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Love and dignity of Fitzpatricks


Mother’s Day is a special day for the mothers that are still with us and the mothers who continue to watch over us (Stock picture)

Mother’s Day is a special day for the mothers that are still with us and the mothers who continue to watch over us (Stock picture)

Mother’s Day is a special day for the mothers that are still with us and the mothers who continue to watch over us (Stock picture)

Sir - I refer to the excellent article by Brendan O'Connor (Sunday Independent, March 19) on Eamonn Casey.

Once again, Brendan hit the nail on the head.

He reminded us that Casey did not pay half as high a price as other people who made the same mistake in Ireland back in 1974, when mother-and-baby homes were in full swing, courtesy of Casey and his lot. To quote Brendan: "How do we judge a man if not as a father?" Casey essentially denied and cut off his own son.

In comparison, as Brendan said, the Irish people witnessed true love and dignity in the response of the Fitzpatrick family to the tragic loss of their daughter Dara.

It was clear to see that Dara was such a beautiful and heroic spirit when seeing the heroic dignity of her wonderful sister, mother and father in their grief.

They even had the compassion to say that they were the lucky ones as they, at that time, had at least found Dara's body to bring home. Therein lies true love and sacrifice.

Fiona O'Hara

Dublin 8

Sir - Today is the first Mother's Day that I will spend without my mother. My mother Peggy passed away last September. Before she died, I said to her: "We were the best of pals, weren't we?" She said: "We were." It was bitter-sweet. We were the best of pals.

I was her first-born and the two of us were learning it all together. All I remember from my earliest memory is the joyful attention and interaction that we had. We spent what people now call "quality time" together all of the time. Peggy was a new mother of the 1960s with an aspirant and ambitious attitude, like many wonderful young mothers of the time.

She, like so many others, wanted her children to have opportunities. These mothers, like all mothers, were and are wonderful people. They have helped shape the society we live in today. This generation of mothers created the new and better belief that we have in ourselves and helped drag us out of the dark and dreary society of repression into the 20th century.

Mother's Day will never be the same for me, I won't have the chance to call to her and bring her a book, a bunch of flowers or a tech gadget (she loved gadgets). I have only wonderful memories of her.

I now understand the sadness of those who have lost their mothers. My experience, however, makes me want to celebrate mothers even more.

Mother's Day is a special day for the mothers that are still with us and the mothers who continue to watch over us.

Gerard Corrigan,



Medics back plan for children's hospital

Sir -  We refer to the letter "Time to opt for greenfield site" (Sunday Independent, February 26).

As clinicians responsible for delivering secondary and tertiary paediatric and neonatal healthcare, our number-one priority is providing the best possible care to our patients.

We fully support the new children's hospital on a campus shared with St James's Hospital and we are working towards the delivery of healthcare services on this single academic medical campus, which will provide paediatric, adult and maternity services.

The delivery of these services side by side, on a research-intensive campus, will benefit all of our patients, but in particular will drive improved clinical outcomes for the sickest children, adolescents, newborns and high-risk mothers.

This "tri-location" model of healthcare delivery is recognised as best practice internationally and, as clinicians, we are greatly excited about the bringing together of our services on one campus.

The decision to locate the new children's hospital on a campus shared with St James's Hospital, Ireland's leading tertiary adult research-intensive hospital, was made in 2012 and the hospital will be completed in 2021.

It was also confirmed in the National Maternity Strategy published last year that the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital will relocate to the same campus.

Working side by side, we are establishing a campus of healthcare excellence that will be among the best in the world. Our sickest children, adolescents, neonates and mothers deserve no less.

