Thursday, 20 January 2011
Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill 2010 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)
Mary O'Rourke (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
It has stabilised somewhat. We were informed that once liberalisation started and technological changes were introduced, it would mean that the people would no longer write or post letters. I wish to speak on this point. Naturally, we all receive e-mails, sometimes up to 20, 30 or 40 per day. People should try answering those. Previously at least, one had the luxury of opening a letter, reading it and thinking about how one would reply to it. Now, correspondence comes by e-mail and within one hour one receives a call seeking a reply to the e-mail or one receives a second e-mail in which the strident demands are made again. Somehow, people who send e-mails believe that the person to whom the e-mail is addressed has all the time in the world to examine and reply to it in depth and at length. None of the technological advances, including facsimile, e-mail, text messaging or telephones, will ever take away the need for letters by mail and, I plead, they never should. There should always be room in a person's life and in his or her daily communications with people to sit down with a sheet of paper and pen and write a letter.
I recall when I was teaching in secondary school in Athlone. The formation, writing and addressing of a letter was always a fine thing which one taught one's pupils. However, there is a mystery to the written letter. Naturally, I will appear hopelessly old-fashioned and, no doubt, the Minister will ask where I have come from. I come from a large town in which there is a good mail service. There is a mystery and intimacy to the written word. How can an e-mail be intimate? I am unsure whether it comes through cyberspace or elsewhere. However, it is there, naked for everyone to ponder upon. However, a letter is sealed, has a stamp on it and it has an address.