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Watch out for subtle signs of coercive control and get help

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Dean Ward was jailed last week at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for 17 years for raping and coercively controlling a woman

Dean Ward was jailed last week at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for 17 years for raping and coercively controlling a woman

Dean Ward was jailed last week at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for 17 years for raping and coercively controlling a woman

Sir — Coercive control has recently been highlighted in a much-needed public way.

Recent appalling events have brought this emotive subject into the public sphere and triggered an overflow of abhorrence in the media regarding this conduct. But this behaviour has been here — hidden in society — for far too long.

I spent much of my working life as a clinical psychotherapist, assisting victims of such manipulative behaviour.

Coercive control is a pattern of oppressive behaviour which is intended to control another human being by stripping away their sense of self.

In addition to the physical and emotional abuse, many victims often face tactics from their tormentor in which they are isolated by their abuser.

Another common stratagem is for the controller to work on making their victim feel guilty for spending time with family and friends.

Can you imagine a greater, more confined hell, than to live in fear of one’s own partner?

It’s heartening to hear that An Garda Síochána is taking this horrendous crime very seriously. Many high-ranking officers last week spoke with great sensitivity, compassion and kindness towards the victims of coercive control.

It gives us reason to hope we will see our police continue to work with all state agencies, as well as with the victims of this shameful crime in ensuring the necessary evidence is gathered to bring perpetrators to justice. Many of these abusers are narcissistically manipulative and it can sometimes be painstakingly difficult in achieving a conviction. It important to ensure the necessary evidence does not rely totally on evidence of physical violence.

The evidence has to come from a broad mix of the manipulator’s behaviour.

Examples of the offenders conduct would be: isolating their victim from friends and family; depriving that person of basic needs, perhaps dictating their diet, or monitoring their time. It could also involve the perpetrator keeping a close eye on their victims’ communications — online or in-person.

As a society, we should all try to keep an eye on family members and friends. If something doesn’t feel right, if you sense someone may be in such a situation, listen to your intuition — and encourage these poor souls to get qualified psychological help. And maybe more.

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John O’Brien, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Medics and teachers owe debt to taxpayers

Sir — I wonder if a way of resolving the problem of shortages of teachers, doctors and nurses ever occurred to anyone in the Government. For what it’s worth, here is my suggestion: Stop training the large numbers of teachers, nurses and doctors for the export market.

Or ensure a financial return from those trained/educated by taxpayers. Naturally, the US, Australia and Middle Eastern countries are delighted to take on our graduates as it doesn’t cost them anything.

Graduates could also be asked to sign up to stay working in Ireland for perhaps three years.

Of course, no one in authority will pay a blind bit of notice to my suggestion.

Jim Walsh, Dublin 6

Clarke well deserves his own reprimand

Sir — I’d love to know what Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe thinks of former Chief Justice Frank Clarke being sworn in as a judge in the Dubai International Financial Court.

The UAE is a country where women, LGBT persons and migrant workers are discriminated against and where judicial flogging and stoning are still permissible.

I would suggest Mr Justice Woulfe cuts and pastes from the letter former Chief Justice Clarke sent him about Golfgate and, after increasing the font size and underlying it in bold, sends it to his former colleague: “I am required, therefore, to reprimand you in respect of your conduct.”

A case of poetic justice.

Chris Fitzpatrick, Terenure Road East, Dublin 6

Modesty and chastity still have their place

Sir — Eilis O’Hanlon’s article (‘Don’t consent to propaganda disguised as sex education’) in last week’s Sunday Independent skilfully reveals the new Junior Cycle’s “relationships and sexuality” education programme to be a fast track for promoting gender theory and an “anything goes” attitude.

What it will not tell pupils is that choices have foreseeable consequences and consent has a context that normally grooms the individual toward a predetermined outcome.

What children need above all else is a sense of their own worth, their dignity and a value system in which virtues such as modesty and chastity have their place.

This is so much more important than what is on offer: reliance on skillsets in a sea of moral ambivalence, information overload and a consumeristic approach to our sexuality.

Gearóid Duffy, Lee Road, Cork

Irish sex education decades out of date

Sir — I couldn’t disagree more with Eilis O’Hanlon’s opinion piece (July 24).