Peter Greally, Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician, National Children's Hospital at Tallaght Hospital and Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin; Group Clinical Director, Children's Hospital Group;

Sean Walsh, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine and Clinical Director at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin;

Ciara Martin, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine and Clinical Director, National Children's Hospital at Tallaght Hospital;

Adrienne Foran, Consultant Neonatologist, Rotunda Hospital and Temple Street Children's University Hospital and Clinical Director, Temple Street Children's University Hospital;

Owen Smith, Professor of Paediatrics and Adolescents Medicines at University College Dublin; Consultant Paediatric Haematologist at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin; special adviser, Children's Hospital Group;

Sharon Sheehan, Master of the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital;

Emma Curtis, Consultant Paediatrician at the National Children's Hospital, Tallaght; Medical Director with the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board;

Alf Nicholson, Consultant Paediatrician, Temple Street Children's University Hospital; Professor of Paediatrics, RCSI and HSE National Clinical Lead, Paediatric Clinical Programme

Surely people want a united Ireland?

Sir - I am shocked at the attitude of most columnists and commentators to the discussion of a united Ireland raised due to Brexit.

Maybe I am naive, I thought most Irish people would have an aspiration of a united Ireland by peaceful means, yet that is not what is coming across from columnists and commentators.

The comments are mostly negative or against a united Ireland. I would love to see a united Ireland. While it will not happen in my lifetime, being in my 70s, I would love it for my children and grandchildren. I wonder what the public thinks?

Maureen McGuirk,


Dublin 9

Adams' oration fails to heal old wounds

Sir - I watched the funeral service for Martin McGuinness on the small screen and was very much taken with all celebrants and mourners, both Protestant and Catholic, being able to not necessarily forgive but move on to the next phase of living together on our island.

It struck me there was no real age demographic in those who saw a change and embraced it in Martin McGuinness and the peace accord. But one or two cannot let the past go and hold bitterness inside, which will never give or complete the peace process or reconcile us all.

They are on both sides and are leaders in their own right, and mainly political.

Arlene Foster has to be commended for her very brave, humane and forthright gesture to attend, and this bodes well for the future. She could have found more reasons not to attend than attend.

Gerry Adams, on the other hand, with his speech at the graveside, does nothing to help a healing process. Martin McGuinness was a terrorist but he changed and was able to shake hands with the Queen, who is head of the armed forces and the Church of England.

Gerry Adams saying he was not a terrorist but a freedom fighter does nothing to help any who lost loved ones on either side of the conflict.

I, and a majority on our island I'm sure, hope a solution is found within Stormont and let Northern Ireland be governed by their own elected members. I am very hopeful for the future and it has to be said Martin McGuinness in his death could be the catalyst for helping to make it all happen.

Ken Maher

Co Wicklow

Glorifying and rewarding violence

Sir - Are we allowed to wonder how many deaths Martin McGuinness was directly or indirectly responsible for? Or is that sort of talk unpatriotic and inimical to the peace process?

Because of the secrecy, subterfuge and obfuscation that surrounded him in life, we can probably never know how many Irish citizens, North and South (as well as innocents on in the UK), met their ends due to McGuinness's meticulous planning. Dozens? Hundreds?

Certainly, there are prolific serial killers rotting in dank US jails with no hope of reprieve who are responsible for a fraction of the death and human misery that McGuinness brought to this goodly earth. And yet, to read our president's glowing, fulsome tribute to the "warmth and… unfailing courtesy" of the departed deputy first minister, one would be forgiven for thinking some much-beloved human rights activist had left us.

His late, grudging acceptance of peace and the democratic process was hardly a "road to Damascus" moment. It was merely another exercise in political expediency - reptilian survival instincts from the commander of a hopelessly compromised army.

As ever, when it comes to Northern Ireland, the perpetrators of violence are glorified and rewarded and their victims become a mere footnote, condemned to the margins of history.

S O'Neill,

Dublin 3

Painful memories remain with us

Sir - A dreadfully sad letter ("I remain blighted by my status", Sunday Independent, March 19), from a person born out of wedlock in the 1950s. A sentence I relate to after my 10 years in two boarding schools in the 1950s and 1960s, which I have written about many times, is: "By day I am a survivor, but at night I continually wrestle with memories that do not fade with the years."

