Monday 24 October 2016

Value of loyalty and respect

Published 09/10/2016 | 02:30

'In today’s world I understand that single people may experiment more with sex than they did years ago but I feel that once they are in a relationship they would try to uphold the values of loyalty and respect.' (depositphotos)
'In today’s world I understand that single people may experiment more with sex than they did years ago but I feel that once they are in a relationship they would try to uphold the values of loyalty and respect.' (depositphotos)

Sir —  Reading Dr. Ciara Kelly’s article (Living, Sunday Independent, October 2) made us all look like a nation of rabbits. The facts and figures she gave on sexual activity and porn represent I believe a small minority.

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Most moral people do not behave as she stated in her article and if they do most have stooped to the level of animals with no self control or rules. There are still a lot of good people out there who like their parents are strong and true to their partners and keep their families together. Young girls also who have their babies and raise them alone to be responsible adults are to be applauded. Drink and drugs play a big part in the society we live in today and cause a lot of good people to fall by the wayside.

In today’s world I understand that single people may experiment more with sex than they did years ago but I feel that once they are in a relationship they would try to uphold the values of loyalty and respect. I think that these values are not something that should be left behind in today’s modern dating world.

Anna Jordan,

At last, transfusion ban ended

Sir — I welcome the decision of the Minister for Health Simon Harris to end the lifelong ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with men (MSM) on January 16 next year (‘Ban on gay men giving blood to end in new year’, Sunday Independent, October 2).

The decision by the minister to finally set a date, over three months after originally announcing his intentions in late June, means I may now see the overdue changes I have fought for the past number of years.

Over the years I had written to the Irish Blood Transfusion Service and a number of Oireachtas members, from the Taoiseach to the Health Minister and opposition leaders, seeking clarity on the MSM blood donation ban. No logical clarity could be provided to justify the arbitrary ban. As a result, and in the face of no real prospect of a timely change in policy, I initiated a judicial review case in the High Court in July 2015. The case put considerable pressure on the minister and others to bring in a change to the 30-year-old blanket ban.

I also note the line in last week’s report: “Once restrictions are lifted, gay men will be able to donate . . . five years after being cleared of a sexually transmitted disease.” As I understand it this second new policy will apply to everyone who donates blood, not merely gay men or those within the MSM category.

Although the new 12-month blanket deferral on MSM is far from perfect and still presents an unnecessary and unscientific form of institutional discrimination against healthy and safe blood donors, it is a welcome first step forward.

As a healthy blood donor with a clear dedication to donating safe and much-needed blood, I now keenly look forward to returning to the blood donation clinic in D’Olier Street in Dublin on January 16 for my 11th blood donation.

Tomás Heneghan
Co. Galway

Meat-based diets

Sir — I found Letter of Week (Sunday Independent, October 9) somewhat contradictory. The unfortunate beast is the loser either side of the argument.

The animal has to be slaughtered, in the first place, before being processed to

satisfy the taste buds of people in ‘the affluent west’. Likewise,

if the same people went vegetarian, as Ms. Nuala Donlon suggests, our four-legged friends would still have to die to

alleviate the hunger of the 840 million humans that are going hungry.

Neither suggestion complies in any way with Mary Robinson’s comments on meat-based diets and global warning.

If animals were to become extinct —how then would the millions of landowners in livestock production survive, similarly the grain grower? James Gleeson,


Actions of Conor Cruise O’Brien

Sir — The twin-barrel defensive eulogies of Conor Cruise O’Brien in last weekend’s edition by his grandson and Eoghan Harris are quite disingenuous and really do need responding to.

Katanga Report (which is still obtainable), written by Smith Hempstone, was the brilliant and definitive record of the conflict in that province. The author, who later became the acclaimed American ambassador to Kenya, was a maverick and a man of the highest integrity. His book is completely scathing of Cruise O’Brien and his role in the whole affair.

In simple terms, he took it upon himself to order UN forces to invade Katanga, a move which, in his own words, infuriated his boss, the UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold and was in violation of both the UN charter and the relevant Security Council resolution. He hoped to crush the Katangan secession but, despite rounding up all bar 100 or so mercenaries, miscalculated,  and was given a bloody nose by the Katangan forces.

The latter were, at that stage, and contrary to Eoghan Harris’s contention, almost exclusively made up of native troops (albeit with the support of two trainer jets flown by a South African and a Belgian).

