Letters: Only with greater understanding and support can we can make progress on Parkinson’s disease

It’s important to dispel the stigma surrounding Parkinson’s disease. File photo: Getty Images© Getty Images

Letters to the Editor

I’ve been living with Parkinson’s disease since 2009. I was diagnosed at 44 and my world pretty much fell apart when I was bluntly told: “You have Parkinson’s disease, but don’t worry – it won’t kill you.”

The next five years were a nightmare, until I realised I had better do something about my condition as my very existence was slipping away.

I started an exercise programme to get myself in shape. I found out almost by accident that exercise and movement are essential in taking on the disease.

Parkinson’s Awareness Month happens every April, and some issues that come up consistently are worth highlighting here.

1. Exercise is medicine: We all need to exercise more, and this is very true for those living with Parkinson’s. Any form of exercise will do. You can even do it from your chair if you have mobility issues.

2. Talking is great for your mental health: We’re a nation of talkers, so it should be easy to keep the conversation going. For people living with Parkinson’s, it is particularly important that we have a social circle of family and friends to converse with on a regular basis. Our voices begin to fade and it is a bit of an effort to speak louder just to get heard, but in so many ways it is so well worth it.

3. To make progress on steps 1 and 2, we need an education and awareness campaign to bring a greater understanding of what we can do ourselves to keep Parkinson’s at bay for as long as possible.

A similar campaign for the public would really help to dispel the stigma that exists around this cruel, unrelenting disease. Let’s get it out there that there’s life after an awful diagnosis. I’m not cured but I am better.

Gary Boyle, Patient advocate board member, Parkinson’s Europe, Clonsilla, Dublin

Ignore armchair generals and give Nato wide berth

Eoin Ó Dubh suggests it is time for Ireland to join Nato (‘Nato has protected us for years, so it’s time we joined’, Letters, April 26). His knowledge of Irish history is wanting, however.

The Irish Parliamentary Party under the leadership of John Redmond in 1914 urged Irish men to join the British Army – 300,000 did and thousands died during the course of World War I. MPs Tim Healy and William O’Brien resigned from the party due to Redmond acting as a recruitment agent for the British army.

Healy tells us the censor allowed no newspaper to publish the facts of the loss of life. In addition, no mention was made of the 28 Irishmen who were shot at dawn for minor offences.

The most infamous execution was of Private Patrick Downey, who, having survived the attack on Suvla Bay, was transferred with the rest of the survivors to Salonika. When he refused to put on his cap, he was court-martialled and found guilty. As he faced the firing squad, he said: “This is a joke. You let me enlist and having survived death in Suvla Bay… then bring me out here and shoot me.” In 2006, the Irish Government expressed deepest regret to his family.

In the 1918 election, the Irish Parliamentary Party was wiped out. In World War II, our neutrality, promoted by Éamon de Valera, stood us in good stead. Nowadays, our neutrality allows our army to be accepted as peacekeepers all over the world.

Nato is a word we should avoid as it is promoted by armchair generals

Hugh Duffy, Cleggan, Co Galway

To survive, rural Ireland really must pull together

I admire the efforts of Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice to initiate a rural political party. It is a reflection of growing frustrations over the ongoing neglect of rural Ireland.

I also admire Macra na Feirme, whose march on Dublin is nothing less than an expression of outrage at the manner in which its rural base is being undermined (‘Macra members march 79km to Dublin for rural rights’, Irish Independent, April 27).

Rural communities are struggling as they face a wide range of issues, including lengthy waiting times for health care, minimum access to public transport, little affordable housing and planning departments that are reluctant to grant planning permission to offspring who wish to build on the land they grew up on.

Only 6pc of farmers are under the age of 35. In many cases, they have other jobs as their farm can no longer provide a sustainable occupation.

I have watched once-thriving rural communities decline through a lack of investment for half-a-century. Some- thing must be done or rural Ireland will continue on the road to extinction.

Mr Fitzmaurice and Macra na Feirme are leading the way. For their initiatives to work, rural communities must put their shoulders to the wheel in support. Perhaps the people of rural Ireland have more power than they realise. There’s strength – and votes – in numbers.

Tommie Kenoy, Kilmore, Co Roscommon

Big questions western media must answer now

Nearly 10 years ago, the western media were reporting that shelling on a daily basis of the Donetsk region by Kiev was a crime against humanity. The ‘crime’ of these eastern Ukrainian citizens was that they were Russian-speaking and not acceptable to the “purist” factions taking hold across the regions in Ukraine.

There needs to be a re-assessment of the media position, even as the flawed analysis is being spewed about the current “reasons” – especially Nato encroachment up to the borders with Russia. Think again.

Robert Sullivan, Bantry, Co Cork

How Ukraine can draw hope from Irish history

If the Ukrainian people are looking for words to justify their God-given rights, they should look no further than Terence MacSwiney who spoke these words during his inaugural lord mayor’s speech and before he began his fatal 74-day hunger strike during the War of Independence: “It is not those who inflict the most, but those who suffer the most who will conquer.”

Aidan Hampson, Artane, Dublin 5

Cheltenham has become another crashing bore

I agree with the FAI that too much money is going into horse racing (‘If someone proposed this fund now with the terms in place, they’d be laughed out of town’, Irish Independent, April 26).

Just like Formula 1, Cheltenham is now a crashing bore, where all the Irish horses win because there is so much money in Irish racing.

Colm O’Connor, Dublin 14

Consequences of climate change override politics

Exporting beef over 8,000km to China in the midst of a climate crisis is environmental madness. Ireland had the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in all of the EU for the final quarter of last year. Agriculture is by far our biggest sectoral emitter.

Advocates for the meat industry argue that “people need to eat”. Agreed, but people do not need to eat meat, and the damage done by meat production to the planet is huge. That is the point.

Regarding the “carbon leakage” argument, the warped logic seems to be that we produce an inherently environmentally damaging product in a marginally less damaging way than other countries (allegedly); they will make money from adding even more fuel to the fire if we don’t, so we are right to claim a piece of the action.

Another red herring is the “We are only responsible for X per cent of global emissions” argument. If every country adopted this attitude, we’d be cooked. ​

​Moreover, as one of our most eminent economists recently noted, almost all of Irish beef farmers’ income comes from EU payments, so average value added in the beef sector is close to zero.

The Irish beef industry is simply not sustainable. If people ate less meat (Irish, Brazilian – it really doesn’t matter), the world would be a better place.

There is talk of Irish farmers starting their own political party to represent their interests, as has happened in the Netherlands. Fine. But as farmers (Irish and Dutch included) are highly exposed to the consequences of climate change, this apparent solace may prove to ring hollow. Climate change does not care for politics or interests.

Rob Sadlier, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

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