Ireland’s sex education is decades out of date. This update to the curriculum is badly needed.

As for the assertion that consent isn’t “the be all and end all” and morality has to play a role, I’m frankly not sure what to make of that. Whose morality?

You’re on very dangerous ground if a school is going to teach what kinds of sex are “right” and “wrong”.

That approach belongs firmly in the last century.

Councillor Gearóid Murphy, Mallow, Co Cork

Morality tales can’t replace the truth

Sir — Eilis O’Hanlon (July 24) worries about young people being “on the front line of an ideological war” and outside experts “draped in a thin cloak of secular expertise” being brought in to secondary schools to teach about sex, sexuality and gender.

For decades, outside agencies — some with no more qualification than the approval of a bishop — have been invited and allowed into our schools to present morality tales dressed up as sex education.

Thousands upon thousands of children have passed through the school system without learning the truth about their own bodies and feelings. Enough.

It’s time to provide children with honest, factual information, delivered in an open, age-appropriate manner. Enough of pretending that homosexuality and trans people do not exist. Enough of pretending we can ban the internet and prevent young people accessing pornography.

Let’s treat our children with the respect they deserve and equip them with the tools they need to negotiate the realities of life and love.

Enough scaremongering.

Bernie Linnane, Dromahair, Co Leitrim

When Cribbins floored Basil Fawlty

Sir — Ah, Bernard Cribbins RIP, the insanely fussy guest in Fawlty Towers who stretches Basil’s obsequiousness beyond the limit.

Following the hotelier’s ‘insult’, Cribbins’s character tells Basil he is “not a violent man” — and then proceeds to knock the hotel owner to the ground.

“Stand up like a man,” he says, and lands another one.

They don’t make them like that any more — he will be missed.

Oliver McGrane, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

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Liz Truss is fighting Rishi Sunak to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and be British Prime Minister

Liz Truss is fighting Rishi Sunak to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and be British Prime Minister

Liz Truss is fighting Rishi Sunak to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and be British Prime Minister

Can Truss mend our relations?

Sir —I have just discovered that Liz Truss’s married name is O’Leary (she is married to a Hugh O’Leary), so could it possibly be good for Anglo-Irish relations if we had a UK prime minister married to a man possibly of Irish extraction?

Paul Kent, Dundrum, Dublin 16

Debate required on rising national debt

Sir — Dan White (in your business section) and Colm McCarthy (in the news section) wrote last week about the difficulties ahead for heavily indebted eurozone countries, such as Ireland and Italy.

McCarthy points out that “it isn’t possible, without borrowing, for any government in a country which must import costlier energy to compensate everyone for the squeeze on living standards”.

The opposition, and, indeed, many on the government backbenches either see no problem or else don’t care about the dangerous scale of national debt in a rising interest rate environment.

There is no shortage of politicians who would throw taxpayers’ money at everything.

In the lead-up to the crash of 2008, the opposition of the time didn’t hold the government to account about excessive public spending and borrowing. In fact, like now, they were calling for even higher expenditure.

There is an absence of rigorous debate. As McCarthy says: “This could end badly.”

Pat O’Mahony, Westport, Co Mayo

Second Division risks being a loser

Sir — At last week’s annual general meeting of the FAI, the decision was taken to introduce a third division to the current League of Ireland structure next year (it will be named the Second Division).

Running a League of Ireland club at any level is a very costly business and is likely to become more so in the future with the increased levels of inflation and the general increase in prices.

In the last number of decades we’ve seen a number of clubs go. Monaghan United, Galway Rovers, Salthill Devon, Mervue United, Cork United/Athletic/Hibernians, Albert Rovers, Cork Alberts, Newcastle West, Thurles Town, Limerick/United/City/FC, Evergreen United, Kildare County, EMFA, Kilkenny City, Drumcondra, Transport, Home Farm/Everton/Fingal, St James’s Gate, St Francis, Dublin City, Sporting Fingal and Cabinteely (who amalgamated recently with Bray) have all departed the League of Ireland scene.

