Letters to the Editor

Fr McCafferty just like the ‘a la carte Catholics' he bemoans

Gerard Herdman (July 5) has entered the ring in opposition to my criticism of Fr Patrick McCafferty’s views on abortion (June 12, 27).

Fr McCafferty preaches censorship and excommunication on the basis that, even in cases of rape or of a non-viable birth, abortion is always prohibited. In such circumstances he orders his female flock, ‘carry that child’. All who disagree are told, ‘You can’t marry in my church’.

Though Fr McCafferty pretends otherwise, Catholic rules are not absolute, in practice. Otherwise, he would apply the same standard to advocacy or use of contraception. Divorce and contraception were once opposed in the same way as is abortion today. In February 1971 Dublin Archbishop John Charles McQuaid said they were “evil”.  

Fr McCafferty has recognised reality on contraception but not on abortion. In deciding to enforce some rules but not others he is (as Tom Cooper pointed out, July 10) just as much an ‘a la carte Catholic’ as those he bemoans. He is playing politics and, as usual in the Churches [all of them], women must be controlled. So much so, Fr McCafferty ignored the point on women priests.

Gerard Herdman supports Fr McCafferty’s censorship policy for St Mary’s University College, west Belfast. Advocacy of a right to abortion should be banned within, he thinks. As I pointed out, that is a threat to the academic freedom of both staff and students. Freedom to speak your mind does not apply in a ‘Catholic’ institution, suggests Mr Herdman, echoing Fr McCafferty. If the words ‘Catholic’ and ‘university’ are a contradiction in terms in west Belfast today, perhaps St Mary’s should not be in the university business. 

I have a personal interest. I spoke at Féile on Phobail in St Mary’s in 2013, on Protestants in the Republic not being quite as uptight as northern counterparts.
Were I to speak today I might observe that, whereas Catholics are increasingly liberal on social issues, many fundamentalist Protestants approve of Rome’s rules on abortion. Some fundamentalist Catholics have developed a new found reciprocal faith in partition. Desmond Devlin (July 6), in a mistaken belief in a three-county anti-choice majority, wants Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan tacked on.

An anti-abortion Ulster is the goal. For many people the choice in future may become, a socially progressive and tolerant Ireland or Fr McCafferty’s alternative Ulster.

Should I be allowed, while supporting a woman’s right to choose, to say these things in the same place today, in Fr McCafferty’s view?

Dublin 1


Ashamed to be called Irish in new ‘liberal’ Ireland

I recently watched the film Black 47, directed by Lance Daly, at the Belfast Film Festival which had the backdrop of the famine in Ireland. The population of Ireland during this period was decimated by 50 per cent from approximately eight million After watching this film I was thinking of Sir David Steele’s 1967 Abortion Act which promised abortions in exceptional cases. With hindsight we know the lie of this legislation with abortions in excess of eight million subsided by the state.

I also watched 1968 at the Film Festival and reminisced about marching for basic Civil Rights. On the 10th march last I joined thousands marching in Dublin for a more basic and fundamental right, ‘the right to life’.

As a result of the recent referendum in this new progressive liberal Ireland I can say with conviction I am ashamed to be called Irish. I thought we were different and would hold out for the dignity and well-being of mother and her baby. I no longer care or want a united Ireland. What was all the blood sacrifice down through the years for? Was it to return the precious ‘Fourth Green Field’ from the alien British so that we can copy their worst atrocities. Is this the land of equals where some are more equal than others and the unfortunate can be discarded? So much for the ‘Proclamation’ and its promise to, ‘cherish all the children’.

The renowned abortionist Bernard Nathanson in his latter years became a strong advocate for Pro-Life after watching the Silent Scream and stated that abortion should not be carried out simply on request.  It was the use of this advancing medical procedure that convinced Bernard to change his mind. There are none so blind as those who don’t want to see.

Co Antrim


Apportioning blame

Denis Bradley (July 6) writes that it is disappointing that the nationalist community in the north has not embraced the reformed police service.

Initially he lays the blame on the Catholic Church. He then blames dissidents but later informs us that their impact is negligible. Finally, he berates Sinn Féin whose support of the Patten Reforms, including critically 50/50 recruitment, ensured Catholic community support. This party has continually reiterated its support of a representative and impartial police service. 

If Catholic Community support is not as strong as he or the Chief Constable would like then perhaps they ought to reflect inwardly.

The Catholic representation stands at around 27 per cent and is declining. In the higher ranks Catholics are conspicuous by their absence. Astonishingly, 30 per cent of applicants come from the Catholic community, surely no mean achievement in such circumstances. This indicates that young Catholics wish to contribute to the community and carve out a worthwhile career for themselves. 

However, yet more astonishingly, only 6 per cent of these applicants are successful. Given the fact that they have been educated in the best performing education sector in the north and have excellent qualifications why are so few appointed? Hopefully Deloitte will provide credible answers. 

Randalstown, Co Antrim 


Ferry route to Spain too expensive

Down here in Cork politicians have made a big deal about the new freight ferry operating between Ringaskiddy and Spain, then claim it is away around using English ports to get to Continental Europe. It’s not going to work out. There is not enough freight moving from Ireland to Europe to support a commercial ferry. It will be too expensive compared to the short Dublin/Hollyhead service. Are trucks from Donegal, Derry and Belfast supposed to drive all the way down to Cork before boarding a ferry for Spain?

The fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get goods from Ireland to the continent will always be using Britain as a land bridge.

Cork City 


Inaccurate assumption

I refer to a report (April 2) concerning a commemoration held on Easter Sunday in Miltown Cemetery, Belfast, at which Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin gave an oration. The report stated that the commemoration was preceded by a National Graves Association parade through west Belfast. This is incorrect. The said commemoration and parade was held by the Belfast National Graves Association, with which body we have no connection.

The National Graves Association is an autonomous organisation and is not connected to any political party. The association has, since its foundation in 1926, erected and restored memorials and cared for the graves of patriots, throughout the four provinces of Ireland.

National Graves Association, Dublin 2

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