The gesture of a great man
Sir - Returning from a mission overseas, I heard of the tragic death of a child. One of the youngest of a large family. The father of this child had also died tragically while on overseas duty with United Nations the previous year. He died on Christmas Eve.
The funeral was intensely sad given those facts.
At the cemetery, as the burial proceeded, a black Mercedes drove in and Liam Cosgrave, the former Taoiseach, emerged.
He saw the military uniforms and diverted in order to pay his respects.
That kind gesture from a great man is my enduring memory of him.
Face of love for me that day
Sir - Tommy Tiernan's article (LIFE, Sunday Independent, October 1) reminded me of an encounter I had last week. I was buzzing around my local supermarket. The last item on my list was unsalted butter; no sign of it anywhere.
I asked a nearby staff member who found it for me.
He was all chat, which irritated me. I was flying tightly wound. Couldn't he see I was in a hurry?
When I came to my senses, I could see he was disabled. I chatted politely then got on with my business.
When I needed assistance to carry my groceries to the car, it was he who was called to help me.
He was so attentive and patient, holding the trolley while I put my shopping in the boot, that I found myself slowing down and calming down. I spent time with him and was the better of meeting him. He was the face of love for me that day. Thank you.
As Tommy pointed out, it's not with the winners and achievers (the nines out of 10s), that real brotherhood is found, but often with the outsiders, those who can't keep up.
Tommy, like Jesus, is counter-cultural and revolutionary. "God blesses those who are poor and realise their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."
Tommy, you are a zero out of 10 - beyond all!
Need to inform on Sinn Fein and IRA
Sir - I have been texting RTE about its regular inclusion of Sinn Fein in radio discussions and many TV programmes on political issues while excluding other public and political persons' views. I am sure other readers of your newspaper have a similar opinion of RTE priorities.
This is because I identify Sinn Fein support for the IRA, who bombed, murdered and even committed rape during their so-called war since the late 1960s until the peace agreement in the 1990s.
The younger generation has not been educated about these atrocities and a number of them unfortunately vote, in their ignorance, for Sinn Fein.
I give my unqualified support to Ruth Dudley Edwards and particularly Eoghan Harris, who regularly identify RTE's continued inclusion of Sinn Fein in TV and radio programmes and discussions.
Wrong to support partition of Spain
Sir - Having in the past found common cause with such regimes as exist in Cuba and Venezuela, the usual 'useful idiots' have now aligned themselves with the cause of nationalist separatism in Catalonia whose aim would lead to the partition of Spain.
Notwithstanding the over-reaction and heavy-handedness of the Spanish police in dealing with the unlawful referendum, the partition of Spain as a political solution is something we in Ireland should be not be urging or supporting, particularly in view of our own unhappy experience of Irish partition.
Need to reach out with great empathy
Sir - I agree with Eilis O'Hanlon in her interesting and balanced article (Sunday Independent, October 1) arguing that the referendum on repeal of the Eighth will not end the abortion debate.
But with regards to a muddled middle on the Sinn Fein/IRA United Ireland question, I'm not sure how there can be a middle ground on whether or not to kill an unborn human being, irrespective of the stage of development in the womb. I accept Eilis's statistics regarding both extremes in the debate, but would like to believe that the middle group are those who want to reach out in empathy with women in trauma with a pregnancy.
Men who are fathers will have empathy as much as women, many of both sexes in the middle will also have sympathy and compassion. Therefore, there should not be a referendum and the €20m saved can go to support those women who feel so desperate about their unexpected pregnancy.
Many women have been helped in these circumstances and have been pleased to welcome their children into the world. God loves all of us sinners, he cares as much for the atheist and agnostic as he does about a diligent follower.
Protection of both mother and baby
Sir - Having participated in many pro-life marches, I cannot recall any receiving the exposure granted to last weekend's pro-choice march, especially by RTE. The pro-life march held in June, which was acknowledged as having between 60,000 and 80,000 taking part, was barely reported. No report was made of it being diverted down along the quays, or of one important speaker, Karen Gaffney, the first Down syndrome person to have received a PhD. By the way, Eilis O'Hanlon (Sunday Independent, October 1) is incorrect to claim that "only a small number of such babies are aborted in Britain". It's more than 90pc.
Having been involved in pro-life for a long time, and kept up to date on matters relating to the protection of life, I was stunned to see Ms O'Hanlon's claim that only 5pc of people are opposed to abortion in all circumstances.
Does her "limited moderate change" equate to some babies being deemed disposable and others not?
Who decides? I thought that practice was rather unpopular after the Nazi regime.
She adds insult to injury with reference to "Catholic induced ignorance".
As a knowledgeable Catholic on this subject, I take grave offence at that. Just because a foetus, or little one, is just a small cluster of cells to begin with, although with a heartbeat at 21 days, does it not deserve protection; and to suggest that it should be easy to accept abortion at this stage rather than later, smacks of cover-up, and I thought we were no longer willing to accept cover up but only total transparency.
What is wrong with the protection of both mother and baby in the Eighth Amendment, and which has saved very many lives?
What is right with the deliberate killing of a baby in the womb? How have we come to a point where it is being offered as admirable to kill an unborn baby?
With all the hype engendered by the slogan "repeal the Eighth", you would think it was something to strive for. I wonder how many who shout this slogan realise what it entails and the consequences of repealing the amendment?
Should it be repealed we will end up like Britain where up to 200,000 abortions take place annually and with little hope of rowing back on this practice. Ms O'Hanlon referred to sex selection abortions. Efforts were made last year to have them banned but without success. It is more than strange that no criticism is ever made of this practice despite the fact, alluded to by Ms O'Hanlon, that most are female babies.
