Wednesday 22 May 2019

Hypocritical Flanagan and co thinking only of political benefits

Explanation needed: Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan
Explanation needed: Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

The Department of Foreign Affairs refuses to disclose if Ireland supported Saudi Arabia's election to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. It does so on the basis that the State votes - clearly with little if any regard for human rights, especially of women - on these types of resolutions based on the political benefits that can accrue to Ireland on a global platform like the UN.

In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive their own cars; they are not allowed to wear clothing that emphasises their beauty; they cannot interact freely with men; they cannot go for a swim unaccompanied; they cannot compete freely in sport; and they must obtain the permission of a male guardian before they can travel outside the country, work or marry.

Apparently, as a people, we do not have the right to know if we supported the election of Saudi Arabia - a truly 'apartheid' state - to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. And yet, in the Dáil sitting of May 26, 2016, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan condemned Israel, a state where women serve in the highest echelons of the judiciary, military and medical profession with complete equality.

He stated the following on Israel's supposed abuse of human rights: "I am deeply concerned about wider attempts to pressure NGOs and human rights defenders through legislation and other means to hinder their important work. We have raised this both at EU level and directly with Israeli authorities."

Perhaps the minister might like to explain to the Irish people his unhesitating public condemnation of Israel's record on so-called abuses of human rights with his refusal to disclose how the Irish State voted in Saudi Arabia's election to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Or perhaps the Government believes this hypocritical stance simply doesn't concern the Irish electorate?

Dr Kevin McCarthy

Kinsale, Co Cork


British sourcing 'for our members'

In response to your article in yesterday's newspaper (Irish Independent, May 4), we do not source own-brand fresh meat from Ireland and your headline is wrong to suggest we have dropped it. Our 100pc British meat sourcing policy sees the Co-op change from Danish bacon and New Zealand lamb to British.

Our move is not targeted against Ireland or linked to EU negotiations. We trade wholly in the UK and as a co-operative owned by members in the UK we are continuing our policy to support local communities, including farmers, and is in response to our members who tell us that British sourcing is important to them.

Michael Fletcher

Commercial director

The Co-op, Manchester, UK


It's OK to not feel OK

And there we stood together in total silence, 300 of us at the top of the Cliffs of Moher joined together not just by arms thrown over each other's shoulders, but also by a shared compassion for the silent suffering our minds, our thoughts, and our moods can inflict on us.

The early evening summer sun captured the magnificence of the cliffs in their full towering majesty, hundreds of feet below us the sound of the Atlantic breaking against the base of the cliffs added a poignancy to the respectful silence. The only other sound was the occasional quiet sob from within our ranks as waves of emotional grief broke against the hearts of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who had lost a loved one to suicide.

It was no coincidence that this silent tribute took place at the Cliffs of Moher, one of the great natural wonders of the world, and also one which asserts a strong pull upon the soul.

Having completed four days of the two-week cycle around Ireland by Cycle Against Suicide (CAS), I write this as CAS continues towards Fermoy, Thurles, Carlow and crosses the finish line in Dublin on Saturday. In my four days from Roscommon to Limerick, there were some deeply touching moments.

At one lunchtime stop, two of our number stood up and told their own stories of long struggles with depression and addiction, these stories were made all the more compelling by the outwardly buoyant personalities of the brave individuals. These were stories you would never have expected from such big personalities.

As we continued our journey I voiced my admiration to my cycling neighbour, only for him to remark that "he went out for a drink one evening and arrived home 30 years later".

In Cycle Against Suicide's two-week trip around the island of Ireland, schools act as hosts for lunchtime stops and as the end/start to each day. Every school provides a warm welcome with enough refreshments to prove that you can cycle 1,200km and still put on weight. But what is truly magical about the school stops is the mix of energy and emotion you experience. The energy is provided by the active engagement of hundreds of school children in music, dance, fun and laughter. The emotion is provided by local celebrities and sports personalities who share their stories of struggles with depression, bullying, low self-esteem, and the kaleidoscope of suffering which the mind can inflict.

There is one simple message which is taken to every school, every stop, every heart and every soul, "It's OK not to feel OK, and it's absolutely OK to ask for help". It's only when we ask for help that the burden of suffering can be shared and the load can be lightened.

What did I learn from taking part in Cycle Against Suicide? I learned that while we experience the mind individually, we can only fully experience ourselves by sharing our humanity together, and by accepting it is our imperfections that make us human.

The two-week Cycle Against Suicide is very special to be part of. Now in its fifth year, it was started by Galway's Jim Breen and is a massive feat of organisation run by a truly amazing team of volunteers. A special thanks to the unbelievable families who open their homes to provide a meal, a warm bed, and true Irish hospitality for the hundreds of cyclists and supporting crew.

Jerry Keusch

Circular Road, Galway


Singular abandon

Is the word 'media' singular, or plural? The heading on Andrew Heslop's article (Irish Independent, Comment, May 3) read: 'The media is master of its own destiny ..." But 'media' is the plural of the word 'medium'. Similar words, like 'criteria', 'bacteria', 'phenomena' and 'data' are thrown about these days with singular abandon. If somebody doesn't shout 'stop' soon, we may as well give up teaching Latin and Greek in our schools!

PS I'm an old Classics teacher.

Tom Seaver

Murroe, Co Limerick

Irish Independent

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