Tag Archives: Irish Times letters page

Cows cool off in County Cavan in the summer of 2017

Máire Geary is of course correct to point out that those who adopt a vegan diet “should be mindful of where food is sourced and grown when adopting this type of diet” because of the contribution of the relevant “food miles” to environmental harm.

It is indeed the case that vegans consume foods “not grown in Ireland and imported from long distances”.

However, the implication that vegans are significantly different in this respect from their fellow citizens is difficult to accept. Ireland is a country where more than 90 per cent of the agricultural land is used for grazing livestock.

Predictably, in order to give citizens even a moderately balanced diet, we have to import large amounts of nearly everything that is not meat and dairy. Indeed much of the crops we do produce are grown as feed for animals.

Those trying to reduce or eliminate their intake of animal products may not have emission-free diets, but at least they can hope that their behaviour will begin to change the pattern of demand, and that more than a tiny fraction of that glorious Irish soil will be used to grow some vegetables.

Christopher McMahon,
Oxford,
United Kingdom.

FIGHT!

Climate change and veganism (The Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Lorraine Teevan

Meanwhile…



NOMNOMNOM

Mmf.

Thanks Bebe

Further to the letter regarding water bottles at the Dublin Marathon, it would be great if the organisers were inspired by this year’s London Marathon.

A total of 200,000 edible water “pods”, made from an edible, biodegradable seaweed, were distributed to runners. Definitely something noble to consider for this island nation.

Orla Gilhooly,
Madison,
Wisconsin.

Anyone?

Plastic bottles at the Dublin Marathon (Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Sports Inquirer

Crowds celebrating the result of the abortion referendum in Dublin Castle last year

It’s almost a year since the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

It is clear that some of those who opposed the introduction of legal abortion services believe this decision can be reversed, and have brought their battle to the board of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP).

Breda O’Brien believes the board of the ICGP is “afraid of democracy” because it has not listened to the concerns of a small number of members who are vehemently opposed to the principle of abortion services being provided within general practice (“GPs are ignoring democracy on abortion issues”, Opinion & Analysis, March 30th).

It is important these views are listened to and the ICGP has done so extensively.

These members – some 500 – believe general practice is not the place to provide terminations. Your columnist notes the UK model of standalone clinics.

Let us look at the facts.

The Irish College of General Practitioners has over 3,600 members, of which some 500 have said they wish the IGCP to debate and vote on the provision of terminations being provided in general practice.

Over 300 GPs are now providing abortion services and have signed State contracts to do so. Over 500 have completed training in the provision of termination of pregnancy services. No GP who does not wish to provide such a service has been asked to do so.

The Government’s approach is that the contract is provided on an “opt in” basis and there is no change to existing General Medical Service arrangements.

The ICGP board, on legal advice, cannot hold an EGM on motions which it cannot adopt as ICGP policy. However, the ICGP is facilitating the debate of this issue at its AGM in May, via an extended deadline for motions through the normal route, ie its faculties.

There is no fee to attend the AGM of the ICGP. It is free for registered members.

On December 2nd, 2018, the ICGP facilitated a debate on termination of pregnancy at a general meeting which was characterised by a walkout and personalised attacks on the board members. The meeting in Malahide was in addition to an extensive online consultation process, six regional meetings and a full debate at a specially convened ICGP meeting last October which included faculty representatives.

The board of the ICGP acts according to the constitution of the organisation and company law. These rules do not contain any remit on conscientious objection. However, representations in this regard were made to the Medical Council on behalf of members. In light of the ministerial commitment to provide service and give effect to the referendum result, the ICGP engaged with the Department of Health.

The provision of a 24-hour helpline and an opt-in clause was secured to ensure those wishing to provide could, and those who did not wish to were not required to do so. The actions of the ICGP have been solely responsive to events outside the organisation.

All decisions of the board of the ICGP were unanimous and have been based on solid ethical principles, ie the safety and care of the patient, which lies at the heart of general practice. This was the rationale for producing robust evidence-based clinical guidance, which is one of the core responsibilities of a specialist body.

