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Letters to the Editor: 'Decline in religious practice contributes to rise in tragedies'

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'Usually the local Catholic priest is approached in the early stage of knowledge of the tragedy for his comments, which is usually how shocked the community is (not that he is aware of what the majority think on the basis of church attendance)' (stock photo)

'Usually the local Catholic priest is approached in the early stage of knowledge of the tragedy for his comments, which is usually how shocked the community is (not that he is aware of what the majority think on the basis of church attendance)' (stock photo)

'Usually the local Catholic priest is approached in the early stage of knowledge of the tragedy for his comments, which is usually how shocked the community is (not that he is aware of what the majority think on the basis of church attendance)' (stock photo)

As we read in our daily papers and listen to radio and television of the unbelievable litany of tragedies that occurred last week, we are numbed and lost for words.

Our commentators in the press and broadcast media, together with our local politicians, join in producing all sorts of reasons from drug use to austerity and all intermediate states as the reason for all these tragedies.

Never once has the gradual diminution of religion in our lives (excluding our growing Muslim population where the centrality of their religion remains as strong as ever)

been advanced as a possible contributory factor.

Usually the local Catholic priest is approached in the early stage of knowledge of the tragedy for his comments, which is usually how shocked the community is (not that he is aware of what the majority think on the basis of church attendance).

In the recent tragedy of the death of three young children, the local parish priest stated that all he could do was to open the church for a service.

During his statement he thanked all the usual services but made special reference to Tusla, an organisation headed by a government minister who would eliminate religion being taught in schools and see no place in a secular society for deference to religious observance.

Hugh Duffy

Cleggan, Co Galway


Aontú cheerleaders can’t save party from its electoral fate

Further to Patricia Casey’s ‘With most parties preaching the same ideals, voters deserve a real alternative’ (Irish Independent, January 28), she seems unrealistically optimistic that another socially conservative party could do what Renua, the National Party and others couldn’t do in recent elections.

This article follows a remarkably similarly-themed piece published in Saturday’s ‘Irish Times’ by fellow Aontú cheerleader Breda O’Brien.

While Professor Casey notes that “one does not necessarily need to agree with the Aontú stance on the right to life”, a pro-life stance is its very raison d’etre.

This alone will alienate most of the 66.4pc of the electorate who voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, irrespective of Aontú’s other policies.

Aontú will not only split the socially conservative vote further, but will likely suffer the same electoral fate as their stable-mates based on recent opinion polls.

Richard Talbot

Rathgar Avenue, Dublin


Ability – not gender – should decide how the nation votes

So Lorraine Courtney believes voters should prioritise female candidates when voting on February 8 (‘Give your vote to a woman – it’s the only way to break the tyranny of mediocre men’, Irish Independent, January 24).

While Ms Courtney undoubtedly has a point regarding the less-than-ideal quality of some male TDs (but wouldn’t it be equally true to say the same about some current female TDs too), her proposed simplistic gynocentric remedy is not the correct answer.

As she obviously knows there’s a gender quota in place for female candidates in Dáil elections.

However, the very nature of this quota, with its emphasis on choosing candidates precisely because of the fact of their gender, is all too likely to make it less probable that the candidates thus chosen will be selected primarily on merit.

The best remedy for the ‘quality deficit’ among TDs would seem to lie in reforming our political system, which seems at present to be calculated to discourage persons of the right calibre in terms of ability and expertise – regardless of their gender – from entering politics and putting themselves forward for selection as Dáil candidates.

The political fate of top economist George Lee is a case in point here.

Regarding my own voting intentions, I’ve already decided to whom I’ll be giving my first two preferences on February 8.

Both of these are men but I won’t be voting for them on the facile, simplistic and reductionist assumption that only TDs of the same gender as myself are capable of satisfactorily representing my interests and views (which, if I understand her correctly, seems to be the essence of Ms Courtney’s argument).

I’ll be voting for them because I agree more with their views than with the views of the other seven candidates in the constituency where I live – and that, surely, is by far the most rational and sensible way to decide for whom one should vote.

Besides, one of these two candidates already has a track record as a TD that shows conclusively that he’s no ‘mediocre man’ (the other is a first-time candidate).

Hugh Gibney

Athboy, Co Meath

Irish Independent