In his piece about faith schools admissions policy (Irish Independent, January 17), Education Minister Richard Bruton quotes a statistic that, in 2016, 66pc of all marriages were church weddings while more that 96pc of primary schools are controlled by the churches. He states that this is unfair.
Not for the first time has this statistic been used by public figures to make some point in favour of a more secular agenda.
My question regarding the marriage statistic is this - of the 34pc of non-church marriages in 2016, how many were second marriages for one or both partners and therefore the option of a church marriage was not open to them even though they may have wished to be married in church?
I have not seen any statistic for those who get married in civil ceremonies but may very well have preferred a religious one. In my own parish every year, I am aware of civil-marriage ceremonies where the couple would dearly love to have received a church blessing.
Let's face it, many priests do provide some form of blessing for couples who marry in civil ceremonies, but these marriages are recorded only as civil ones.
My main point is that it is totally misleading to presume that because couples do not marry in a church wedding ceremony, they are anti-religious, feel forced to have their children baptised and would prefer not to have their children educated in a faith-based school.
Fr Martin Delaney
Rathdowney, Co Laois
Wealth creation the work of many
The praise of the late TK Whitaker is deserved for getting us out of our economic morass.
But no man is an island and we must not forget the bigger picture. Wealth creation depends on joining a large, creative, scientific community to push out the frontiers of knowledge and use that knowledge to innovate new methods and products.
Keeping pace in the hi-tech race means research and development in a smart economy. Credit must also be given to the UN for the report 'Investment in Education', written by Professor Patrick Lynch of UCD and put into operation by Patrick Hillery in setting up the Institutes of Technology and the University of Limerick.
Donogh O'Malley must get credit for bringing in free second-level education.
Prosperity is correlated with fertile minds working in a favourable economic environment.
Limerick city, Co Limerick
The power of hope remains
One of the most powerful things to give any human being is the power of hope. I recall watching the inspirational speech by Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention a year before he became president of the USA, the most powerful country on this planet.
At my age, and as someone who loves all things political, you would think I should know better.
This was a black man, a driving force of change. 'Yes we can, Yes we can'. I believed him and I so much wanted change. I wanted peace, I wanted a fairer society, justice for everyone - all these things he spoke so beautifully.
He let me down so much. We have more war, more inequality, but I still have hope and no one can take that away.
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
Blowing it on Brexit
It seems that Britain would prefer membership of a loose-knit 'European trading group' than membership of the full-blown European Union with all its concomitant social and political re-engineering, and that the unelected Brussels Eurocratic elite is intent on punishing Britain for having the temerity for wanting to leave their creation.
But surely if the benefits from being in the EU are so great, then won't leaving be punishment enough - or are those benefits largely illusory? It would have been much better if Britain had voted to remain, and then fight to reform the EU's bloated and undemocratic institutions.
Naul, Co Dublin
Are we in the process of discovering a new phenomenon, May's Boson - membership of a club without being an actual member? Will it turn out to be another thing with imaginary mass?
Glasson, Athlone, Co Westmeath
Let's stress our strengths to EU
Following Theresa May's speech on Tuesday, it is obvious that we in Ireland must reassess our strengths and act in a way that maximises those strengths and minimises the impact of our weaknesses.
1. I believe our population speaks more European languages than the UK population because we do not have a history of ruling an empire where subjects had to speak English. So we can more often converse in French, German, Italian and Spanish and, of course, English. Let's stress this.
2. We have, as the only native English speakers remaining in the EU, a huge advantage over UK companies who may need to relocate to Ireland rather than mainland Europe. Let's emphasise this.
3. We have an educated workforce, including a possible 10pc portion who are from Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Moldavia, Hungary, Romania, etc. We all are capable of devising strategies which lead to us exporting more to Europe, apart from the UK.
4. Ireland has a unique 'green' image which pre-dates 'green' becoming a buzzword. This is a unique advantage which must be hammered home in Europe.
5. If the UK leaves (which is still in doubt since Mrs May says "it's certain", but also agrees that Parliament must agree the terms negotiated) the EU market will be 450 million people.
Of that, about half is affluent territories in Western Europe. So can we not replace the possible shortfall in, eg, agricultural exports to the UK with exports to Europe of the same total?
The EU market can be cracked if we remain competitive and use our advantages.
6. Ireland has largely welcomed workers from EU states that are new to the Union.
These people will not forget and have sent this message back to Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary and other 'new' countries. This must present huge opportunities.
More money for civil servants
I recently listened to Paschal Donohoe making a case for the extra €130m being paid to public servants on salaries of €65,000 and under.
Meanwhile, OAPs may be asked to pay an annual charge for "free travel" and hospitals are struggling to cope.