True cost of €4bn bill for landlords
Sir - I want to respond to Philip Ryan's article on government spending on housing supplements (Sunday Independent, June 3).
It is heartening to see Fianna Fail's housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien starting to act as an opposition spokesman should. His unearthing of the Government's reliance on private landlords for a temporary solution to the housing and homelessness crises is important. The figures need to be presented as 'Three Billboards Outside the Dail' on a daily basis.
This redirection of €4bn of public funds does represent an ideological shift. It levers the resources of the State in the direction of the private sector. This is not for a long-term public solution but for a short-term private solution that ensures the problem continues.
These figures showing the full extent of rent supplements and schemes at least partly explain the way Irish society appears to be casting a cold eye in the last decade on the plight of homeless people and asylum seekers: many people benefiting from the misfortune of others.
Dr Geraldine Mooney Simmie,
Senior lecturer in Education,
Faculty of Education & Health Sciences,
University of Limerick
Liam Howley is the man to praise
Sir - Paul Kimmage (Sport, Sunday Independent, June 3) questions the track record of O'Dwyers GAA club Balbriggan with regard to treating juvenile mentors and players.
I have been living in Balbriggan since 1975 and was a teacher in one of the parish schools for 38 years, for eight of which I was the principal. I am also a former player, secretary, manager of the senior football team and committee member of O'Dwyers.
O'Dwyers are celebrating 100 years this year and over that time have contributed enormously to the community of Balbriggan. Many volunteers have given selflessly to the development of children, adolescents and adults. O'Dwyers have always had a positive holistic policy in this regard.
No one has contributed more to this development than the present chairman of the club, Liam Howley, and his family. For decades they have unselfishly committed themselves to the greater good of the Balbriggan area. At no stage in his article does Mr Kimmage recognise this huge commitment. Hence, I would like to put it on record.
President Higgins is a true patriot
Sir - President Higgins is worthy of his elevated position as representative of all of the Irish people. A case in point is his reception for the Magdalene Laundry ladies at the Aras. His speech to the women was moving and indeed hard-hitting at the State policies which allowed mistreatment of citizens.
Michael D Higgins continues to show, and from his first day in office, that he is indeed a true patriot.
Anthem for the women of Ireland
Sir - There is talk once more about the national anthem and if it should be in Irish or English.
My advice is to scrap it and change it to that beautiful piece of music Mna na hEireann or Women of Ireland, written by our best ever composer Sean O Riada, based on a poem by Ulster poet Peadar O Doirnin.
In tribute for all the terrible wrong we inflicted on them for decades. It would be a wonderful tribute to them. Don't you agree?
Church must hand back schools
Sir — As the Catholic bishops recover from the shock of abortion referendum results, there is perhaps an even bigger shock on the way. The exit polls show only 65pc of those in the 24-35 year age group consider themselves to be Catholics.
This is the age group from which future Catholic children are expected to be produced. But will they?
In this age group, only one in eight attends Mass once a week or more, while three out of four attend Mass only a few times a year (presumably on family occasions) or hardly ever, or never. Things are not much better in the 35-49 age group, the group in which most parents of current school-going children are likely to fall. Here, fewer than one in four attends weekly Mass, while six out of 10 attend occasionally or never.
The result is that in most Catholic classrooms, children who attend weekly Mass are in a minority, ranging from one in three on average to perhaps one in five in well-heeled Dublin areas to one in 10 in deprived urban districts. The 10 or 12 years spent on “Faith Formation” in Catholic schools appears to be pointless, as four out of five school-leavers seem to shed religion with their second level uniforms. They have the lowest level of religious practice in any age group.
Given that there is no support for religious practice in the vast majority of Catholic homes, where are the priests of the future going to come from? Already, the seminaries are almost empty, and without change this will only get worse. So what is to be done?
One way is to make Catholic schools truly Catholic again, where the majority of parents either bring or send their children to Mass and where there is real support for religious practice in the home. This can only be done by consolidating practising Catholic families into real Catholic schools — and letting go of the rest.
The Catholic Church should forget about its property rights — it has absolutely nothing to do with whether a school-leaver decides to attend Mass or not. But if it controls less than half the schools it can make a case for limiting admission to its schools to practising Catholics — because there will be State-run alternatives. Of course the Church can insist that Catholic instruction will be available in released, State-run schools, for those who wish to avail of it.
So the solution is simple, but painful. The Church should give back most Catholic schools to the State — after all, the State paid for almost all of them, anyway.
The current situation, where 90pc of the population has no choice but to send their children to a Catholic school, is killing the Church. It needs to free itself from this situation, by letting go of most of its schools.
In any event, survey after survey shows that most parents want non-denominational education for their children. And the days when people could be dictated to by the Catholic Church are over.
Mithered with Tommy T
Sir — Tommy Tiernan shows compassion and a genuine interest in helping others in his column (LIFE, Sunday Independent, June 3). And it was funny, too, of course! Even for the word ‘mithered’ alone it was funnily apt because, of course, we all are, most especially after trying to type that very word in a letter where spellcheck is determined to change it to ‘withered’ and just… won’t... give up! At this stage ‘withered’ is apt, too.
But I worry about Tommy T and his generosity… these days, for some people, nothing is ever enough. I worry people will resent him for choosing to take a paying gig to provide for his family instead of constantly flogging himself in the name of charity. It happens. It’s okay to get paid for what you do. It’s okay to make a living — or indeed a profit.
Mr T is, of course, correct — “we can all do something” — and I hope that people continue to do what they can and take inspiration from his generosity. I hope that the large amounts of money he raises for charity are appreciated by those it makes a difference for.
