s People’s Letters Page…

Dear Editor,

The mood at the recent annual Teacher conferences was understandably one of anger and frustration.

The government’s decision to pursue an age-based approach over one that prioritises front-line workers in the Covid vaccination scheme is short-sighted.

Those in more contact with people, like the nation’s teachers (and indeed the Gardaí also), should surely get priority in order to reduce virus transmission, as wisely suggested by Trinity College immunologist Professor Kingston Mills.

Many parents, grappling with home-schooling on top of their own work, have gained huge insights over the past year into the daily challenges faced by teachers, at all levels, while educating our children. (A few may even have realised that the teacher was not the problem).

As all our schools re-open, teachers and other educational staff once more become front-line workers in a time of pandemic. As such, they deserve to be offered the vaccines as a high-priority group.

At this stage, perhaps the best compromise would be the suggested twin-track approach whereby the two groups could be vaccinated side by side, respecting the scientific advice to protect the older and more vulnerable group while also recognising the higher exposure to the disease of the occupational group.

This move would acknowledge the essential role that teachers play in our society. It would also constitute a very wise precaution against further school closures, this time through unavailability of staff due to avoidable illness. Or indeed, to strike action which no-body wants to see.

Yours sincerely,

Sinéad Boland.
Dublin 12.

Dear Editor,

I read with interest in the Northside People April 14th that it is going to cost the Office of Public Works almost €1 million to restore the gates at the Phoenix Park.

Considering the gates were removed at the time of Pope Francis’s open-air Mass in the park in 2018 could we expect the Vatican to pick up some of the tab?
Well, hope would be a fine thing!

This however is not the first time the Catholic faith has played havoc with the Phoenix Park gates.

In 1932 the gates to the park were removed for the Eucharistic Congress and then subsequently lost.

Apparently, they were removed again for the visit of Pope John Paul 2nd in 1979 and not put back up until 1986.

It’s great that we have hundreds of thousands of euros to spend on gates but surely would it not make more sense to use the money to build public toilets in the park?

Office of Public Works?

Office of Public Wasters more like.

Rory O’Dwyer,
North Circular Road,

Dear Editor

Ireland’s reception system for asylum seekers is known as Direct Provision. Under the Direct Provision system, people are accommodated across the country in communal institutional centres or former hotel style settings.

The vast majority of the centres are managed on a for-profit basis by private contractors. There are many reasons to end the system.

Direct Provision is intended to provide for the basic needs of people who are awaiting decisions on their applications for international protection. The system was designed as a short-term measure in the year 2000, just years after we shut institutions that wronged woman and children for generations in Ireland.

But many applicants in Direct Provision experience lengthy stays, which is associated with declining physical and mental health, self-esteem, and skills. This system is wrong on so many levels and creates barriers to integration, contributes to poor mental and physical health and leads to social exclusion.

I believe this system has contributed to a rise in racism, we are all equal and should be treated the same. We are all entitled to the same chances and opportunities in life.

Today, there are more than 7,000 people living in Direct Provision centres across Ireland. I have been advocating for the establishment of an alternative reception system that is based on human rights principles and the best interests of the child. Our Proclamation says we cherish all the children of the Nation equally.

We don’t. We cherish some but others are excluded and are treated differently – The 17 Motions I put down at South Dublin County Council Since 2014 for an end and to condemn the system known as direct provision and create a Human Rights based system have been supported by those of all parties and none.

Here in Clondalkin we have a Direct Provision centre, I have met many people there and some have become friends, they are Irish. We are overall a very decent and compassionate people who welcome those who seek refuge from lack of freedom to be themselves members of the LGBT community, those seeking political asylum, those escaping fear of death and fear of poverty – we understand.

We are an open and decent society. We want all of the children of the Nation to be cherished equally. After 21 years this year the Direct Provision system must be abolished and this should happen with full consultation with all in Direct Provision.

Go raibh maith agat,

Cllr Francis Timmons

Dear Editor

The country as on 4 April has administered 936,087 doses of Covid-19 vaccine; 663,411 people have received their first dose and 272,676 people have received their second dose.
The latest inoculation figures come as Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed the HSE vaccine portal will be operational starting 19 April, allowing 65–69-year-olds to book their jabs.
People aged 65-69 are in Cohort 6 of the government’s prioritisation list after those with underlying health conditions.
The booking process involves people registering their details online and being texted their vaccine slot, with some receiving their vaccines starting 19 April.
Of those who book their vaccination online, most will receive their shots primarily in vaccination centres such as Citywest vaccination hub. The HSE will deal with some exceptions such as candidates who do not have access to the internet. The Department of Health, released official vaccine supply projections for April, May and June. An estimated 3.9 million doses will be delivered by 30 June.
It furnished a breakdown of supply by manufacturer for the first time.
The vaccination programme seems to have so far worked its expected wonders.
As the elderly are being vaccinated, there is a debate about special privileges for those granted early access to the vaccine. The proposals under consideration include fully vaccinated people no longer having to isolate if identified as a close contact.
But a spring surge in the coronavirus remains possible as new variants could draw out the pandemic. Jimmy Cranny mused: “If you’re going to do the thing, do the thing; if you’re not going to do the thing, don’t do the thing – but don’t say you’re going to do the thing and then not do the thing.”
Yours sincerely
Gerry Coughlan Kilnamanagh, Dublin 24

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