Private stories that shouldn't be told
Sir - It was 2013. I was sitting watching my one-year-old son playing, while I was having a miscarriage. This was day three. It was an early one, nothing very dramatic. I went to work the next day and the Early Pregnancy Unit the day after to check it was all gone, and that was it. It was a period with a few clots and a flush of the toilet. No funeral, no burial, I could've dreamt it. It was a sad experience, but manageable.
The Savita Halappanavar inquiry had been in the news. I was oblivious really to the Eighth prior to that. It seemed normal that women had to travel for an abortion. But it hit me, as I looked at my one-year-old playing, that I was more important than that foetus at that time. I was this child's mother. He needed me alive and healthy. Then my husband came in, a look of concern on his face. Not for the foetus at that point, but for me. I was more important than that foetus, at that time. He needed me alive and healthy.
In the three pregnancies I brought to term, my connection and love evolved over time and in uncomplicated circumstances. If, at any time, there had been a conflict between my needs and the demands of the pregnancy, I could only make any decision required based on the gestation at that time and the issues coming into conflict with it. And I know any decision would have been based first and foremost on how it would impact the lives and well-being of my family. I could only make that decision for myself, with my husband, guided by a health professional.
I have withheld my name because this story is personal. It's private, and it should remain that way. I wish no one had to tell their private stories, but ironically it seems we have to, precisely in order to help people see that this is what these things are. Private. They shouldn't be up for public debate.
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We can make up our own minds
Sir - Jody Corcoran (Sunday Independent, May 6) reports that 18pc of voters remain undecided according to the recent abortion referendum poll. This high figure does not surprise me as abortion remains such an emotional issue and the choice being given is a stark one between keeping the Eighth as it is or vote to remove all protection for the unborn child from the Constitution.
I respect all those who genuinely hold a clear position, but it is not helpful for advocates on either side to avoid the harsh reality that a Yes vote will give the right to all mothers to choose to end a pregnancy, albeit with some limitations, but it does end the life of an unborn child.
Calling the unborn child a foetus fools no one and politicians claiming to be pro-life while advocating a Yes vote defies logic.
I think most of us are mature and intelligent enough to hear all the facts and then make up our minds accordingly.
Where, not what
Sir - Do people planning to vote No in the referendum believe someone has the right to travel for an abortion? If so, it seems the issue is not abortion per se, but the location.
Sir - Liam Neeson's call for a Yes vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment (Sunday Independent, May 6) fails to mention the life of the unborn child, in fatal danger should a Yes vote prevail. This seems to be a common position for so many on the Yes side - they talk about compassion, respect and honesty, but these virtues go out of the window when the unborn is shown no consideration.
Mr Neeson is right that it is time to stand up and be counted, to stand up for the right to life, to stand up for the most vulnerable, to stand up for the voiceless. Only by voting No will something of immense value be preserved: human life.
Mr Neeson says he has campaigned for children's rights on behalf of the UN. Many would see the irony in this. Caring only about the rights of some children, making a distinction between the born and the unborn, is a fatal distinction.
Price of pretence
Sir - If they really want to stop abortion, why aren't the anti-repeal campaign fighting more to repeal the 13th Amendment or to prosecute the thousands of women who have taken abortion pills on Irish soil?
It seems to me what they are really saying is that you may get your abortion, but you must pay - financially, physically, psychologically and emotionally.
A sort of trial of endurance to prove your desperation. A price to pay so we can continue to pretend Ireland is abortion-free.
Cait Ni Charthaigh,
Out of control
Sir - If the Eighth Amendment is repealed, we will be leaving total control of future abortion laws to the government to make any changes they wish, no matter how radical.
Consultant obstetrician Trevor Hayes also hit out at recent statements from leading politicians who are misleading the public about the Eighth Amendment, stating it stops doctors from saving the life of the mother: "Any suggestion that Irish doctors cannot intervene to protect women is deliberately misinforming the Irish public and creating unnecessary fears".
