'No' campaign has ignored the real issues affecting children
While driving from Wicklow to Dublin I noticed a large number of posters proclaiming concern for the rights for children. While I consider this to be a laudable exercise in publicising children's welfare, I am puzzled as to why these advocates have not been so diligent in highlighting the devastating effects on children of Government cutbacks across a wide array of services.
Seven years of unrelenting cutbacks have resulted in reductions to child benefit; maternity benefit; back to school clothing and footwear allowance; rent allowance; fuel allowance; cuts to home help hours; cuts to the respite care grant; reduced resource hours for children with special needs; cuts to career guidance hours in schools; expanding class sizes; cost-cutting changes to the Junior Cert; increased prescription charges; long waiting lists for assessment and therapies for children with disabilities; and an egregious spike in family homelessness.
Concerns about the impact on children's rights of the marriage referendum pale into insignificance when contrasted with the measures cited above and their grossly debilitating effects on children.
These deliberate actions by the Government have, to my knowledge, received little or no attention from the advocates of the 'No' campaign.
If they have, it is the best guarded secret since Fatima.
Rathmines, Dublin 6
Tribute to brave women
I was struck by the strength and bravery of three separate women who featured in your paper over the past week.
Firstly, the article by Mary Kenny in your 'Weekend' supplement on Saturday May 9 was incredibly moving.
I remember reading an article before by Mary about the difficulty of caring for her husband after his stroke and how people didn't visit him enough and appreciate that his mind was still active and intelligent.
Her words about changing from wife to widow were very poignant. Incredible too was her honesty in acknowledging that they were an odd couple, and that a Serbian woman was the great passion of his life and yet the two of them seemed to have a great relationship with "fun times and fighting times too". I hope she continues to live a happy and fulfilled life, content in the knowledge that she did everything she could for Richard in his final years.
In the same supplement was the desperately sad account, from Margaret O'Leary, about the death after a hit-and-run accident of her beloved husband, Paud.
She gave such a vivid account of what a kind, loving husband and father he was.
By the way, Margaret, without being flippant, you are so right - he was incredibly handsome!
Finally, to another lady who was left widowed after her husband, Aidan Lynam, was involved in an accident at a charity event.
The picture of the hearse followed by a stream of motor bikes after the untimely death of Aidan was very sad to see.
However, the outpouring of love and respect from all who knew him will hopefully bring some solace to his wife, Nikki, and their children.
How true is the saying: 'Only the good die young'. My thoughts are with all three of these women and their families this week.
Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Civil marriage and the church
Couples that are married under civil law, eg in a registry office, are not recognised as properly married by the Roman Catholic Church.
They must undergo a process called, 'convalidation', in which their marriage is investigated and checked to ensure that it meets the requirements of Canon Law.
Only then is their marriage considered a valid marriage by the church.
So, while we sit meekly in our pews listening to clergy express concern over allowing same-gender couples access to civil marriage, it's worth bearing in mind that the church doesn't actually recognise civil marriage as it is.
Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh
The children of 1916 Rising
The President said that 40 children shot in 1916 were united in death, but also united in life, as they were inner city children from working class families. The guilt for this accident of birth and death lies with the rebel leaders of 1916, who set up attack zones in city centre locations such as the GPO, St Stephen's Green, South Dublin Union (St James's Hospital - a war crime), Boland's Mills and Mount St Bridge.
By using these locations, the rebels knew that they would maximise civilian casualties. Military targets were all over Dublin - Dublin Castle, Beggar's Bush Barracks, Portobello Barracks and Collins Barracks.
The rebels said that they took on the might of the British Empire; they should have attacked military and not civilian targets.
Primary responsibility lies with the rebels, who were also responsible for the food shortages, as Max Caulfield writes in 'The Easter Rebellion': "One hundred thousand people - approximately one-third of the total population had to be fed on emergency rations supplied by the British army."
Seaside town returns to glory
Positive news from Dún Laoghaire at long last.
It is so great to read that millions of tourists will soon be arriving aboard large cruise ships with state-of-the-art docking facilities to be provided within our harbour. There are also welcome plans for a much needed public swimming pool.
This follows the great work already achieved by the Festival of World Cultures, the harbour train for tourists and the Friday Farmers' Market outside St Michael's Church, while parking facilities for visitors and the locals have been transformed beyond belief.
Well done Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company and the DLR County Council.
Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin
Thorny path to Irish Water
A paragraph from a biography of Edward Martyn (1895-1923) 'Edward Martyn and the Irish Revival' by Denis Gwynn, exemplifies the Cabinet antics on the collection of Irish Water accounts.
"I am one of those who walk the thorny path of the reformer, a path everyone knows is as thorny as that of the venerable female of our rather patriotic device. Perhaps it is because we have chosen a decrepit old woman as the symbol of our country struggling for her rights, and called those who followed her 'wild geese', that we may be more difficult material for the reformer than other peoples. Be that as it may, our history would seem to show beyond doubt that we excel most nations, and probably all humanity, in the curious propensity of wanting to turn things to uses for which they were never intended."