* The recent report issued by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has said what many within and beyond Ireland have long felt: that the Vatican protected the perpetrators of child abuse at the expense of the victims.
Weighing up the evidence from across Europe and elsewhere, this conclusion was inevitable. On the heels of the Strasbourg ruling in the O'Keeffe v Ireland case, reflective of the Ryan, Murphy and Clones inquiries into clerical child abuse in Ireland, there are now substantive findings that the Catholic Church, like other religious organisations, perpetuated a code of silence to preserve the reputation of the church and the clergy.
This need not be interpreted as anti-Vatican clergy-bashing but an opportunity for the church to make good on its promises to co-operate with secular authorities on behalf of children.
The underlying issues are too important for the church to now play the part of victim. By removing all paedophiles from its ranks and reporting them to law-enforcement agencies, it helps ensure existing and future school children can be educated and trained in a safe environment.
Rather than seeing inquiry recommendations as undermining the authority of the Vatican, this is the time to place children's welfare above the institutional church because the message so far is that the Vatican has not taken seriously the significance of child abuse and the need to implement robust structures to prevent further instances.
By making concrete changes in the way the church handles abuse cases and putting some muscle into its own commission on child abuse, it has the chance to claim some moral authority and enter a new era in protecting the most vulnerable within its parish.
PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK
NO ANTHEM CHANGE
* On reading Richard Gallagher's letter (February 7), one might be forgiven for thinking that the anthem of Ireland is in some doubt. It is, of course, 'Amhran na bhFiann'. It is not 'Ireland's Call' or any other ditty.
The historic name of Lansdowne Road has been replaced by the name of an insurance company and our national flag appears to have morphed into a mobile phone advertisement. A second draft of our national anthem is not needed and if our proud sporting history is diluted anymore by so-called sponsors, then the Irish rugby team may become unrecognisable.
CEANNT FORT, KILMAINHAM
* The Government announced the establishment of LEO, Local Enterprise Office, with branches embedded in every local authority and 210 dedicated staff to combat the problem of unemployment.
Laudable aspirations but the equivalent of sandbags to combat climate change. There is general agreement that climate change is a reality of the present, which must be adapted to. There is an even greater change occurring in economic activity, certainly in the short term, but the world refuses to acknowledge, adapt to or talk about such things.
Economic activity has changed greatly in the past two centuries; the genius and success of invention and innovation have immeasurably improved the lot of the human race.
Progress has come from subsistence, misery and a struggle for survival to a world of longevity, lush abundance, security and choice. It has been a rollercoaster of ideas, invention, building, production, innovation, work and constant growth.
World population has increased multi-fold and well-being and affluence surpass even the wildest dreams of the most optimistic throughout the ages. But the very success of all that hectic activity is the factor that is bringing that phase of economic activity to a close.
Most, if not all, the ambitions of economics have been achieved. The world can now produce everything it wants or desires in great abundance.
Technology achieved its enormous production power by eliminating dependence on human labour. The tyrant of hard, backbreaking, soul-destroying work is banished forever.
The tragedy and great danger is that as technology improves, an increasing number will never be allowed work at all if the world fails to change its ideology on work. Work to be done has always been the catalyst for creating jobs. Employment precipitated wages and the increasing number who no longer eked out a subsistence living for themselves secured an entitlement to share in the communal wealth of the world.
As long as there was sufficient work, there was adequate employment to sustain coherent society. If we persist with the work/job ideology of history, there will not be enough work. The world must regard employment as a method of distributing wealth with dignity rather than a prerequisite for creating wealth.
TUBBERCURRY, CO SLIGO
BAN ON SLAPPING
* In Miriam Donohoe's article entitled 'Parents need support in raising children, not a ban on slapping them' (Irish Independent, February 7), she asserts (from external research) that children will grow into well adjusted adults if their parents are firm disciplinarians and slapping is done within an authoritative parenting style. However, this is a contradiction in itself.
An authoritative parenting style is defined as one where parents listen to their children, encourage independence and place fair limits and consequences on their children's behaviours. Any discipline under the authoritative parenting style is measured and consistent, it is not arbitrary or violent (Santrock, JW 2007).
If slapping occurs as a common form of punishment then the parenting style can be more accurately described as "authoritarian".
The authoritarian parenting style is obedience-orientated where orders are expected to be followed without explanation. Punishments are used rather than discipline, and the breaking of rules results in immediate punishment. This particular style of parenting often results in children displaying aggression, lower levels of self-esteem and a tendency to associate obedience with love.
Overly punitive responses (including slapping), regularly used within the authoritarian parenting style, do not allow a child to feel nurtured.
The ISPCC wants to see an Ireland where all children are listened to and valued. But what value do we place on our children if we feel the need to slap them in response to our own frustrations at their behaviours?
The ISPCC and the Children's Rights Alliance are calling on the Government to introduce a ban on slapping and to run a positive parenting campaign where parents can access information on the more effective alternatives to slapping.
NATIONAL ANTI-BULLYING CO-ORDINATOR, ISPCC,
LOWER BAGGOT STREET, DUBLIN 2,
* Back in the day, when the gentry were in control and the peasant population got too large to keep under the boot, they would pack a lot of them on to sail ships and transport them to the other side of the planet.
Our island is suffering under a plague of too much water. I suggest the Government should contact hot places where there is a chronic shortage of water and offer to transport tanker-loads of our surplus water to their ports for a reasonable price.
I can see just one snag here: the Government would decide it would be a good idea to call in consultants, who would come up with a report in five years at a cost of zillions that would suggest that it's too early to come to a decision but that we should bring in consultants from abroad.
Then the foreign consultants would finally issue a report, costing trillions, which would state that water cannot be carried in sea-going tankers at this time. And Fianna Fail, putting on a straight face, would accuse the Government of wasting taxpayers' money.
BALBRIGGAN, CO DUBLIN