Yes is a first step
Sir - I am tired of being classed as someone who cannot keep her legs closed or whose capacity is diminished, all because I was born a woman and live in Ireland. Too long have women been treated as vessels or a commodity at the hands of others. A Yes vote is the first step to rectifying this. Let's make it.
Care defines us
Sir - There is a song that says "There's been a load of compromising on the road to my horizon". Undoubtedly each one of us has compromised to greater and lesser degrees. It might even be fair to say that without compromise there cannot be harmony and co-existence. But for each one of us there is a limit beyond which we will not go.
For me that limit is well-being and life. When playing sport was an important part of my life, my colleagues and I, no matter how hard and uncompromising the on-field battles, were always aware of the reality of Monday morning and its call to duty for us all. To deliberately injure or in any way physically harm another player was anathema.
How much more so should each of us have respect and concern for the feeblest and weakest of all, the unborn and the fragile aged. The defining mark of the well-being of any society is how we care for those who are vulnerable and totally dependent. Failure to treat the unborn and our fading elders with care, love and kindness fractures society and dishonours individuals.
The referendum on May 25 is our challenge as individuals and as society, our challenge to publicly affirm our commitment to the right that is pre-eminent - the right of each individual to be born and take his or her chance in the sometimes stern but always exciting game of life. Ours is not the right to deny anyone that great privilege. Our decision in the polling booths will determine and define our national psyche and our attitude to all other humans - in the womb, born and elderly - for decades or maybe even centuries.
Cllr Michael Gleeson,
Sir - I was born and raised in Dublin but I have lived my whole adult life in London so I have seen first-hand the negative impact that an abortion culture has on a society, and on women in particular.
For some years, I volunteered at Life, a charity offering help and support to pregnant women, and the stories I heard from these women convinced me that abortion was not in a woman's best interest. The teenager, persuaded by all that a baby will ruin her life, the young woman whose boyfriend says he will leave if she does not get rid, the woman afraid of her abusive husband. None of these women wanted abortions yet they all said, "I feel I have no choice".
Abortion is now promoted as the solution to a problem pregnancy. One in five pregnancies is ended, 97pc of abortions are done on dubious mental health grounds and we have abortion up to birth for disability even for babies with minor abnormalities.
Even before the country has voted, the government is ready to introduce abortion on demand to 12 weeks, abortion to 24 weeks if the woman's physical or mental health is at serious risk (Head 4) and abortion up to birth if the baby has a life-limiting condition (Head 6). This means that Ireland would have even more liberal abortion laws than Britain.
Repealing the Eighth will open the door to the abortion industry and pave the way for abortion on demand in Ireland. The introduction of abortion will change the very fabric of Irish society. Sadly, as a UK resident, I cannot vote,
Sorry home truth
Sir - In the midst of the noise surrounding the forthcoming referendum, a statement from a recent radio caller stood out for me as one of the more truthful.
It was this: "I am totally against abortion. Totally against it. Except when it comes to my own family. Then I am definitely pro-choice."
Even hardened idealisms don't often survive real world burdens. But what we want for our own family in times of crisis, we should want for other families too.
Dat's all wrong
Sir - Tom Gilsenan (Letters, Sunday Independent, May 6) is right. 'Talking proper' is going out of fashion on the radio every day. I worry for Gay Byrne's recovery when the chief culprit of the 'dis' and 'dat' is a man on the national airwaves every afternoon, a man Gay himself plucked from obscurity.
Remember forgotten flu dead
Sir — Alan O’Keeffe’s article “Forgotten by history, how flu became a deadly plague” (Sunday Independent, May 6) struck a chord with our family on a day when we were remembering the 100th birthday of my late father. Within eight weeks of his birth, three of his siblings had died of flu.
“What are we doing in July 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the deaths of our uncles and aunt?” was an out-of-the-blue 2016 email inquiry from a cousin.
Shortly afterwards, he emailed me copies of memorial cards with details of the deaths of our uncles and aunt. I hardly knew of their existence.
