Women have power in the polling booths
Sir - Dealing with gender inequality Eilis O'Hanlon (Sunday Independent, January 14) declared that "government should focus on real-life problems faced by real women".
The achievement of that situation is not helped by the fact that since independence women were not adequately represented in the most powerful decision-making forum in our society - the Dail. Because they live longer, women are the majority in the electorate and, in what is supposed to be a representative democracy, should have had a higher representation in the Dail.
It has to be said that the issues that relate to women would have received a higher priority since independence if women had used their majority status when they were in the polling booths with the blunt pencil and a ballot paper.
The fact that they were historically a small minority in the Dail contributed to real-life issues in relation to women not being seen as priorities and to the overall problem of gender inequality. A further incentive to support women candidates should have been to remember women's own marginalisation in political power structures for thousands of years. All of that was highlighted recently in the US presidential elections.
That was the most significant occurrence in women's lack of appreciation of their power in the electoral process for a long time.
That unique opportunity to elect a highly competent and experienced woman to the most powerful political post in the world was lost.
The fact that more than 50pc of white women in the US voted against a woman president, and for her misogynist male opponent was very damaging to women's place in society and has to be seen as a mistake of historical importance.
The only way to reverse that damage and in this country to get government to focus on women's issues is for women to use their majority status at the next election to see they are adequately represented in the Dail.
Tubridy on Clinton and Sean Spicer
Sir - The contrast between Ryan Tubridy's interviews on The Late, Late Show with Hillary Clinton and Sean Spicer I think is remarkable.
The former showed Ryan in "teacher's pet" mode trying with all his might to impress his favourite teacher by asking her all the right questions.
The latter showed Ryan as ruthless bounty hunter, trying (and failing!) "to shoot the messenger".
One gets an easy ride, the other gets savaged. Sean Spicer, to his credit, remained calm and maintained his composure throughout, and succeeded in coming across as a mere mortal, with faults, failings and strong points who got a job and did it to best of his ability.
Surely Tubridy should have parked his personal views and, at a minimum, treated the interviewees with impartiality.
So my advice to Bounty Hunter Tubridy: don't blame the son for the sins of the father and go easy on the messenger.
Newmarket on Fergus,
You can do it, Joe
Sir - I want to offer my support for Joe Brolly's voice of change for the path of the GAA as an organisation.
I recognise, through his regular writing on the subject, the love he has for this great national organisation. It is obvious he realises the desire out there of the many thousands who crave this change.
But it is time for greater action than column inches, as articulate as they are. Joe Brolly must mobilise support from other strong figures within, stop the destruction and commercialisation of the organisation and return our games to the clubs and communities who built it.
I really believe Joe can do it; it would be a feat of great patriotism. The masses stand ready. Go for it.
BBG Hurling Club,
Certainty doesn’t help this debate
Sir — Abortion does not lend itself to easy solutions and never did. In this challenging field, however, declarations of certainty are not in short supply.
The most unhelpful contributions are rooted in assertions about what is natural, generating prescriptions from biological descriptions; it is logically impossible to determine how the world should be on the basis of how it is.
In Ireland, the overarching consideration must concern the relationship between the democratic voice of the people and the will of government. In a representative democracy like ours, the will of the people is assumed to be embedded in the collective mind of our representatives.
The American founding fathers declared that governments exist to secure the inalienable rights of all people and derive their powers from the consent of the governed. This is the foundation stone of western democracies; we seek to convert individual preferences into collective choices through registering our vote.
Unfortunately, the language of politics is that of persuasion rather than that of critical reflection, with the consequence that our moral choices tend to be determined by inherited loyalties supported by sets of ideas that have never been seriously challenged.
The lazy way out of the abortion debate is to refer to God’s will for us, understanding our faith as an act of obedience in a line of command with God as the commander in chief. One should beware of people who claim to have God exclusively on their side.
We seem reluctant to acknowledge our responsibility for determining how our world should be. Why we should not kill one another is not determined by custom or law but by engaging in critical open discussion, establishing together mutual expectations that constitute our way of life. The norms, values, beliefs, expectations and ways of determining what is worthwhile do not fall from the sky but are the fruits of generations of imaginative thinking.
Moral debates sometimes tend to be vitiated at root by floods of gratuitous assertions that parade as reliable truths; sadly, debates about abortion are no exception.
Such disdain for our unborn babies
Sir — I really hope the Irish electorate sees that they are being manipulated by those with a blatant disdain for the lives of unborn babies.
Those driving such disdain include prominent members of our Government, media and medical professionals, in a well funded pro-abortion lobby. The plan to develop a legal framework to repeal the Eighth Amendment, has been predictable and transparent. The Citizens’ Assembly and Oireachtas Committee on Abortion make shockingly radical proposals, while the Taoiseach and his Government indicate that it’s too extreme, and they are not comfortable with the proposals. Thus trying to seem compassionate and moderate to the middle ground, attempting to sanitise the reality even further.
These social, political and medical leaders conveniently seem to forget to mention that their proposals are about the intentional killing of babies, most of whom would be perfectly healthy, by violent abortion methods. And they want this to be paid for by the taxpayer in an already collapsing health system. I think they actually refer to it as “progress”.
