Letters: Professor Dawkins has a strange idea of morality
So Professor Richard Dawkins thinks that it is immoral to bring a Down Syndrome child into the world. Immoral? I always thought that morality was that attribute of humankind that made us different from all the other animals on the planet.
Morality is our conscious having a go at us - for example, if you get on a train without paying, or find a €50 note and slip it into your pocket, that little voice in your head will say, "that might belong to an OAP who's now skint until Thursday." It's not right to keep it, it's not moral.
Why stop at Down Syndrome professor, why not include people who will go on to be diagnosed with diseases such as MS or cancer, even your fellow professor, Stephen Hawking, the greatest mind since Einstein?
Now, I know you'll probably say that these are acquired illnesses and are impossible to predict from a foetal scan. That's true, professor, but as you would be the first to admit, what technological miracles await us in 10 or 20 years' time? If we are able at that stage to determine, from a scan of the womb, illnesses that will in the course of our lives incapacitate us to such an extent that our bodies are no longer able to carry out orders from the brain, would you still advocate such a course of action, even if it would deprive the world of someone like Prof Hawking?
Perhaps, Prof Dawkins, in the future you could refrain from such callous, hurtful statements and stick instead to your incredible life's work on Darwinism.
Mike Burke, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare
The forgotten county?
With the GAA All-Ireland semi-finals and finals in mind will the threatened train strikes have an impact on the people of Dublin, Kerry and Mayo? Of course it will, as they have trains.
Will it have an impact on the people of Donegal? Of course it won't. Fifty years ago the last train pulled out of Donegal and its rail lines were ripped up resulting in the country's most peripheral county becoming even more peripheral.
No politician in the intervening period has had the courage to try and reverse a completely incomprehensible action. And they wonder why Donegal people consider themselves the "forgotten county".
Micheal Mellett, Lucan, Co Dublin
Helping the competition
The logic of the railway workers in calling for a 48-hour strike is difficult to grasp. In a bid to better their employment and conditions they hand over their customers to potential competitors. As a strategy for securing a better future, this particular train of thought shouldn't have been allowed leave the station.
TG O'Brien, Dalkey, Co Dublin
What a juxtaposition of stories on your World News section last Saturday. Sixty-eight people blown to bits - not by UN/USA/Israeli forces - but by Islamic suicide bombers. Then Hamas execute 18 Palestinian citizens outside the Omari mosque, as worshippers were leaving, forcing them to watch the "warning" by their brave hooded freedom-fighters.
Opposite news of this gruesome "church-gate collection", we were informed that "Italy's olive groves face devastation by mystery bugs". Not much hope of peace without olive branches, and they are needed now more than ever!
Sean Kelly, Tramore, Waterford
Fact versus fiction
After the brutal and cold-blooded murder of brave journalist James Foley, I feel it is wrong for all media to be continually referring to these cowardly terrorists as being associated with a fictional country or domain called "the Islamic State". There is no such place.
These savages originate from many places but are carrying out their atrocities in Syria and Iraq. Continuing to refer to the aforementioned fictional place only gives credence and encouragement to these barbarians to carry out their mindless slaughter.
Thomas O'Connor, Crumlin, Dublin 12
Abortion is a society issue
Referring to Desmond Fitzgerald's letter (Irish Independent, August 21) where he refers to abortion as a "social issue" and John Bellew's letter (Irish Independent, August 22) calling abortion "the taking of human life," the crux of the issue is the disagreement over whether a foetus is a human life. Tied in with this is the question of when does this life start: conception, implantation in the womb or some other arbitrarily defined point in time? Abortion will always be a divisive issue because of these diametrically opposing views.
The only way to move on from this impasse is for all parties, pro-life and pro-choice camps, to bring a sense of empathy and understanding to women who are pregnant against their wishes. We as society need to look at ourselves and not look at this issue in isolation. How do we treat our fellow human beings in general and especially the vulnerable and marginalised members of society?
Thomas Roddy, Salthill, Galway
Protecting the innocent
In the debate surrounding the unfortunate case of the baby delivered by caesarean section, the salient question is: Should an evil deed committed by one person (a rapist) result in the punishment of an innocent life (the unborn) that is unable to defend itself?
Is there not something inherent within our human psyche that tells us we should do everything possible to protect human life, particularly innocent life that cannot protect itself?
John Bellew, Dunleer, Co Louth
Dazzled by dance
It doesn't look like the Haka war dance is a decisive factor in All Black wins. Australia sauntered to the sideline after the Haka. While I've no doubt NZ are extremely tough, it's the dance component of their game that dazzles opponents. Would it not be worse if South Africa had a war dance? I imagine a coach's worst fear is that you do all the routine of preparation and conditioning and yet the team plays flat on the day.
New Zealand appear best able to quickly crank themselves from a routine mindset to full throttle. In the patchwork of plays that make up a rugby match, every AB player is consistently seeking to spark the multi-cylinder engine that is NZ rugby. Whether it's the individual himself, the lineage of the jersey, the competition for place or sheer duty, playing without dash and intelligence appears to sit least comfortably with AB rugby.
Patrick Dillion, Dublin
Albert Reynolds, the gent
It was a pleasure to meet the late Albert Reynolds, by chance, in London, some 10 years ago. He was accompanied only by his wife and without bodyguards, and we had a brief conversation about his premiership and Irish politics in general. He was, indeed, a gentleman and an international statesman who brought pride to Ireland.
Dominic Shelmerdine, London SW3
Sacking the Taoiseach
I would like to recount a little story about the time Albert Reynolds worked in CIE as a clerk. My own late father, Frank Gray, was at that time the Personnel Officer for the country, and as such Albert had to report to him.
It was noticed that Albert would be 'missing' from his posts in various railway stations in the country on more than a few occasions, as he worked as a relief clerk. My father learned that Albert had a sideline - no pun intended - so, it fell to my father to call on Albert and ask him if he wanted to continue to work for CIE or did he want to run his ballrooms. The rest is history. My father often told this story about the time he sacked a Taoiseach.
Olive Power, Ballina, Co Mayo