Friday 28 October 2016

A forgotten 'casualty' of the sinking of the Lusitania

Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30

Jerome Murphy and his wife Anna Teresa in 1897
Jerome Murphy and his wife Anna Teresa in 1897

Many stories will be retold in relation to the torpedo attack on the RMS Lusitania on May 7, 1915, which has its 100th anniversary this week. One worth telling is that of Jerome B Murphy, who - as the Cunard Line manager in Cobh - did everything he could to help the survivors and the victims. His great-granddaughter Bayveen O'Connell recently wrote of the impact it had on him. She thought of two words about his experience - brave and alone.

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On hearing of the attack, he asked the British Admiralty to send their ships in Cobh to help the liner. They did not do so, possibly wary of a submarine attack on their ships. It was boats from Cobh, Kinsale and other areas which went to their aid and picked up survivors from the lifeboats and the sea.

He booked rooms in hotels and lodgings for the survivors, arranged medical help for the injured and ordered coffins for the dead. There was much to do. He had to identify more than 160 deceased passengers - men, women and children - noting their remains and items like watches or jewellery and their eye and hair colour. Not all could be identified.

There was no counselling in those times. He coped in the aftermath, until three years later. In 1918 he reluctantly went to London to receive an MBE and then went missing. He was found weeks later in Manchester, in the first throes of alcoholism. This led to his demotion by the Cunard Line and he left the family home.

His children kept contact with him until his death in 1944. He lies at rest in the same Cobh cemetery as the Lusitania victims. Perhaps he was a Lusitania casualty too.

Mary Sullivan



Israel's military tactics in Gaza

During Operation Protective edge in Gaza last year there was much debate on these pages about the actions of the Israeli armed forces. Yesterday, the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence released testimonies from over 60 officers and soldiers who participated in Operation Protective Edge. This front-line, eye-witness evidence from people actually there shows up the real nature of the conflict.

The testimonies paint a disturbing picture of the Israeli military's policy of indiscriminate fire, which directly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians. Breaking the Silence described the rules of engagement as the most permissive they have ever encountered.

The testimonies also describe the use of thousands of imprecise artillery shells in residential neighbourhoods and the deliberate mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and homes without any clear operational justification. The soldiers describe how residential homes were targeted in order to "demonstrate presence in the area", or even as an act of punishment.

The testimonies, along with photos and videos, are available on the Breaking the Silence website and should be read by anyone who wants to know what actually happened in Gaza last summer.

Patrick Costello

Address with Editor


Sex and the political classes

So the Government insists that a combination of male and female is best for the proper functioning of the political system. Thankfully, this type of thinking is not advocated for the composition of a family; presumably because this is a much less important component in society.

Brendan Chapman

Address with Editor


Same-sex marriage vote

On Sunday May 3 the public outside my church were greeted with flyers encouraging them to vote 'No' to same-sex marriage - the day children were making their communions.

I would like to ask the advocates of these flyers if they felt it was morally acceptable to hand out no to equality flyers outside a church?

I would like to ask them if they see the irony in advocating no to equality when the God they proclaim to follow gave his life for love and equality? I would further like to ask these people if they felt it appropriate to issue such propaganda on children's communion day.

Statistically speaking, one in 10 people leaving the church that day were gay. One in 10 families would have fought back tears to save face for the children on their communion day. I would like to ask who put the needs of the children first on that day?

I would like to ask the priests if they felt it was appropriate to encourage people to read the bishops' views on the referendum at the children's Communion Mass?

I respect those who will vote 'No' to marriage equality because that is their view. I respect those who vote 'Yes' to marriage equality because that is their view.

I have no respect, however, for anybody rallying people in groups to vote 'No' to equality in a place of prayer. A place meant for everyone in the community to pray regardless of their race gender or sexuality, a place where we teach our children the message "love one another as I have loved you".

Name and address with Editor


What irks opponents of same-sex marriage like Archbishop Eamon Martin most, in my opinion as a non-Catholic, is the conflation of civil rights with sexual activities.

If the State were to allow any two individuals to contract such a relationship without making any reference to the latter, everyone would be able to support it without compromising their religious beliefs.

In particular, I feel such civil contracts should be available even to close relatives such as, for example, two elderly unmarried sisters who are sharing a house and who could, thereby, avoid inheritance tax problems.

Surely much of the heat in the discussion regarding the forthcoming referendum could be diffused if only the term 'marriage' were removed.

Martin D Stern

Salford, England


At the heart of any marriage, whether we like to say it or not, is sex.

Children in 6th class are taught SPHE (Social Personal and Heath Education). Part of that curriculum is sex education, which addresses the male and female reproductive systems, intercourse, and conception. If this referendum is passed, the likelihood is that this curriculum will need to be changed, to address the topic of intercourse between same-sex couples within a marriage.

Intercourse will no longer be solely defined as that enjoyed by heterosexuals. Same-sex intercourse will need to be addressed and that involves anal and oral intercourse as well as that enjoyed by two lesbian women. Should 12-year-old children be taught in school that this type of expression of love is as natural and normal as heterosexual lovemaking? Are they ready for that at 12 or 13 years of age?

I believe that this is a very large elephant in the room which has not been addressed by any side so far.

I think that it is time to air this difficult topic, before the referendum takes place.

John O'Connor

Raheny, Dublin 5

Irish Independent

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