The brave abuse survivors
Sir - What an excellent, thought-provoking and brave article Eamonn Sweeney has written in your paper (Real bravery is surviving abuse, Eric, Sunday Independent, December 4).
Having met many victims of child abuse during my years as a school principal, I am somewhat aware of the torment they go through.
Nobody can be totally empathetic with child abuse survivors except a fellow survivor. To read Eric Bristow's comments and how he uses the word "wimps" to berate the soccer players who have just lately revealed their horrors is very disturbing.
He talks about how darts players would sort the abusers out and how he bets the rugby guys are okay.
How naive and trite are those comments.
If only child abuse survivors could escape from their daily trauma so easily.
I have heard different versions of this solution promoted by many pub experts on the subject.
Eamonn's words in this article come from a very "non-Bristow" place. They show real empathy and understanding, and give hope to any victim who might want to unburden themselves of this unwanted and undeserved weight.
I will keep this article and refer to it often. Maith an fear, Eamonn. Real journalism.
Pat Burke Walsh,
Get spending on cystic fibrosis
Sir - Cystic fibrosis sufferers need proper representation, better than what's been presently offered such as, "We can't afford it", along with Simon Harris with his rat-tat-tat machine gun-type speech of, "it's a rip-off".
The parties involved might do well to remember that Ireland has the highest proportion of cystic fibrosis sufferers in the world. Remember also that the people of Ireland are still in recovery mode from the payback of €64bn, of which we didn't owe a penny, plus the refusal of €13bn the EEC says is due to us - and which this Government refuses to accept in case it might discommode our American friends, who would crawl across the road if they could have their work done cheaper elsewhere.
What is most annoying is that the money, if spent on this drug, would increase so much the quality of life for the sufferers and perhaps increase their longevity, plus it would mean not having to be hospitalised and so saving not alone money but freeing up valuable bed space as well.
Do we have to wait for another blood scandal-type saga where lives were lost and many others ruined. Has money become the Government's god, where the balance sheet is all that matters?
Sad end likely for many greyhounds
Sir - Dog lovers around the country will have breathed a sigh of relief on hearing that the kidnapped greyhound Clares Rocket was recovered safe and well last week.
And they will no doubt take some comfort from the fact that, as a highly valuable asset, Clares Rocket stands some chance of having a half-decent life.
But let's spare a thought for the thousands of healthy dogs who are discarded annually by the greyhound racing and coursing industries. Those who can no longer run fast enough, and those who never made the grade in the first place.
The luckier ones will end up in the country's already overflowing animal shelters and dog pounds. The remainder (excepting those exported to meet their miserable fate in China) will end up in a hole in the ground.
Shocking murder must be solved
Sir — In all the toing and froing, the main issue is a man lost his life. Brian Stack was a prison officer for the country.
The killing is a capital offence and was punishable by capital punishment a number of years ago in this State. Anyone with information on it, by law, must report any knowledge they have of this crime to the authorities.
Hiding behind, “He said”, “We said”, “I know nothing”, or Dail privileges is not the way a party leader, or anyone else, should behave. The dogs in the street know Gerry Adams knows a lot more than he ever says about our “dark times”, when so many innocent people were irreparably damaged or worse.
It is up to all right-minded people to solve this shocking murder, or any other atrocities.
So much is debated about the right to life. Here we have a life that was extinguished way too soon, and not enough is done to solve it after 30 years.
All life is precious.
Eilis has courage to call it as she sees it
Sir — I read with great amusement the article by Eilis O’Hanlon (Michael D Higgins is a President for his comrades, not the whole country, Sunday Independent, December 4).
In my opinion, it was a wonderful article in response to the President’s eulogy of Fidel Castro. It was such a well-written piece — entertaining, humorous and accurate, in my opinion.
Again, Eilis had the courage to call as she saw it, not like some other commentators and politicians who in the past couple of weeks evaded the issue and skirted around the edges.
What Cuba under Castro really was
Sir — The front page always has the latest headlines, but your Hold the Back Page column serves up the actual facts. Eamonn Sweeney’s (Sport, Sunday Independent, December 4) version of the real Cuba under dictator Castro was such reality, rather than the patronising/woolly socialist remarks by our own Michael D, calling the deceased Fidel “a giant among world leaders”.
Castro was not someone to look up to. His human rights record was appalling. Then again, most dewy-eyed lefties were never big on “rights” anyway.
Fate of Christians in the Syria conflict
Sir — As a Middle East historian, I was appalled to read Dr Joseph O’Neill’s inaccurate letter about Syria and Israel (Letters, Sunday Independent, December 4).
He begins by saying that Syria “has been under occupation and attack by the Israeli regime for decades”. Syria has never once been occupied by Israel, nor has Israel ever attacked Syria (though Syria has attacked Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973). And there is no “Israeli regime”, since Israel is one of the strongest democracies in the world.
“Syria had a Christian population of 1pc before the civil war.” It was 10pc. The war has forced 30pc of Syrian Christians to flee the country (and many have been killed by Isil).
More disturbingly, Dr O’Neill writes “Israel has reduced its Christian Palestinian population to less than 2pc, due to its brutal oppression”. In fact, Israel is the only country in the Middle East whose Christian population has grown since 1948 (vastly, by 1,000pc).
There is no oppression of Christians there: this is the only country in the Middle East and far beyond where Christians (like other religious minorities) have complete freedom to worship, to build churches, to retain their holy sites, to vote, and to have complete freedom of speech.
Quite bluntly, there is no “brutal oppression” in Israel, nor ever has been. The Christian populations of Gaza (now zero) and the West Bank have all sunk rapidly. Bethlehem, originally a mainly Christian town, is now predominantly Muslim. This is true for Lebanon and Iraq, too.
