Referees are human and make mistakes
Sir - I normally enjoy Neil Francis's rugby articles, as he is a fine writer on the vagaries of rugby union at the highest level.
His intelligent musings are thought-provoking and insightful. However, last week's article (Sport, Sunday Independent, December 4) was insulting to referees at all levels.
The rugby community depends on the dedication of referees from minis and underage rugby right through to adult level and professional level.
As a community referee for Leinster Rugby, I attend regular referee workshops to improve my game management. Referees are normally appointed to games based on their ability and fitness levels. Poor performances by referees are analysed and can result in a demotion to games of a lower level. Safety and player welfare are the main priorities of most rugby union referees.
Like players, referees are human too and make mistakes.
Inspirational value of 'transcenders'
Sir - Shane Dunphy (Sunday Independent, December 4) paints a largely very sad but unfortunately very true picture of the long-term effects of child sexual abuse.
He writes about how survivors are 59pc more likely to be arrested as juveniles and 80pc of 21-year-olds on the books of Tusla for childhood sexual abuse present with some degree of psychiatric disorder.
However, at the end of the article, he writes about "transcenders". These are people who experienced abuse as children but often end up choosing careers to try to ensure any child in their care never has to experience what they experienced and live with its long-term consequences.
These people are truly inspirational because they turn a negative experience for them into a positive.
A very good example of someone like this is Christina Noble. She spent time in an orphanage after her mother died when she was 10, escaped and was gang raped while living rough. As an adult she has devoted her life to working with street children in Vietnam.
Child sexual abuse can have devastating consequences for individuals and it is imperative that everyone educates themselves on this issue to ensure it doesn't happen.
However, for survivors it is also important for them to realise that it need not define them. They can transcend the experience and even use it to help prevent it happening to the current generation of children.
Trump was right to take Taiwan's call
Sir - Though not a fan of US President-elect Donald Trump, I am intrigued by the howls of indignation from his country's political establishment in response to his taking a call from the president of Taiwan.
How dreadful that he spoke to the leader of a state that America severed diplomatic relations with 37 years ago.
I think it is entirely fitting that the leaders of the free world should be on good terms with the one part of China where free and democratic elections are held. President Tsai Ing-wen was chosen by the people of Taiwan. The regime in Beijing has no democratic mandate. It rules by terror and suppresses any hint of dissent. People are imprisoned for opposing the dictatorship, including members and supporters of religious groups who espouse peaceful alternatives to the system.
The dictatorship has bullied many nations into keeping their distance from Taiwan, but not as hideously as it has bullied the people of Tibet, a country China invaded and annexed in 1950.
Tibet's national identity was destroyed, along with much of its mysterious ancient culture.
Far from avoiding contact with Taiwan, I hope the new US administration will rally to the aid of that fragile democracy and the long-suffering people of occupied Tibet.