LETTER: Growing old in rural Ireland

April 8th, 2017 5:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – Honesty, straight talking and a reluctance to toe the line sometimes can hamper you when you see an injustice, but never give up when you think your point is valid.

Today, we are becoming more institutionalised on many fronts. Institutions are taking over. It seems far more important to defend the institution than to protect the older people. 

To us, that is indefensible: Older people should not be the property of any institution.

The answer to everything seems to be more control, more centralisation, less democracy and less democratic input and we, the older people, are the ones who are suffering. Institutions should respect and treasure the democratic decision making of the older people. We should feel ownership of our own lives.

Older people should be allowed to work on for a few days in the week after they reach their retirement age so that the economy as a whole can be more productive than it has been in a more rigid society. Today, high levels of informal employment are likely to persist in developing economies, so creating jobs is as important as spurring growth. 

We must invest in rural Ireland, in rural people, infrastructure, technology, social protection and keep the local shop and Post Office available, especially for the older folk to get their pint of milk, etc and not to have to travel miles to a supermarket or do without.

Older people are like sheep without a shepherd when the snow shuts out the sky. We need policies in this country to close the gap that now exists between the cities and the rest of rural Ireland, especially the remote areas, between the rich and the poor, between the young and the old.

We must persist in our hopes and our talents, so that, in short, we live in an Ireland that is safe and friendly.

Today a lot of small towns and villages on the peripheries of this country are losing their young ladies between the ages of 20 and 30 years of age to foreign fields, never to return. Those young ladies are the regeneration of those towns and villages; likewise in the hinterland. Lose them and the show is all over.

In the recent past, certain parties left the people of this country with their expectations in tatters. In a sustainable community, we should feel safe from personal violence, crime and persecution. This is why it is imperative to have Garda stations open in rural Ireland.

There are a few issues that bother the older people today, such as when you see that, in order to produce, you need permission from people who produce nothing and when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours; when you see people getting richer by grabbing and pull rather than by work and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protects them against you.

When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice, you may know that society is facing the dreaded day. ‘Truth is like the Lion, you don’t have to defend it; let it loose, it will defend itself.’

Moral courage is a rare commodity nowadays, it is the one essential vital quality for those who seek change. Every time a person stands up for an idea, perhaps to improve the lot of others or speak out against injustice, they stand for a ripple of hope. Those ripples can one day bring down the mighty.

If we can only change a little, then one day all our acts will be written into history. You cannot lecture others by power, it is not a game when you’re using the lives of human beings as pawns. 

Never let it be forgotten that the power of people is much stronger than the people in power. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, once said: ‘When injustice becomes Law, resistance becomes a duty.’

Yours sincerely,

Michael O’Sullivan,



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