So, we’re all Charlie – he would have loved the attention
The shootings at Charlie Hebdo were undoubtedly a major crime against humanity and reflect very badly on the Islamic extremists who perpetrated the attack.
The implications for future relations with the Islamic world can only be guessed at and one can only hope that the view of the majority of Islam's followers, who practise tolerance towards their fellow human beings, will prevail over that of these lunatics.
While the situation is sad and dangerous, like all such affairs it's not without a certain black humour.
Being called a 'Charlie' is usually far from being a compliment, yet it seemed the whole of France, and a large part of the civilised world, were carrying placards reading "Je suis Charlie" after the shootings.
At the same time in Ireland, the most talked-about programme is 'Charlie', a TV drama about Charlie Haughey while he was Taoiseach of this country.
Not too many people were going around carrying placards supporting the scandal-ridden Haughey but the situation was still ironic, as Haughey was a Francophile par excellence.
With his dark sense of humour, our Charlie would have got an ego boost from it if he were still alive.
Isn't it strange how words mean different things to different people?
Perhaps the pen is mightier than the sword after all. Somebody once said that God has a sense of humour. If these words prove anything, they are right.
Coolock, Dublin 17
Our historical debt to Islam
The growing perception within the last 30 years of a so-called "clash of civilisations" should not obscure our historical indebtedness to the Islamic world.
While Europe languished in the Dark Ages, a Golden Age of learning flourished further east.
The international language of science was Arabic and Baghdad's House of Wisdom contained the largest repository of books in the world.
The arrival of Islamic scholarship in Spain via North Africa reintroduced the lost works of the ancient Greeks to Europe and brought advances in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, literature, art and theology.
This laid the foundation for the Renaissance in the 14th Century, out of which evolved the 17th Century Enlightenment principles of justice, fairness and autonomy that underpin modern European values.
These values allow people with profoundly different views to co-exist peacefully within a socio-legal framework that protects them all equally.
This is one of the greatest achievements of recent history in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, where countries have had to overcome centuries of violent discord to create a peaceful union.
The founding principle for this progress has been the goal of co-operation and mutual respect among all citizens, regardless of race, creed, politics or nationality.
This is a challenging goal that requires on-going reflection, debate and negotiation but as a cornerstone of democracy, it is one that we must never lose sight of.
Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Out of step with democracy
What does the following fact say about the Irish people?
Some 100,000 protest in Dublin over water charges, while 4,000 protest a violent attack on the freedom of the press and a violent act of anti-Semitism.
Where were the voices of Ireland's leading unions, left wing politicians, academics, civil rights organisations, anti-war groups and 'community activists'?
A lot can be learnt from both these marches and none of it bodes well for a healthy, vibrant democracy.
Vincent J Lavery
Irish Free Speech Movement, Coliemore Road, Dalkey, County Dublin
Importance of satire in society
Satire can be a dangerous game - but we must defend it.
The recent events in Paris have thrust satire into the international headlines.
From the depictions of the Prophet Mohammed in the Danish 'Jyllands-Posten' newspaper to the killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by Muslim extremists.
The killing of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo offices came as a shock to the general public.
These were regular people going about their jobs - but the ramifications of which can get you shot in cold blood. Satire can be seen as the mirror in which a society reflects on its current moral position.
Sometimes, when there are no other options left, it can be the only way to illuminate the wrongs of a corrupt nation's elite and the only safe way to hold powerful politicians accountable.
Take, for instance, Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal', in which he highlights the hypocrisy of Britain's attitude to the Irish poor.
The work highlighted the plight of the Irish whilst cunningly pointing the finger at the British establishment.
But let us not get lost too much in the philosophical or theoretical constructs here.
Sometimes satire serves to get a simple laugh through the use of irony, toilet humour and outlandish slander, but, if it makes a few people open their eyes a bit more, sends a message to the masses or even makes one person's day a bit brighter, well, isn't it worth it?
The stamp of foolishness
I write to record my utter disgust and bafflement at An Post's recent decision to relocate the Listowel post office at a site so far away from its current central location, a location that has facilitated the business and social needs of the local population for many a long year. You have offered no convincing rationale for moving the post office. To say that this decision is foolhardy, erroneous, stupid and totally unwarranted is an understatement.
Incredibly, it seems to have eluded you that this most inconsiderate decision will cause hardship and inconvenience to many, but especially to elderly people. What input did the local population or the business people of the town have in your consideration?
Without fully canvassing the views of the public - inevitably this is the hallmark of those who have lost touch with the grassroots - you have made a significant blunder.
If you have the wit or courage to reverse this inconsiderate decision, I suggest you do so at the earliest opportunity.
I have rarely witnessed such unanimity of offence and disappointment in Listowel over a local matter.
You have without doubt ripped the heart out of our town and greatly disheartened the local community. I urge you to reverse this decision and end this nonsense now!
Aidan Ó Murchú
Address with editor
Cracking the code, as Gaeilge
I note that the new Eircode postal code examples include the letters W and K. These, along with J, Q, V, X, Y and Z, at least up to my Leaving Cert 1968 Irish exam (mediocre pass), didn't exist in the Irish language alphabet. Will Gaelic users be obliged to change keyboards for the address section of correspondence, or, will each ad dress have a facility to alter their code to exclude the offending letters?
Perhaps a 10pc postage price reduction for writing the address "as bhéarla"? Just wondering, I'm sure the powers that be have it all in hand.
Carrig on Bannow