Letters to the Editor: Pay tribute to our young on International Youth Day – Irish Examiner

Laura Sullivan (7), Megan Buckley (8) and Holly Donnacliffe (7) celebrate International Youth Day on the Cork City Playful Culture Trail, as they explore and play at The Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. 
As International Youth Day takes place this week, I’d like to acknowledge our youth and their incredible fortitude over the last 17 months. It has been a frustrating time for all, but particularly for young people in Ireland.
Often young people feel they are left without thought and, during a pandemic where the youth are of least concern, this feeling has only been heightened.
It was recently announced by the CSO that jobless rates are three times higher in those aged 15-24 compared to those over 25, with an estimation of 75,000 young people without education, training or employment in
Ireland. These statistics also come in hand with the spike in mental health issues recorded in young people since Covid-19 hit.
This International Youth Day, we should take the time to recognise the innovative and inspiring youth in Ireland, and focus on providing them with better opportunities for professional and social development. More resources are badly needed.
As a youth team leader for YMCA Dublin, I’ve seen the benefits and opportunities a supported community can offer young people. The pandemic has only highlighted the need for there to be a better and more sustainable environment in Ireland for young people to prosper and grow. They are our future leaders after all.
Erin Ballesty
YMCA Dublin

Owenacurra Centre should be saved
A serious human rights issue is unfolding right under our noses. This issue relates to housing and healthcare for a particularly vulnerable cohort: Residents and service users of the Owenacurra Centre in Midleton.
The Owenacurra Centre is the only long-stay residential and respite mental health facility in East Cork. In June 2021, without any prior consultation with residents, service users, staff, or families, the HSE announced plans to close the centre in October.
Almost two months later, nobody knows where the residents will be
Ideally situated in the centre of Midleton, the Owenacurra Centre is a rare example of community-based mental health care in Ireland.
The reason cited for the closure is the sub-standard nature of building. If this is the case, the HSE should rebuild or refurbish the existing building to a suitable standard. There is plenty of HSE-owned space on site.
It should not split up or displace the residents, who have put down roots in Midleton. Nor should it redeploy the exemplary staff who have worked tirelessly and skillfully throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The poor communication from the HSE has already caused serious upset and distress for residents, their families, and the staff. It is time the HSE listened, invested in mental health services, and saved Owenacurra Centre.
Orla Kelleher
Co Cork

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Time for HSE to update IT system
It is not surprising that the HSE’s IT system was hacked, given that it is
so outdated and not linked up to a high-security system. It is not patient friendly and seems to need a juggernaut of admin staff as back up.
The Danes have a universal health system, which is free to all citizens at the access point. The Danish ‘yellow card’, equivalent to the Irish medical card, allows patients and medical practitioners to access their health records online. Patients can book appointments, renew their prescriptions. and access health advice.
Since the 1990s, the move towards technology by our public services has been resisted due to the fear that it would replace jobs. This is a well-founded but short-sighted fear.
The monies saved could be used to fund more frontline staff and retrain permanent staff to areas such as home care for the elderly and mental health services.
Ireland is well placed to embrace secure IT systems, given that we are host to some of the largest IT companies (such as Intel) and medical device companies (i.e., Medtronic and Boston Scientific), which have already moved to a more or less paperless system.
The resistance to real-time secure IT systems has a history with e-voting and the Garda Pulse system, but technology has moved on and Ireland’s public sector must move on too.
Revenue.ie leads the way and the rest must follow or we will end up with
half-baked IT systems that are easily hacked, very costly, and top-heavy with admin staff still moving paper around, putting the public at a further distance from real-time access to public services.
Nuala Nolan
Bowling Green

Katherine Zappone appointment
Re Fergus Finlay’s column, ‘Ireland deserves better from arrogant Government ministers’ (August 10), thank you to him for clarifying matters in relation to the Katherine Zappone attempted appointment and the arrogance of all of those involved.
A government that can do some of the big things really well, then turns around and loses brownie points through stupidity and a sense of entitlement.
Does Katherine Zappone walk off into the sunset with her pension?
Oliver Sheehan

Wiser choice to source locally
In recent weeks we have started buying vegetables from Kilbrack Organic Farm in Doneraile, Co Cork. This bounty of locally grown food has enhanced our home cooking no end. Their green beans and sugar snap peas set me thinking when I was recently in a local branch of a larger German supermarket chain. I spotted similar products from … Kenya.
Why are we flying vegetables thousands of miles when we have great local producers on our doorstep?
I have noticed similar trends with regards to fruit, with apples being flown in from New Zealand.
Why are we resorting to this when we have excellent fruit being grown in Ireland, for example at the Apple Farm in Co Tipperary?
The IPCC report published by the UN this week makes some uncomfortable reading.
I am aware that it is not convenient for everyone to source food directly from our local producers. However, we individually make decisions regarding our purchasing habits. Perhaps if enough of us look closer at labels on fruit and vegetables in supermarkets, we could sway large supermarket chains to move to more local, sustainable, and environmentally friendly products.
Dr Barry Kelleher
Co Cork
How can we support them?
I simply do not understand how Micheál Martin and senior members of Fianna Fáil can continue to support Leo Varadkar as Tánaiste.
Mr Varadkar had members of Fine Gael resign their positions following their attendance at a dinner party attended by 50 people last summer. It is just shocking that Fianna Fáil has gone along with the reinterpreted rules on social gatherings just to give the Tánaiste political cover.
This sets an extremely dangerous precedent and makes me seriously wonder what exactly Leo Varadkar has on Micheál Martin? And who was at the Merrion Hotel event that the Government wants to protect?
These are questions that we really must have full and frank answers to if respect in the Government is to be restored.
Claire Casey
Dublin 3

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Legislating to save our planet’s future
All industrial and political systems currently operating rely on externalised costs at every stage — from extraction of raw materials through production, consumption and on to end-of-life disposal — as the primary source of their profitability.
The top 20 industrial sectors would be ‘loss leaders’ if they paid for the ‘natural capital’ they exploit. Somebody else or some other organism or environmental system pays the price, often with a degraded quality of life or with their lives, of the profits accrued.
All the harm we see — water pollution, environmental degradation, air toxicity, climate change — are largely the accumulated externalised costs of the existing industrial political system.
Until we legislate to prevent externalised costs and encourage regenerative practices, we are adding on more harm, and these problems will continue to grow.
We can and should resolve this situation.
The short-term costs of correcting the error are well below the long-term costs of allowing the error to continue.
Corneilius Crowley

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