Tragically Hammarskjold, a good and honourable man, was killed in a plane crash as he was about to land in Zambia to negotiate a truce with Moise Tshombe, the Katangan prime minister.

Cruise O’Brien was subsequently and ignominiously removed from his post by the dead Swede’s successor, U Thant.

His actions had, however, paved the way for the ultimate crushing of a state that had been viable and successful, a very rare occurrence in the African continent both at that time and in subsequent decades.

The ensuing 50 years have seen the deaths of millions as well as countless rapes and other atrocities throughout the Congo (or Zaire as it briefly became).

Corruption and exploitation of natural resources by internal and external powers has been immeasurable.

Whilst this may have happened anyway in the other five provinces, there is every reason to believe that Katanga might have maintained a relatively normal and peaceful society if it had been left to its own devices.

Tshombe was a tribal leader and, whilst he did have outside support, was not the stooge that Harris and his ilk like to portray.  He died in an Algerian jail

after his aircraft was hijacked and forcibly diverted to that country.

In summary, Conor Cruise O’Brien was an arrogant and egotistical man who, in this instance, abused his position to assert his personal ideology on Katanga and its people.

It would, in fact, not be unreasonable to ascribe the word evil to him as his actions were a prime factor in the inhumanity that has followed. Whatever opprobrium that this new film brings upon him will be both long overdue and well-deserved.

Pat Reid,

Quinlan’s strategy for saving lives

Sir — Alexander Kearney’s ‘If you want the truth, forget the film and read Conor’s great book’ (Sunday Independent, October 2) encourages readers to read the book To Katanga and Back by Conor Cruise O’Brien. Leaving aside the merits of the book, let’s not forget that Mr O’Brien had the opportunity to write his views about Katanga in 1962. No such opportunity was invested in Commandant Quinlan and his brave men of A company where the word Jadotville was swept under the carpet by the top brass in the Irish Defence Forces.

‘Jadotville Jack’ was the name tagged on these brave men on their return to Ireland. It was a derisory and unjustified taint that was bestowed on the men of A company. The siege of Jadotville is Ireland’s version of Rorke’s Drift, where 150 men defended their garrison against 3,000 Zulu warriors. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded on that day, which was the most in any single battle involving British Troops. It is fitting that Comdt. Quinlan, whose strategic tactic of digging 1.5 metre trenches as part of his perimeter defence, is now being recognised as a great example of leadership and soldiering by defence forces worldwide.

More importantly, this strategy helped prevent the loss of lives under his command. It has being said that the first casualty of war is truth.

The marriage of questionable leadership of the army top brass, embedded with political influence combined with the ideology of the UN administrators in trying to protect its reputation, failed the men of A company on their return to Ireland.

The recent film The Siege of Jadotville was the catalyst that attracted a new and welcome audience to the role of Irish troops under the blue flag in the Congo. For the men of A company, their journey to Katanga and back was not the panacea it should have been. Comdt. Quinlan and his men were casualties of a culture at the time that would not and did not accept the truth. However, there is some comfort in knowing that the forgotten battle of Jadotville, and the men who fought it, is now being rightfully recognised as a unique part of Irish Army and UN history.

Dermot O’Neill,

Proper recognition

Sir — May I thank Eoghan Harris for his article ‘The Cruiser, a hero of the anti–colonial struggle’ (Sunday Independent, October 2).

 I have been a long time admirer of Conor Cruise O’Brien and it is good to see him getting recognition. He seldom does.

Johnny O’Mahony,

Schizophrenia wrongly used

Sir — Nowadays nobody believes that the earth is flat but nevertheless there is at least one equivalent scientific howler that is just as widespread in the 21st Century, namely that schizophrenia is Multiple Personality Disorder.

This error appears in print when somebody, who is alleged to be in two minds about

some matter, is then described as ‘schizophrenic’ in this regard.

Such is the case with Eoghan Harris (Sunday Independent, October 2) who says that The Siege of Jadotville has ‘a schizophrenic vibe in the screenplay’. I must formally correct Eoghan here.

Frank Desmond,
Cork City

Restructure the way country is run

Sir — The continuance of a political party system of managing the country, as demonstrated by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and, in recent times Labour, for the last  30 years guarantees an adversarial, power-hungry, self-serving, incompetent, deceitful, corrupt and inward-looking form of nation management.

