Friday 21 October 2016

Sunday school lesson

Published 04/05/2014 | 02:30

Preparation for Holy Communion should not take place within schools
Preparation for Holy Communion should not take place within schools

Madam – In Colum Kenny's article (Sunday Independent, April 27, 2014) it was stated: "The teaching of religion is just one area where teachers fear that problems are simply being dumped on them."

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As an evangelical Christian, I fully agree that secular teachers should not have the onerous task of having to teach Christianity exclusively.

Why should teachers, (who most likely don't believe?) have to teach Christian religion exclusively? Will their possible reluctance to do so seep through the curriculum?

Where should faith be then taught to children? The answer could well come from the Protestant and evangelical churches: Sunday schools.

Sunday schools (and creches) are run in spare rooms by volunteer parents, and are parallel to the main church service times. Why can't the Catholic Church follow this Sunday school-type of model? In the Church of Ireland it has been established since 1809.

As for Holy Communion classes, why are these taught in school at all? In the Church of Ireland, Confirmation classes are run by youth workers and clergy on Sunday evenings, on church property, not during academic hours, on school property.

Finally, whatever became of the Catholic bishops' policy document, Religious Education of Catholic Children Not Attending Catholic Schools?

This document could be also extended, to work towards establishing a Sunday school-type of model, surely?

Louis Hemmings,



Madam – In response to Johnny Duhan's article (Sunday Independent, April 13, 2014) on DJs not playing Irish music, his comments are more of a sad reflection on past and present government legislators who have never given any consideration to percentage airplay for Irish music. It also goes to show how disjointed the entire Irish music industry is, with very little cohesion.

There is no legislation in place for the percentage airplay of Irish music (English language) similar to the 40 per cent France was awarded in 1996.

Ireland has two official languages, Irish and English, with the Irish language rightly having a national radio and TV station to broadcast music and culture, whilst the English language music and culture continues to struggle.

A very simple example of the disastrous consequences are the royalties being collected from broadcasters nationwide by the Irish Music Rights Organisation, which amounts to millions of euro annually, but with a retention of much less than 10 per cent of royalties for Irish songwriters, composers, singers and musicians showing the real extent of the problem.

This continues to have a detrimental effect on Irish folk culture in the English language, and on the entire Irish music industry – mainly because of the musical influences from English-speaking countries like Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia continually being introduced by very large multinational music companies.

The present Irish Minister for Communications and his predecessors have continually stated that due to a complaint made to the EU, 30 per cent airplay could not be granted to Irish music on the basis that it would discriminate against European musicians. According to the EU, no such decision has been adopted; that would have to be assessed in the light of EU internal market rules.

And according to the European Court of Justice, a measure to promote original works in an official language of a member state which may restrict several fundamental freedoms may be justified as long as it pursues a general objective interest, is appropriate to reach such an objective and does not go beyond what is necessary to achieve it.

A national quota system such as the French one, based on a linguistic/cultural criterion, should be admissible, with the proviso that such a system would be adequate and proportionate to achieve the general interest objective pursued and would not lead to unnecessary restrictions.

A European Court of Justice examination would now seem to be the inevitable route.

Danny McCarthy

Maynooth, Co Kildare


Madam – Waiting for Sinn Fein/IRA to apologise unilaterally for resorting to political violence could be a long wait ('Apology Long Overdue', Letters, Sunday Independent, April 13, 2014). No, what is urgently needed is for that majority of Irish opinion which was never at ease aboard the violence train to wake up and assert itself. The true split in Irish affairs, going back well before 1916, was that between those who were prepared to work along constitutional lines and those who weren't. And that remains the unacknowledged fault-line still.

In these times of ferment, leadership is needed which will finally put the cat amongst the 'ambivalence-to-violence' pigeons. A new, social-democratic, libertarian, political party which is totally dedicated to, not only an avowed adherence to constitutionalism, but is not afraid to distance itself from the violence of the past, is what Ireland needs. Sinn Fein has the other three parties over a barrel on the question of violence, as 2016 nears, all the others also having blood on their hands in one way or another. It is time to reconnect with that stream of Irish opinion which was forced underground a century ago, and has had to pay lip-service to gunmen, their excesses and their apologists ever since.

