Tag Archives: 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,
Dublin 7.


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,

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,
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)


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

Colum Kenny

As we approach the blasphemy referendum people on the Yes side who know better continue to claim that the Convention on the Constitution recommended the removal of the provision, while they omit the three significant words “as it is” and ignore the fact that what the Convention actually recommended by 53 per cent to 38 per cent was its replacement with a new general provision on hate speech.

And that’s what a UN committee supported.

The distinction is that between the liberalism of the Enlightenment that understood the balance of rights and the libertarianism of Silicon Valley that resists regulation (of social media and capital for example).

Some Yes crusaders who think themselves progressive not long ago also wanted the legal protection for balance in broadcasting removed because it did not suit them.

Its removal in the US, following a campaign by the right, cheapened public discourse.

Why are Irish citizens who see themselves as liberals or radicals so willing to let the Government set an agenda and claim an easy win by this petty referendum while sidelining free speech issues such as the use of defamation law to inhibit journalism or the prohibitive cost of legal proceedings, and more important constitutional questions relating to the abuse of property rights and other matters?

Colum Kenny,
Emeritus Professor,
Dublin City University.


Blasphemy and the Constitution (Irish Times letters page)


You report that the United Nations has found that Ireland is one of the best places to live. According to the UN’s Human Development Programme Index, we sit behind only Norway, Switzerland and Australia.

This is very strange because, based on a lifetime of reading The Irish Times and listening to RTÉ, I had assumed I lived in a backward, misogynistic, capitalist hellhole.

Karl Martin,
Dublin 13.

Ireland and living conditions (Irish Times letters page)

On page 12 of The Irish Times on Monday, August 27

I am writing to note a case of mistaken identity in the prominent, full-colour photo which appeared on page 12 on your edition of August 27.

In this photo is a man wearing a clerical collar; the caption reads “A Catholic priest walks through a demonstration involving protesters from We Are Church Ireland, members of the LGBTQI community and survivors of clerical sex abuse on the Halfpenny Bridge, Dublin”.

Also underneath this photo is the explanatory note that every Monday the editors select a photograph to feature that “tells its own story”.

If the photo is indeed intended to tell its own story then it needs to be pointed that the man in clerical collar is in fact not a Catholic priest but a deacon in the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church! In addition to his regular ministry among the Estonian community in Dublin, he joins us regularly on Sundays in Christ Church Cathedral, as the Church of Ireland is in full communion with his church. I hope that these small factual corrections might help the photograph to better “tell its own story”.

Rev Abigail Sines,
Dean’s Vicar,
Christ Church Cathedral,
Christchurch Place,
Dublin 8.

The deacon stays in the picture (The Irish Times letters page)

I’ve just heard Pope Francis’s comments during his papal Mass that those who told mothers it was a mortal sin to search for their children and vice versa were wrong.

He said it is the fourth commandment. I looked it up: honour thy father and thy mother.

I’m adopted. Might my mother have searched for me if this society, in fear of the Roman Catholic church, had not shamed her into emigration like so many?

I made a freedom of information request to Tusla. I was shocked to receive 58 pages mostly censored with black ink, many were blank with a large black X covering the whole page and the word “redacted” in the centre.

Your right to identity is a human right; Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) says: “1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognised by law without unlawful interference.

“2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.”

During a Dáil debate on illegal registrations by St Patrick’s Guild adoption society, which dealt with my adoption, Joan Burton TD said “adopted people are still the only people who do not have fundamental human rights in this country . . . there are many people buried in the Irish systems of administration and politics who think the sky will fall in if these rights are realised, but we have provided referendums on gay marriage, reproductive rights and divorce. This is the only issue still outstanding.”

Will the State listen to Pope Francis?

Joan Reidy,
Co Dublin.

Adoption and right to information (The Irish Times letters page)

Pic: RTE

Former Fianna Fáil TD and former Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern; Former Fianna Fáil Minister Michael Woods ,who brokered the indemnity deal with the religious.

“I spoke to him in no uncertain terms about the separation of powers in Ireland and how the Irish State was a Republic and about the redress board [set up to compensate people who had been in religious-run institutions as children].” (Dermot Ahern, “Vatican proposed State indemnify it against clerical abuse claims”)

Was it not Mr Ahern’s FF colleague Michael Woods who passed on the compensation bill of a cool billion for clerical child abuse to the innocent taxpayer; and the same paragon of republican secularism, himself, who blessed us with our current theocratic blasphemy law? In no uncertain terms.

D Flinter,
Co Galway.

No uncertain terms? (Irish Times letters page)

Vatican proposed Irish State indemnify it against clerical abuse claims (Patsy McGarry, Irish Times, August 8, 2018)

Previously: Spotting The Woods For The Trees

Pic: Jadedisle