Letters to the Editor: 'Boris is no sort of friend to Ireland'
Sir - If the attitude of mind depicted in Niamh Horan's article (Sunday Independent, January 13) on Boris Johnson and depicting him as the "next prime minister of Britain" prevails, there is not much optimism to be had about the political or economic future of these islands - see articles by Dan O'Brien and Colm McCarthy on the same day.
A leading light in the campaign that ended with Brexit, Boris Johnson was declared a big draw for a recent two-day Dublin conference.
If conferences such as this are supposed to be serious contributions to the development of this country, how pathetic is it having Johnson as a speaker and having the audience, as Niamh Horan puts it, "lapping it up"?
This London media celebrity promotes declaring economic war on this country and tearing up the international agreement signed by the UK with this former colony - the Good Friday Agreement.
If he is judged to be all there is to have attendees "lapping it up", it does not say much for the foresight of either the organisers of these conferences or their attendees.
Anti-abortion voices must still be heard
Sir - It was good to read Eilis O'Hanlon's comment (Sunday Independent, January 13) that "anti-abortion groups have the same right to protest as everybody else in Ireland". Of course, after the abortion campaign, the raucous claims otherwise are hardly surprising. After all, we did not have a debate in the proper sense of the word but a campaign by all the main political parties, most of the media and as many so-called celebrities as could be found.
While Ms O'Hanlon finds "the double standards" of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties staggering in light of their letter to the UN Human Rights Council stating that "we are united by our conviction that public protest is an essential component of any vibrant society", their perception of what liberal means is selective and does not encompass the right to life and their record in opposing any right they do not deem 'progressive' is well known.
Ruth Dudley Edwards's article in the same paper on Peadar Toibin's effort to start a political party "to break the political cartel" was most welcome. It is sad that so few journalists even admit that there is a cartel and that the three main political parties - Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail - are all singing from the same hymn sheet, with Fianna Fail's policies out of line with the majority of their members.
Mr Toibin is to be commended for his efforts to give a voice to so many who are disenfranchised. It just requires those who claim they have no voice in our society to step up to the mark and support someone who is willing to put his career on the line in order to represent their views.
Failure to support his efforts will result in more of the same and would reward those who have no wish to listen to the people.
Mary Stewart (Mrs),
Yes, but we must not shame women
Sir - I campaigned for retention of the Eighth Amendment in last year's abortion referendum and consequently voted No. Last week's Sunday Independent carried an article by Eilis O'Hanlon titled: 'Anti-abortion groups have the same right to protest as everybody else in Ireland'.
I agree. The right to freedom of assembly is guaranteed in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and appears in almost all democratic constitutions.
However, Ms O'Hanlon goes to the heart of the issue when she states "because of their size, protests at GPs' surgeries are certainly problematic, raising concerns about patient confidentiality". People visit their doctors for a variety of reasons. It is a confidential relationship.
As a man I do not want to see people standing outside my doctor's surgery monitoring my visits. What is it like for a woman visiting her doctor? Is she wondering if the activists are drawing conclusions as to the reason for her visit? The protests are an invasion of privacy irrespective of why someone is attending their doctor.
This is compounded by the fact that Ireland has such a small population. In the US, the size of the country and its large population means there is less chance that protesters would personally know the women attending abortion clinics. But at least it's obvious if a woman attends such a clinic what she is doing there. If she is not having an abortion, then she is supporting someone who is.
I feel protests outside doctors' surgeries are counter-productive. They give pro-life people a bad name. Last weekend, pro-life protesters in Galway held white crosses outside a doctors' surgery in the Westside. To me this smacks of an attempt by activists to instil guilt in women who may be attending for an abortion. Whatever side of the debate you are on, we all agree that we have had enough of attempts at shaming women in our history.
Pro-choice and pro-life groupings must work together and not try to re-open divisions created by the referendum result. A desire to reduce the number of girls/women who seek abortions is an aim we can all share.
It's hypocritical to block protests
Sir - Congratulations to Eilis O'Hanlon (Sunday Independent, January 13 ) on exposing the hypocrisy of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties in its attempts to make illegal public protest against abortion.
Sadly, Amnesty too seems to have lost its founding principle of support for conscientious objectors especially those in the medical professions.
Ban would be a totalitarian move
Sir - Since the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and the passing of the subsequent legislation, groups of pro-life people have borne witness outside GP surgeries and hospitals to the loss of life of unborn children such measures entail. In the eyes of Ingrid Seim (Letters, Sunday Independent, January 13) this is tantamount to intimidation, abuse, shaming and harassment.
Peaceful protest is the normal channel through which legal change is effected. Would Ms Seim have been as opposed to the demonstrations of the suffragette movement in campaigning for the right to vote for women or the civil rights movement in American for the equality of all US citizens? There are no prisoners of conscience in a democracy which, thankfully, is the present system of government in Ireland. It is totalitarian states which ban freedom of expression and right of assembly.
Just remember the Tuam babies
Sir - There was a public outcry when the media reported that the Tuam babies were buried in underground chambers linked to the historic treatment of sewage waste during the years 1925-1961. The public reaction to the discovery was based on moral repugnance at disposing of human remains in that horrific way. A demand to respect the dignity and memory of the children followed and continues to this day.
Yet now in January 2019, when lessons should have been learned from the Tuam story, the Health Service Executive (HSE) shows a grotesque lack of respect for the dignity and value of human life and the disposal of human remains following abortion; it advises that "they can be flushed down the toilet" if someone so wishes.
The HSE's statement on its website reads: "If you have an abortion before 9 weeks of pregnancy, you can decide how to dispose of the remains. They can be flushed down the toilet or wrapped in tissue and disposed of as you wish."
