Opinion

Sunday 26 January 2020

Casement's full story

Casement recruited the POWs and as it was impossible to get them to Ireland, Casement got them to sign on to fight for Turkey. Photo: Central Press/Getty Images
Casement recruited the POWs and as it was impossible to get them to Ireland, Casement got them to sign on to fight for Turkey. Photo: Central Press/Getty Images
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - There is much celebrating of Roger Casement as a hero for recruiting Irish prisoners of war (POWs) and getting arms for Ireland.

The full story should be told and the full context should be given; Britain was fighting for democracy and human rights. It had blockaded Germany and could read its code.

Casement recruited the POWs and as it was impossible to get them to Ireland, Casement got them to sign on to fight for Turkey. Maurice Meade of Limerick and about 40 others fought with the Turks.

Even the Pope now accuses the Turks of genocide in World War One. The Turks massacred more one million Armenian Catholics and Casement and these Irish men are guilty of genocide.

This massacre is seen too as the first holocaust. This blot on his character should be factored in before we celebrate his greatness.

James Mathers, Limerick

Sins of secrecy destroyed lives

Sir - Disclosures about the oppressive and secretive atmosphere that pervades the national seminary at Maynooth don't surprise me. While researching a book on the industrial school era (Escape from Grievous Faults) I spoke to retired clerics and former members of religious orders who told me of bizarre practices to which they were subjected: These included being "beaten with a cane" while sexually aroused as they stared at a poster of film actress Jane Russell.

This might sound comical until you consider the catastrophic impact on novices of sexual repression and/or outright sexual abuse that, according to my sources, was unwittingly promoted by the obsessive emphasis on chastity and celibacy in the seminaries.

The obligatory signing of confidentiality agreements at Maynooth and other similar venues has been deeply unhelpful to investigations of alleged clerical sexual abuse and the widespread (now proven) physical, sexual and emotional abuse in industrial schools and other institutions. Whistleblowers who might have exposed serious crimes would themselves have been penalized for doing what they surely must have considered their moral duty.

While recognising that abusers in the Catholic priesthood and the religious orders have always been in the minority, it is also a sad fact that far too many of those "good" men and women of the cloth failed to intervene, when they became aware of what their errant colleagues were doing.

The nature of the wrongs was such that surely even dismissal from the priesthood or religious order should have been a small price to pay for outing the abusers. Yet, when true courage was so desperately needed, eyes were averted. Silence prevailed.

One can debate the relative gravity of the various sins set forth in catechisms and prayer books. But surely the destruction of innocent young lives is a sin that puts most of the others in the shade.

Not far behind it ought to be the "culture of secrecy" that facilitated the vilest abuses. Where was the "holiness" in muzzling potential whistleblowers or staying silent about a crime that never stops hurting?

John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co Kilkenny

Uncomfortable facts to be faced

Sir - In his article (Sunday Independent, July 31) Donal Lynch admits that abortion makes him uneasy despite admitting to be in favour of it. He also proposes that pro-choice lobbyists should acknowledge the hard facts such as "the loss of life inherent in abortion" and the "biological reality" of images used by pro-life lobbyists.

I doubt very much if pro-choice lobbyists would ever take this drastic step as I'm sure this would make them uncomfortable too and naturally harm their cause. They prefer slogans such as "my body, my choice" and talk about reproductive rights and healthcare. They talk about the thousands of Irish women who avail of abortions in other countries as if this was some basis why we should have an abortion regime in this country. They neglect to mention cases of failed abortions where aborted babies which are born alive are left to die.

I find the whole concept of abortion to be deeply upsetting. How can a fellow member of the human race forcibly remove a living unborn baby from a pregnant woman? This certainly doesn't happen in the animal kingdom.

In the upcoming discussion on abortion hard facts must be acknowledged despite how uncomfortable people feel. If people wish to vote for abortion in this country, at least let them know what they will be voting for.

Tommy Roddy, Galway

Bringing logic and clarity to debate

Sir - I have just read Donal Lynch's brilliant erudite article ('I'm liberal, so why does abortion make me uneasy?' Sunday Independent, July 31). This sensitively and intelligently written article has brought me clarity.

