Analysis & Comment

Letters to the Editor: 'Maternity Hospital should refrain from abortions'

The Sisters of Charity have cared for Irish people from all walks of life since 1815.

The National Maternity Hospital has provided an excellent service since before the State was founded. My own family will always be grateful for the professional care we received from both.

For 124 years of it’s 125-year history, our maternity hospital applied the “two-patient” approach and the right to life of the unborn child was respected. It provided world-class care for mothers and their babies. It is only in the last year the hospital took on the practice of carrying out abortions.

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If the new hospital was to refrain from intentional “terminations”, I suspect there would be less delay in the land being transferred. There are already too many medical facilities prepared to perform abortions – a practice totally unacceptable to a large number of Irish citizens.

Eamon Fitzpatrick
Strandhill Road, Sligo

Vatican cannot hold sway over nation’s sovereignty

Michael Kelly concludes his article on the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) (Irish Independent, November 23) by stating: “The bottom line is that Rome will have the final say on what the sisters do with their shares” – in other words, Rome will decide if the NMH will be built on the St Vincent’s site or not.

This simply cannot be allowed. We are a sovereign republic, we have a willing seller (the Religious Sisters of Charity), a willing buyer (the State) and the transaction is supported by the Archbishop of Dublin.

Faceless clerical bureaucrats in a foreign state (the Vatican) cannot determine the conditions under which important national projects like the NMH will proceed.

If Rome says no then the State must move heaven and earth (no pun intended), including legislation and a referendum if necessary, to establish once and for all this State operates under the laws of the land, laws which respects religion – and not under Roman Canon Law.

Anthony O’Leary
Portmarnock, Co Dublin

‘Ugly Duckling’ a quacking good read for Christmas

The supremely talented Danny Kaye immortalised the magnificent fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen in his mesmerising portrayal of the Danish author in the film ‘Hans Christian Andersen’. Kaye exuberantly acted, sang and danced his way through the film, which includes ‘The Ugly Duckling’, ‘Thumbelina’, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’. The film was an international success, generating huge demand for Andersen’s books.

It’s hard to beat the satisfaction of reading a good book – you’re in good company. A reader is exposed to adventure, excitement, anticipation and knowledge. Regular reading stirs the imagination, arouses curiosity and inspires creativity. As award-winning children’s author Tom McCaughren so eloquently puts it: “Open a book and find the same kind of magic that I found.”

Christmas is a time for exchanging gifts. Book shops throughout the country have an eclectic supply to suit all tastes. What more appropriate present can a parent give to a child than an introduction to the sheer joy of reading with the gift of a book?

There is also a superb public library service where books can be borrowed free of charge.

Billy Ryle
Tralee, Co Kerry

Refugees could find shelter in old convents and monasteries

Now the Government is looking to accommodate an increasing numbers of asylum seekers perhaps they should think about the many convents and monasteries lying empty throughout the country. Virtually every town of any size has one or more of these unoccupied buildings as religious congregations retrench due to declining vocations.

These buildings were designed to accommodate large groups of people and would have the necessary facilities for short-term stays. They are often in the centre of towns with convenient access to public transport and other services.

I suspect many congregations find these buildings a financial burden as they are difficult to dispose of due to a surplus of what might have been other potential uses such as hotels, guest houses or care homes.

In the long term, the country needs permanent State-owned premises to cater for what will be a continuous stream of asylum seekers, instead of filling the coffers of commercial interests.

As a relatively wealthy nation we have to play our part and this might be a better solution than using hotels in remote areas. It would mean a fairer distribution of these people around the country. Religious congregations might also be happy to see their former homes cater for those in need of refuge and protection.

Joe Coy
Tuam, Co Galway

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