We must treat innocent victims of Dwyer case with dignity
Reading your coverage of the Graham Dwyer trial, it is frightening to think that such monsters are in our midst masquerading as ordinary, law- abiding citizens.
Dwyer was a wolf in sheep's clothing who preyed on the vulnerable and thought he was too clever to be caught.
Anyone who followed the trial will be deeply saddened, not only at the death of Elaine but also at the way her private life has been exposed to the public and reported on across the world.
We all keep secrets, but how would we feel if those secrets were public knowledge, scrutinised by the "magnifying glass approach" which sometimes passes for journalism?
The spotlight has also been turned on the Dwyer family, particularly Graham Dwyer's wife Gemma, and her children, who are also innocent victims desperately trying to make sense of the devastation that has befallen them.
Knowing that your husband or father was responsible for the nightmare you find yourself in, would be almost impossible to comprehend and would make "normal" life seem like a distant dream.
The media has a responsibility to allow the time and space for the healing process to begin. And the general public should try to embrace the fact that Gemma Dwyer's story and indeed that of the late Elaine O'Hara are now ours - so let's treat them with the dignity, respect and understanding they deserve.
Bishop Birch Place, Kilkenny
When is a party not a party?
Here's a riddle for Shane Ross and his merry men.
If you're a political organisation with a lot of public representation, a set of shared policies and aims, and a desire to influence the formation of the next government, but you aren't a party, then what are you?
The answer? A party with less than a year until a general election, and one that is desperate to appeal to a disillusioned electorate.
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
Age-appropriate sex education
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) in no way supports the blurring of the legal age of consent to sex and is very pleased that the age of consent is maintained at 17 in the proposed New Sexual Offences Bill, despite some recommendations to change it to 16, as it is in the UK.
In a recent article David Quinn (Irish Independent, March 27) argued that 11-year-olds should not be introduced to sex education, writing: "You would only have a justification for introducing such a topic into their classroom if you suspected significant numbers were sexually active and significant numbers were being forced into sex, even allowing for the fact that all sex under the age of 17 is non-consensual, legally speaking."
What 11-year-olds need to be taught is, yes, that the age of consent is 17 legally, but what consent means is much more complex. That is why the DRCC supports appropriate, age-related sex education for children and young people, which should include opportunities to explore and understand what consent actually means so that they can be protected from the coercion and pressures that they tell us they currently experience.
One 11-year-old being forced into sex is one too many.
CEO Dublin Rape Crisis Centre
Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2
RTÉ has lost its way
May I compliment Liz O'Donnell on her excellent, forensic article (Irish Independent, March 28).
She summarised beautifully all of the reasons why I no longer listen to RTÉ. She names some old hands who were good at their jobs and I would add Aine Lalor and Rachel English to that group. The rest are so busy making a name for themselves with ignorant, pointless interruptions, which I imagine they see as tough interviewing, that it's embarrassing and infuriating to listen to.
Ms O'Donnell's piece was like a light in the darkness.
Address with Editor
Kudos to Paul O'Connell
The naming of Ireland captain Paul O'Connell as the RBS Six Nations Player of the Championship 2015 (Irish Independent, March 28) is a much-deserved accolade.
In addition to the respect he garners internationally as a rugby player, O'Connell is admired throughout Ireland.
As Ireland head-coach Joe Schmidt says of him, O'Connell has the "mana". Mana is a Kiwi term which describes the power, effectiveness and prestige which makes a person a leader on the field.
John B Reid
Monkstown, Co Dublin
Legislate to legalise gay marriage
What prevents same-sex marriage in Ireland are the relevant laws of this country, not the Constitution.
Those laws can be changed by the Oireachtas immediately. There is absolutely no need for an expensive and (already) divisive referendum.
Advocates of the referendum point out that the Constitutional Convention recommended it to the Government.
That's true, but the convention was not asked if same-sex marriage should be legalised, only if there should be a referendum on the matter.
Not once in its lengthy report did the Constitutional Convention cite anything in the existing Constitution that needs to be changed. Indeed, in a submission from a group of legal experts led by Dr Conor O'Mahony from UCC, the Constitutional Convention was told that:
"The Irish Constitution probably does not make it constitutionally impermissible for the Oireachtas to legislate for the introduction of same-sex marriage.
"However, since the political establishment seems to think otherwise, a referendum amending the Constitution to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples would appear to be a political (if not a legal) necessity."
Apart from the amendment on divorce, marriage is mentioned only once in our Constitution, at Article 41.3.1, where it says (in English): "the state pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of marriage, on which the Family is founded".
But there is no definition of what constitutes either "marriage" or the "Family". In any dispute about the meaning of our Constitution, the Irish language text has precedence over the English text. In the Constitution what is expressed in English as the 'Family' is expressed in the Irish language as 'Teaghlach', the primary and etymological meaning of which (in English) is 'household', a completely gender-neutral concept.
Certainly - if passed - the referendum will give explicit recognition to a right which is already inherent in the Constitution. But what if it fails? Will it be another 10 to 20 years before the issue is raised again?
The Government should immediately abandon this unnecessary referendum and, without further ado, pass long overdue laws to support the nation's 'teaghlaigh' in all their human diversity.
Donore Avenue, Dublin 8