Letters to the Editor

Do Protestant Churches avoid their abuse responsibilities?

M Hayes’s letter (September 11) on the Pope’s recent visit asks pertinent questions, but also confuses some issues.

Non-Catholics may be surprised to learn the Pope is not fully in control of the Church he leads. M Hayes refers to the Pope merely ‘call[ing] for firm action in pursuing justice for Church abuse victims’. The Pope and Fr Patrick McCafferty, an abuse victim from west Belfast cited by M Hayes, criticised insiders who block justice and reform.

M Hayes points out that anger spilled over into hatred. Is that understandable? Abuse was perpetuated because of cover-up and moving habitual abusers around parishes.

M Hayes’s criticism of Amnesty International and its local leader, abuse victim Colm O’Gorman, for supporting abortion rights is misplaced.
The treatment of women and abandoned babies in mother and baby homes stemmed from a denial of pregnant women’s autonomy. Women forced to give birth are similarly coerced.

M Hayes has a point on relatively less media coverage of Protestant institutions. Dead Bethany Home babies were not ‘dumped in a mass grave in... the midlands’. They were ‘dumped’ in unmarked graves in Dublin’s Mount Jerome Cemetery.
I discovered the first 219 in 2010. More were found this year by Bethany survivor Derek Leinster. The deaths were a consequence of avoidable practices in the home, but also of official inspection failures.

Members of the Tuam Graveyard Committee attended the erection of a Bethany memorial stone in Mount Jerome in 2014. Soon afterwards, Catherine Corless released her findings on up to 800 babies buried on the Tuam site. They caused a media firestorm.

Bethany survivors are puzzled by media concentration on Tuam. They are concerned that Protestant Churches below the media’s firing line appear to ‘get away with it’.

Protestant women and children were swept over the border to Bethany and similar homes.
Disparate factors, actors and institutions blur Protestant Church responsibility. The centralised Catholic Church is a more identifiable target.

In Belfast’s Kincora boys’ home a Protestant evangelical Christian and others abused children. For certain, William McGrath’s relationship with security services, Churches and unionist politics was covered up. 

There may be something in this tangle of issues on which all might agree. Quite what that may be has yet to be discerned.
It is one of many challenges to be pursued.

Griffith College, Dublin


City-based culture denuding Irish countryside

In our ‘on the spectrum’ filled world elderly residents of the Irish countryside find themselves in the middle of the social spectrum.

At one end, there is the organised thuggery aimed at them by individuals who regard the houses of rural residents as their own Fagin pick-‘n’-mix.

A state of lawlessness exists in rural Ireland. Criminals operate without fear or hindrance leaving behind traumatised victims of their nefarious deeds.

While the loss of material goods is annoying they can be replaced.
What cannot be restored is the sense that a person’s living space will never be the same following an unwanted trespass.

At the other end of the social spectrum is the closure of rural post offices.  Representing a pre-mediated use of an economic instrument to balance the company’s books at the expense of people’s access to services.

The state-driven pogrom to denude the Irish countryside of the financial, commercial and digital infrastructure, which allows rural society to function, is helmed by a city-based culture.

The social contract between the government and its citizens has to be maintained regardless of where it makes contact with human society.

Behind the political spin lies an attempt to rewrite the terms of the social contract with the terms in favour of Irish citizens who are city-based, digital native and regard the Irish countryside as a weekend playground.

As they enjoy their twilight years, why should the elderly bow the knee and change the way they engage with public, commercial and social services?

Living and being part of a society that they helped to create they are being portrayed as a rural fossil refusing to embrace the digital times.

Has it come to pass that your residential location determines your engagement with society.

If that be the case, then would the last person out of the Irish countryside please turn out the light, latch the door and put the key under the mat.

Fews, Co Waterford


Majority not always right

A majority is not always right in matters of truth, which does not always win when numbers alone become decisive. Numbers can decide a matter of taste, such as a beauty contest. However, right remains right if nobody is right and wrong remains wrong when everyone is wrong. To legislate, without regard for this common understanding of truth, as it applies to moral and natural law – especially truth pertaining to marriage – is wrong.

Even in pagan and primitive societies, marriage was, and is, regarded as res sacra – an exclusive contract between a man and a woman to live together as husband and wife. Imitative contracts between same-sex couples can never truthfully be defined as ‘marriage’.

The SDLP was wrong when a majority of its MLAs opted to support Sinn Féin’s proposal to legislate for a false definition of marriage. The party leadership then compounded this error, denying all its other elected representatives their right to a ‘conscience vote’ against. As Daniel O’Connell said: “There is nothing politically right that is morally wrong.”

The logic of this is that when a political party loses its moral sense, it has begun to vote itself right out of democratic politics.

Downpatrick, Co Down


Pity help us if Boris achieves his ambition

Some 60 years ago, I saw a young Ian Paisley, who had a degree of charisma, develop a following to destroy the established order, to peddle a narrow idea, who didn’t necessarily  abide by the ordinary courtesies which make life more pleasant. He did not seem to have a vision of what would be the result of his years of dominance. Today we see it. In all the squalor of the electoral processing and the assembly with the RHI (and of course others) and  the incompetence. Of course the violent opposition which grew during that time is also greatly at fault.

But do we see the start of the same happening in England? Boris Johnson has some of the Paisley characteristics. He has charisma; a considerable command of language;  doesn’t worry unduly who or how he offends; has a goal of self-promotion and is happy to destroy the EU with no plan to retain for the ordinary people the advantages brought by the EU and to eliminate the disadvantages.

Pity help us if DUP and its nemesis remain unreconstructed and Boris achieves his ambition.

Belfast BT6


Inspiring influence

Seán Cavanagh in his book (September 10) reveals that Mickey Harte organises Mass for the Tyrone team before their matches. This practice is not confined to Mickey Harte.  For 12 years, at the request of Kerry football managers Paudie O’Shea, Jack O’Connor and Pat O’Shea, I celebrated Mass for Kerry teams at their hotel before they went to play in Croke Park. The mild criticism in Seán Cavanagh’s book and comments from other sources directed towards the Tyrone manager should be seen in the context of the beneficial and at times inspiring influence he exerts on young people in Co Tyrone and beyond.

Blackrock, Co Dublin

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