A little-known fact (except by those who make a living from it): More than 100m farmed animals are slaughtered in Ireland each year; that’s 275,000 every day, 12,000 every hour, three every second.

These are mind-boggling statistics. If we could see a visual image of these animals, all gathered together, it would be bewildering. It would be impossible to take in, such relentless killing of innocent animals.

These are sentient, social animals with a capacity to suffer and to feel pain, who have deep-rooted behavioural needs and desires, and who can experience a wide range of emotions.

The more we learn about them, the more troubled we should be about how we exploit them, how we abuse them, how we kill them.

Thankfully, there is at last a wakening up to the fact that the planet cannot sustain a massive overproduction of farm animals (globally, 75bn land animals are killed each year).

We need to move away from eating animals. And if we can’t do that, we need at the very least to give those animals we continue to eat a life worth living.

We bring these animals into the world for the sole purpose of killing them and eating them.

Are we not morally obliged to give them the best life we can, as opposed to making their short and miserable lives brutal and inhumane?

Gerry Boland

Co Roscommon

The maths do add up if taught well

The Australian Curriculum Authority has proposed concentrating on teaching problem-solving in mathematics, whereas surely the emphasis should be on solving the problems of mathematics teaching.

Problem-solving is an important skill, but the basics should be mastered first, and fully, as no one wants a mechanic who can fix an engine but doesn’t know which fuel to use in it.

Despite the silliness of the example, this could be the outcome, when solving a sudoku puzzle is more important than knowing your times tables. This problem occurs in most, if not all countries.

My 35 years of teaching teenagers mathematics has seen a number of students struggle. Despite the pleasures gained by being able to solve quadratic equations, most people need little more than their tables, the four main operations, and a reasonable knowledge of fractions, and yet not all master these skills.

The solution seems simple enough, have enough qualified and skilled maths teachers to deliver these lessons to all and effectively, but there are not enough teachers and certainly not enough capable teachers.

Why is poor mathematics teaching still a problem when it has been known about for so long?

Why is there not already a best way of teaching mathematics when little of the material has changed in centuries?

There are many questions and solutions that can be proposed, although the best approach may be to actually ask those that are and have taught for a long time what they suggest, but that doesn’t seem to happen that often.

Old teachers, especially those from before the new mathematics, might be worth listening to.

Dennis Fitzgerald

Landale St, Box Hill

Vic, Melbourne

Australia

Vaccinated person could still be a carrier

I find it worrying, hearing more than once on the radio, that if you have been vaccinated twice you can move around freely.

Not so. If you have been vaccinated twice that should protect you from the effects of the virus but you could still be a carrier.

Brendan Casserly

Benvoirlich

Bishopstown

Cork

‘Late Late Show’ glorifying violence

The Late Late Show reached a new level on Friday with a display of weapons used in the 1916 Rising, the centrepiece, a revolver used by Countess Markievicz.

A leading light in the Irish Feminist Movement, for some reason she is always portrayed as a revolver-toting hero.

If the programme at this increasingly troubled, sensitive and delicate time, was of historical interest, for balance they should have included a portrait of Constable Michael Lahiff, the unarmed 28-year-old Dublin Metropolitan Police officer from Ennistymon, Co Clare, who was shot dead at midday on St Stephen’s Green with three bullets — ie, no accident — probably with one of these weapons.

Glorifying murder and violence in whatever guise is appalling.

Michael Foley

Palmerston Gardens

Rathmines

Dublin 6

Rift must be healed before talk of unity

Fergus Finlay’s article on a United Ireland — We can’t vote away the fear and sectarianism built into the border (Irish Examiner, April 6) — set me thinking again on this subject and it is clear to me that the future prospect of a united Ireland lies not in our hands, here in the Republic, nor in the hands of people in the North alone, nor in British opinion or advocacy.

So where does the solution lie?

The key to a united Ireland lies, I believe, in reconciliation between northern nationalists and unionists. Until these two bodies of opinion willingly work together towards a common goal all other views remain secondary.

What is the point of a united Ireland over the heads of a disgruntled unionist minority? At present you have (or so we are led to believe; a poll might surprise us to the contrary) a disgruntled nationalist minority in British ruled Northern Ireland.

For all its admirable achievements, the Good Friday Agreement has failed to reconcile the two sides so far.

Peace walls still stand; tensions persist; sectarian schooling continues; green and orange they divide. Until this rift is healed all talk of unity — especially from others living outside the province — seems futile.

When that time comes and a genuine reconciliation is wrought between orange and green, then the option of moving towards a united Ireland will follow as night follows days; anything attempted before that will invariably fail.

There’s no point in Sinn Féin trying to tempt unionists with promises of new flags and anthems while this division within the North goes unhealed.

If I might paraphrase scripture: “Seek first communal peace and all these things (ie, united Ireland, etc) will be added to you…”

J Coughlan

Cork

No man is an island — community is key

The contemporary stress on individual rights has become the catch cry of a new and growing absolutist emphasis on individualism.

In this world view community or collective rights are seen as an intrusion and invasion of the exercise of untrammelled individual rights which alone define the human person.

In this view the collective exists only to guarantee commutative justice and to ensure that individual rights are protected and enforced and which all the organs and structures of society must absolutely serve.

On the contrary social justice is scoffed at, or at maximum, only lip service is paid to it. Yet the contradiction is that it’s only in community that individuals can properly develop into human persons.

Social justice ensures that society becomes a community where the individual rights of the loudest or the more powerful do not become the dominant force in society and determine its moral direction.

Both sides of the coin of justice must be treated with equality. No time or nowhere is this more important to be emphasised than during this worldwide Covid pandemic where human rights are in conflict.

Brendan Butler

Malahide

Co Dublin

Give our wood pigeons a break

The wood pigeon is a prized part of our heritage. Alas, it is also a creature much misunderstood.

A big test of the Green Party’s clout comes this month when a decision must be made on whether to allow all-year-round shooting of wood pigeon.

Their open season theoretically runs from November to January, but successive governments have granted a derogation permitting gunmen to kill them for 12 months of the year.

The excuse is that the birds cause extensive damage to crops, a wildly exaggerated claim. This year, the government has no excuse for allowing an extension.

A report prepared for the National Parks and Wildlife Service indicates strongly that pigeons only take a serious interest in cereal crops post-harvest.

Hopefully, the Heritage Minister will listen to the voices of reason, science, and compassion this year, our wood pigeons deserve a break.

Longer-term, I hope people will simply stop killing them. If they want “sport” they can shoot clay pigeons.

John Fitzgerald

Callan

Co Kilkenny

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