EU needs common sense on Russia, not rampant militarism
With EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker calling for a "common European army" as a "deterrent against further Russian aggression on the continent", it seems that the Lisbon Treaty hawks are coming home to roost.
NATO's proposed expansion into Georgia and Ukraine sparked off conflicts and Russian annexation of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Crimea.
Likewise the establishment of another European army, in addition to a NATO army that should have been made redundant after the end of the Soviet Union, will lead to further, avoidable tension and potential conflicts with Russia. Vladimir Putin is not Adolf Hitler, and what is happening in eastern Ukraine is not a rerun of 1939 European right-wing racist aggression.
Such dangerous right-wing tendencies are resurfacing in western political and military circles rather than in the east. All European states already have armies, and arguably far too many armaments, including nuclear weapons held by Britain, France and Russia.
Uniting all these armies and armaments into two super armies is a recipe for disaster, including potential nuclear war.
It was not appeasement that led to World War II but European fascist doctrines of "uno Duce, una voce" combined with rampant militarism. The diversity of foreign policy and defence matters that Europe needs right now includes positive neutrality by Ireland and other European states, combined with common sense. Common sense, however, is becoming very uncommon in Europe.
Castletroy, Co Limerick
If we take 'culture' to refer to the norms, values, beliefs and practices of a particular group, it is increasingly difficult to pin down what defines our way of life today, living, as we do, in an increasingly multicultural, multi-faith society.
As I grew up, it was assumed that Ireland was a Catholic country with the consequent expectation that the Constitution and the law inevitably mirrored the teaching of the Catholic Church, outlawing abortion, divorce, homosexuality and the sale of contraceptives.
Our moral sensibilities were steadily diluted by reducing moral life to obedience to rules based on "the teaching of the church". Teaching from whatever source cannot trump human intelligent reflection on our responsibilities to one another.
Traditional nationalism has done much to shape the Irish psyche; however, it is now well beyond its sell-by-date.
Gerry Adams cuts a sad figure, as if the world had left him behind. Yet he represents for many the embodiment of a particular view of our nationhood, with its roots in the concept of blood sacrifice and martyrdom, too often nurtured by unspeakable atrocities carried out in our name.
Thoughtful reflection on our differences, be they political, cultural or religious, fired by a genuine desire to seek common ground, can be the only way forward. Sadly, any attempt at a concerted effort to establish a national debate about the kind of Ireland we wish to see for our children tends to be corrupted by traditional political loyalties and antipathies.
The differences between us are as nothing compared with the general orientation that we share. Sadly, what seems to be afoot is the artificial manufacture of difference in order to service the desire for power.
Oxford OX1 4QB, UK
Motherhood irrelevant in politics
Here at Women for Election, we have consistently seen how the best international research into why women are under-represented in politics rings true.
Confidence is a persistent barrier. Repeatedly during our various courses, training sessions and mentoring events we see capable, competent, well-qualified women come up with excuses as to why they couldn't possibly run for election.
That is why it is so disappointing to see a long-time male councillor, Fianna Fáil's Tom Brabazon. arguing that women who have given birth should be to the fore as election candidates.
Setting aside the farcical nature of the comments and the question as to whether childless men should also be excluded, it is interesting that Mr Brabazon shares a Dáil constituency with two female colleagues (who happen not to have children).
The theme of International Women's Day this year was 'Make it Happen'.
The time for action is now and antiquated, out-of touch, inaccurate and offensive comments about women have no place in our political discourse. If we are not talking about how having children affects male politicians, then it shouldn't be an issue for women either.
Director of Operations and Campaigns
Women for Election
Dawson Street, Dublin 2
Flawed selection processes
Hugh Gibney says that the gender quota is "a bad practice" because it prioritises a "non-merit-related criterion (gender) in the selection process" (Letters, Irish Independent, March 9).
Is he saying that all selection processes since independence, which decided that women should be grossly under-represented in the Oireachtas, were merit-related?
Wedding invites controversy
I agree with John Bellew (Letters, Irish Independent, March 7) regarding the right of the printers in Drogheda to refuse to print invitations which conflict with their religious views.
There is no doubt that the trendy intolerance of the pseudo-liberals is now a threat to our freedom of speech, our freedom of conscience and our civil liberties.
Clones Road, Monaghan
The Drogheda printers may feel they have a right to refuse to print wedding invitations for a gay couple, but surely Christian values embrace all?
"Love thy neighbour" does not come with terms and conditions.
We all belong to the human family and if we focus on our differences as reasons to exclude or dismiss the rights and needs of others, then the prospects for community and society are bleak indeed.
T J Joyce
Dalkey, Co Dublin
Salute to a 10-year-old hero
Well done to the 10-year-old boy who saved his sister from an attempted abduction in Cullahill last week (Irish Independent, March 6). To show such bravery and awareness at such a tender age is inspirational.
The future bodes well for this country if this is the type of youth that is coming through. Hats off to a brave young man, and well done.