Silence no longer an option
TD Clare Daly stated a simple and undeniable fact when she said: "No one of a present reproductive age has had a chance to vote on this matter."
It was clear to me, after attending the 6th annual March for Choice in Dublin two weeks ago, that the voices longing to be heard are the ones affected most by Ireland's atrocious reproductive health laws. Silence is no longer an option, shame no longer a weapon.
We must bring this country forward by finally recognising women's rights as human rights and looking to Savita's family, to Siobhan's family, to Michelle's family and to the families of all the other women who have had their agency and their dignity stolen from them, and saying we're sorry.
We grieve with you and we grieve for you, and we will make this right.
This is for them.
Amateur status under threat
Congratulations to PJ Cosgrove (Letters, Sunday Independent, October 8) warning of the possible "self-destruction of the amateur status" of the GAA.
His letter should remind all of us of the value of the "voluntary and amateur status" of Gaelic games.
The GAA is not based on multi-millionaire international professionals, but on a community of amateurs organising and playing for the honour and glory of their native parish or county.
But that ideal is under threat now because, as PJ Cosgrove says, the GAA is being "transmogrified into a mega-corporate proposition".
As he also says, its "authentic amateur" status "cannot survive" the "ridiculous (nay scurrilous) training demands" on young amateur players.
In addition, it is under threat because the GAA will not obey the basic rule that each county should have a team.
The counties were set up by the colonial power in London hundreds of years ago to run the administration of this then colonial island.
The native government set up four counties - Dun Laoire, South Dublin, Dublin City and Fingal - more recently to do the same thing. Despite that, we have one team with nearly limitless resources and a quarter of the population of the country representing those four counties.
They are competing with counties such as Leitrim with one-fortieth of the population and very limited resources.
PJ Cosgrove is right.
The seemingly unlimited emphasis on success, the "win at all costs" mentality and the absence of sportsmanship is indeed a warning about a threat to the amateur status of the GAA.
Sutton, Dublin 13
Mongrel foxes and others still dug out
The late former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave has been rightly praised for his statesmanship and for guiding Ireland through the icy winds of recession (as satirised but also, I think, obliquely credited by Hall's Pictorial Weekly) but I never shared his passion for fox hunting.
As a teenager in the mid-1970s I was probably one of the very few TV viewers who reacted from an animal welfare perspective when he made his famed "mongrel foxes" speech to a Fine Gael Ard Fheis.
Referring to his critics within the party, he stormed: "They are gone to ground but I'll dig them out, and the pack will chop them when they get them."
He was perfectly entitled to have a go at his leadership rivals and assorted other naysayers in the political and media spheres.
But I winced then, and again now, at his choice of analogy because, unfortunately, foxes that manage to escape underground during a hunt, in their bid to evade the baying pack, are still, in 2017, dug out by the spade and terrier gangs, then tossed to the hounds.
So while politics itself may be deemed a bloodsport, I have often wished that this otherwise decent, conscientious and courageous man had not reverted to the blood-stained jargon of the hunting field when he squared up against his detractors.
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Liam Cosgrave and state terrorism
The media have united to proclaim that the late Liam Cosgrave was "tough on terrorism".
But there are two types of terrorism. The most well-known is paramilitary terrorism. Less talked about is state terrorism, such as the Rainbow Warrior attack, Operation Condor or the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858.
Mr Cosgrave was not very tough on state terrorism. The Barron Report criticised his administration for a lack of interest and a lack of action on the biggest mass murder in modern Irish history. The Dublin/Monaghan bombings have officially been described as an act of international terrorism on the part of British Forces.
Liam Cosgrave's refusal to cooperate with the Barron inquiry will forever remain a blemish on his political career.
