Saturday 19 January 2019

Heroism shows how world must face evil

Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame. Photo: AP
Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame. Photo: AP
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Sir - Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame has made the ultimate sacrifice representing the uniform which he wore with pride. In saving a life [in last month's jihadist attack in France] by forfeiting his own, he has saved many others by showing the whole world how to behave in the face of terror.

It was done for his country and for his fellow citizens. But when he put his life on the line, it was for all of the people of the world who live in freedom.

Yes, we have all of us benefited through his heroism. It is those rare actions that are signposts to terrorists of a determination to fight back. His name should be honoured by all free nations and his memory held as a perpetual example of courage and valour in the face of evil.

Harry Mulhern,



Wise words for young men

Sir - Maybe it's time I changed my tune and stopped quoting your excellent columnist Brendan O'Connor. But I think you will agree the following wise words are well worth repeating from his rape trial article ('We must teach young men to call out bad behaviour', Sunday Independent, April 1).

"What if we all agreed that, rape or not, one good thing we could all agree now is that we teach young men not to be dicks?

"And what if we instilled in young men not to tolerate their friends being dicks, that they call it out, and make it shameful. It's not the whole answer, but it is one answer. Don't be a dick."

Yes indeed, Brendan, yes indeed.

Brian McDevitt,


Co Donegal


Thanks, Joe, for the memories

Sir - What a lovely article by Joe Kennedy (Country Matters, Sunday Independent, March 25) about the hare and, more especially, the white hare, and the hare featured on the old silver threepenny coin. I can associate with both the white hare and the threepenny coin.

My dad, RIP, always seemed to have a threepenny bit, as we called it, in his pocket for me when required as I prepared for school each day. He was not a wealthy man by any means but, like a magician, he could pull the required coin out of his pocket - and it was often the only money in his possession.

The white hare goes back a long time in my memory as well. A group of lads used to go hunting at weekends and came on a white hare on one hunt. On being told of this story I decided to go myself the following Sunday to view this unique creature. Yes, we came on the unique specimen after walking about five miles and I was so excited to see him gallop away in the distance in his snow-white coat. The hare was eventually caught, not by dogs, but was shot by one of the group and was on exhibition in the village for all passers-by to gaze at in awe. There was no taxidermist in the area to preserve it for all time like pheasants and foxes were elsewhere.

There were a lot of old wives' tales at the time about a white hare being a reincarnation and unlucky but it remained forever in my mind, and I have never seen a white hare since. It took Joe Kennedy's lovely article to bring it all back to my mind.

Murt Hunt,


Co Mayo


Different schools, same results

Sir - In response to 'Money does not buy the best education' by E Gleeson (Letters, Sunday Independent, April 1), I would like to add that my twin boys, when entering their secondary school education, decided to go to different schools. Both were non-fee-paying schools, one a community school and the other a CBS. Both obtained excellent Leaving Certificates without grinds and obtained the same grade in the same subjects.

As a wise lady said to my local butcher: "They came from the same family."

Siobhan Horgan,


Co Cork


Tech children see the future

Sir - There is new and exciting 3D technology that is now helping famous people like the late Roy Orbison and the very much alive French politician Jean-Luc Melenchon appear to perform in places that were difficult to do so before, and is opening up exciting possibilities.

The late Roy Orbison is going to magically perform this month in the 3Arena in Dublin while Mr Melenchon has canvassed last year in several places in France, all at the very same time.

Lots of people may think that someone appearing somewhere where they don't physically exist is a very heartless and empty gesture to make but the possibilities of this new 3D hologram technology can provide us all now with a strange and exciting glass half-full and glass half-empty type of situation.

The glass half-full side of hologram technology is where a child in Ireland may be able to see a Syrian refugee child far away in some camp in Greece, singing and dancing and yet also appearing to do the very same thing in Ireland close to him.

Here the Irish child, I'm inclined to believe, is probably not going to care at all if his new Syrian friend is not really physically present with him in Ireland as long as they can still enjoy each other's company and talk to each other too.