Is this what people who voted for the abortion legislation want, that the remains of a human life can be "flushed down the toilet" as if it is nothing more than faeces and urine?
Any attempts by politicians, particularly the Minister for Health and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, to use the exhumation and re-burial of the Tuam babies as evidence of their respect for the dignity and value of human life are utterly without credibility as long as this goes on.
Dr Noreen O'Carroll,
Respect for one man’s generosity
Sir — Maeve Sheehan’s article headlined ‘The “wisp of a black shadow” who walked the roads of Wexford (Sunday Independent, January 13) was an extremely sad account of a lady who ended her last days in a hedge on a lonely country road.
The retired Gorey man, said to be in his 90s, who unhesitatingly gave this lady unconditional shelter from the elements has my deepest admiration for his act of Christian charity.
This story reminds me of the Ireland I knew as a young boy where such acts were common events which I witnessed on many occasions.
Poor harmless souls, like the lady in question, were commonplace and were seen in the Irish Celtic and Christian traditions as “Duine le Dia”, meaning “one of God’s People”.
When I compare this man’s generosity of spirit with the recent suspected arson attack on the hotel accommodation for asylum seekers in Rooskey
on the Leitrim-Roscommon border, I cannot help but wonder if this is what the “new” modern liberal Ireland is coming to.
What does it tell us about the many homeless families and homeless people who have died on the streets of Dublin in recent years while the rapacious hedge fund managers and greedy landlords continue to evict their tenants at will and politicians continue to look away and cross to the other side of the road?
Michael GM Kenny,
Well done, Mary — sound advice again
Sir — Having read the letter headlined, ‘I’m worried I’ll never find romance’ on Mary O’Connor’s page (Living, Sunday Independent, December 30), I just felt so sad for the writer. Mary gave him wonderful advice and, as I read it, the sadness lifted from my mind.
I just hope this person takes Mary’s advice. If he puts into practice even a fraction of her advice, he should feel much better and get out there where I, too, think he will find the person most suited to him.
He could not have written his story to a better person than Mary. I always read her page and find her replies to the letter writers very direct, well thought-out and fitting to each problem.
The writer says the women he meets tell him he is a really nice guy but yet never take it further than one or two dates.
He says there is never the ‘spark’ but I believe if he takes Mary’s advice he will surely find that spark and it will be ignited perhaps sooner rather than later.
I want to wish this gentleman all the luck and romance in the world. Well done, Mary.
Lisdowney, Co Kilkenny
Football needs to change — and fast
Sir — I must agree with Colm O’Rourke (Sport, Sunday Independent, January 13) on the proposed new rules in Gaelic football.
Listening to various county managers, you would think the players were being asked to play with blindfolds on!
What’s the big deal? Three hand-passes are more than enough. At present, players can go through an entire game — and some do — without having to kick the ball.
Let’s give the changes a chance. Gaelic football is dying a fast death and something has to be done to alter the current
robotic style being served up to fans. County managers should get coaching — that’s what they were brought in for. As Colm said: “Who are these guys?”
Dungarvan, Co Waterford
Lighten up, Declan, we’re not that bad
Sir — I am an admirer of your columnist Declan Lynch. He writes with a clear, coherent eye for the many downsides of modern life, especially the problems of gambling and alcohol abuse.
However, the constant theme running through his writing, last week in particular, is one of disgust for anything Irish.
Not just our native games, but anything that remotely sets us apart from his beloved spiritual home across the Irish Sea (I suppose he would even take exception to that description).
His well-worn trope against “eejitry” seems to assert that poor old Paddy is the fount of all such silly behaviour.
While I must agree it reaches a high standard here at times, we are only in the ha’penny place internationally.
One only has to cast an eye to the Brexit debacle in the UK to witness “eejitry” of a standard hard to beat. Not to mention the situation in the good ole USA.
Declan should lighten up. We are no better or worse than everyone else.
Mullagh, Co Cavan
Sir — It is important not to forget local man Jimmy O’Sullivan, of Chapel Street, Bantry, Co Cork, who was a dear friend to many in the town and also lost his life in the Whiddy explosion.
A true gentleman.
Bantry, Co Cork
Sir — Well done, Dr Ciara Kelly! (Doctor’s Orders, Sunday Independent, January 6).
As a life-long walker, I agree fully about the many benefits of regular walking. It’s accessible to all, free and, in my view, the most enjoyable and beneficial life-long recreational activity.
Blackrock, Co Dublin
Brexit, Ross and Trump
Sir — Hard Brexiteers and Sinn Fein are narrow nationalists and those types add nothing but poisonous divisiveness.
Dalkey, Co Dublin
Sir — The ‘microphone’ story about ministers Simon Coveney and Shane Ross, reminds me of the adage: “Whatever you say, say nothing, when you talk about you know what.” Indeed!
Beaumont, Dublin 9
Sir — Minister for Transport Shane Ross needs to edify himself quickly when it comes to speaking in the Dail about possible Border checks, controls and the Brexit crisis.
Talking out of school, being badly briefed or not having a clue what to say causes embarrassment. In future, Mr Ross should, as a get-out clause, refer to the olde worlde politicians’ book of statements and be confidently vague, waffle on a bit, supply cryptic answers and converse with the assured authority of a seasoned village idiot.
Sir — Donald Trump has stated that he alone will make America great again.
With such a high opinion of himself he must have high expectations of being regarded as the greatest US president ever.
So he may well believe his image will appear on Mount Rushmore even before he departs this life.
However, there is a potential problem: Is Mount Rushmore big enough to portray Trump’s head given the great size of his adolescent ego?