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Forget 1916 - we should celebrate our great scientists


Irish Nobel laureate Ernest Walton

Irish Nobel laureate Ernest Walton

Irish Nobel laureate Ernest Walton

Great men are employed not for what they know but what they discover and patent.

We should celebrate that we are a creative scientific society and are keeping pace in the high-tech race by innovating new products and new methods. This is the only revolution that has a mutual benefit and not a zero sum game as when physical force is used to effect change, like in 1916.

About 2000 BC, Shamash, the governor in Babylon, had a fine statue made in his honour. He is commemorated not for his military conquests, but because of his introduction of bees. The statute has the inscription "Shamash Governor of Babylon brought honey bees into the land of Sukhi".

Our own Jonathan Swift said: "Whoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than that the whole race of politicians put together."

Policies that followed 1916, like self sufficiency and the ending of teaching science in schools, condemned us to poverty.

We have many great inventors and scientists, such as Charles Parsons, who created the steam turbine; mathematician William Rowan Hamilton; and Ernest Walton, who jointly shared the Nobel Prize for splitting the atom.

Noel Flannery


Gay unions not equal under law

James Downey (Irish Independent March 27) asserts that "gays have exactly the same rights under the law as everybody else. Crucially, they have the right to marry, albeit under the label of civil partnership. They have the right to adopt children."

It may interest Mr Downey to learn that there are over 160 legal differences between civil partnerships (as defined in Irish law) and marriages. Indeed, the implicit constitutional recognition of the special status of heterosexual marriage in Article 41 means that civil partnership between same-sex couples cannot be made legally identical to marriage.

Among these differences is the right to adopt children, which contrary to Mr Downey's assertion, is not currently legal for same-sex couples. While this difference may be amended through legislation later this year, other differences will remain.

Crucially, even if it were possible to pass legislation bringing civil partnerships in line with marriages, families formed under civil partnerships would lack constitutional recognition and protections, and would be subject to future legislative whims. The campaign for marriage equality is about more than just semantics, as the various materials published by organisations like Yes Equality make clear.

I'm particularly disappointed that Mr Downey's only reason to vote 'No' appears, from his final paragraphs, to be an attempt to punish the Government for its socially regressive attitudes in other areas, and to deny it an opportunity to gloat or deflect from these issues.

I find it strange that his method of punishing a Government that systematically silences, ignores and degrades women is to adopt its attitude as his own, and to ignore and patronise another oppressed group, telling us that we don't actually need the equality we're fighting for and that the concerns Mr Downey has identified are far more important.

Niall Sherry

Upper Grand Canal Street, Dublin 4

Children have no say in May poll

So Christ made an unholy mess of it all!

Under the 'New Thinking', children can have two fathers or two mothers. This can be imposed on them - it's not their decision.

Little Ireland has decided that we've been out of step for centuries. But some other countries have refused to go down this road.

O Ireland, whither goest thou? And what of our precious children?

Name and address with Editor

Butt out, Donald Trump

I despair. The economic crash of 2008 laid bare our vulnerability as a nation. Weak leadership combined with minimal oversight mechanisms set us back a generation.

Like a wounded animal, we have become the prey. It started with Timothy Geithner, the former US Treasury Secretary, scuppering a more favourable bailout for the nation. We, the taxpayers, are picking up that tab.

Last week, Goldman Sachs intervened in the affairs of a so-called sovereign nation (have we regained that title yet?). Then the Irish Independent (March 26) reported that Donald Trump had been telling the Taoiseach what to do.

Soon the 1916 commemoration will be in full flow. Those who died fighting for our freedom must be turning in their graves.

One would think out of embarrassment the Trumps and Goldman-Sachs of this world would use those famous back channels well known to lobbyists. Stop rubbing our noses in it.

Mr Trump was thwarted over a Scottish golf course. That a red carpet was laid out at Shannon Airport for him does not signify him walking over the Irish people. Butt out, sir.

John Cuffe

Dunboyne, Co Meath

Media cheerleading in the boom

The Oireachtas Banking Enquiry debate on the role of the media during the boom and its failure to sound a warning is missing the real issue.

That is that during the boom we had a small number of powerful people who felt very secure in charge of government, financial and other institutions. They made virtually unchallenged decisions daily on the expenditure of billions in taxpayers' and savers' money. These decisions proved to be very wrong and resulted in the country needing to be bailed out by foreigners.

The following are quotes showing the euphoria of the media coverage of what was happening during that period.

The fact that government spending had risen by nearly 80pc was lauded in the media coming up to one of the boom-time elections. One commentator concluded that "every day and in every way things are getting better and better" and that there was "virtually no downside".

Another commentator declared that this country was so perfect that "all the great battles on corruption and taxation" had been "won".

The Irish economy was declared "the strongest in Europe" and the German economy "a basket case". As a result it was deemed appropriate that there was "champagne on the steps of Ireland's Central Bank".

Anyone who challenged this view were "clueless" and "toxic".

The contribution of prominent media figures to the banking enquiry this week shows that, despite or perhaps because of the subsequent collapse, all of that is now forgotten.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

In the letter from John Colgan on March 26, the second sentence ought to have stated that only 10pc of the students surveyed had a copy of the Constitution at home, nearly half said they knew nothing of the functions of the President, Dail, etc and 95pc of them wanted to know of these things.

A production error inserted the word "nothing", reversing the intended meaning.

Irish Independent