Such a magical encounter provided from 21st-century technology is like something from the Star Trek science-fiction television series set in the future 23rd century, in which Captain Picard can seem to beam himself down anywhere on planet Earth.

I do think children, if allowed, can be wiser than adults and appreciate the great potential good that something new can do for the world harmony in this sad time of increasing division!

Sean O'Brien,


Co Clare


RTE does our thinking for us

Sir - The Ireland episode of the Ant & Dec television show has been shelved by RTE because there are clips of the two drinking.

This is because it appears that Ant has a drink issue which Irish viewers might find "upsetting" and "offensive", presumably.

Only in Ireland, where alcohol addiction is more of an acceptable consequence and where Diageo tells us tongue-in-cheek to be careful of the stuff (but don't stop drinking it).

Thanks for minding us so carefully, RTE, and for doing our thinking for us.

We never would have guessed that seeing Ant down an Irish pint would send us all over the edge.

Robert Sullivan,


Co Cork


Right to life is most basic right of all

Sir — It is poor form of Gene Kerrigan (Sunday Independent, April 1) to call “sneering gladiators” those fighting to retain protection for unborn babies in our Constitution through retaining the Eighth Amendment — the only protection actually for them, as confirmed by seven Judges of the Supreme Court recently.

By his reference to ‘beacons of Catholicism’, he is trying to reduce the issue of abortion to a Catholic one when, in fact, the right to life is the most basic human right of all, without which no other right can apply.  

When ‘personal choice’ is allowing the choice to deliberately kill a baby through abortion, it surely demands that such can never be the case without protests from all who value human life.

Most bizarrely, he suggests that those who oppose abortion, should seek to have women prevented from travelling to access abortion outside the country. No one is in favour of in any way impeding any women travelling for whatever reason, and that was made perfectly clear at the time of the referendum. 

As Irish citizens, we can only be responsible for what happens in our country and what is supported by our taxes and I certainly never intend to vote to permit my money being used to kill unborn babies.

Interestingly enough, Mr Kerrigan quotes Michael Finlan from The Irish Times in 1992 suggesting that those opposed to abortion seemed as though they were ‘acquiescing’ in whatever activity the women engage in when they reach England. ‘Just as long as it doesn’t happen in Holy Ireland’. Well, times haven’t changed much for that paper since 1992 with its campaign for legalising abortion here, but what nonsense to suggest that we in Ireland are responsible for the actions of those who travel over to England on any pretext.

Regarding ‘draconian penalties’ for carrying out an illegal abortion, it should be noted that in England the penalty is life imprisonment.

No, Mr Kerrigan, for people in pro-life, location is not the issue. Abortion, the deliberate killing of the baby in the womb, can never be acceptable, no matter where it is carried out.

This referendum is taking place in Ireland, where we are responsible for ensuring that laws are retained which give equal right to life to both mother and baby and there is no denying of life to the most defenceless of all, the unborn baby.

Finally, as Ireland has a much lower maternal death rate than countries which have legalised abortion, such as Britain, why should we repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Every assistance is provided by pro-life groups for those with crises pregnancies, apart from killing their babies.

Perhaps it needs to be pointed out that the Eighth Amendment simply prohibits the deliberate killing of the baby. What is objectionable in that?

Mary Stewart (Mrs),


Donegal Town


Our unborn babies deserve better

Sir — In Gene Kerrigan’s Soapbox (Sunday Independent, April 1), he emphasised the alleged distortion of facts by pro-lifers in their support for the Eighth Amendment and ends his article with the assertion that we Irish should face reality, like the rest of the world.

Here are some unassailable facts, neither of which he chooses to mention.

From the moment of conception, as any embryologist or the preponderance of medical scientists will confirm, the unborn child is a unique human being with his/her own unique DNA and blood-type that may be different from that of his/her mother. These are the voiceless, vote-less, vulnerable, completely innocent human beings that Gene, and pro-abortionists, choose to ignore in their arguments.

Surely we should learn from the findings of various UK governmental investigations into Britain’s now 40-year-old abortion scenario; where about one in five babies is aborted; where over 80pc of Down Syndrome babies are routinely aborted; where the law has been knowingly flouted, where abortion has increasingly become a form of contraception: where it is proposed that teenagers may get an abortion without their parents’ consent?