Brian McDevitt,


Co Donegal

Prejudices of 1950s hard to shake off

Sir - The letter "I remain blighted by my status" (Sunday Independent, March 19) is a heartfelt piece of writing which cuts to the bone. I can empathise with the writer.

As family members, we often spoke of the 1950s in later life and agreed that the Christian Brothers were hard sometimes, even brutal, to the point of drawing blood. But we knew, mostly through adults, that crueller, harsher, hidden entities existed: industrial schools, De La Salle colleges, Magdalene laundries etc.

Snobbery and class were alive and kicking in those years. I can remember the sense of a feeling of the haves and have-nots. I remember a newly housed Traveller boy in my class who was caught mooching from school. He was handcuffed to a garda sergeant's High Nelly bike and walked in front of the whole school to the headmaster's office. This would not have happened to the son of a professional man.

In the 1960s, we were the bee's knees in sophistication, with colour TVs and long hair, enlightened by all things American. We had come a long way from the dreary1950s. On a bar stool, I asked a friend: "Who is the new barmaid?" He waited till she was out of earshot, and leaned over and whispered: "She is from the orphanage." We both nodded. I have never forgotten it, nor her for that matter.

I studied her for a long time, trying to figure out what made her different from the other barmaids. Had she four fingers on each hand, or three ears, or what? Adults unwittingly inculcated in us prejudices of either looking up to or down on certain people. This was the era of the 1950s, and early prejudices are so hard to shake off.

Holly Barrett,


Co Cork/Barcelona

Addressing hurts is only way to heal

Sir - I could not help but feel sadness on reading the letter "I remain blighted by my status" (Sunday Independent, March 19).

In it, the writer clearly outlined the reasons they felt they could never achieve their full potential in life.

Thousands of children never experience their full potential in life through no fault of their own; feeling unwanted, experiencing abuse in various forms, etc. That is if they live.

We saw the scandal of what happened in the mother and baby home in Tuam when hundreds of children didn't even get the chance to experience a childhood, whatever that might have brought them.

In the Would You Believe? documentary on the Tuam babies home, Catherine Corless said: "I knew in my heart and soul this story had to get out."

Ireland has had many dark secrets. It is only when we acknowledge the wrongs of the past can we as a society heal. Catherine Corless, through her pioneering and fearless work, realised this.

The letter writer has every right to tell their story and express their anger and hurt over sins of omission and commission that occurred to them. I hope they achieve some peace in the coming years. It can sometimes be uncomfortable to look at certain things in life but the old practice of sweeping them under the carpet achieves nothing but further hurt and alienation for the wounded parties.

Tommy Roddy,


We're collectively responsible for ills

Sir - To scapegoat a handful of nuns for the Tuam Mother and Babies home is reprehensible. That some TDs are fanning the flames of hysteria is utterly shameful. We are collectively responsible for what is wrong in our society today - impoverished children, the homeless, child abuse. Our parents and grandparents are collectively responsible for what happened in Tuam and similar places in the 1920s up to the 1950s.

It is not the responsibility of a handful of nuns who were volunteering their service free of charge to unfortunates largely rejected by society, without financial support from the State. In the words of an Irish journalist, the Tuam saga is an example of "tragedies of the past used to vent prejudices of the present".

Tom Slevin,


Co Mayo

Church and State must be separated

Sir - A lot of ink has already been spilt over the Tuam case. Maeve Sheehan, Eilis O'Hanlon and Miriam O'Callaghan in their articles (Sunday Independent, March 12) summed up best the tragic revelations.

What bothers me most is the voices who now try to put the blame for what happened on to the society of the time, evading the fact that back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s it was the all-male hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in collusion with the then politicians who shaped and controlled Irish society.

I suggest that the educational system be secularised, separated from the influence of the church. Teaching of catechism et al should only be facilitated on a non-obligatory basis outside the school curriculum.

With regard to abortion, we must finally have the courage to change the law in line with other European countries

William Wohlgemuth,


Co Clare

Sunday Independent