Letters to the Editor

Groundless allegations directed against our national shrine

JACK Duffin (November 12) still persists with his bizarre theory that the Knock apparition of 1879 was the result of an elaborate hoax. 

He begins by presenting himself as something of an expert who has ‘many years’ of research to support his theories. But I suspect, that what is nearer to the truth is that he has built his theories around a book called ‘Knock: The Virgin’s Apparition in Nineteenth-Century Ireland’ in which Eugene Hynes, its author, a professor of sociology, examines the event from a purely secular or naturalistic point of view. Mr Duffin seems to have combined the academic scepticism of this book with his own well expressed prejudices that describe miracles as absurdities that merit no further discussion.

He again rehashes his theory about the various lights around the apparition but only by providing misleading information. For the lights described by the official witnesses either concern the church’s gable wall or the figures themselves. There is no mention anywhere of a light that would fit the description of an image projector’s spotlight. I would invite readers to go to the Knock Shrine’s official website to examine the brief but complete witness statements.  They can be viewed by clicking on the ‘History’ tag and then looking for the link for the ‘Witnesses Accounts’ to access the PDF file of 14 pages. 

He concludes his letter by asking readers: ‘How does Sean explain the same scene etched on a glass window in a church in Ballyhaunis 15 miles away which pre-dated the incident at Knock?’ He implies that the alleged hoaxers had drawn their inspiration from this stained glass window’s design. 

Eugene Hynes has a detailed description of this stained glass window in his book. But it depicts the Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus in her arms whereas the Knock Apparition has her with two arms raised in prayer. There is no Lamb of God to be found either, never mind one standing on an altar.
The interest for the author had been that this window had been part of his academic musings which included other local religious artefacts and pious medallions which he proposes could have had an influence on how the witnesses interpreted what they saw that August night. 

When groundless allegations are directed against our national shrine it does nothing less than trample over the graves of our forefathers in the faith.
They deserve better than to have their cherished beliefs thrown back in their faces by those who are hostile to Ireland’s ancient faith. 

Omagh, Co Tyrone


Has Sinn Féin the stomach for dirty Brexit war?

Mary Lou informs me I am both ‘fanciful and politically illiterate’ (November 28), if I believe that Sinn Féin should go to Westminster and vote on maintaining open borders in Ireland as presented by May’s Brexit  proposal. It makes me initially think that Sinn Féin believes that open borders, as secured in the Good Friday Agreement, are not worthy of protection? But no, that cannot be right, because as recently as this week Mary Lou said: ‘The backstop is not perfect but must be maintained and protected’. My fanciful and politically illiterate brain  now wonders who should take up the role of protector of the Good Friday Agreement? Thank goodness Mary Lou clears this up for me because with a bit of research I find she says: ‘The Irish government must make it clear that the Good Friday Agreement is not to be bargained with as part of the Tory/DUP deal and that it must be protected.’
(October 2).

So then... clearly no political dirty tactics to be deployed by Sinn Féin in defending the Good Friday Agreement.
I would suggest to Mary Lou that Sinn Féin is tasked to secure open borders in Ireland by any and every political means available to fulfil the wishes of the
Irish people  both north and south of the border.

Mary Lou will no doubt trot out the  tired old line about Sinn Féin being a mandated ‘abstentionist party’ but that might simply be a fig leaf for their real name, the ‘conscientious objector party.  

Ballycastle, Co Antrim


SF should reverse its abstentionist policy

Last Sunday I participated in the sombre farewell to the Haunting Soldier in St Steven’s Green in Dublin, as my grand uncle Eddie Costello, of Gortaganny in north Roscommon, died in the Battle of the Somme on October 12 1916. He never came home.

It was a beautiful ceremony attended by members of the defence forces and descendants of fallen soldiers. Around 2,000 members of the public attended. In fact many people showed up on the day eager to acknowledge their connection to soldiers who had participated in the war.

In the north of Ireland elected members of Sinn Féin refuse to take their seats in Westminster. This is an archaic anachronism which has no place in a modern democracy. Previously Sinn Féin refused to take their seats in the Dáil and European Parliament, which they now partake fully in. It is time to reverse their abstentionist policy in the House of Commons. Their votes could prove pivotal on December 11 when the British parliament votes on the Brexit withdrawal agreement, something that will have profound repercussions for all parts of this island and its passing is vital if we are to avoid the return of a hard border.

If we can respectfully acknowledge Ireland’s participation with the ‘auld enemy’ in the First World War in the Republic, then surely to use a quote from Mary Lou MacDonald, it’s time for Sinn Féin to “smell the coffee” and provide proper representation for their constituents where and when it matters across the Irish Sea.

Salthill, Co Galway


Lessons of war

On this, the 100th anniversary of World War One, what are the lessons of the war to end all wars. We now know that it is fools that lead us into war, for no good reason, and these people are glorified forever after.

Take friendly Tony Blair and George Bush who illegally invaded Iraq. Or, nice David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy who did the same in Libya. Or happy Barack Obama supported the misery war in Syria. Or assertive Donald Trump roundly supporting military action in Yemen and trying hard to stir it up in Iran. All fools, but happy and oh so assertive.

Sutton, Co Dublin


EU a danger to itself

The EU has ruled out any UK role in European foreign and defence policy, post Brexit.

Until such time as one or more of the existing EU 27 countries begin another terrible war, no doubt.

Then it will be to Britain and Russia where the world will look to come to the rescue, as always.

There are very troubled individual countries within the EU and all is far from well as old hatreds remain as near to the surface as they always were. The EU is more in danger from itself than it is from the UK getting away from the shambolic bloc.

Bantry, Co Cork 





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