Letters: Israel has a moral obligation to protect the innocent
Desmond FitzGerald naively asks why there are no demands for the Egyptian ambassador to be expelled, and why there are no marches to the Egyptian Embassy in relation to the harsh siege imposed on Gaza (Letters, Irish Independent, August 14).
The answer is straightforward: First, Israel remains the major occupying power in the occupied Palestinian territories, and is bound to abide by the fourth Geneva Convention, international humanitarian law and the rules of human rights law. Second, Israel prides itself on being the only democratic state in the Middle East, an oasis of freedom, justice and peace where all citizens can enjoy social and political equality.
Third, Israel claims to be the gem that was born out of the ashes of the Holocaust.
As a consequence, it has a solemn obligation to protect the vulnerable, the elderly, the disabled, women and children, and consecrate itself to the service of humanity.
It has a special responsibility to safeguard the lives of innocent civilians. The inhabitants of any occupied territory are entitled to special protection and humane treatment.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
Gene therapy is the future of medicine
The recent news (Irish Independent, August 12) that researchers in Imperial College, London have discovered a new method for treating heart disease by introducing a laboratory- created gene into the body of the person concerned is one of the many indications that gene therapy is the future of medicine.
The many crippling diseases caused by gene mutation that people are presently living with will hopefully become a thing of the past.
When scientists finally understand the human genome and are able to manipulate it for health purposes, diseases like cancer, arthritis and dementia will be much easier to combat and a great deal of unnecessary human suffering will be avoided.
One of the many benefits flowing from this development from the public health viewpoint will be the vast amount of money that will be saved in the care and support of senior citizens.
If governments are looking for the best return on their money, they should put whatever resources they can spare into gene research.
Judging from the rate of progress in this field of research lately, the benefits arising from such investment will become apparent in the next decade or so and will prove to be of lasting value to the human race.
Home Rule and Redmond's statue
Maurice O'Connell is right that the full implementation of the Home Rule Act, setting up a parliament in Dublin 100 years ago, would have caused "a bit" of trouble (Letters, Irish Independent, August 14).
But the act was passed by the most powerful parliament in the world. That parliament took upon itself the job of keeping law and order for the population of a good part of the globe at the time. So there is no excuse for that parliament not implementing its own act, giving self-rule to the island of Ireland.
Mr O'Connell is also right when he says that the conservative opposition's backing for threats of civil war against that act of parliament giving Home Rule for Ireland was based on "sedition and treason".
Given that fact, there is even less excuse for the most powerful parliament in the world not standing up for the rules of democracy by implementing the Home Rule Act.
I have some reservations about John Bruton's favoured location regarding the placement of a statue honouring John Redmond. Mr Bruton suggested that it be sited on Leinster Lawn. My own favoured location would be a more central spot in the former second city of the now defunct British Empire, where it could be viewed by all.
I suggest that if the British government acquiesce to Mr Bruton's wishes and dispatch their Westminster-located statue of John Redmond, it should be sited where the Spire now stands, preferably impaled on top.
Templeogue, Dublin 6
Hare coursing is barbaric - end it
The shooting of a peregrine falcon in Co Wexford has rightly drawn condemnation from the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys. The person responsible for blasting this rare and beautiful bird out of the sky should be prosecuted and anyone with information on the crime should report it to the gardai.
However, I find it somewhat ironic that the minister described the incident as "barbaric" and stated that the killing of the falcon "harms our reputation as a country that values its wildlife".
The Government, of which is she is part, permits the obscenity of live hare coursing, in which a supposedly protected wild creature (a unique species that survived the last Ice Age) is forced to run from pairs of hyped-up greyhounds at venues nationwide. Many of the hares suffer agonising injuries as a result of being mauled by the dogs.
The minister's brief happens to include the power to grant an annual licence to coursing clubs, enabling them to net hares for their "sport". The licence has not yet been issued for this season.
Given her professed concern for our wildlife and our reputation internationally as a country that cherishes that distinctive and multi-faceted heritage, would it be too much to expect that she might consider refusing the license this year?
Parents' key role in education
Before the graduation ceremony in a central California high school some years ago, I was talking to the principal about his graduation speech.
He said: "I am thinking of telling the parents that without their help there is very little we in state-run education can do for your child."
I heartily agreed with him.
It's a truism: children whose parents are involved in their education succeed, regardless of their socio-economic status.
Vincent J Lavery
Brolly's on the money
I would like to sincerely thank Joe Brolly for so eloquently articulating on radio the unfortunate predicament for the 10,000 patients in hospitals all over Ireland who were excluded from viewing the football quarter finals last Saturday.
Earlier this year, I was so incensed when the GAA decided to do a deal with Sky Sports, I immediately wrote a letter to Croke Park. In that letter, I stated all the reasons why I think it's a bad and unnecessary move, including the plight of the elderly in nursing homes and hospitals across the country.
The response I got was less than sympathetic. There was no reference or response to the concerns I had for the Irish people who were adversely affected by this move.
It is obviously a purely business/ financial decision, which in most walks of life is absolutely fine, but I always thought the priorities and focus of the GAA was different - more focused on culture, sport and communities.
Well done, Joe Brolly.