Friars Walk, Cork
An honest man
Eilis O'Hanlon (Sunday Independent, October 8) was spot on with her article on Liam Cosgrave's legacy. He was an honest man, contrary to what Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein thought of him. When he made a decision he stood by it, whether it was popular or not - more than Sinn Fein would be prepared to do; they change like the weather
It takes a village to help a woman
In her article, Caoimhe Haughey (Sunday Independent, October 8) eloquently speaks of pregnant women she has met through her legal practice who felt perplexed, distraught, conflicted and abandoned.
What is really needed here is befriending, someone to say "We will be with you all the way". An African proverb says "It takes a village to rear a child". It also takes the equivalent of a village to see a woman through pregnancy. Suggesting they abort the baby is only further isolating. It is like saying "You're on your own".
All of us need to give the message that we love them both, that the pregnancy is only temporary, and that every mother and baby deserves better than abortion.
Lee Road, Cork
Dumbfounded by the committee
Each Wednesday I listen to the proceedings of the Oireachtas Special Committee and each week I am dumbfounded by the nonsense that surfaces. The World Health Organisation is clear: abortion restrictions do not stop abortions, they just delay them and make them less safe.
Ten Irish women got on a plane to England to access abortion services in the UK today. Ten more will go tomorrow. Many more could not afford to travel. When will this end? Repeal the Eighth.
Young, confident, courageous women
The day after tens of thousands of young women marched in our capital city for the right to control their own fertility without interference from church or state, and given the unprecedented attendance at the march, I thought the voice of one of these young women would have been heard in the columns of your newspaper.
Instead we were treated to the tired voice of Maria Steen (Sunday Independent, October 1) from the Iona Institute complaining about how unfairly "pro-life" activists have been treated in recent times.
Indeed, Ms Steen was a guest on Brendan O'Connor's Cutting Edge on RTE in June 2016 where she trotted out the same mantra.
Ms Steen's article, which took up half a page, partially dealt with a man called Tim Jackson, described as "courageous and dignified". Well, Ms Steen, so were the tens of thousands of young women who marched through Dublin.
Mr Jackson does not have to worry about an unplanned pregnancy, nor will he have to carry a child who is the product of a violent rape. Nor will he be like the women in this country who are forced to carry babies suffering from fatal foetal abnormalities. My advice to Mr Jackson is to concentrate on the problems facing the born. He'd be better served helping Brother Kevin at the Capuchin Day Centre or a similar charity.
I am a man in my 60s and am proud to say my daughter was one of the young women on that march. The future of this country rests with them. They are young, confident and articulate and will not be cowed, unlike previous generations of Irish women - some of whom were treated appallingly by church and State.
A masterpiece from Brendan
Last year I wrote a letter about your columnist, Brendan O'Connor and his few masterpieces in journalism, which you kindly published.
This year, after his Cutting Edge programme (RTE, October 11) with his three wonderful guests, Mary Coughlan, Norah Casey and Frankie Gaffney, I now write to you about his masterpiece in television presenting.
The most exhilarating piece of television one could ever hope to see. Just a fact. End of story.
Glenties, Co Donegal
Making tidy effort is what counts
I wish to take issue with the article by Liam Collins, aka Zozimus, (Sunday Independent, October 1) in which he made, in my opinion, condescending comments with regard to what he termed "distinguished failures" in the Tidy Towns results, listing as examples Shillelagh, Co Wicklow; Johnstown, Co Meath and Newtwopothouse, Co Cork among others, and my local place, Garrienderk, Co Limerick.
Garrienderk cannot aspire to the status of a town or even a village and, as we don't have any historical sites, a rippling river or the backdrop of a scenic mountain, our volunteers have to make do with what we have, which includes pride of place (as no doubt do the other places mentioned). This was demonstrated in one instance by the large turnout of locals earlier this year for the annual Team Limerick Clean-up.
Our volunteers make the best of what is available - an old half-way thatched house, a former railway bridge (where the last posed photo of Michael Collins was taken) a pretty RC church, well-kept homes and gardens and some business premises.
They maintain nearly 6km of grass margin and hedgerow as well as numerous flower displays, and are out in the morning picking up litter discarded from cars and, of course, come across the increasingly anti-social behaviour of fly-tipping.
