| 10.6°C Dublin

Letters: Set limits for kids


Boy in bedroom using laptop and listening to MP3 player

Boy in bedroom using laptop and listening to MP3 player

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Boy in bedroom using laptop and listening to MP3 player

Sir - Emer O'Kelly's article ("Do angry teens need counsellors or just a sharp dose of reality?" Sunday Independent, 26 April) glaringly omitted a major player in today's parent-teenager relationship.

The role of screen technology in the lives of teenagers has become so dominant and influential that it has now been dubbed the 'third parent'.

As the mother of two teenagers, the extent to which 24-hour content controls and addictively seduces teenagers is significant. Porn, images of an 'ideal beauty' which young girls starve themselves to emulate, frequent uploads of videos portraying casual violence and cyberbullying, are but a selection of the content our young people are daily wading through and exposed to for hours on end.

These are hours not spent interacting in the real world talking with family and friends, helping around the house or taking exercise.

The 'kick in the pants' suggested by Ms O'Kelly might just start with limits on screen participation, turning off the Wi-Fi and handing over a list of chores to be done around the house.

Mari Gallagher, Newbridge, Co Kildare


All sides try to use our emotions

Sir - I was amused to read Gene Kerrigan's Soapbox article (Sunday Independent, 26 April) in which he complains that the No campaign in the Same-Sex Marriage Referendum debate is using emotional arguments designed to mislead voters.

I will not comment on the particular issue he raises - that of surrogacy - except to say it seems to me that different takes on this issue could be honestly argued by either side in the debate. My amusement stems from the fact that Gene Kerrigan is hardly in any position to take the high moral ground on the matter of fairness and balance in public debate.

I have hardly ever read an article by Gene Kerrigan in which he didn't enthusiastically promote left-wing ideology and condemn conservative policies. I concede that he often writes with wit and flair, but all his articles conform to the same self-righteous template of emotionally illustrating how the right-wing 'big boys' and their conservative political 'backers' prey on the defenceless 'little guys'.

In Gene Kerrigan's articles the left is portrayed as unreservedly good and conservatism as unreservedly bad - despite the fact that every educated person knows this is untrue. So, where does he get off criticising others for distortion and lack of balance?

Dr William Reville, Cork


No voters are not anti-equality

Sir - I am one of an endangered species. I am voting No in the upcoming referendum. No deep philosophical reasoning here.

However I was mildly irritated by Gene Kerrigan's assertion that I am anti-equality.

Does Gene not understand that we can be equal yet different?

I laud the endeavour for equal human and civil rights for all.

I do not see a move to add an 'H' to the LGBT banner. Nor do I note religious and race sectors advocating changes to their named identities. Would we not smile if our Great Leader passed an edict where oranges will henceforth be called apples?

Of course the correct procedure should have been the removal of the word "marriage" from our Constitution and let it return to where it had been for thousands of years.

S Russell, Cork


There's hope for suicidal gay man

Sir - Last Sunday a letter appeared in your paper under the heading 'Science can't fix everything'. The gay author wrote of his despair after attempting to take his life as a young man.

As a gay man who experienced mental health difficulties in my younger years I'd like to offer some hope to any other young people in similar situations.

Coming to terms with your sexuality can sometimes be painful and difficult. Overcoming mental difficulties can pose similar challenges.

Both can be done. I am living proof of this. Sometimes it's useful to remember the serenity prayer: 'God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.'

Tommy Roddy, Galway


Frida's motto could stand us well

Sir - I have no doubt, there are many people of my generation (60-plus), who are having a few difficulties in deciding how to vote in the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum.

So here is a motto my eye caught from your Quotes of the Week column in last week's Sunday Independent, which may help. It's from Frida Lyngstad of Abba on her 70th birthday.

"My motto is to live in peace and respect all the different religions, people's sexualities and ethnic origins. I cannot tolerate people who harm others in the name of religion and I salute all those who stand up for free speech and difference of opinion".