We wish that those who oppose the provision of abortion services to women who need them would recognise the outcome of last year’s referendum, and accept that this is outside the ICGP’s control and or responsibility.

The ICGP is not a political organisation. It is the academic body for general practice whose remit is training, education, research and standards.

The board has acted in good faith, reflected the wishes of the electorate, put the needs of patients to the fore, designed excellent clinical guidance, were respectful to our members’ different views and demonstrated leadership.

The ICGP is not the instigator, promotor or provider of abortions in Ireland, nor is it the means of subverting the wishes of the population as expressed in the referendum.

Those who oppose the introduction of abortion in Ireland have a perfectly valid ethical position.

However, they do not have the right to dictate to others how they should act, be they either colleagues or patients.

No amount of repetition – and there has been a great deal – will alter the fact that the board of the ICGP has acted in an honourable and balanced manner. As a board, we take full responsibility for what we have done and stand behind our actions.

The board of the ICGP will continue to represent the needs of general practice which is under very serious threat from deficiencies in funding and manpower with resulting overload.

The democratic decisions of the Irish people will also be respected.

Dr John O’Brien,
President,

Dr John Gillman,
Chairman,

Mr Fintan Foy,
Chief Executive Officer,

Irish College of General Practitioners,
Lincoln Place,
Dublin 2.

Irish College of General Practitioners and democracy (The Irish Times letters page)

Rollingnews

Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers

While I was happy to see your prominent coverage about my husband Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers getting arrested at Shannon Airport, I was disappointed that there was barely a reference to why these two members of Veterans For Peace risked arrest and spent nearly two weeks in jail without bail.

There is no mention of the fact that the US uses Shannon Airport to refuel military flights, in direct violation of Irish neutrality, and that a US military-contracted aircraft was, in fact, on the tarmac the morning they were arrested, which was confirmed by the arresting officer at their arraignment.

Since 2001, Shannon has been a pitstop for flights of US soldiers, weapons, and munitions to its illegal wars in the Middle East and for rendition flights carrying prisoners to US torture sites.

Millions of troops have flown through “neutral” Ireland on their way to the US-created and supported murder and mayhem in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and other places.

The Irish Government is thus complicit in the war crimes and atrocities committed by the US military.

Authorities have turned a blind eye to the situation, and Ken and Tarak were trying to get local police to enforce Ireland’s neutrality and inspect the aircraft.

Tarak and Ken were treated well in prison and made friends among the guards and other prisoners, many of whom supported their action and encouraged them to “keep protesting”, and I hope they can also be given a fair hearing in Ireland’s leading newspaper as to the important motivations for the actions that landed them in jail.

Ellen Davidson,
Woodstock,
New York.

Shannon Airport’s US protesters (Irish Times letters page)

Previously: Meanwhile In Shannon

Pic: Popular Resistance

Trees recently cut on the main street in Fethard, Co Tipperary

Your editorial “Tree cutting – Let them stand” expresses dismay at the irresponsible and unnecessary tree-felling epidemic currently laying waste to the countryside.

The same edition also carries a report on the National Transport Authority’s compulsory purchase orders whose implementation will have the effect of mass tree-felling along three of the six proposed new bus corridors, in Rathfarnham, Terenure and Rathgar in Dublin.

This is an act of premeditated – indeed, officially sanctioned – vandalism, whose motive is to generate yet more space for yet more surface traffic which will, in short time, produce yet more congestion, and at the cost of irreparable environmental destruction.

This is blinkered, short-term thinking, and certainly not progress. What price beauty?

Tony Fitzmaurice,
Dublin 6.

Pic: Tipp FM

Trees – let them stand (The Irish Times letters page)

With the removal of history and geography as Junior Cycle core subjects, is the Government hoping for a new generation of citizens who don’t know who they are, where they are from, and why things are the way they are?

Louisa Moss,
Cabra,
Dublin 7.

FIGHT!

