* Morality is universal: right and wrong are not location specific. The law is supposed to run on similar lines. What is deemed to be fair and proper should not vary just because one crosses a border or travels from one place to another.
The trouble is, that while we accept the existence of good and evil as the watermark of our civilisations, we do not embrace them as the gold standards of behaviour. It is perfectly alright for people to buy clothes made in sweatshops and sold in the high street – made by underage workers who are paid a pittance – these items can be deemed high fashion, and may be admired in glossy magazines.
No awkward questions need be asked, appearance is all. Face value is sufficient. It is just business, and when it is just business, we don't need to grapple with moral responsibility.
Take the proposals to sell on mortgages that are in trouble to hedge funds. It is understood that should this happen, the mortgages may no longer be subjected to regulation. Hence should the new owners wish to maximise profits, as they surely will, there will be nothing to stop them jacking up interest rates.
On the other hand, if one had an interest in a bank that had engaged in highly irresponsible lending, one would not be thrown to the tender mercies of the wolves of Wall Street. One would instead be recompensed in full, and the little guy would take the hit.
It seems that there is no margin for right or wrong, good or bad, on a modern balance sheet.
There is only the bottom line, and this has become the bedrock of financial "ethics". This bottom line imperative, without a prism of moral responsibility, has the potential for more misery then all the planet's weapons of mass destruction.
D O'BRIEN DALKEY
POOR BOX FOR VICTIMS
* While I believe the proposal to place the 'poor box' on a statutory footing is a welcome development, I am somewhat surprised at the lack of coverage and debate surrounding the decision to cease using the money to fund charitable causes.
The Bill says money raised will be used for "compensation, reparation and assistance for the victims of crime", which the explanatory note states includes the criminal injuries compensation scheme.
This scheme (and victims' services generally) has been chronically underfunded for many years with applicants suffering from long delays in receiving compensation. If the money is to be re-assigned it should be included in the budget for this scheme.
While there is a temptation to save money at every turn, it would be a true shame if the minister was simply to switch the source of funding for victims' services, rather than increasing it accordingly.
SHEEP'S HEAD TRAGEDY
* One fact, hitherto unmentioned in the media, is that the tragedy which has unfolded on Co Cork's Sheep's Head peninsula is uncannily similar to another drowning which occurred almost 35 years ago at precisely the same, remote location.
In fact, a plaque marks the spot at the inlet known locally as 'the cove', just below the house of the men who lost their lives last weekend, where the British-born, Booker Prize-winning author JG Farrell fell in to the sea while fishing from rocks during a storm in 1979.
His body was also recovered days later.
Having read last year of Farrell's untimely demise, I visited this wild, beautiful stretch of West Cork coastline while holidaying there in the summer.
So sad to see it again in such similarly tragic circumstances.
BLACKROCK, CO DUBLIN
* Obviously, the writer of the letter (Irish Independent, February 11) supporting a call for immediate legislation rather than a referendum to decide whether unconventional marriage is allowed here, fears it might not be passed.
Generally speaking,the nation is not very interested in the "who deserves an apology" issue.
People are more involved in attempting to survive in a country where economic betrayal is the new norm.
The letter writer informs us that members of his/her own family did not attend his civil union because they did not approve of homosexuality – so why should our Constitution be sidelined when the matter ultimately needs a change in the law to come about?
Ask your own nearest and dearest first and measure from the response the thinking which may be out there.
Perhaps the majority, without the approval of their families, will indeed pass the referendum – but it must not be considered 'homophobic' if many vote against it and win the day.
The language coming from the homosexual community needs to be toned down, because the citizen has every right to have an opinion on the issue and name-calling won't win many votes.
BANTRY CO CORK
WE CAN'T TALK
* There has been a huge outcry against the killing of a giraffe at Copenhagen zoo and the feeding of its carcass to lions while people looked on.
I share the revulsion as I cannot see any justification for the act. If inbreeding was an issue the animal could have been sterilised.
But forgive my cynical reaction when a caller to an Irish radio programme here said this wouldn't happen in Ireland.
In fact the Danes overall treat animals far better than we do.
They don't, for example, allow live hare coursing where animals are set up as live bait to be terrorised by salivating dogs.
Marius the giraffe, though I wish the poor animal was still alive, at least died instantly and without pain.
Hares are snatched from the verdant Irish countryside, held in unnatural captivity, and then forced to run from greyhounds in the confines of a wire-enclosed field.
They can be mauled, pinned down, or tossed about like rag dolls.
The public was free to witness or film the feeding of Marius to the lions.
If you try to film an Irish coursing event you'll soon find yourself being circled by the guardians of this "sport" and promptly ejected from the venue.
There is no justification for hare coursing apart from the need some people feel to inflict pain and terror on a dumb animal.
I do think Ireland should be brought into line with all the countries, including Denmark, that have banned this cruel and cowardly blood sport.
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ABOLITION OF CRUEL SPORTS