The expression about throwing the baby out with the bathwater comes to mind when one considers the horrendous scandals surrounding religious orders in Ireland, and indeed the atrocities committed in the name of religion worldwide.
I say this because despite the atrocious behaviour of some people who profess allegiance to one or other religion, church or sect, there is so much to be said for the solace, joy and moral strength a belief in God or the pursuit of a spiritual lifestyle brings to millions of decent people.
Also, it's impossible not to be impressed by the examples of those who genuinely practise what they preach about an ethical lifestyle and helping one's fellow human beings.
Yes, priests and nuns are associated with shameful abuses and oppressive institutions like industrial schools and Magdalene Laundries. But then you have the saints, and I don't just mean the ones officially recognised by organised religion.
I'm thinking of people like Fr Peter McVerry and his work with homeless people, or nuns who put the welfare of others before their own as they aid the poorest or those battling addiction. Or Brother Kevin Crowley of the Capuchin Day Centre and his volunteer helpers, distributing food parcels to people struggling to make ends meet.
Whether or not one subscribes to a specific religion, one can certainly believe in the immense decency of those priests, nuns, and brothers who shine a bright light in a world that has too often been plunged into darkness by bullies and abusers posing as men and women of God.
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Cat among the songbirds
Kay Noonan's (Irish Independent, Letters, May 20) assertion that shooters are to blame for the drop in songbird numbers is wholly inaccurate and typical of 'weekend conservationists' who construct their ideas about wildlife persecution based on prejudice and sentiment, not science.
Domestic cats, for example, are a vastly greater threat to songbirds than the modestly sized shooting fraternity of Ireland. A recent peer-reviewed US study by two federal scientists and the environmental consulting firm West Inc found that house cats were to blame for between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion bird deaths in North America annually. In the UK, this figure is estimated to be between 55 million and 100 million.
I have no love of shooting whatsoever (Ms Noonan is right that it is not sporting), but the fact of the matter is that the shooting of introduced, non-native pheasants that are bred and released specifically for this purpose is sustainable. Songbirds are not the target and never have been.
Songbirds are, however, the indiscriminate target of domestic cats the length and breadth of the country. So if Ms Noonan wishes for greater protection of our native fauna, she should hector the hundreds of thousands of cat owners in this country. Somehow, however, I'd imagine blaming a small fraternity of "lazy gunslingers" is an easier pursuit for her.
Address with editor
Suffering delays in health care
The outcry caused by delays of a week in patients with cancer receiving their treatment is commendable.
It is unfortunate that orthopaedic patients waiting between one and two years for treatment do not provoke the same level of sympathy.
Spare a thought for the thousands of patients suffering at home in severe pain waiting for a joint replacement and the numerous cancellations of their scheduled day of surgery.
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon,
Letterkenny University Hospital
Greener grass and the GAA
Tomás Ó Sé is disingenuously near-sighted in targeting Tadhg Kennelly as some sort of quisling from Kerry for redirecting GAA talent to Australian Rules football ('I have nothing against Tadhg, I just hate what he's doing', Irish Independent, May 20).
At the risk of giving Ó Sé a patronising history lesson, people leaving Ireland to seek a more pecuniary life elsewhere has been somewhat commonplace for over 150 years now. It doesn't take a light-bearer to point out pastures greener than emerald ones.
Rathmines, Dublin 16
Pedestrians have it worst of all
Having read numerous articles in the Irish Independent about the perils of cycling in Dublin, how about an article about the perils of being a pedestrian?
Not only do we have to navigate around cyclists on the pavement, but also street furniture, bikes on lampposts, and then when we go to cross the road we again have to dodge not only cyclists breaking red lights but also cars breaking red lights.
Kevin Street, Dublin 8
Flagging up differences
With a Palestinian flag over City Hall in Dublin and Israeli flags in loyalist areas in the North, do we have another example of the Green and Orange divide?
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Nothing changes with election
Is there anything more boring than politicians trying to tell the truth?
How sickening it is to listen to the two candidates running for the leadership of Fine Gael?
Each promises to change things within the party, meaning while they served under Enda Kenny neither agreed with him, and in truth couldn't wait to get rid of him.
To the struggling masses, it will not make one iota of difference whether Mr Varadkar or Mr Coveney is elected. Leo or Simon will talk the talk and have a book full of excuses why they can't walk the walk.
The reason is simple - all politicians have a phobia against telling the truth or doing the right thing.
Clonsilla, Dublin 15
Different schools of thought
In all the discussions on denominational schools, I have yet to hear what they are doing for the Republic.
Is Ireland a more moral and ethical country because primary schools are run by religious organisations? I don't see it. The number of Catholics is declining and so is church attendance. So in order to be fair and equal, make all schools State schools and reserve one hour a week in the curriculum for faith formation.
Clonakilty, Co Cork