If the two major political parties had ‘think-ins’ every week from now until the turn of the next millennium, they would not be able to put right the ills inflicted, by them, upon this nation and the people.

The total amount of revenue denied the public purse over this period through mismanagement, incompetence, pocket-lining, cronyism, jobs for the boys, quangos, out-of-all-proportion pensions, salaries, golden handshakes and greed — together with the, unconstitutional giving away of vital public natural resources to private business — would leave you open-mouthed in disbelief.

Observing ‘politics’ over the years you would have to conclude that we are not living in a democracy and that our hard-fought-for Constitution is being treated with disdain.

With a generous-hearted and entrepreneurial people, with a nation rich in human and natural resources with vast territorial waters and a bountiful landmass, this island nation, given a decent, non-political, democratically-elected management structure, with each representative publicly sworn in to serve the common good, would be thriving, fair to all, and would release us from the debtors prison into which we have been forced.

A bold, brave, innovative restructuring of the way the country is managed for the common good is needed if Ireland is to regain real independence and provide a truly democratic and healthy nation for all her citizens into the Third Millennium.

Joe Brennan
Ballinspittle, Co Cork

Appalling silence on the suicide problem

Sir — In the Sunday Independent (May 1) you published a letter of mine on the horrifying number of suicides in Ireland, for which I was, and am, grateful.

In recent weeks the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland, have been most vociferous, on the pulpit, and in the media in their objection to any change to the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which would permit abortion. Each and every Christian, is entitled to make their point of view. Alas, I find the silence of all Christian clergy in Ireland, on suicide appalling, but more so where that suicide is caused by financial pressure.

Christians say they cherish all life: if so, why the silence on suicide, in particular, suicide caused by financial stress?

Declan Foley
Berwick, Australia

Senator Mullen calls it as it is

Sir — It was good to see Senator Ronan Mullen calling abortion as it is (Sunday Independent, October 2) and, also, outlining the refusal of the media to ask the hard questions of those wishing to remove protection of the unborn baby from our Constitution. Time and time again we see those supporting abortion legislation given a free passage by the media and certainly not subjected to the questioning accorded to those who are pro-life.   

I suppose the only good to emerge from the discussion, is that the majority of those seeking the repeal of the Eighth Amendment want no restrictions imposed regarding the availability of abortion. Archbishop Eamon Martin rightly pointed out recently that there is no such thing as ‘limited abortion’ and that is amply demonstrated in Britain where, seemingly, no one is refused an abortion there. What criticism has there been of Minister Katherine Zappone attending the pro-choice march in Dublin, and Minister for Health Simon Harris expressing support for those travelling to Britain for abortion? Senator Mullen asked “shouldn’t Irish doctors be helping people to care for their sick child until the end and to prepare for death and grieving in a dignified way”. Indeed, why not?

Mary Stewart (Mrs)
Ardeskin, Donegal Town

A clear conscience and strong belief

Sir — The Sunday Independent (October 2) carries an article by Senator Ronan Mullen about the abortion laws in Ireland. I will declare my interest. As an anaesthetist working in England I have anaesthetised many women for abortions. My conscience is clear, and in contradiction to Snr Mullen’s claims, they did get a proper anaesthetic! The simple truth is that no legislation, no “moral” crusading, no advice, has ever found a way to stop men and women having sex. When people have sex, then women will get pregnant. The only thing that will ever reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancy is the total emancipation of women, and free access to contraception.

Sadly the greatest opponent to the total emancipation of women is the Roman Catholic Church. Like most religions, it defines its morality from an entirely male viewpoint. Women’s rights don’t get a look in. So when Snr Mullen talks about the “cold ideological agenda to destroy vulnerable human beings . . .”, he could just as easily be talking about the denial of women’s rights perpetrated by the church.

The historic treatment of unmarried women who became pregnant is a national disgrace for everyone involved. The laundries may be extinct, but the bigoted, sexist and ignorant attitude that produced them is still extant. It finds its voice in Senator Mullen. The church’s view isn’t about morality; it’s about male power and control. My reply to Senator Mullen is simple. If you do not have a womb, then you should be very, very careful about pontificating to those who do. If anyone needs help with an unwanted pregnancy they should be able to see a doctor, not a travel agent.

Dr Stephen Seddon,

Sunday Independent

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