History and geography (The Irish Times letters page)

I now know why political groupings in Westminster are called “parties”, with the Speaker John Bercow forever calling out “hors d’oeuvres”. I dread to think of the hangover.

David Curran,
Knocknacarra,
Galway.

Ayes to the right (Irish Times letters page)

Related: ‘More animal than ever’: Europeans find joy in John Bercow (The Guardian)

Abbey Theatre in Dublin

The North American musical Come From Away, currently on the Abbey stage, is another attractive show to be seen over the Christmas period.

The puzzle is why a production created outside Ireland and on its way to London’s West End is playing for seven weeks at the Irish National Theatre.

The Abbey receives by far the greatest share of the Arts Council theatre budget, and the assumption must be that this subvention is an investment in the vast creative talent within the Irish theatre community.

Is it appropriate that there should be no representation of Irish-based writers, directors, actors and designers on the main Abbey stage for two months of the year for which it receives generous public funding?

Some 140 Abbey staff are listed in the Come From Away programme and they are among the most experienced and committed practitioners of theatre in Ireland.

Many freelancers on the Irish theatre scene are available for their expertise also to be engaged. Surely it is the responsibility of our National Theatre to draw on this well of home-based talent, recognised and envied outside our shores, to produce its own show for Christmas.

John Fairleigh,
Collinstown,
Co Westmeath.

Abbey Theatre and Christmas fare (The Irish Times letters page)

Fine Gael Minister for Education Joe McHugh with the Irish Ambassador to Japan Anne Barrington and Japanese Ambassador to Ireland Mari Miyoshi in 2016

The decision of the new Minister for Education Joe McHugh to review the decision to make history an optional subject at Junior Certificate is very welcome.

History should be restored as a core curriculum subject without delay, as this academic discipline has essential values relevant to modern Ireland and to promoting an understanding of the importance of active citizenship, social inclusion and diversity in our society.

In post-Belfast Agreement Ireland, a progressive approach to the teaching of history and an inclusive spirit towards historical commemoration should be viewed as key tools in underpinning peace, tackling deep-seated social problems and building a new shared understanding.

There is a significant body of international academic research that shows that the role of history education, in developing a sound knowledge of the history of one’s own country and of the wider world, can contribute to progressive democratic citizenship.

In a world where we are often bombarded with a wide range of electronic information of varying degrees of intellectual rigour and quality, and in a world where there are real concerns about the phenomenon of “fake news”, it is important that our young people have the ability to evaluate source material and to develop analytical skills, which the study of history teaches us.

The last census showed that persons born abroad accounted for 17.3 per cent of the population in the Republic of Ireland.

In the space of roughly a generation, our country is in the process of making the transition from a relatively homogeneous state to a pluralist nation.

The progressive teaching of history can foster a sense of inclusion, a respect for diversity and also strengthen awareness of civic responsibilities in the emerging generation, now in our schools and colleges, who will help shape the future of this island.

Division, rancour and conflict are themes that emerge from Ireland’s long history that we do not want to repeat or relive in a new era.

Mr McHugh is correct in noting that it is through “learning the lessons of our past that we can plan for the future”.

As Ireland now prepares for our second century of independence, the inclusive study of history is a means to build stronger communities and a vibrant, peaceful nation.

Dr Brian Murphy,
Access Foundation Programme,
Dublin Institute of Technology,
Dublin 1.

The return of history as a core subject? (Irish Times letters page)

‘sup?

The diet of a hedgehog has given it the reputation of being the gardener’s friend. Hedgehogs root through hedges and other undergrowth in search of insects, worms, centipedes, snails, mice and frogs.

They like to make nests with dead leaves and branches, therefore, the pile that makes up a bonfire seems to them a nice place to sleep. So before you light the fire, check for hedgehogs. If you find one, simply release it under a hedge or bush.

If checking is too much bother, at least light the fire from one side only and keep people away from the unlit side so any hedgehogs can hopefully escape.

Eve Parnell,
Dublin 8.

Checking for hedgehogs at Halloween (The Irish Times letters page)

Pic: Hedgehog Street