Dr O’Neill speaks about Russia and the Syrian regime defending Syria’s “diverse population” “from terrorists funded by the apartheid regime and others”. I assume that by “apartheid regime” he means Israel. There is not a trace of apartheid in Israel and it is doing everything to stay out of the civil war, apart from treating thousands of Syrian refugees in its own hospitals.
Christians are persecuted, slaughtered, and forced into exile across the Arab world and far beyond, and far too little is being done to put an end to it.
Dr Denis MacEoin,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
Homework needed over Israel’s history
Sir — With regard to Dr Joseph O’Neill’s letter (Sunday Independent, December 4), the Israeli Christian community is the only Christian community in the Arab world to have grown since the British left. If the Christians of the Palestinian Authority territories have fallen since Oslo, complain to the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority-lead party “Fatah” is Arabic and basic Semitic eg l’ Fto-ach in Hebrew, for “to open”. In Muslim usage, “Fatah” means the conquest and conversion of a country.
Could those living in tabloid outrage about Israel at least read their homework? Crossroads to Israel by Christopher Sykes or Conor Cruise O’Brien’s The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism are useful and written by contemporaries — witnesses of the events.
Syria has been at war with Israel since 1948; Syria and Egypt opened the 1973 Yom Kippur War. From 1949 to 1967, Syria held a strip of Israel between the Upper Jordan and the 1923 Franco-British mutually agreed frontier.
Syria has no valid cause against Israel — a country that Syria attacked without cause in 1948 and repeatedly since.
Time for ethical debate on genetics
TV actress Sofia Vergara is facing a bizarre lawsuit where her own frozen embryos are suing her. The suit alleges that not allowing the embryos to be born is “depriving them of their inheritance”.
We have reached a critical point in our history. We have become capable of manipulating genes. We can, with all the right ingredients, concoct genetic soup. As genetic links become clearer, we will be able to foresee who will be prone to alcoholism, to cancer, even to obesity.
We are now experimentally treating diseases like cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy with gene therapy. When we succeed, what next? At what price? Imagine cloned versions of our politicians? Our worst nightmare. The genetic revolution will move forward regardless of our readiness, or where humanity is heading.
This raises both moral and practical questions, along with deeper consequences for the individual and society. When does life begin and end? There is no ultimate answer.
A question arises: what is the impact on society? Are we wise enough to restrain the power to alter life? What ethical system should we use? And who, in the end, will make those decisions? Will we be left with no choice? If one can imagine this future, is this a slippery slope?
Should doctors decide which are good genes and which are bad? Will genetic enhancement be as socially acceptable as plastic surgery? The stakes are high and no critic can stop this revolution. What kind of inheritance will we leave for the future? That may be for them to referee, but it is for us to establish at this time.
Reading Joe Brolly with real pride
Sir — I read with pride Joe Brolly’s excellent article on what it is to be a proud GAA follower (Sport, Sunday Independent, December 4).
The GAA at the top is out of touch with the grassroots, trying to be too politically correct.
Referees are human and make mistakes
Sir — I normally enjoy Neil Francis’s rugby articles, as he is a fine writer on the vagaries of rugby union at the highest level.
His intelligent musings are thought-provoking and insightful. However, last week’s article (Sport, Sunday Independent, December 4) was insulting to referees at all levels.
The rugby community depends on the dedication of referees from minis and underage rugby right through to adult level and professional level.
As a community referee for Leinster Rugby, I attend regular referee workshops to improve my game management. Referees are normally appointed to games based on their ability and fitness levels. Poor performances by referees are analysed and can result in a demotion to games of a lower level. Safety and player welfare are the main priorities of most rugby union referees.
Like players, referees are human too and make mistakes.
Inspirational value of ‘transcenders’
Sir — Shane Dunphy (Sunday Independent, December 4) paints a largely very sad but unfortunately very true picture of the long-term effects of child sexual abuse.
He writes about how survivors are 59pc more likely to be arrested as juveniles and 80pc of 21-year-olds on the books of Tusla for childhood sexual abuse present with some degree of psychiatric disorder.
However, at the end of the article, he writes about “transcenders”. These are people who experienced abuse as children but often end up choosing careers to try to ensure any child in their care never has to experience what they experienced and live with its long-term consequences.
These people are truly inspirational because they turn a negative experience for them into a positive.
A very good example of someone like this is Christina Noble. She spent time in an orphanage after her mother died when she was 10, escaped and was gang raped while living rough. As an adult she has devoted her life to working with street children in Vietnam.
Child sexual abuse can have devastating consequences for individuals and it is imperative that everyone educates themselves on this issue to ensure it doesn’t happen.
However, for survivors it is also important for them to realise that it need not define them. They can transcend the experience and even use it to help prevent it happening to the current generation of children.
Trump was right to take Taiwan’s call
Sir — Though not a fan of US President-elect Donald Trump, I am intrigued by the howls of indignation from his country’s political establishment in response to his taking a call from the president of Taiwan.
How dreadful that he spoke to the leader of a state that America severed diplomatic relations with 37 years ago.
I think it is entirely fitting that the leaders of the free world should be on good terms with the one part of China where free and democratic elections are held. President Tsai Ing-wen was chosen by the people of Taiwan. The regime in Beijing has no democratic mandate. It rules by terror and suppresses any hint of dissent. People are imprisoned for opposing the dictatorship, including members and supporters of religious groups who espouse peaceful alternatives to the system.
The dictatorship has bullied many nations into keeping their distance from Taiwan, but not as hideously as it has bullied the people of Tibet, a country China invaded and annexed in 1950.
Tibet’s national identity was destroyed, along with much of its mysterious ancient culture.
Far from avoiding contact with Taiwan, I hope the new US administration will rally to the aid of that fragile democracy and the long-suffering people of occupied Tibet.