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Letters to the Editor

‘Don't knows' on abortion should listen to small voice within themselves

Anti-abortion protesters march through Dublin to campaign for the retention of the Eighth Amendment

In an attempt to cut through the white noise of the referendum debate in the Republic, some fundamental sources need to be consulted.

Unfortunately, in the Ireland of post-modernity ‘fundamental’ can be a pejorative term. Leaving that aside, because I have neither the time nor the space to challenge that nonsense, I want to use ‘fundamental’ in the sense of a basic premise.

We find such ‘fundamentals’ in the logic of philosophers, like Charles Taylor, who in a critique of much modern moral philosophy claims that it ‘has tended to focus on what it is right to do, rather than on what it is good to be, on defining the content of obligation, rather than the nature of the good life and it has no place left for a notion of the good as the object of our love or allegiance’.

Right here, when we are making this distinction we are confronted by a fault line – we all can articulate what we think are the rights of the mother, the rights of the foetus, the rights of the father [seldom heard] but we are less sure about ‘what it is good to be’ means.

I suspect that many, though not all, of the ‘yes’ side have been swayed more by the ‘rights’ argument. Those who profess to be secularists, humanists, and atheists will be less amenable to the question that asks: ‘What good accrues to the mother and the foetus in an abortion’?

To voters with a committed religious disposition the beatitudes of the Gospel and the life affirming sentiments of Judeo/Christian psalms will no doubt express for them the primacy of virtue over rights.

As I write this letter I realise how fortunate I have been to have been conceived in an Ireland where the chances of my being born were exponentially higher than they will be after a ‘successful’ referendum.

Once conceived, my right to be born was protected, except if a complication developed which threatened the life of both my mother and me.

That seems like a fair balance between rights and the good.

My remarks are addressed to the present ‘Don’t knows’ as they struggle to make up their minds.

In the maelstrom of opinion please listen for the still small voice in yourself that speaks for your vulnerable and voiceless potential brothers and sisters that through no action of their own will be placed literally in mortal danger should the referendum be passed.

Dungiven, Co Derry


Opposition parties resolutely looking the other way

On behalf of our organisation, Cherish All the Children Equally, a progressive republican All-Ireland grouping which opposes the revocation of the right to life of pre-born babies, we note with dismay in the manner that the opposition parties in the south are protecting FG government ministers because of the forthcoming referendum. Despite the life-end-death crises which daily beset the government, the opposition parties are resolutely looking the other way.  

The housing crisis has left 10,000 people in emergency accommodation, a third of whom are children. Pregnant mothers, some with young children are denied basic housing, and homeless people have died on our streets. Yet parties of the left have refused to call on the minister for housing to resign for fear it would destabilise the FG government in the run-up to the referendum. 

For the last few months we have seen the trolley and hospital overcrowding crisis grow. We have seen 700,000 people on hospital waiting lists, many of those children.
There will be no reform in this country without accountability and no-one in the government is being held to account by an opposition who have prioritised abortion over lives being lost as a result of the health and housing crises.  

Derry City


Unequal state of affairs

Jim Allister at his party’s conference said that “mandatory coalition” should end.
Well, in a world where there is a broad consensus about ‘how things are’ he is right. It stems from a decision to create a six-county state based on sectarian grounds. Then Brookebrough proclaiming that this place would be a ‘Protestant government for a Protestant people’  – gerrymandering and sectarianism were there in full view. 

Turning that unequal state of affairs has been blighted by a loyalist state of denial that ignores this and then defending the indefensible.

The cry from Mr Allister to ‘end mandatory coalition’ could be met. A republican analysis is on the table. My take is that republicans have been addressing the implications of embracing these and wider matters. My sense is that Mr Allister and other unionist have not grasped the historical and current drift. And have not briefed their constituencies accordingly. 

Derry City 


Removing HIV taboo

As we approach the next edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, we heard recently that 2014 winner Conchita Wurst revealed to the world that she has been receiving treatment for HIV. This deeply personal revelation was necessitated by her ex-partner threatening to reveal Conchita’s diagnosis himself.

Much of the work of HIV and Aids charities is, unfortunately, still focused on removing the taboo surrounding such a diagnosis. It is evident people still do not feel comfortable talking about HIV and this negatively impacts on the number of people coming forward for testing and, in turn, treatment. Like every disease or illness, the sooner people come forward for treatment, the better their long-term prognosis.

Alliance, South Belfast



RHI inquiry has raised interesting questions

The ongoing RHI (renewable heat incentive) inquiry has turned into a full-blown saga, and is just as entertaining.

The performance by the DUP  leader raises some interesting questions.

It would be normal practice for an office holder to step down from their position so as not to drag the office into any imbroglio that might damage its reputation, and we clearly saw that with both Peter Robinson and Jim Wells honourably stepping down to protect the reputation of both their office and the DUP.

Presumably when Arlene Foster stepped forward to swear an oath at the RHI inquiry she does so as leader of the DUP and, because the DUP is the largest unionist party, also the de facto leader of all unionism?

In short, because of this is it unionism and the DUP that are on trial here at the RHI inquiry?

And should she face censure, firstly, will it be unionism and the DUP that face censure alongside her and, secondly, would this censure curtail her ability to move abroad? 

Bernard J Mulholland

Belfast BT9

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