This gifted young journalist gave logic and language to my thoughts - in other words he has helped to inform my thinking and isn't that journalism at its purest? I believe that to comment definitively on the eighth amendment is way beyond the scope of the lay person and needs the rigorous application of trained medical and legal minds.

In the coming debates it is important that we remain respectful and tolerant but above all that we listen. Donal Lynch in his article showed respect and tolerance and by doing so has done more for advancing the right to life for the unborn than all the various well-meaning but overly emotive supporters. We need calm conversation and facts. Human life is above religion and politics.

If there is a pulse throbbing no matter how faintly then as a nation we should seek a way to protect its entitlement to come into this world. I thank you, Donal, for your humanity, honesty and the time you have given to informing us.

Mary O'Reilly, Sligo

Negative read mars happy Kingdom

Sir -I was in Killarney last Saturday for a family reunion and some bridges that needed repairs also. A most enjoyable occasion and something that families should do more often and not wait for a funeral.

The town was very busy, with visitors from the four corners of the world. The pubs, restaurants and shops were crowded.

The Kerry people love to talk, especially when the tourists are parting with their money.

Being a Kerryman, I chatted with some of the tourists. Their impression of Ireland was totally positive. Not just our magnificent scenery, but the people, food and all the things we take for granted. Not one negative comment. But that would change.

I bought the Sunday Independent (July 31).

Being a staunch GAA fan, I went to the sports pages first and read what Brolly and O'Rourke had to say - all negative. The structure and the system was all wrong. Tipperary footballers were out of their depth.

Since the election in February, the media has used gallons of ink and pummelled us with the ineptness of Enda, and often Noonan thrown in, to make the ship more sinkable. Since none of their mud is sticking, a columnist on Sunday decided to pick on Enda over his hairstyle.

Gene Kerrigan should come down to Kerry and meet real people. Perhaps then his negative attitude may change.

Mike Kelleher, Tramore, Co Waterford

Defending EU institutions

Sir - Ruth Dudley Edwards (Sunday Independent, July 31) makes a number of unfair generalisations about the EU. While it is fair to say that the EU has been found wanting when it comes to transparency, it is not fair to say that the Commission is unaccountable and unelected. Following the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament's assent is needed before the European Council can appoint the President of the Commission.In addition all prospective commissioners must go before parliamentary committees who scrutinise them.

Furthermore, the parliament can force the commission to resign if it votes a motion of no confidence in it.

And, in citing the forthcoming Hungarian referendum on mandatory migrant quotas, Ms Dudley Edwards is surely scraping the barrel given that the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, has said he wants to put an end to liberal democracy in Hungary, to be replaced by an "illiberal state".

Ms Dudley Edwards would do well to consider these points before commenting on the EU and the challenges it faces.

Niall Fitzgerald, Tramore, Co Waterford

Wallace is right about our politics

Sir - The article on Mick Wallace (Business, Sunday Independent, July 31) brings a welcome dose of reality to turn upside down the media and other caricatures of his work and principles.

Indeed, while the public struggles to define their distrust of politics in general, he puts his finger on the word we seek, namely "principles". It is these that are lacking in the party systems, as he says, and more business-like negotiations and decisions based on reality, economics, fairness and facts should be fostered.

Indeed, if there were more business-trained TDs among the 158 we would surely see more equable and just management of the nation's affairs.

Pat Morgan, Wexford

GAA means big business

Sir - We could misquote from The Streets' song, Dry Your Eyes:  'I know you want to make her see how much this pain hurts, but dry your eyes mate', as advice to Joe Brolly, when he laments his spurned love, the GAA, now serving so few when once, so many were served (Sport, Sunday Independent, July 31).

The GAA has long since ceased concerning itself with the many, as it maximises the sale of a unique product, even if this means many miss out, through high ticket prices, and pay-per-view TV for some matches.

The recent GPA funding increase is another example of the feeding hand being slapped down, if not bitten. It's simply a means to delay further the dreaded day of possible pay-for-play among the elite players. There is certainly nothing in it for the club players and volunteers on the ground.

Joe, one of these ground-level volunteers himself, understandably laments all this, but that's the name of the GAA game these days - business is business, and spurned love is...

Michael Reid, Slane, Co Meath

Highlighting the plight of Christians

Sir - Carol Hunt and your paper are to be congratulated for the article (Sunday Independent, July 31) highlighting the savage ethnic cleansing being endured by Christians in many Muslim countries in the Middle East.

