Teaching religion is a job that should be left with the parents
Minister Ruairí Quinn wanted to be remembered as the minister who introduced school-based assessment for the Junior Cycle but, as we now know, he failed to achieve his objective.
Now we have Jan O'Sullivan wanting to be remembered as the minister who removed faith-based religious education from the primary schools and introduced a new education programme about Religion, Beliefs and Ethics (ERBE) through the NCCA. Sounds wonderful.
All our children will grow up to be tolerant of all religions, cultures and customs from around the world.
Already, teachers are tackling obesity, sex education, bullying and cyber-bullying, health education, road safety, to mention just a few of the many issues that they have to deal with on a daily basis.
Now they will tackle ERBE.
So what is the answer to this issue? Remove all religious programmes from schools and hand the responsibility for this work back to the parents, who are, after all, according to the Constitution, the prime educators of their children.
However, there is a problem with that solution. Might I be so bold and paint a picture of what our primary schools might look like in 10 or 20 years from now?
We will probably have non-religious state schools and, like our neighbours in the UK, have a large number of private, fee-paying religious schools enrolling the children of the most affluent members of society.
This will, as is the case in the UK, where pupils from these private fee-paying schools have over 80pc of the most influential positions in the state, result in a similar outcome here in Ireland.
Dr David O'Grady
Killarney, Co Kerry
Strengthen Eighth Amendment
I would like to respond to Ivan Yates's column (Irish Independent, November 5). The Eighth Amendment has been very positive for Ireland and should be maintained. The problem is that it is under-resourced and not being used to its full potential.
It has saved the lives of approximately 150,000 people since its introduction and has created a culture where, due to the lives of the unborn child and mother having equal status, Ireland is now a world leader in maternal health.
What is required is more resources to support crisis pregnancies and pregnancies where the child has a life-limiting condition.
More counselling and palliative care are required to create a win-win situation where both mother and child are protected.
Abortion is not the cure, women are six times more likely to suffer depression and feel suicidal after an abortion and 44pc times more likely to have cancer.
For life-limiting-condition pregnancies, it is much better for the physical and mental health of the mother to give birth to the child.
Keep the Eighth Amendment and improve on it. Why remove something that is positive for Ireland?
Blackrock, Co Cork
A good argument undermined
Richard Barton is right to criticise the Minister for Health for the faults of the health service (Letters, November 8).
But his statements that "Ireland is disappearing down the plughole" and "everything is getting worse" do not accord with the facts.
Such exaggerations undermine the merits of the points that he is making in his letter.
Sutton, Dublin 13
Prisoners need rehabilitation
With an election looming and crime figures rising, it would appear that the Government has now decided to give the gardaí additional resources in an attempt to stem the relentless tide of criminal activity.
As welcome as this is, better detection and early prosecution will only ensure that criminals get to the revolving door of our over-populated, antiquated prison system quicker and are back on the streets without having undergone any training or indeed serving their full term, much to the frustration of the gardaí.
It is incredibly naive and a complete waste of taxpayers' money if we as a society expect that putting criminals together in one big building for a period of time, with only a token attempt at rehabilitation, will make those prisoners better people.
In fact, the opposite is true, they become better informed and as a consequence more professional criminals when released.
Many of the prison population were early school leavers. As such, they are poorly educated and have few genuine employment opportunities. To try and redress this imbalance, our prison system must change.
We must invest in proper training and education programmes for prisoners, breaking their reliance on criminal activity to ensure they have the means to make a legitimate living when released.
Building dolls' houses or ships made of lollypop sticks is great as a hobby but you won't make a living from it on the outside.
Let's honour rest, not the banks
Bank holiday weekends are generally accepted as a time for relaxation, fun and entertainment. There are around nine public holidays in Ireland each year, usually observed on Mondays, and they are mostly known as 'bank holidays'.
Why should we celebrate them as such? 'Bank Holiday' is a relic of imperialism and was first introduced by the UK's Bank Holiday Act of 1871.
It's about time that we dumped the name forever and gave our public holidays a more appropriate, positive and relaxing title - ie, siesta or 'leisure day' - for all to enjoy.
We are only too aware of the harsh austerity measures endured over the past four and-a-half years due to the unregulated, irresponsibility of 'banks'. Furthermore, they are now automated to the point that it is almost a privilege to make human contact. They are certainly not places you want to honour during public holiday breaks.
Thurles, Co Tipperary
Seasons are wrong way around
There is supposed to be a season for all things. But now it's warm when it should be cold and it is wet when it should be dry. Liz O'Donnell is correct, we should indeed be concerned about climate change.