Maybe we will never be in the top league, but at least we entered and made an effort - and that's what counts. Not everyone can win, but from little acorns do mighty oaks grow.
Like Zozimus, Mr Collins is also blind, this time to the purpose of Tidy Towns, whose slogan is "make your place a better place".
Even Zozimus could "see" the beauty of his local area:
Gather round me, all ye ladies fair,
And ye gentlemen of renown;
Listen, listen, and to me repair,
Whilst I sing of beauteous Dublin town.
There is no rhyme nor reason to the statement at the end of his article: "Tidiness is not everything and we just love the losers' poetic names". Please open your eyes and consider the many volunteers - not losers - who try to better their locality, before engaging pen!
Garrienderk, Co Limerick
Railing against the threats to our trains
I read Carlo Gebler's article "Railing against threat to trains" (Sunday Independent , October 8) with great interest.
While I may travel to Dublin from Killarney by train, provided I am equipped for a freezing stopover connection with the train from Cork, I am at a loss to understand why a rail service calling itself 'Irish Rail' and advertising itself as a national rail carrier does not provide me with a direct connection to Limerick from where I might now travel onwards to Athenry, and soon to Tuam, along the Atlantic corridor. It is difficult why savvy TDs like Michael and Danny Healy-Rae have not campaigned for more rail for Kerry.
Neither can I understand why the huge volume of commuters to Shannon Town from Limerick or Ennis have not been provided with rail services in the restoration of the Limerick to Galway rail line.
Living in Ireland's premier scenic tourist destination, I am more conscious than most about the environmental advantages of rail against road and the financial costs of emission excesses soon to be imposed on Ireland by the EU.
What planet are our political and civic service planners living on, planning more fast lane roads when motor manufacturers worldwide are abandoning petrol and diesel engines ?
Killarney, Co Kerry
Rail restoration calls welcomed
Carlo Gebler's plea for all-Ireland rail restoration [Sunday Independent October 8) is warmly welcomed throughout rural Ireland, particularly in Ireland's 'neglected child', Donegal. Our county has neither road, rail nor air connections with the rest of Ireland fit for purpose in the 21st century.
The proposed upgrading of the N2 will shortly rank alongside the draining of the Shannon among the canards of Irish political promise.
Gebler's plea for at least the retention of existing trunk rail-bed has received official approval in meetings between rail restoration campaigners and senior officials in both Dublin and Belfast administrations.
Delegates from 'In2TheWest', 'WestOnTrack', 'WestUlsterRail Initiative' and the 'AtlanticRailAlliance', on meetings with Minister Shane Ross last February and at two meetings with the late Deputy First Minister McGuinness, were assured the retention of trunk rail-beds throughout Ireland would be prioritised. As pointed out by Carlo Gebler, the delegates had stressed that were this not done it would, inevitably, necessitate expensive repurchase at a future date.
It is encouraging to have the highly-respected Carlo Gebler independently reach the same conclusions. Hopefully he will, before long, be able to travel once again from Derry to Dublin by either rail or upgraded N2.
Brendan Flanagan, Secretary, WURI
Inishowen, Co Donegal
I have always harboured a healthy dislike for politicians, but never before have I been so disinclined to vote for either of the major political parties. Nationally a do-nothing government is telling us we have a rock star economy, which might be true for the political circle of friends, but down here on planet Earth, it's not so.
Most people feel powerless to punish errant or hopeless politicians, but when we get the chance to send a message, we don't. The problem with politics is that it often trumps principles.
There is an increasing disillusionment with politics. This is often called apathy. The powers that be should hope that it is, and not a simmering disillusionment that could go pop.
Budgets are trickle-down economics. Trickle-down economics works - right?
Does it hell! It doesn't do anywhere near enough "trickling" - if anything it's more a "trickle-up" economic system. They mean their economy and their pockets - not ours.
Ennis, Co Clare