Sunday 23 October 2016

The LGBTQI community wants respect, Mr O'Doherty

Published 15/06/2016 | 02:30

Martin O’Neill: apologised for 'inappropriate comments'. Photo: PA
Martin O’Neill: apologised for 'inappropriate comments'. Photo: PA

In the past week, the media reported that the manager of the Irish football team, Martin O'Neill, joked that he ensured two coaches accompanied himself and Roy Keane to the Super Bowl in the US so people would not think that the pair were "queers".

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Naturally, there was outrage over this crass attempt at humour.

Later, O'Neill offered a lame apology, stating: "If I had made inappropriate comments, then I obviously apologise."

He subsequently made a more detailed apology, saying: "You are right to criticise me ... It was inappropriate and I could not genuinely be more sorry, that's the case."

Some, however, deemed the response to these self-professed "inappropriate comments" to be out of proportion. In a particularly condescending article, Ian O'Doherty made several ungracious comments aimed at those who had taken offence (Irish Independent, June 8).

He claimed that:"In the rational world, that [O'Neill's apology] would be enough and everyone would move on."

He disparagingly singled out journalist Una Mullally as "the champion of Ireland's Social Justice Warriors" and unabashedly insulted the integrity of the LGBTQI community with the frankly irrelevant statement "the 'I' in LGBTQI stands for 'Intersex', as far as I can recall, but that may have changed by the time you read this," a remark that indicates a feeling not unlike contempt for the movement.

Mr O'Doherty goes on to assert that "people are sick of being lectured by special interest groups" and assumes that most people, like him, care more about the Irish team's prospects in the Euros rather than some petty grievance.

He also asks a question: "just what do these people want?"

To answer your question, Mr O'Doherty, we want to be taken seriously. We want people of influence to not use offensive slurs for the sake of a bit of lads' banter. When we speak out, we want our protests to be seen as valid. We want to be respected, not derisively told that we need to get over ourselves.

When offence is taken, we want complaints to be taken on board, not dismissed out of hand as an overreaction. We want to be able to reclaim the word 'queer' without that being used to excuse its use in a derogatory comment.

We want the fact that we now have marriage equality to not be used to claim that discrimination against us no longer exists.

We want progress to continue, not to stall at this point because some refuse to recognise that it is still needed. We want people to admit that there are still problems, and that perhaps they are part of them.

What we want, Mr O'Doherty, is for people to recognise that the LGBTQI community deserves respect, for people to respond with empathy instead of scorn, and for people to realise that one step towards equality, no matter how large it may be, does not mean that the fight is over.

James Spillane

Portlaoise, Co Laois


Sweden's goal is that way...

The dreaded own goal in Monday's Euros clash between Ireland and Sweden was a case of "never on the field of human football was so much given away by so few."

Johnnie McCoy

Dublin 7


Ministers' comments on abortion

The recent interventions on abortion by the previous and current Health Ministers indicate a lack of imagination, a refusal of human solidarity and an apparent confusion as to what is due in justice to the innocent.

Leo Varadkar's remarks proposing time limits on abortion in the event of a repeal of the Eighth Amendment suggest that he is intent on our embracing the practice of abortion. Is a law permitting abortion, with whatever limits, the best idea he can offer?

Simon Harris's apparent conviction that the protection articulated in the Eighth Amendment, which of course extends to babies with serious or life-limiting conditions, is, in this respect, "utterly unacceptable" suggests an ambivalence around basic human solidarity. The first priority of our health system is that support should be offered to any couple and their baby, especially when his or her life may be short. Support does not include any deliberate action against the life of the child. Perinatal hospice care is a civilised and loving response.

That what St John Paul II called "the network of complicity" supporting abortion is now joined by two Cabinet members is indicative of a strange confusion. Both of them are surely aware of the protection due to innocent and defenceless human life. And so why not respect this most basic standard of justice, that the innocent be protected from harm?

Fr Sean Mac Giollarnath, O. Carm

Aungier Street, Dublin 2


Israel is not an 'apartheid' state

In response to the letter 'Boycott is a legitimate response to regime's apartheid' (Irish Independent, June 14), Judea and Samaria (West Bank) is "disputed", not "occupied", territory. Palestine is not, nor has it ever been, a country. It was part of the Ottoman Empire and then a British Mandate, but never a country.

It was a potential country in 1948, but the Arabs refused the UN Partition Plan and Egypt and Jordan took over Gaza and the West Bank. Israel captured the territories in the 1967 war of genocide against the Jews. To use the term "apartheid" is an insult to both South Africans and Israelis.

In Israel and the territories, Muslims and Christians have control of their holy places, unlike 1948-1967, when Jews were forced out of the West Bank and Gaza and were barred from entering.

In Israel, all citizens have equal rights. There are Arab parties and members in the Knesset. There are Arab judges and one is on the Supreme Court. There are Arab professors and students in all universities, and Arab doctors and patients in all hospitals.

Any comparison of Israel with South Africa is ignorance or bigotry.

Len Bennett

Ottawa, Canada


Secularism is a Trojan horse

Rob Sadlier thinks our Constitution does not provide parents with the right to a denominational education for their children (Irish Independent, Letters, June 14). However, it has been the usual understanding that such a right is the outworking of the State's Constitutional obligation to ensure children are educated and the recognition of parents' rights concerning the education of their children in our Constitution. Until we have a Supreme Court decision that declares otherwise, I shall continue to consider the current interpretation of the law on this to be the correct one.

People like to portray secularism as some kind of a neutral position, but it is in fact a distinct philosophy that is in many ways hostile to the religious beliefs of others. Attempts to force it into our schools are a bid by a militant minority to place a Trojan horse within our schools for the purposes of undermining religion within our society.

Revd Patrick G Burke

Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny

Irish Independent

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