Letters to the Editor: We need an Ombudsman for older people

August 7th, 2021 3:10 PM

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EDITOR – Nursing Home Quality Initiative – a group of concerned volunteer citizens – is angry and saddened but not surprised at the scenes that unfolded recently on RTÉ’s Prime Time. 

In our experience, many of these issues have been endemic for years – Covid-19 has just exposed the existing cracks and revealed the many practices that are lacking in dignity and disrespectful of human rights.

We believe that a fundamental issue is the lack of an independent and transparent complaints process. 

We support the calls by Hiqa for fundamental reform and call on the minister and the Oireachtas to respond as a matter of urgency. 

While it is some comfort that the Ombudsman has, in more recent times, been part of the complaints process, many of the more pressing problems in nursing homes are outside of the scope of his office. 

If there is a dedicated Ombudsman for Children, why not for older people, particularly now? This is a rallying cry for residents of nursing homes and their relatives to join forces with us in campaigning for change. 

If you have some time to spare, please come join us and volunteer your services. If time is scarce, you can still help spread the word. 

We can be contacted by phone at 021 482 4351 or on email at [email protected]. Learn more by visiting our website at www.nhqi.ie. 

Keep in touch by following us on Twitter @nhqi1

Joe Boyle, Shankill, Co Dublin

Ray Bowe, Cork City

Annette Condon, Golden, Co Tipperary

Martin Cowley, Blackrock, Do Dublin

Mary Rose Gough, Dublin 4

Gabriella Hanrahan, Quin, Co Clare

Nursing Homes Quality Initiative


Funding greyhound industry should stop

EDITOR – According to a report published by Greyhound Racing Ireland, the greyhound industry is a runaway success story, boosting the Exchequer and rural employment, and has made great strides in caring for the welfare of the dogs. 

I beg to differ with this buoyant analysis of an industry that has become mired in controversy since it emerged that over 6,000 underperforming greyhounds a year are killed and that breeds a staggering 1,000% more pups than it needs, resulting in a massive cull each year. It’s not a question of ‘bad apples’ tainting the image of the game, as apologists often insist. 

Over-breeding inevitably leads to culling, abandonment and export to jurisdictions that have poor animal protection. Also, if the industry is thriving, why does it require jaw-dropping amounts of taxpayers’ money to keep it afloat? 

It has received in excess of €280m from the State since 2000. In 2021, it netted €19.2m in State funding— an increase of €2.4m — and this hand-out coincided with a considerable drop in the numbers attending track events. The report refers to the failure of some media outlets to cover greyhound racing, but maintains a stony silence on the reason for this change of heart on the part of those who make sport accessible to the public: the fact that animals fare so badly in the industry.

Whether a greyhound is disposed of because it doesn’t run fast enough, or doped to the eyeballs to increase its speed or slow it down, it suffers horribly as result. There is a powerful case to be made on animal welfare grounds for the complete dismantlement of the greyhound industry.  This dog is as sensitive to pain and distress as any canine. It deserves better than to be classified as ‘livestock’ and turned into a gambling machine that can be incinerated or dumped in a shallow grave when its running days are over.  At the very least, the State funding should stop. It’s sickening to think of what this industry does to Man’s Best Friend. It may have a future, as the report assures us, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

John Fitzgerald,


Co Kilkenny

Appointment shows no respect for democracy

EDITOR – Katherine Zappone was the Minister for Children in the previous Fine Gael government but failed to get re-elected in the 2020 general election and is now back ‘in government’ without any consideration for other would-be candidates. This is highly undemocratic. 

She is a friend of Leo Varadkar’s and her new position will be funded by the Irish taxpayers, plus huge expenses. She is already entitled to three public service pensions from her roles as senator, TD and minister. This position should have been put out to tender and not by choice of this government, who are acting as dictators in this appointment, to get a colleague’s foot inside the door of government after being outed. They should show respect for the electoral system and democracy.

Noel Harrington, 



Faith in our rowers

EDITOR – Well done to everyone in The Southern Star for their front page last week. Not only did the rowers win gold, but they timed it perfectly to make the Star’s later deadline, too! It is an incredible story of a local community, its local paper, and faith in each other.

That faith by The Southern Star, on behalf of everyone, helped to drive them on.

Michael Kingston


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