Brian Mc Devitt, Glenties, Co Donegal


Referendum not about religion

Sir - I find it utterly bizarre that for the last two Sundays in a row, the Sunday Independent has awarded its Letter of the Week accolade to writers who have argued that because of their committed Catholic beliefs they feel conscience-bound to vote Yes in the forthcoming referendum.

This view represents an absurd contradiction in terms. If the issue of same sex marriage was indeed to be voted upon in terms of Catholic or Christian beliefs the outcome would be a resounding No.

Thankfully we have long since passed the stage where issues such as the one at stake are argued upon in terms of religious beliefs or non-beliefs. If advocates of a Yes vote cannot argue their case without reference to their religious beliefs, they should not be listened to.

If advocates of a No vote cannot argue their case without reference to their religious beliefs, they also should not be listened to. By selecting these two letters, the Sunday Independent appears to be offering its support for the notion that our Constitution should be re-amended to reflect the once "special position of the Catholic Church".

I trust that is not the position of the Sunday Independent.

Conor Ward, Rosses Point, Co Sligo


Christians must follow teachings

Sir - I have just read Mark Carter's letter (Sunday Independent, 26 April) in regard to Niamh Horan's interview with Breda O'Brien.

I would like to point out that Mr Carter omitted an important piece of information.

He leaves it out when he advises young Catholics who are thinking about voting in the upcoming referendum to "just follow their heart and do what you know to be right" if they believe "that their Christianity is rooted in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and His message of love, understanding and acceptance of all."

The important piece of information is this - Jesus Christ taught that marriage is between a man and a woman. This is attested to in St. Matthew's version of the Christ's gospel in chapter 19 verse four. It is also attested to in the other gospels.

Patrick Connell, Maynooth, Co Kildare


Campaign recalls past hatred

Sir - after the publication of my letter in the Sunday Independent on March 22 last, I was moved beyond description by the positive reactions of tens of thousands online.

Although yet to 'come out' to my family, the responses encouraged me to become indirectly involved in promoting the Yes campaign. I have been able to put my professional and personal expertise at their disposal.

My efforts have been propelled by the insidious and brutal campaigning of some promoting a No vote.

Not since my days in the Seventies and Eighties in rural Ireland have I felt so emotionally threatened, fearful and attacked.

The hatred and bile implicit in some No comments and posters is deeply upsetting and frightening. It brings back those horrendous fears experienced when homosexuality was illegal and some gardai were very heavy-handedly enforcing the law.

I can't bring myself to believe that these No people are evil and I am convinced that they just don't get how hateful and hurtful their comments and actions are. In a democracy of course they are entitled to express their opinions - but surely these vicious attacks are unnecessary?

In my humble opinion they are horrible unchristian acts fostered by people proclaiming themselves as moral guardians.

The tactic of using children and childless couples as pawns makes me physically ill. The insidious attacks on lone parent families are unforgivable. So too are the vile inferences that gay people deserve to settle for whatever these self-appointed moral guardians allow them.

If only they were so passionate and reactive about the levels of child sexual abuse, poverty, alcohol problems, domestic abuse and other such social issues in the country.

They appear to have a very specific, unhealthy obsession with controlling and managing fellow human beings and valuable members of society who happen to be gay.

Name and address with editor


Drink problem is complicated

Sir - In Declan Lynch's analysis (Sunday Independent 26 April), In drink, things are never what they seem', his headline is a veritable Irish truism.

However, my sense is that he may be a tad hard on Fergus Finlay.

The approach of the 'Stop Out-of-Control Drinking' is novel, in that it refrains from mentioning alcoholism (a separate issue) in its Memorandum of Understanding.

Irish society has lost its respect for and wariness of alcohol since the Seventies when publicans oversaw it. Nowadays, there is little supervision and control over the retailing of alcohol and this trend needs to be reversed. To expand on Declan Lynch's theme, any discussion on Ireland's drinking habits tends to be loaded, divisive and paradoxical. Let me give a trilogy of examples.

Government is the largest single recipient of funding from the drinks industry, through taxation - according to trade figures, in the region of €2bn annually. Yet, Diageo's donation of €1m to the campaign is viewed by some as creating a credibility gap.