Sir — I am not surprised by the political turnaround regarding the Eighth Amendment. When people are given facts backed up by statements from medical professionals, they are almost always bound to come to the correct conclusion.
Sharon O’Brien Gleeson,
Rights of women
Sir — I am an Irish woman who lives abroad. I do not believe that a foetus of 12 weeks has any rights that are comparable to the right of a completely sentient woman not to be forced to carry something inside herself that she does not want or that won’t survive outside her. I do understand some people feel that a foetus should have equal rights to this woman. For older generations and those raised in communities in which this idea is ingrained in their morals, it will be difficult to look beyond this deeply held conviction. It will be within their rights to express that view at the polls.
However, if anything has been shown from the recent turnaround from many politicians forced to look at the harsh reality of giving women the difficult choice created by the Eighth, deep reflection is needed. The Oireachtas Committee, recent Dail debates and the Citizens’ Assembly have all shown that when this reflection takes place, a more realistic approach often prevails.
I do think, as a woman abroad, that a vote to retain the Eighth will colour any future decision to return home. It will be hard not to view it as a total disregard for the hundreds and thousands of women who have made that lonely journey and an extension of the disregard for women that has characterised much of Irish history.
Torture of Eighth
Sir — I am compelled to write to you today in reaction to the debate on the Oireachtas committee report on the Eighth Amendment. The overwhelming support for repeal of the draconian amendment filled me with a sense of pride.
I would like sincerely to thank all those who support repeal and extend a further gratitude to those who took a pro-choice stance.
This is the only position that is inclusive of the beliefs of all Irish people. Pro-choice encompasses and allows for support of those who wish to obtain abortions, and those who wish to continue with their pregnancies.
I would now urge all TDs to act swiftly to draw up a referendum for repeal simpliciter to avoid any confusion or ambiguity. Every day we wait, people in Ireland are suffering because of the Eighth Amendment. Having suffered a termination for medical reasons in 2016, I understand the torture the Eighth inflicts on people and their families. A prompt response is a humane one.
Conditions in Palestine
Sir — In blaming Israel for conditions in Palestine Edward Horgan (Letters, Sunday Independent, January 7) failed to mention that there was no blockade in 2005 when Israel withdrew from Gaza. Charles Krauthammer said in a National Review article that “to help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.
“The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler had ever given them an independent territory?
“First, they demolished the greenhouses, then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with industry and infrastructure they turned Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel. Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built underground attack tunnels and placed their weapons in schools, hospitals, mosques, and private homes to better expose their own civilians.”
Mr Horgan said conditions in Palestine are like a concentration camp. If they are that bad, could anyone explain why Gaza has the five-star Commodore Hotel, the famous Roots restaurant and a new shopping mall? Are they aware that hundreds of Israeli lorries go into Gaza and the West Bank daily through Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, yet Gaza’s border with Egypt is closed?
Go for it and enjoy the life
Sir — I feel compelled to reply to the letter (Sunday Independent, January 14) which was responding to Brendan O’Connor’s piece on retirement (Living, Sunday Independent, January 7)).
I can’t help but feel annoyed with the letter writer for having regrets about retiring. They didn’t say whether they were compelled to retire or whether they chose to. It’s irrelevant really, what is important is that they get up off that couch, take that chip off their shoulder and move on. Good luck to the person who replaced them, they were once in their shoes, the children move on and the wheel of life keeps turning.
Now it’s “me time”. They need to create a new life for themselves, make a bucket list of all the things they would like to do and do them.
Look forward to a whole new world of opportunities. I’m sure when they were sitting at their desk over the years that they envied people who were retired. So go for it and enjoy every minute.
Name and address with Editor
Keeping professionals at home
Sir — The country is having great trouble holding on to nurses, doctors and teachers.
It’s worth nothing that they were educated and trained to a very high standard mostly by Irish taxpayers. Countries that they emigrate to are delighted to welcome these professionals with open arms as they haven’t spent any of their taxes on them.
Can they not be asked to either pay back the money that was spent on them or to give back to Ireland a minimum of two years’ work with pay. Also, teachers with permanent jobs are permitted to take leave of absence for about five years and then to come back to take up a teaching post, either in the school they were previously in, or another school relatively speaking close by. Surely this is madness!
Sir — the EU says it intends to ban the use of plastic coffee cups and food packaging by 2030.
But why the long honeymoon period? Surely 12 years is too long, the EU alone generates 25m tonnes of this poison every year and our oceans contain vast floating islands of the stuff. Scientists say, that at the present rate of pollution, coupled with the vast fleets of gigantic fishing vessels mercilessly harvesting our seas of marine life, our beautiful oceans are in danger of dying with all the implications this means.
I fail to see why they need 12 years to end this potentially catastrophic scenario, unless of course they are pandering to the big multi-national producers.
Congratulations to the Taoiseach
Sir — Let us congratulate the European Commission and our Taoiseach for a good week’s work. Firstly, the EC for recognising that our country has had enough problems to warrant continued peace with cross-border cooperation.
Some politicians can, and do, make a difference to the people they represent, but some are there because their electorate thinks they will help a cause, by keeping others they don’t agree with, out. Our Taoiseach showed his worth, addressing the European Parliament in different languages and was listened to as an equal — even though we are a small country.