• Violence against women is a widespread social problem. Yet, for the most part, society, the media, government officials, and criminologists have largely failed to pay heed to the overwhelming maleness of violence.
One year ago, the infamous Steubenville case in Ohio saw an intoxicated female teenager being raped by several acquaintances at a party, urinated on, and subsequently heartily laughed at on a video recording which went viral. Michael Nodianos, a young boy who attended the party, is filmed laughing hysterically, without a glimmer of upset, that the girl was "so raped right now" and that the whole event was the "funniest thing ever".
Around the same time that judgment was delivered in this deplorable case, news broke regarding the suicide in Nova Scotia of 17-year old Rehtaeh Parsons. Rehtaeh suffered a year of incessant bullying after being raped by a group of young men and having a picture of the attack disseminated digitally amongst her peers. Her plight has incited animosity, grief and betrayal amongst people worldwide.
Last Thursday, internet activist group Anonymous released a statement vowing to bring "justice" to Parsons' alleged rapists. Previously, it was declared that despite pictures being circulated by her rapists following the act, there was not enough evidence to make any arrests.
Despite considerable advances for women worldwide, it is an appalling indictment of the global community that highly developed and developing countries alike are producing human beings capable of acting without basic shreds of compassion or respect for others.
While rape is an almost exclusively male-dominated crime, the hateful bullying of Rehtaeh following her attack was not isolated to males, as male and females alike callously shared pictures of their classmate – degraded, vulnerable and abused.
This incident brings into focus issues which need to be embedded in the psyches of Irish children, issues such as rape, bullying and depression which can ruin the lives of teenagers who, it would be hoped, should be enabled to develop as confident, contented and ethical young adults.
Media have failed us
• I want to raise what is, in my opinion, a disservice to the Irish citizen by a media that are more interested in their listenership, readership or viewership than they are in the actual plight of the nation.
Far from being the defenders of our nation, journalism in Ireland has reverted back to type, as it did in the boom – seeking commercial success to the point where its behaviour becomes an integral part of our nation's downfall.
Like the calf that pucks the bucket in a fit of excitement, the Irish citizen is so obsessed with suckling from the teat of the State and so focused on what our country can do for us that we find ourselves out on the streets waving red cards and admiring our outrageous sense of entitlement when instead we should be focused on providing for our country and ensuring that we can meet our social requirements.
We need to wake up and start questioning what we are doing with regard to the export of products and services and how we can earn the money that is needed for this country.
Castleisland, Co Kerry
Matter of priorities
• On a day Minister Frances Fitzgerald announces that there will be further cuts in child benefits, the HSE announce that they will not fund the cost of medicine for people with serious lung disease and we also announce that we will spend millions on a referendum on same-sex marriage. At a time when the country is broke, we are in a serious recession and we are cutting back on everything there is nothing like having your priorities right!
• I had the honour of visiting the 1916 national monument at Moore Street/Moore Lane recently and have yet to fully recover. Suffice to say that it was what can only be described as a "shantytown experience". All protected buildings and structures that form part of the national monument are dilapidated and endangered. The condition of the room where my great-grandfather and five other leaders of the Rising spent their last hours of freedom before their execution is beyond belief. This is where the momentous decision to surrender was taken. This historic room is in a ruinous condition.
The State undertook the preservation of this national monument in 2007. It was, according to its owners Chartered Land, "put beyond use in 2008 in order to protect the buildings". It has not been protected. The concerned relatives of the signatories to the 1916 Proclamation still patiently await a promised meeting with An Taoiseach since Easter 2011.
James Connolly Heron
Ranelagh, Dublin 6
• Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is reported as questioning the amount of time students spend on religious education compared to time spent on science and PE. There is a simple way to increase the physical activity levels of students that does not take up curriculum time, which is to promote cycling and walking to school.
Active travel to school has been shown to be the most effective way of building exercise into children's lives. Yet over 70pc of children in Ireland are driven or take the bus to school. And the percentage of secondary school children that drive themselves to school (2pc) equals the percentage that cycle.
There are a number of low-cost measures that could be taken to encourage cycling to school, such as 30kmh speed limits with better enforcement, parking bans around schools and cycle-skills training for both young people and adults.
Chair, Dublin Cycling Campaign,
Terenure, Dublin 6W
RTE cuts lifeline
• I see RTE has issued a statement saying it is going to charge people from outside of Ireland for watching the 'Sunday Game' online.
I know RTE is short of cash as a lot of people in Ireland do not have a TV anymore so do not pay a TV licence and now watch all their programmes online. So that is where the big cash shortfall comes for RTE.
The director of RTE has stated he is not going to charge people in Ireland to watch online so he is going to make up the shortfall on the backs of us emigrants. It is bad enough having to leave my country – which I dearly miss – but now the lifeline is being taken away.
Rugby tackles GAA
• As a long-time follower of Gaelic football and hurling, I am beginning to wonder if rugby has overtaken GAA as our national sport. Although hardly commanding the same interest along the highways and byways of Ireland, the oval ball code appears to be getting more air cover-age and newspaper space these days.
It was sad to see some holstelries decorating the outside of their premises with flags of the countries in the Six Nations Championship and presently flying banners of the sponsors of other major rugby competitions while refusing to display any support for GAA.
Give me Colm O'Rourke and Pat Spillane ahead of the 'tap and go' man in the 'swanky coat' any day of the week.
An Uaimh, An Mhi