The question must be asked: Where will at least another eight or nine clubs (a vacancy already exists in the current First Division) come from that they will have the necessary support and financial backing to be viable propositions in the league?

James Healy, Galway

Remove legal barriers to nuclear power now

Sir — It is likely the lack of wind last summer, leaving us reliant on coal generation at Moneypoint, was influenced by climate change. It is irresponsible to ignore the probability we will miss our new 80pc renewable electricity target by 2030.

As demand rises and more data centres are built, we will be ever more dependent on high-carbon natural gas. And there is a likely scarcity of gas once energy ties with Russia are cut.

In this deteriorating energy situation, there should be a countrywide consideration of nuclear energy. Immediately. And the Government should remove legal barriers to Irish nuclear power generation, while examining the most suitable small reactors for development.

This would allow sufficient time to begin organising a small proportion of nuclear to come on to the grid by the mid-2030s.

If we wait until 2030 before we belatedly accept that we can never achieve our renewable targets, it will be a further 10 to 15 years before nuclear power can supply the grid.

Anne Baily, Ballyneale, Co Tipperary

Just faint praise for a vexing climate truth

Sir — Eamon Ryan’s point that there were no winners or losers following last Thursday’s agriculture emissions target agreement reflects, perhaps, the reality on the ground.

It certainly reflected what appeared to be a lack of enthusiasm to oversell the agreement by senior and junior ministers outside Dublin Castle. The exactness of a 51pc emissions target by 2030 for all sectors fools us into thinking that is a manageable game we can win by playing the long game.

There was an unspoken sense of loss and betrayal — both for the climate and for our under-pressure farmers. Compromise is not a friend when there should be only one winner.

Agreeing emission targets should have been the easy part of the equation, with the plan and the transformative action the real challenges now facing Ireland in the next few years.

It’s clear this climate revolution we have reluctantly embarked on is going to involve a lot of pain, and lorryloads of dough, to make theory a reality. Perhaps the pandemic was nature’s way of preparing us for what’s ahead.

Aidan Roddy, Cabinteely, Dublin 18

Order is restored in the Kingdom

Sir — Here’s to Fossa’s King David and his fearless warriors, who last week restored the Kingdom to its rightful place after eight long years.

Not a single spud was dug during the week. Not a fishing boat left harbour. Not a single tourist was fed as we basked in the reflected glory of our heroes’ achievement. The business of the past week was celebration and high spirits. We have been elevated to the top of a mountain higher than Carrauntoohil. All is good in the Kingdom.

Now, please God, our ladies team will deliver against Meath in the senior football final. We’d love another week of the good life.

Billy Ryle, Spa, Tralee, Co Kerry

Trimble showed the way forward in 1975

Sir — Amid the comprehensive coverage of the late David Trimble, what seems largely forgotten is his stand in 1975 within the then Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party in the Constitutional Convention in Stormont for a cross-community Voluntary Emergency Coalition with the SDLP as an imaginative alternative to the compulsory power-sharing of the Sunningdale model.

At that time nobody else — in either unionist or nationalist circles, or in their own Vanguard Party itself — had the courage or the vision to take up that challenge.

Maybe it is now time to revisit his radical 1975 model. After all, Stormont still remains in total deadlock, so why not replace compulsory power-sharing with voluntary coalitions?

Tom Carew, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

Adding more petrol won’t put out fire

Sir — Why are we not questioning the wisdom of the US sending yet more weapons to Ukraine? The US military budget was more than $800bn last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Is the winner of a war the country with most weapons? Desmond Tutu said that “if you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends, you talk to your enemies”.

We aren’t acting like a neutral country. We aren’t upholding our constitutional obligation to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by arbitration.

Elizabeth Cullen, Kilculllen, Co Kildare

Women’s soccer has been a joy to watch

Sir — The Women’s European Football Championships have been a joy to watch. The beautiful game at its very best.

May I wish England the very best of luck today. It would be a deserved ending to a wonderfully entertaining tournament.

Brian McDevitt, Glenties, Co Donegal

The ladies are doing what the men can’t

Sir — I think football actually is coming home, but it won’t be the men holding the cup.

David Smyth, Co Leitrim


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