Sunday 22 September 2019

Genetic revolution will move forward regardless of our readiness

Sued by embryos: Sofia Vergara
Sued by embryos: Sofia Vergara

Letter to the Editor

TV actress Sofia Vergara is facing a bizarre lawsuit where her own frozen embryos are suing her.

The suit alleges that not allowing the embryos to be born is "depriving them of their inheritance".

We have reached a critical point in our history. We have become capable of manipulating genes.

We can now, with all the right ingredients, concoct genetic soup.

As the genetic links become clearer, we will be able to foresee who will be prone to alcoholism, to cancer, even to obesity.

We are now experimentally treating diseases like cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy with gene therapy. When we succeed, what next? At what price? Imagine cloned versions of our politicians? Our worst nightmare.

The genetic revolution will move forward regardless of our readiness, or where humanity is heading. This raises both moral and practical questions, along with deeper consequences for the individual and society.

When does life begin, and when does it end? There is no ultimate answer.

A question arises: what is the impact on society? Are we wise enough to restrain the power to alter life? What ethical system should we use? And who, in the end, will make those decisions? Will we be left with no choice?

If one can imagine this future, is this a slippery slope? Should doctors decide which are good genes and which are bad?

Will genetic enhancement be as socially acceptable as plastic surgery? The stakes are high and no critic can stop this revolution.

What kind of inheritance will we leave for the future?

That may be for them to referee, but it is for us to establish at this time.

Anthony Woods

Ennis, Co Clare

'Special status' could be only option

Dan O'Brien (Irish Independent, December 8) advises that the German-Irish Chamber of Commerce has concluded that Ireland will suffer more than any other EU country from Brexit.

That is increasingly the general opinion and why the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, is right to emphasise that the challenge needs to be addressed at once. The damage to the Republic's economy cannot be allowed to continue for five years as suggested by some.

The Republic has three options: 1. Rejoin the UK which is clearly not on the political agenda at present; 2. Leave the eurozone and thus the EU at the same time as the UK exits - after all they both joined the EEC on the same day on the basis of economic realism; 3. Negotiate a 'special status' for the Republic's continued membership of the EU.

The latter will depend on the goodwill of the other 26 EU nations. If it is not forthcoming then options one and two are in play!

Lord Kilclooney, former MEP

Mullinure, Co Armagh

Replace VAT with a local sales tax

Local politics in Ireland is effectively run by county managers (and the executive) who are emasculating our elected politicians.

Try lobbying to change something in your area - roads, parking, parks - and you will face the inertia and implacability of executive power even when the politicians are on your side.

One way to combat this is to give each county council far greater fiscal power by replacing VAT with a local sales tax.

The one-size-fits-all VAT rate set by the Government is no longer fit for purpose. A local sales tax is one of the most transparent ways to collect tax revenue, especially when consumers can see the tax burden being added at the point of purchase.

In the US, both state and local sales taxes are the norm. The highest average combined state and local sales tax rate (in Tennessee) is 9.46pc, a lot lower than our own punitive 23pc VAT rate.

Yes there would be problems with people crossing into the neighbouring authority for lower prices; and there would of course be increases in online shopping, but the greatest bulk of trade will always be local. Buyers and sellers still like to eyeball each other. One of the joys of trade is when you hit the sweet spot of the right price - both buyer and seller are happy with the exchange. This would be good for competition within and across Ireland.

Most importantly it would sharpen voters' minds when it came to local elections. Whether I was a local businesswoman or a resident voting, I would be very interested in what sales tax rate my aspiring county councillors were proposing in their manifestos. Abstaining would be unthinkable.

Alison Hackett

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin

King of Jordan's moral heroism

President-elect Donald Trump deserves to be named 'Person of the Year'. He has defied all oddities and insularities, has risen above the frailties of partisan politics to lead the world's only superpower.

However, we might think of other global leaders whose foresight, courage and exemplary leadership have had a profound effect on the history of mankind.

For example, King Abdullah II of Jordan should be praised for dealing with the floods of refugees, offering them health, education and enfranchisement and in due process saving Europe from implosion.

He has repeatedly opined that Jerusalem should remain a symbol of religious coexistence for adherents of the three monolithic faiths, and anything less than that would only yield bitter fruits and rekindle the embers of ancient religious enmities.

In a region fraught with sectarian violence, this moral heroism and crucial narrative deserve great honour.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, UK

Worrying north-west trend

Sadly we read, in the local and national newspapers in recent weeks, of 32 Department of Social Protection posts moving from Sligo to Dublin.

This comes in the wake of the department of the Gaeltacht and Rural Affairs moving 110 jobs out of the south Sligo town of Tubbercurry over the past number of years.

This latest move comes hot on the heels of a threat to our rail and bus services, our post office service, the closure of Garda stations,and the downgrading of services at Sligo University Hospital.

It appears that our county of Sligo is a target for a re-centralised jobs policy, by the powers that be at the highest level, and the silence from the vast majority of our politicians is deafening.

This gradual drip-feed of job loss from our county and lack of investment in the west and north-west of our country is alarming and, if it is allowed to continue, it will have many adverse effects on the population of these regions in the years ahead.

When Oliver Cromwell conquered Ireland hundreds of years ago his catchphrase was: "To hell or to Connacht", now that appears to have changed at a decision-making level to: "To hell with Connacht" and the North-West.

Tom Towey

Cloonacool, Co Sligo

Irish Independent

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