Letters: Surge of evil across Middle East - all in the name of God
Some of the greatest evils spring from recruiting God exclusively to one's side. The claim to have unique access to God's intentions for the world leads inevitably to arrogance and fanaticism. What is happening in Iraq has its provenance in this kind of thinking.
As the surge of evil gathers momentum across the Middle East and North Africa, we begin to see how warped minds reach for every available instrument of terror - all in the name of God - driven by a delusional ideology that seizes the imagination, festers within communities, and offers the certainty of a place in heaven.
This gives young men a narcissistic sense of significance - a chance to be a somebody and a maker of the world.
To demand that people who do not share your faith relinquish theirs or die takes arrogance and inhumanity to a new level.
The massacre of 80 Yazidis, followers of one of the oldest monotheistic religions, as they refused to convert to Islam, and the unspeakable depravity of the murder of James Foley should awaken the world to the threat to human freedom and disregard for innocent life represented by the Islamic State fanatics.
The fanatical practice of religion has of course been well matched by the barbarity of atheistic communism, particularly under Stalin and Pol Pot. But the smugness accompanying dogmatic certainty, underpinned by the unaccountable exercise of power, can only be punctured by dialogue and reflection. Unfortunately, this is in short supply when you presume to be acting on behalf of God or engaged in the creation of a new utopia.
We do not need to look beyond the recent history of our own island to see the consequences of the arrogance of power and the mindless drift into indiscriminate killing and bombing, carried out as if it is almost recreational.
Philip O'Neill, Oxford, England
Rail staff - time for reality check
Severe traffic congestion in wet, miserable weather and gross personal inconvenience inflicted on tens of thousands of locals and tourists are unlikely to inspire much public sympathy for the cause of striking rail workers.
Rail workers may believe they are supremely useful and that the country would somehow fall asunder without them.
But the number of journeys reported by Irish Rail has dropped by over 15pc, from 43.3 million in 2008, to under 37 million last year. During this period the average rail fare increased by a hefty 12pc, from €4.31 to €4.82, while the net increase in the consumer price index was just 3.4pc.
When compared with other options - a bus, bicycle, or car - rail journeys are simply not considered good value.
The arguments advanced to justify this strike are reminiscent of the process of collective self-hypnosis, by which hereditary aristocrats attempted to convince the public over a hundred years ago that their distinctive claims on caste survival made them indispensable.
If the strikers participating in this ritual of rebellion fail to take a reality check on the limits of public tolerance, the railways may well be brushed aside like the hereditary peerage - or privatised - because neither taxpayers nor the travelling public will be blackmailed.
Myles Duffy, Glenageary, Co Dublin
All-Ireland replay a fiasco
I imagine the Taoiseach must be inspired and frustrated in equal measure by Mayo's brilliant comeback in the second half of the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry at Croke Park on Sunday.
But what an anti-climax to schedule the replay in Limerick and with so brief a respite for the exhausted players.
This is an amateur game, after all. But those running affairs at Croke Park have surely taken their eye off the ball and deserve a yellow - if not a red - card for the extraordinary decision not to reschedule the replay in Croke Park itself, especially when the capacity at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick is only 49,866; over 2,000 short of the attendance at Croke Park last Sunday.
This situation is much worse than the Garth Brooks fiasco, for the All-Ireland Championship is the very raison d'etre of Croke Park.
No commercial arrangement can be allowed to downgrade the national importance of the All-Ireland final.
Gerald Morgan, Trinity College, Dublin 2
The semi-final between Mayo and Kerry was what Gaelic football should be all about.
Certainly, the first half was nothing to write home about, with both teams retreating into the bunker at any sign of danger.
But the second half made up for it with robust, manly tackles, where there were no prisoners taken on the field of play, people jumping for joy one minute and praying for divine intervention the next.
The icing on the cake for those like me, with no county allegiances, is that it has to happen all over again.
But we are left with the strange scenario on Saturday of this much anticipated semi-final replay playing second fiddle to the side show of American football in Croke Park (it could have been Garth Brooks).
It's a sad state of affairs when Gaelic football has been demoted, with fans having to travel to Limerick for the rematch (no disrespect to Limerick).
It's not the end of the world, but it does matter. Croke Park was built to facilitate the playing of an amateur game that gave hope to a downtrodden people in years gone by.
What message does this send out to the thousands who commit their time, voluntarily, week in, week out, year after year?
This All-Ireland replay should be taking place in Croke Park and nowhere else.
James Woods, Gort an Choirce, Dun na nGall
Stop funding the Irish language
As someone who'll never see 75 again, I'm always cheered by good news - like the piece by your columnist Lorraine Courtney, in last Saturday's Irish Independent 'Weekend Review'.
Ms Courtney tells us that the Irish language trails both English and Polish in Ireland, yet I don't think public money is spent on either of these two tongues.
So why are such hard-to-come-by funds thrown at the promotion of, and teaching of, Irish?
Does Italy throw money at the preservation of Latin? Does Washington DC throw money at the preservation of the Comanche language?
Despite this country being on its knees economically, I venture to suggest that the reason why not one of our so-called politicians calls a halt to this madness of funding the Irish language is because not one of them has the 'liathroidi' to say 'stop'.
And, as usual, the loser is the taxpayer.
Michael Dryhurst, Four Mile House, Roscommon