We can also support each other in other ways, too, and I will look forward to paying to see his gig this summer — I presume he has worked hard on it! Best of luck with the fundraising and continued success in his profession, too.
Why pro-life still has vital role to play
Sir — Jody Corcoran (Sunday Independent, June 3) provides the best analysis I have seen of why the Yes vote in the recent abortion referendum was so comprehensive. When faced with a binary choice, the vast majority of the undecided voters went for Yes in the end. These are people who would normally consider themselves pro-life but in the overall scheme of things felt there were too many holes in the absolutist pro-life arguments.
As a pro-life advocate I never gave due recognition to certain realities in this debate. If a woman is determined to have an abortion she will have it whether legally in another jurisdiction or illegally here. In fact in a previous referendum we voted to explicitly allow women to travel abroad to have terminations which was hypocritical. I never recognised either the hard cases of rape/incest or fatal foetal abnormalities where some women in these situations just cannot go ahead with their pregnancies. The undecided voters grappled with these issues and in the end reluctantly voted Yes. Compassion and respect for the woman surpassed their pro-life views.
Despite being an absolutist pro-life advocate I accept the result of the referendum. If there weren’t people like me or the undecided voters there would never have been a need for the referendum in the first place as the original provision would never have been inserted into the Constitution 35 years ago.
In the intervening years a sea change in people’s attitudes to abortion has occurred. Time will tell what the end result will be but this won’t begin to become apparent for at least five years. We reap what we sow.
I still believe it is possible for pro-life people like me to continue to advance our views in this new Ireland.
We all have the right to say No
Sir — Gene Kerrigan is entitled to his views on abortion (Soapbox, Sunday Independent, June 3). He is also entitled to his views on religion and the Catholic Church. However, he is not entitled to lecture 33.6pc of the Irish electorate who voted No in the Eighth Amendment referendum.
His assumption that the 723,632 people who voted No did so at the behest of the Catholic Church is without foundation and is no more than an exercise in opportune journalism. His claim that most of the Fianna Fail TDs voted in the Dail against having the referendum is factually incorrect, when a majority of them voted in favour of having a referendum. Also, the three
Fianna Fail members on the Eighth Amendment Oireachtas Committee proposed the adoption of the report for abortion up to 12 weeks.
Of course, Mr Kerrigan is entitled to his views or to wear whatever party political hat he chooses, but he is not entitled to rant stuff that’s factually incorrect or to lecture down to a sizeable segment of the Irish people who voted No.
Sir — Martin Long, of the Catholic communications office (Letters, Sunday Independent, June 3), says people of faith will suffer because of the Tom Halliday cartoon. Surely it’s nothing (according to Christian and Muslim belief) to the everlasting torture these blasphemers will receive in the next life. You would think it would be more than enough of a penalty for believers, if they believe what they say they do.
Your punchline went too far
Sir — When is an apology not an apology? When given by cartoonist Tom Halliday (Letters, Sunday Independent, June 3)? It is no harm to once again point out that abortion is not a religious matter but is denying the most basic human right to the most vulnerable of all, the baby in the womb. Mr Halliday admits the caption he used refers to ‘a well-known phrase from the pro-choice movement’ but I wonder if he is aware of the venom used in uttering this phrase as the thousands of pro-life people walked down O’Connell Street during the many pro-life rallies.
So, Mr Halliday, your cartoon did trivialise what is held dear
by so many Irish people and demonstrated an unacceptable level of intolerance in what
is now supposed to be a compassionate and tolerant society,
and was not ‘fair comment’ as you claim.
Mary Stewart (Mrs),
Luck on Tom’s side
Sir — Given the reaction to Tom Halliday’s cartoon (Letters, Sunday Independent, June 3) he is lucky not to be living in Iran, or in years gone by under the Spanish Inquisition.
Insult to believers
Sir— I would like to express my dissatisfaction at the cartoon by Tom Halliday (Sunday Independent, May 27) showing a surgeon removing Rosary beads from a woman saying “surgery complete now that the obstruction is removed”.
This has been a serious insult to me and fellow believers who think that the paper has stooped very low to pretend that a cartoon would be considered funny, whereas the real intention it seems is an endless, relentless and bullying attack on people of faith, particularly Catholics.
Humour can be used in many wholesome ways but mocking believers is simply inexcusable. While Mr Halliday has offered an apology (Sunday Independent, June 3), what is the paper offering to recompense the mistrust of some readers?
Protect our clinics
Sir — During campaigning on the referendum to repeal the Eighth we were treated to the type of pro-life methods employed in the US by the Irish Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.
Although I don’t believe it will find support in Ireland, I
believe it is vital that Minister Harris enforces protest exclusion zones around our clinics and hospitals. This type of harassment cannot be allowed.
Sir — I always enjoy reading Eoghan Harris but the referendum result has gone to his head. Either that or he’s joined The Irish Times/RTE groupthink. Perhaps he needs to read his colleague Eilis O’Hanlon’s article on people’s right to their opinion and representation. Don’t let the Church’s faults blind you to fairness and tolerance.
Write on, Fiona
Sir — The Sunday Independent has indeed a great selection of columnists. Good people are the strength of any business. Fiona O’Connell is one such person writing her wonderful Lay of the Land article every week. Her latest article (‘It’s not just the fair sex who suffered unfairly,’ Sunday Independent, June 3) reminds us of the many dreadful injustices that happened in equal measures to men, women and children. She reminds us of the brutality inflicted on the poor boys and men incarcerated in Ireland’s County Homes, who ended up as farm labourers hired out to farmers “for nothing”.