Our parliamentarians enjoy the use of an all night bar, on site, where they can run up a tab on tick, notwithstanding the prohibition on the sales on credit (Intoxicating Liquor Act 1924).

Soccer, rugby, Gaelic football and hurling are introduced to our youth at an early age and yet many of their club houses are licensed to sell alcohol at a discount, competing with the local publican.

The GAA, our largest amateur sporting organisation, has become, over time, the nation's largest "invisible" franchise of licensed premises, turning over many millions, with a pub in almost every club.

This is not a criticism of our sporting bodies, but rather illustrates the subtly of the need to be close to alcohol.

Perhaps the point may be, that one does not need to be an alcoholic to have a drink problem. Nobody has shouted STOP until now.

Nevertheless, it can do no harm to continue with the very Irish oxymoron: 'Drink Sensibly'.

Alan O'Dwyer, Carlow, Co Carlow


Women aren't just after half the farm

Sir - Jerome Reilly's story on farmers and pre-nups reminds me of the tired old comment: "She goes down the lane with nothing and she comes back up with a ring on her finger and half the farm."

But lawyers here in Wexford asure me that's a myth. Most young women who marry young farmers do so for lust and love and the romance of life on the land. Then they struggle together for life making sure that they do as the parents wish.

Farmers love nothing better than to know how other farmers and their relationships are doing. So, give us more features on farmers, farm families, the land and the people still there in the rural towns and villages.

Michael Freeman, Wexford


Martin right to be sceptical of SF

Sir - Micheal Martin at Arbour Hill was absolutely right to draw attention to the fact that Sinn Fein never took part in the 1916 Rising. Arthur Griffith did in fact go down to the GPO on the Sunday morning only to be told to go home.

It would be a total disgrace if Sinn Fein were allowed to intrude into the official celebrations in memory of the 1916 Rising. Make sure their "la" never "tiocfiadhs".

Raymond Kernan, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan


Tougher approach is needed

Sir - Colm McCarthy's analysis of the questions Jean Claude Trichet has to answer (Sunday Independent, 26 April) is too gentle an approach.

The validity of Anglo Irish debt being the sole liability of Ireland has to be challenged in court with disclosure of all records of all relevant meetings and conversations private or otherwise.

Martin Dunn, Stepaside, Co Dublin


Keeping Skeffy’s ideals alive

Sir - I spent the evening of April  26 in Portobello Barracks, remembering my grandfather Francis Sheehy Skeffington who was shot there 99 years ago on that date.

I was there with a small film crew who were making a documentary for TG4 on "Skeffy", as he was affectionately known. So it was with interest that I noted the article by Ulick O'Connor that appeared the same day in the Sunday Independent.

Whereas it is worthy to remember Francis on that day, it is a pity that he is always remembered for having been shot and not for his ideals.

I was also surprised that the article made no mention of the Sheehy Skeffington family's role in remembering him.

My father, Owen Sheehy Skeffington kept his father's memory alive all his life, indeed the life of integrity he led, fighting for justice and equality would have made Francis very proud. These values are also what inspired me in my campaign for gender equality in Irish universities, particularly at NUI Galway.

Both Francis and his wife Hanna Sheehy Skeffington were renowned feminists as well as republicans, socialists and pacifists. Hanna, jailed several times for suffrage activities, refused £10,000 'hush money' from Prime Minister Asquith when she met him seeking the full truth about her husband's murder.

She then toured the US telling packed audiences about the events of 1916 and specifically raising the case of Ireland as a 'small nation' deserving freedom.

She did this to keep alive her husband's memory and - more importantly - his ideals.

It is a pity Mr O'Connor's article makes no reference to these testimonies to Francis's life and thinking through his wife and own son's actions and does not acknowledge how these have kept alive his ideals, as well as his memory.

Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, Clarinbridge, Co Galway


Do we need yet another Field?

Sir - Another blockbuster production of 'The Field', they tell us. Are we not bored witless already from this type of paddywhackery?

What can another stab at it teach us that we don't already know of bog-trotting, mountainy men and their craving for more grass?

Robert Sullivan, Bantry, Co Cork

Sunday Independent