Our grandparents must have suffered greatly as they watched helplessly while their children aged one, three and five died. As a family we have sought out all our grandparents’ descendants and organised a gathering in July which will start with Mass at what was their parish church.
Given that the events being commemorated are 100 years old, the generation being remembered have all long since departed, along with several of the next generation: my generation.
In our case the project has been a huge family exercise, bringing together for the first time many first cousins who hardly knew one another.
Powered by social media, it certainly brought greater knowledge of second and third cousins.
Computer access to census data has proved a boon to amateur sleuths wanting to know more about their ancestry.
Sadly, my suggestion to church authorities that it might be a good idea for a similar gathering Mass at the forthcoming World Meeting of Families in Dublin, the city in which my ancestors and so many others died in July and August 1918, fell on deaf ears — and this despite the fact that 50m innocent civilians died worldwide.
On a wider point, it is interesting how Irish, British and European nations have concentrated on celebrating the deaths of soldiers in World War I and yet seem prepared to ignore the greater number of deaths from The Great Flu that followed almost immediately on and, in turn, devastated even more innocent lives and families.
Our nation needs a social revolution
Sir — Hypocrisy, self-advancement and self-preservation now permeate all state and other bodies throughout our nation. The politicians we elect are reduced to nothing better than puppets and their impotent utterings never rise above the hypocritical.
While we continue to elect hypocrites, we will be dealt hypocrisy. The Oireachtas is a charade. The interests of our citizens should be first but are last. But for the raised voices of some courageous individuals, official Ireland would continue to polish the veneer that hides the underlying rot. The scandals in health, housing and justice are symptoms of the rot.
It took revolution and sacrifice of life to establish our nation. Life has again been sacrificed, this time involuntarily and for the wrong reasons. It is a tragedy our nation has been subverted by self-interest.
Revolution is again required, social revolution to reclaim the principle of government of the citizen, by the citizen, for the citizen.
Sir — Regarding the article on Athenry GAA (Sport, Sunday Independent, May 6) I have never read two pages of a non-story so blown out of all proportion in my life. I know it is a quiet time of the year for GAA news, but that article is ridiculous.
Kimmage spot on
Sir — I am writing to express my appreciation for Paul Kimmage’s article on the issues at Athenry GAA club (Sport, Sunday Independent, May 6).
I am a 24-year-old from another town in Co Galway, and the article resonated strongly with my own experience of playing Gaelic football from the age of eight to 16. I left the GAA, and I am much better off without it, but the negative effects of a childhood among borderline abusive coaches still affect me.
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United Ireland — and more besides?
Sir — Dan O’Brien’s article (Sunday Independent, May 6) on a possible future united Ireland is timely. I agree with his approach that there are two nations on this island. However, it is much too early to assume northern Unionists will abandon their loyalism just to remain in the EU. Moreover, enthusiasm in the south for a united Ireland has waned considerably over the past decades.
Post (hard) Brexit, if Scotland does not become independent, the UK will complete its move to federalism, giving NI greater autonomy. If Scotland becomes independent, there is a third option for NI: It could become independent and ultimately form a tri-Celtic state of 12m people with Scotland and the Republic. Fresh thinking will be required all round if the aspirations of all the peoples of these islands are to be accommodated.
In praise of the humble potato
Sir — As an incorrigible potato eater, I was pleased to learn that Ireland’s love affair with the versatile potato is as strong as ever.
Despite the ongoing competition from convenience foods, the spud is still the mainstay of Ireland’s staple diet with 1.75m Irish households annually spending €205m on potatoes.
The fast pace of modern life determines that much of the food we now eat is processed and microwave-compatible. Also, in the search for the perfect diet and body beautiful, the humble spud is often depicted as unfashionable and bland.
What’s sometimes forgotten is that the potato is a natural source of fibre and potassium, is salt free, low in sugar and naturally fat free. In fact, the Irish spud complements any healthy diet plan and packs a nutritional punch.