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We must take debate out of the closet


Rory O'Neill: spoke out for gay rights

Rory O'Neill: spoke out for gay rights

Rory O'Neill: spoke out for gay rights

* Ian O'Doherty suggests that the LGBT Community, or "they" as we are referred to, have scored an own goal in our vociferous defence of Rory O'Neill. I can only sit back and smile at his lack of comprehension of the overall debate.

He may not have enjoyed the speech at the Abbey, but he also clearly doesn't understand it either. I agree that feeling different, hating oneself or "angst" can be a normal part of growing up or adolescence. The difference here is that many grown men and women are still feeling that same sense of self-loathing because of the skewed, biased and misinformed argument those in the "green corner" passive aggressively pontificate to Irish people. Like it or not, homophobia is a massive part of the marriage equality debate and it is a debate that nobody on either side wants to silence. I actively encourage people on both sides to make and consider their arguments but also to respect their right to be challenged.

Finally, it's okay to not like the speech. I don't like Ian's article, but we both get to express our opinion. Martin Luther King gave a voice to a segment of American society who struggled to be heard above the terrible reality of segregation in the southern states of America. Rory O'Neill has given a voice to the thousands of Irish gay people who do not have the same platform or are afraid to use it because that is the crux of this whole issue, fear.

For the green corner, fear of change and progression.

For the pink corner, fear of oppression, regression and being forever treated as an unequal citizen. For the neutral corner, it's the fear of not knowing who is right and who is wrong but as long as either side is ridiculed or silenced by law or censorship, that fear is the reality.




* Yet another article on the growing childhood obesity crisis in this country, by Ailin Quinlan in 'Health & Living' last Monday but, reading between the lines, I think we've cracked it!

Dr Sinead Murphy's most simple explanation of childhood obesity as a combination of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and the intake of excessive calories by children holds the key, when considered alongside Dr Declan Cody's reminder of the staggering fact that a quarter of Irish children at four years of age are overweight or obese starting school. It is therefore this under-four age group that needs to be targeted.

The question must be asked: what role have infant processed foods and formulas played in children's daily schedules from birth?

If, as Dr Murphy says, "the slide into childhood obesity can be stopped by adopting a healthy diet", then the odds are breastfeeding is a good start.

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* Simon O'Connor is right when he says that there is an "increasing number of poor and homeless in Ireland" due to the recession and he is also right when he points to some of the EU's faults and failings as contributing to that (Letters, February 15).

He is not right, however, when he implies that the EU is to blame for all the ills of this country. Neither is he right when he says that we should not compare "the devastations of the past" with the present "relative prosperity and democratic rule".

Most members of the EU did not go broke. This country did. Responsibility for that rests with a small number of this country's most powerful decision makers during the boom.




* With the local elections soon to be upon us, there is now talk of tax cuts and that the final price we will be forced to pay for water “may” be known before the elections occur.

As usual these scraps will be thrown from the politicians’ table to the little people to sway voters. Remember such lines as Leo Varadkar’s that “not another red cent would be paid to the banks” and “Labour's way or Frankfurt's way”.

Let the people now talk with their votes. If these costs and cuts are not fully explained to the people before the elections I would urge them to vote for any candidate other than a government party candidate.




* The recent furore resulting from 'The Saturday Night Show' on RTE is a kind of liberal re-run of the 'Playboy of the Western World' Abbey Theatre riots. Contrary to what some commentators have argued, in my opinion the payments made to John Waters, David Quinn and others represent a two-fold victory for freedom of speech.

The focus of the controversy was the issue of same-sex marriage. There has been an unseemly circling of the wagons by the establishment in an attempt to effectively close all debate on the subject and to demonise those who dare to dissent on the issue.

One of the major weapons in this regard is to throw around the 'homophobic' mantra at opponents, rather than engage in debate. The taxpayer-funded broadcaster RTE, which has an absolute duty to journalistic impartiality (unlike an independent newspaper, which may take a particular line – although that's hardly journalistically ethical either), has an imperative to be extra careful in such debates.




* There have been suggestions coming from government circles recently to reward middle-income earners with an income tax reduction for their sacrifices since the downturn. The idea on the surface seems great if you are in the fortunate position of being in permanent secure employment.

However, if, like me, you lost your job from the private sector in 2009 and have since had temporary periods of work, how therefore will I reap these tax benefits if I find myself unemployed once again as this is currently the trend in the private sector and will be for some time to come.

It appears to me that this income tax proposal is being used as a way to give a pay increase to certain sections within the public sector. Perhaps the Government would be wise to give this more careful consideration before any final decision is taken.




* Your Motoring Editor Eddie Cunningham's aspirations to stop smoking in cars are commendable. On his methods, however, "blitz of massive fines, possibly bans, etc", from my own experience, I would beg to differ.

Thirty-five years ago, the family were on a summer outing to the seaside. I was sitting in the back seat, lazing off having my smoke, while the child in the carrycot finished his bottle. Gazing up at the roof of the car I suddenly became a little perturbed at the faded cream colour.

"Surely that was bright cream originally," I thought! By coincidence, I also had a slight touch of a cough that day and sums added up quickly.

From that day on I never lit a cigarette when anybody was in a car with me. About six months later, after a continuous inner battle, I caught the bull by the horns and quit smoking of all kinds ever since.

No law enforcement will end smoking in cars, until the person clearly realises the hazard, grasps the nettle and has a true desire to stop smoking.



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