Why should soldiers shoot desperate people?

IT grieves me that my remarks (Letters, June 16) in relation to soldiers and doctors and their relative usefulness in Haiti have caused offence — they were not intended to hurt. Nothing is as painful for a parent of any nationality as having to bury his son and my heart goes out to John Fenton. (Letters, January 19).

To clear up a point on doctor numbers — the widely reported 300/400 are Haitian, recent graduates and final-year students from Havana’s Latin American School of Medicine where they have been studying free of charge.

They were with the first wave to arrive within 24 hours of disaster striking. Check the local media for fuller details, Granma International, Prensa Latina, the website Cubadebate or google The Henry Reeves Brigade.

Both Mr Fenton and Bill Hurley (Letters, January 19) accuse me of naivety and I must plead guilty if I can’t see the logic of heavily armed soldiers shooting at desperate people who have lost everything just because they break the queue for extra Red Cross parcels or for stealing a lousy sack of rice. Already rubber bullets have been fired by UN troops. While I fully agree with both men that, apart from the medical cadre, engineers, chemists, heavy equipment, transport, etc, are all needed, I seemed so naive to ask why these resources need to be of a military nature?

At no point in my initial short letter did I say or imply that Mr Fenton’s son was a killer. It saddens me that he should interpret it so. 8,000 US troops went to Indonesia in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami and they did not kill any one. At least Lt Col Bill Hurley (retd), US Marine Corps, finds it noteworthy, and he should know.

Patrick Dolan

Pearse Street

Kinsale

Co Cork

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