Letters: A republic for the people
With reference to Diarmaid Ferriter's recent article (Irish Independent, April 17), a republic is 'res publica' – the thing of the people. The people are sacred and the state only a thing.
A republic is an open society where you are free to be different and its measure is the degree of diversity retained. The 1916 leaders were nationalist quasi-republicans. Irish nationalism was a mutation of race and religion leading to compulsory conformity.
A republic can be judged by the human rights enjoyed. After 1922, the human rights of women suffered. They were denied access to contraceptives and divorce. Their right to work in the civil service and to serve on juries was restricted. The old-age pension was reduced for women. The Land Commission was active in compulsorily acquiring the land of single women.
Thomas Jefferson rejoiced over the economic success of Jews in the US, demonstrating the quality of liberty delivered by the American constitution.
We got independence in 1922 but people who were outside the norm lost their liberty.
Padraig Pearse wrote in 'The Murder Machine' of "...the ideal of those who shaped the Gaelic polity nearly two thousand years ago. It is not that the old Irish had a good education system: they had the best and noblest that has ever been known among men".
Pearse wanted to bring us back from a creative scientific society in a time machine to a tribal Gaelic world where, in the words of Thomas Hobbes, life was short, brutal and bloody.
Kate Casey, Barrington Street, Limerick
HELPING OUR YOUNG TEACHERS
One thing that stood out to me during the teachers' much-publicised internal disagreements was the fact that the teachers who were not happy with the treatment of Ruairi Quinn during his visit seemed to be of a more mature age group, and quite happy with their lot, coming to pension age, and that they definitely don't want the boat rocked.
Perhaps they should take a leaf out of the dissenters' book and try to do something positive for the young teachers who have to deal with the changes being forced upon them.
While they are at it, they might give a thought to the future teachers who will bear the brunt of the financial cutbacks. It is as simple as that; try and think of others.
Matt Dunne, Swords, Co Dublin
AN UNFAIR TAX ON ILLNESS
The Irish Medical Organisation deserves to be congratulated for its stance regarding the prescription charge. Delegates drew attention at their conference to the appalling situation where people on social welfare or small incomes cannot afford to pay for all medications and are opting to take only some of their medication.
Each item on their prescription costs €2.50 and even with the monthly upper limit set at €25, it is just too much for many people. Our Government seems to be unaware of or blind to the plight of people who are medical card holders and simply find this charge too much. It is a tax on illness, which is, I believe, discriminatory and downright unfair.
Surely it is wrong to target people who are struggling with life-changing or life-threatening diseases or simply trying to recover from an illness using prescribed medication.
Declan Moriarty, Clancy Road, Finglas, D11
BLIND SPOT IN GOD DENIAL
The blind spot in Rod Saidleir's denial (Letters, April 24) of the existence of a merciful God because of horrific injuries that nature inflicts on people is that no human being, even if calamitously indisposed in any way, can be denied the opportunity to become a member of our creator's family. There is only one ultimate deprivation and that is not to gain paradise.
Religious belief, understood as being at the core of a fully meaningful life on earth, has been consistently witnessed to in every part of our world at all times and in all cultures and civilisations.
In our own times, Communism and Nazism, both rooted in anti-religion conceptions, wreaked misery in Europe and further afield.
But Viktor Frankl, founder of Logotherepy, found hope and meaning even while incarcerated in Auschwitz where his mother died and as his wife died in Bergen-Belsen.
In responding to this degradation as a task to be fulfilled, he survived. Thus, meaning can always be found in the search for self-realisation in any human circumstance.
In our own historical experience of suffering, religion gave ultimate meaning to our people in praying the Mass at secret locations.
They risked their lives and homes by hiding the hunted priests and endowed us with much that is finest in our essential Irishness.
Colm O Torna, Garran Ghleann Sceiche, Ard Aidhin, Baile Atha Cliath 5
CHARGE OF THE LABOUR BRIGADE
Liz O'Donnell's article (Irish Independent, April 25) on the 'courage' of the Labour Party in implementing austerity at the expense of its own popularity reminds me of the 'courage' of the Light Brigade, the British cavalry formation during the Crimean War who, impervious to the outcome, charged a line of Russian heavy artillery and were duly slaughtered.
The Labour Party has systematically destroyed its own power base, the public service, low earners, the poor.
It has broken almost every election promise and wedded itself so closely to the senior party in Government that some have taken to calling the Labour Party 'Fine Gael lite.'
Perhaps in the upcoming EU and local election, we shall see history repeated and witness the charge of the lite brigade.
John Hanamy, Ranelagh, Dublin 6
QUESTIONS ON THE UNKNOWABLE
Philip O'Neill stated (Letters, April 22) that religious questions are not amenable to scientific investigation or verification, then asked 'does that make them meaningless?' To which he answers, of course not. I'm afraid he, as the physicist Wolfgang Pauli once said, is not even wrong.
Plainly, the assertion that religious questions are not amenable to scientific investigation or verification is incorrect. Did God create the universe? This, I presume, would qualify as a religious question. If so, then it is as open to investigation and verification as any other question about the origin of the universe.
Further, if Mr O'Neill thinks that questions, the answers of which are unverifiable, aren't meaningless, then what constitutes meaning? We could all attest to be able to sprout wings and fly, but if it's not verifiable then it is most certainly a meaningless claim.
Later in his letter, he says: "God has its provenance in intelligent reflection and imagination." Again, a mere assertion. There are myriad gods, with myriad origins; it's certainly nice that his originated from intelligent reflection and imagination, but it again is meaningless.
Mr O'Neill goes on to state: "It (concept of God) arises from the capacity not just to go where the evidence leads us but to be open to possibilities that are at the edge of what is knowable." But what could be more meaningless that this? By definition, if it is at the edge of what's knowable, then it is devoid of any supernatural claim, it is being investigated and potentially verified; if it is not, then how can we expect to know something that is, by Mr O'Neill's own say so, unknowable?
A much safer bet than to expect to be able to experience and know what is "at the edge of knowable", is to follow the evidence and take our knowledge from the conclusions, rather than to set up a potential unknowable and try to shape the evidence or experience toward it.
Brian Murphy, British Columbia, Canada