This has long been a taboo subject for European media and Carol Hunt's article will be an eye-opener for many people.

The Barnabas Fund in the UK helps Christian refugees in war-torn Syria and Iraq although the ethnic cleansing is not confined to those countries and is widespread across the Middle East .

The Barnabas Fund reasons that there are many very wealthy Muslim countries helping Muslims while Christian refugees have little, if any support from Christian Europe. The charity has already settled Christian families in Poland, the Czech Republic, Brazil and Australia.

The British government, it seems, refuses to take Christian refugees despite pressure from the Barnabas Fund.

Surely as a "Christian" country, our Government could show some generosity to our fellow Christians in the Middle East by offering them refuge. Christians take refuge only in churches. Therefore, taking refugees only from the camps means that we are taking in more Muslims.

Is it too much to hope for that Irish Christians could start a charity and put pressure on our Government to adopt policies favourable to Christian refugees?

GB Field,Dublin

Putting women in their place

Sir - I am writing to applaud you and your team on yet another Sunday Independent issue (July 31) which manages to be in equal parts entertaining and poignant. As an excellent parody of 1950s misogynistic journalism, it is an excellent example of humorous and thought-provoking satire. I  am grateful that the very idea  of a national broadsheet newspaper ever feeling that it is acceptable to blatantly portray women in such an oppressive and archaic way is now so  absurd as to be positively laughable.

I particularly enjoyed the opening photo spread of the LIFE magazine. An embarrassment of riches satirically. The use of almost exclusively models or former Miss Ireland contestants, and a 'sack the stylist' feature clearly impressing that a woman's value is dependent entirely on her ability to wear clothes, was genius. Sidelining Angela Merkel and Theresa May, arguably two of the most powerful women in the world, to a small and unflattering photo with the hilarious quip "I just go to ze local barber", was brilliant. Highlighting the assumption that women at their level of power must, in fact, be men. Oh, how I laughed.

And then the poignant and powerful way in which your team managed to reduce Jennifer Zamparelli, an accomplished business person, broadcaster and wit, to a tragic character wracked by guilt and anxiety due to having to leave her child at home to go to work, made me want to laugh and cry. Choosing to edit a potentially insightful interview such that a sizeable portion of text focuses on the fact that Jennifer had the good fortune to know Nicky Byrne growing up, was a nice touch.

That the tactful journalist had the presence of mind to ask "did you fancy him?" was satirical gold. The juxtaposition created is thought provoking.

How would, for example, a similar interview with an equally talented Tommy Tiernan be treated? Would the headline point to his crippling guilt at leaving the house every day and the family sacrifices he must make in order to pursue his career? That Jennifer is only relatable as a successful woman if she is angst-ridden and conflicted is exactly why important publications like this communicate the kinds of inequalities that did exist in the past but are no longer acceptable. I'm sure that the mothers reading the article are relieved that their daughters will grow up in a world where such undermining of a woman's worth as a person no longer happens.

I await your next issue excitedly. Perhaps Barry Egan might helpfully inform us that a Foxrock-born debutante is newly single. Or Life might feature a photo spread of a male celebrity's wife who prudently spent her husband's money on a tastefully designed kitchen? The options are endless. Keep up the good work. "Women, Know Your Place!"

Ruth Melia, Co Galway

Adams hasn't a patch on Clinton

Sir - Until now I had considered Eilis O'Hanlon a serious journalist, mainly because she has published such scathing insights into Gerry Adams and her amazement has always been that others could not see the truth of him.

Her support of Hillary Clinton (Sunday Independent, July 31) should give her an insight in cognitive dissonance. For anyone who seriously looks at the record of Hillary Clinton would know that she has been responsible for more death, destruction and corruption than Gerry Adams could ever dream of. I am doubtful that humanity can survive a world with HRC in the White House.

Rosemary Davison, Co Down

Who's living in the real world anyway?

Sir - I never cease to be amazed by the response of some letter writers when the subject of religion is broached. I usually get the distinct impression that they think this life, as people refer to it, is actually real. Then, I suppose, as Samuel Beckett once wrote, "There is nothing more real than nothing."

Joseph Mackey, Athlone, Co Westmeath

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