Does Gene Kerrigan really think Irish women will be any different if the Eighth Amendment is repealed?

So embedded is abortion in UK society that Dr Wendy Savage, a retired obstetrician and gynaecologist and member of the British Medical Council, favours sex-selection abortion i.e. where the sex of the unborn babies — usually baby girls — is sufficient to obtain an abortion.

Is that the sort of liberal abortion regime we want? Are we going to vote in such a liberal abortion regime based on the very sad, emotive circumstances of less than one per cent of pregnancies i.e. fatal foetal abnormalities and pregnancy resulting from rape? Our women and unborn children deserve better! With Europe’s highest birth rate, let’s cherish our unborn children, not abort them.

James Maher,


Co Westmeath


Writer Kerrigan loses ‘magic’ touch

Sir — I’ve just been reading Gene Kerrigan’s column (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, April 1) as I’ve done for many years. I would say in all those years I have disagreed with him, maybe once, possibly twice but no more. I have always found him to be an exceptionally elegant and articulate writer. Also, he has not been afraid to stand up for the poor, downtrodden, homeless and those forgotten about by the politicians. In short, the voiceless.

Unfortunately, in last week’s column he did a complete 360-degree turn on his principles where the most important voiceless were concerned, the unborn. I have expected Mr Kerrigan to write a column on the Eighth Amendment, but I expected it to be more balanced on this of all subjects, but that didn’t happen. To say I’m disappointed would be a huge understatement. I will continue to read and enjoy Mr Kerrigan’s column every Sunday, but unfortunately some of the magic will have been taken out of it. I hope he can bring it back.

Patrick Duffy,



Politics retreating into distant past

Sir — Jody Corcoran’s article (Sunday Independent, April 1) highlighting the impact that the defeat of the abolition of the Eighth Amendment referendum might have on the result of the next election is interesting.

There is, indeed, a distinct possibility that the referendum will be defeated, Micheal Martin will be Taoiseach after the next election and Mary Lou McDonald will be Tanaiste.

The whole tone of the democratic discourse at the moment, with the threat of a hard Brexit in the background, is one of retreating into the past.

What better way could we return to the past than by re-affirming the 1983 referendum and by re-electing the political grouping that won every election between 1987 and 2007.

With the UK vote for Brexit effectively tearing up the Good Friday Agreement, including the hard-line nationalist grouping in Government with them will also hark back to the pre-1998 days.

In addition, it will challenge the voters of the UK, who also harked back to the past when they voted for Brexit.

A Leavy,

Dublin 13


Angel’s message of hope

Sir — I loved Barry Egan’s article (This Man’s Life, Sunday Independent, April 1). My parents’ 91-year-old neighbour, Paddy Walshe, cut the article out of his paper and posted it in through their letterbox.

Out came my mother Shelly’s trusted Nokia and a text message later, I was made aware of Barry’s piece telling of meeting me again 35 years or so after we had worked together.

What a tonic.

You see, the day before I met Barry again, my beautiful wife Jean was diagnosed with breast cancer. Before my shift on Wednesday, I lit four candles in Monkstown Church and asked for guidance.

That afternoon, Barry’s little daughter Emilia bounded into Salt Cafe, with doll and buggy in tow and full of energy, having also lit candles in same church.

Little did Emilia know but what she brought with her was a message for my family that everything will be all right.

A chance meeting after so many years? I don’t think so.

I think his angel Emilia is wise beyond her tender years.

Jean read This Man’s Life and what followed throughout the day were many messages from people who worked in Blake’s Restaurant back in the day.

Together with the love and support of the great people of Salt Cafe, Monkstown; West Wood Leopardstown, where Jean works; and the members of Dun Laoghaire Golf Club where my daughter Lucy and son Frankie ‘drive for show and putt for dough’, Jean has found herself in a more positive frame of mind.

Yes, Barry and Emilia’s visit to Salt Cafe started the ball rolling. Thanks to them both,

Frank Murray,


Sunday Independent

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