Such an initiative would push the dormant rump of armed strugglers – whether Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, or Sinn Fein – into the same camp, and leave the constitutional ground free for occupation by those who eschew violence and aren't tarred by the 'bloody legacy'. The armed doggie-in-the-manger has held sway for far too long. The creation of a non-violence party would force all parties to either reject violence or at least to clarify their positions. There is nothing un-Irish about believing in peaceful politics. Until it is free from violence, Ireland shall never be at peace.

Paddy McEvoy,

Holywood, Co Down


Madam – It was with horror I read Emer O'Kelly's vitriolic attack on the teaching profession (Sunday Independent, April 27, 2014). She must have had a dreadful school experience to vilify the entire profession with such a poisoned pen. I am dismayed that the Sunday Independent allowed such blatant discrimination and generalisation to take up space on what I always thought was a reasoned editorial policy. She was disgusting in her comments and inaccurate in her statements.

Yes, I am a teacher. One who entered the profession from another career choice. Much and all as she might scoff, I didn't enter teaching for the money or the holidays. I genuinely felt I had something to contribute. My daughter is a young teacher who also entered the profession as a response to an inspirational teacher she encountered. She chose her course despite having more than 100 points above what was necessary because she wanted to pass on a love of her subject, like the teacher who taught her. She will be waiting a long time to scale the dizzy heights of €60k, as I will myself.

The value of the new Junior Cert has been identified as being educationally unsound by many independent sources. Ms O'Kelly said that the JC exam is just mindless regurgitation. The current JC English exam asks that students provide or regurgitate information on just 17 per cent of the paper. That is 60 out of 360 marks. The rest is obtained by applying their skills and knowledge of different writing genre. An unforeseen aspect of the scrapping of the independent aspect of the JC exam is the elimination of a European accreditation to the exam. In addition, any student who has in the past applied to the UK UCAS system to pursue their third-level education will no longer be able to provide results equivalent to the GCSE to enhance the evidence based aspect of their application.

Please remember the many inspirational teachers who have crossed all our paths. Please stop the constant disrespect and undermining of the profession that you put in charge of your children's education and welfare for much of their lives. If you disrespect us your children will and this leads to poor learning outcomes and violence. Stop buying into the inaccuracies perpetuated by those only interested in the destruction of the profession.

Dympna Cremin,



Madam – Well done to Emer O'Kelly and the Sunday Independent for once again writing hateful bile about teachers. (Sunday Independent, April 27, 2014).

Teachers most certainly do not earn €60k on average per year. The ministers she praises earn multiples of a teacher's salary and get tax-free expenses and perks. Why not attack them? Teachers pay into their pensions every week for 40 years. Teachers do not have jobs for life. Teachers can be, and are, dismissed. Thousands of teachers have no jobs at all.

The minister is destroying our education system. Teachers try to point this out when they can. Teachers have a duty to point this out. Journalists have this duty too. Minister Quinn is about as far away from being a socialist or a trade unionist as Emer O'Kelly is. He attended private schools. He sent his children to private schools.

He most certainly is not the best Minister for Education, since anybody! He has actually done nothing during his tenure except cut, cut, cut, speak to the media, cut, cut, cut, spin, spin, spin. He is arguably the worst Minister for Education I have ever encountered. He has failed utterly in his oft-stated intention to wrest the control of education away from religious denominations. It is disconcerting that Ms O'Kelly views this complete failure of his as a success.

This minister has not only failed the education system, he has failed Ireland's children. Of course teachers must call him on that, especially if journalists like Emer O'Kelly fail to do so.

I stopped buying the Sindo years ago due to the astounding amount of teacher-bashing in it.

Dr Mairead De Burca,

Baile Mhuirne, Co Chorcai


Madam – I consider myself to have a sense of humour and find some of the items on the 'Shutterbug' pages of Life magazine amusing. However, I was horrified by the caption in connection with the photograph of President Higgins and his wife on their visit to England.

