Shocking murder must be solved
Sir - In all the toing and froing, the main issue is a man lost his life. Brian Stack was a prison officer for the country.
The killing is a capital offence and was punishable by capital punishment a number of years ago in this State. Anyone with information on it, by law, must report any knowledge they have of this crime to the authorities.
Hiding behind, "He said", "We said", "I know nothing", or Dail privileges is not the way a party leader, or anyone else, should behave. The dogs in the street know Gerry Adams knows a lot more than he ever says about our "dark times", when so many innocent people were irreparably damaged or worse.
It is up to all right-minded people to solve this shocking murder, or any other atrocities.
So much is debated about the right to life. Here we have a life that was extinguished way too soon, and not enough is done to solve it after 30 years.
All life is precious.
Eilis has courage to call it as she sees it
Sir - I read with great amusement the article by Eilis O'Hanlon (Michael D Higgins is a President for his comrades, not the whole country, Sunday Independent, December 4).
In my opinion, it was a wonderful article in response to the President's eulogy of Fidel Castro. It was such a well-written piece - entertaining, humorous and accurate, in my opinion.
Again, Eilis had the courage to call as she saw it, not like some other commentators and politicians who in the past couple of weeks evaded the issue and skirted around the edges.
What Cuba under Castro really was
Sir - The front page always has the latest headlines, but your Hold the Back Page column serves up the actual facts. Eamonn Sweeney's (Sport, Sunday Independent, December 4) version of the real Cuba under dictator Castro was such reality, rather than the patronising/woolly socialist remarks by our own Michael D, calling the deceased Fidel "a giant among world leaders".
Castro was not someone to look up to. His human rights record was appalling. Then again, most dewy-eyed lefties were never big on "rights" anyway.
Fate of Christians in the Syria conflict
Sir - As a Middle East historian, I was appalled to read Dr Joseph O'Neill's inaccurate letter about Syria and Israel (Letters, Sunday Independent, December 4).
He begins by saying that Syria "has been under occupation and attack by the Israeli regime for decades". Syria has never once been occupied by Israel, nor has Israel ever attacked Syria (though Syria has attacked Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973). And there is no "Israeli regime", since Israel is one of the strongest democracies in the world.
"Syria had a Christian population of 1pc before the civil war." It was 10pc. The war has forced 30pc of Syrian Christians to flee the country (and many have been killed by Isil).
More disturbingly, Dr O'Neill writes "Israel has reduced its Christian Palestinian population to less than 2pc, due to its brutal oppression". In fact, Israel is the only country in the Middle East whose Christian population has grown since 1948 (vastly, by 1,000pc).
There is no oppression of Christians there: this is the only country in the Middle East and far beyond where Christians (like other religious minorities) have complete freedom to worship, to build churches, to retain their holy sites, to vote, and to have complete freedom of speech.
Quite bluntly, there is no "brutal oppression" in Israel, nor ever has been. The Christian populations of Gaza (now zero) and the West Bank have all sunk rapidly. Bethlehem, originally a mainly Christian town, is now predominantly Muslim. This is true for Lebanon and Iraq, too.
Dr O'Neill speaks about Russia and the Syrian regime defending Syria's "diverse population" "from terrorists funded by the apartheid regime and others". I assume that by "apartheid regime" he means Israel. There is not a trace of apartheid in Israel and it is doing everything to stay out of the civil war, apart from treating thousands of Syrian refugees in its own hospitals.
Christians are persecuted, slaughtered, and forced into exile across the Arab world and far beyond, and far too little is being done to put an end to it.
Dr Denis MacEoin,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
Homework needed over Israel's history
Sir - With regard to Dr Joseph O'Neill's letter (Sunday Independent, December 4), the Israeli Christian community is the only Christian community in the Arab world to have grown since the British left. If the Christians of the Palestinian Authority territories have fallen since Oslo, complain to the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority-lead party "Fatah" is Arabic and basic Semitic eg l' Fto-ach in Hebrew, for "to open". In Muslim usage, "Fatah" means the conquest and conversion of a country.
Could those living in tabloid outrage about Israel at least read their homework? Crossroads to Israel by Christopher Sykes or Conor Cruise O'Brien's The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism are useful and written by contemporaries - witnesses of the events.
Syria has been at war with Israel since 1948; Syria and Egypt opened the 1973 Yom Kippur War. From 1949 to 1967, Syria held a strip of Israel between the Upper Jordan and the 1923 Franco-British mutually agreed frontier.
Syria has no valid cause against Israel - a country that Syria attacked without cause in 1948 and repeatedly since.
Time for ethical debate on genetics
TV actress Sofia Vergara is facing a bizarre lawsuit where her own frozen embryos are suing her. The suit alleges that not allowing the embryos to be born is "depriving them of their inheritance".
We have reached a critical point in our history. We have become capable of manipulating genes. We can, with all the right ingredients, concoct genetic soup. As genetic links become clearer, we will be able to foresee who will be prone to alcoholism, to cancer, even to obesity.
We are now experimentally treating diseases like cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy with gene therapy. When we succeed, what next? At what price? Imagine cloned versions of our politicians? Our worst nightmare. The genetic revolution will move forward regardless of our readiness, or where humanity is heading.
This raises both moral and practical questions, along with deeper consequences for the individual and society. When does life begin and end? There is no ultimate answer.
A question arises: what is the impact on society? Are we wise enough to restrain the power to alter life? What ethical system should we use? And who, in the end, will make those decisions? Will we be left with no choice? If one can imagine this future, is this a slippery slope?
Should doctors decide which are good genes and which are bad? Will genetic enhancement be as socially acceptable as plastic surgery? The stakes are high and no critic can stop this revolution. What kind of inheritance will we leave for the future? That may be for them to referee, but it is for us to establish at this time.
Reading Joe Brolly with real pride
Sir - I read with pride Joe Brolly's excellent article on what it is to be a proud GAA follower (Sport, Sunday Independent, December 4).
The GAA at the top is out of touch with the grassroots, trying to be too politically correct.