Of course, any rowing back on this might undermine the whole multi-million abortion business.
Mary Stewart (Mrs),
Being denied a say about their bodies
Sir - Last weekend, I travelled from Kerry to Dublin to join 40,000 other people for the Abortion Rights Campaign's annual March for Choice. While it was a demonstration about a serious issue, it was conducted with amazing positivity. There was humour, colourful costumes, witty homemade banners, enthusiastic chants and, pervading it all, a wonderful sense of camaraderie.
The positivity confused me. So many of the women there had tragic stories of being denied healthcare in Ireland.
So many have been subjected to vicious online abuse; so many have spent a lifetime being denied a say about their own bodies.
From the moment a woman is pregnant to the moment she gives birth, her doctors will decide what medical interventions she will receive and which will be denied. And unless she gets a sympathetic doctor or nurse, who with a nod and a wink point her towards Liverpool, she must endure her fate. Accept her role as a constitutionally appointed vessel. For this is what is mandated by the Eighth Amendment.
I don't understand why women haven't burned this country to the ground for what it has, and continues to do, to them. Yet the women who insist that they are more than mere vessels, that they are more than the foetuses they may carry, the women who insist on control of their own bodies, continue to be dismissed as strident and shrill.
Yes, I really don't understand why women haven't burned this country to the ground as they are criticised for using the democratic system to defend themselves from a Constitution that seeks to reduce and restrain them.
Paul WS Bowler,
What does and does not matter
Sir - I witnessed some of last weekend's "pro-choice" parade in Dublin. One marcher's placard that stood out for its direct message and succinct slogan simply declared: "I matter." The same slogan, however, seems rather relevant as well in the case of pre-born persons whose self-evident humanity is often overlooked by many.
Last, the marcher's message above may find an echo for some in Mrs Thatcher's endorsement of individualism: "There is no such thing as society."
Fund for public service pensions
Sir - There are 300,000 public service workers and a average of €10 per worker per week paid into a pension fund would amount to ¤3m per week.
The accumulation of millions of euro in a pension fund would mean that the pension fund could purchase the Garda stations, the schools, the hospitals and rent them back to the State. This would mean that the transaction would go in a social circle from the public service worker to the fund, to the State and back to the pensioner.
The pension fund would not be involved in the day-to-day running of these institutions. If we are going to plug the pension hole, we need to embrace innovative ideas now.
Sir - Why does the opposition always have the best memories and the best solutions for all problems being encountered by the then present Government?
Self-destruction of the amateur status
Sir - Joe Brolly and Colm O'Rourke appear to be somewhat in tandem with their debilitative excoriation of things GAA. While they offer contrasting takes on the 'state-of-play' (Sport, Sunday Independent, October 1), the sum of their points bodes bleak, very bleak.
If it's not the increasingly acute 'club-county' conundrum, it's the ongoing corporate aggrandisement of the association by anything but stealth. Both pundits offer absolute accuracy in their respective commentaries, which collate a testament of inevitable self-destruction of the voluntary and amateur status of the games as we have known them.
Draining the life out of the once-pervasive community dynamism, the so-called 'powers-that-be' are allowing the ball to be dropped, and kicked out of the park. Gradually the whole shebang is being sacrificed to 'corporatised elitism'.
For sure, the Croke Park stadium has been a phenomenal achievement. But from the moment it was conceived, initiated and delivered, the whole community amateur status of the games began transmogrifying into a mega-corporate proposition, which had to be constantly cultivated to keep the top-end echelons fully lubricated, while the rank and file had to swallow the dregs.
The recent pattern of prostituting the television rights to a 'pay-for-view' template, for a ruthless worldwide Machiavellian broadcast outfit, belies and betrays the spirit, ethos and innate sensibility which were at the traditional beating heart of the community. This decision alone betrays a symbolic derisory disrespect of the wonderful weave of community energy which has hitherto kept the whole show on the road.
Add to that, the distorting over-dominance of county development squads from early teen-years onwards, and the ridiculous (nay, scurrilous) training demands foisted on both these young players and senior county squads is an imploding inevitability. What with some teams training on Christmas morning, it has become a sure-bet harbinger for gradual self-destruction, which will play out over time... and short time, too. An authentic amateur community sport cannot possibly survive such exponential onslaught.
This all cultivates a fundamental 'win-at-all-costs' mentality, which is now de rigueur for any 'self-respecting' team. Such a philosophy does little for community or societal well-being, with a 'do-anything-you-can-get-away-with' core theme of cheating gamesmanship and off-the-ball shenanigans.
We have seen plenty of this carry-on in big matches over the past few years. People claim a robust physical game is always going to 'overflow', but it has all gone beyond that to almost empty all sportsmanship out of the game.
Perhaps, there may yet be a 'Damascene' conversion to halt the decline, and prevent the games from going over the cliff-face. Let's hope so.
We'll pray to St Paul for same!
Lismore, Co Waterford
Profiting from success in the GAA
Sir - I notice (Sport, Sunday Independent, October 1) Colm O'Rourke and Joe Brolly are unanimous in criticising Colm Cooper for profiting from his success as a GAA player with a testimonial dinner.
Is it not a bit hypocritical, given both Brolly and O'Rourke have profited for years on the name they made in the GAA, from their Sunday Game punditry and newspaper columns?
Speaking for the hotel early-risers
Sir - There are too many parents getting up uneasily at daybreak through lack of sleep, to get the children to school, as they live in these desperate days of being a family of hotel-room homeless.
Does Leo Varadkar speak for those early-risers, also?
Bantry, Co Cork