It was in extremely poor taste and not in any way funny.

I wonder how the columnist would feel if a member of his or her own family was written about in this way. That should be the acid test to be used when considering if something is suitable for publication.

I think an apology is warranted.

Bernadette Carroll,

Navan, Co Meath


Madam – Eilis O'Hanlon says (Sunday Independent, April 20, 2014), that when it comes to asserting the protection of a child, no sentence should have a "but" in it. She is right and she is also right about the point she made about the legal relevance or non-relevance of Catholic confession. However, she left out one important point and that is that paedophilia is no ordinary sin. It is a personality disorder and an addiction. Even if the paedophile confesses his sin in confession and then thinks he is cleansed of it and that he is all over and done with it, this might not be the case. He could still be a risk to children and may start going back to doing his crimes again and all the pain that they can cause.

Even if Catholic clergy didn't know about the seriousness and addictive nature of paedophilia in the past, they should certainly know it now and have no excuses. There should be no exceptions when it comes to keeping children safe.

Sean O'Brien,

Dublin 3


Madam – I was particularly pleased and pleasantly surprised that the Sunday Independent broke ranks with other arms of the media to give a voice to the silent majority of the citizens of this country where only minorities seem to have freedom of speech. We are living in fear of expressing our views, lest we be branded racist, sectarian, homophobic when we are none of these. Well done to John Joe Culloty in Kerry for having the guts to challenge the nonsense that is slowly taking over in a country which purports to be a democracy. You also gave John Waters a chance to express his views. Did the people who sacrificed their lives for our freedom [including freedom of speech] ever think that a citizen and journalist would be demonised in such a manner? Keep up the good work.

Noreen Dunne,

Mornington, Co Meath


Madam – Daniel O'Connell's philosophy and career inspired such great leaders of non-violence as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King. It is time our nation declare a national holiday starting on the May 15, 2016, 169 years after his death. It is long past time that we truly recognise one of the world's greatest advocates for non-violence and civil rights for all, during the upcoming 1916 commemoration events. "The altar of liberty totters when it is cemented only with blood." – O'Connell Journal, December 1796.

Vincent J Lavery,

Dalkey, Co Dublin


Madam – Typical of Sinn Fein to put the blame on a political motive for the arrest of Gerry Adams. The reason for Mr Adams being brought in for questioning is because questions have to be answered. Listening to Alex Maskey is the same old spiel. Also Mary Lou McDonald in saying the arrest of Mr Adams is wrong, how insensitive of her? A mother of 10 was taken away tortured and murdered. As a mother herself she should have empathy with the McConville family.

Una Heaton,

North Circular, Limerick


Madam –Nick Webb tells us that wind farm owners were paid €10m not to produce power last year (Sunday Independent, April 27, 2014). To the layman the windies cannot lose. Too windy? Shut down but pass on costs to customers. Not windy enough? Don't worry, tot up the loss and pass it on to customers. It's an ill wind that doesn't benefit somebody.

Whilst studying economics the power of the invisible hand of the "market" was drilled into me. It would intervene as needed, checks and balances, weeding out the weak, setting bearable costs and prices and incentivising the innovative.

The opposite was the Soviet communist system of state intervention and distortion of free market forces.

Along comes the collapse of the banks and builders in 2008. Did the "market" and its invisible hand intervene?

Hell no, instead we got a Soviet-style bailout of the powerful and wealthy with their debts transferred to the serfs. Market forces and capitalism my arse. The high and mighty were saved and the rest of us were left to sink or swim.

Do those who set up energy projects actually think of the consumer or is everything geared to profit: heads they win, tails they win? Or do some teams play with the wind to their backs in both halves?

John Cuffe,

Dunboyne, Co Meath


Madam – I've just read that interview with Imelda May by Barry Egan (Life, Sunday Independent, April 27, 2014). I think it's the most amazing and funny interview I have ever read. It was brilliant.

David Dwyer,



Madam – Hallelujah. An article on fashion in Life magazine for older women! More of Mary Kennedy and her ilk, please.

Noreen Heverin,


Sunday Independent

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