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Dear Sir... Readers' Views (08/12/16)

Your letters, your views...

The push for babies to be aborted is alarming

As the Citizens’ Assembly discusses the Eighth Amendment, commentators are suggesting that abortion should be made legal for situations where a severe disability is diagnosed. I would like to offer my alternative experience when faced with this devastating news.

When asked how many children we have, I often reply that we have one little boy, Marc, and two young ladies. Marc died in 1996. Marc was our first, our only boy. He was born at 37 weeks, though we knew at 24 that he was in serious difficulty. At the 24 week scan, we were told his kidneys were not working properly or at all. He had hydrocephalus and anencephaly. Gently the doctor told me this baby could not live long outside the womb. This is devastating news for any parent.

“What happens now?” was my immediate response.

The doctor told me that our baby was alive and protected. The longer I carried our baby, the easier it would be to deliver him. We were devastated and heartbroken.

At the 26 week scan, he gently told us that I was this baby’s life support machine, once we were separated, his death was inevitable. We asked God for a miracle. We bargained with God to let this baby live. We would be his kidneys. As the weeks passed, I could feel our baby kicking, sending me the message “Hang on in there Mom, I’m not gone yet”. We were very aware that this was our baby’s precious lifetime. It was an honour to carry him.

He was born by C-section which gave him the best chance to meet us, to see us, to know who to keep an eye on from Heaven. The Chaplain baptised him in my arms and he died immediately.

We spent time gathering memories that would have to last us a lifetime; photographs, footprints, handprints, a lock of hair. We talked and sang to him and planned his beautiful funeral. Our greatest comfort now in what was undeniably a tragedy, is that we didn’t hurt him and he didn’t hurt us. We are very glad Marc was so protected by the Irish Constitution, by the medical profession, by family and friends. It grieves us to hear that awful expression, “fatal foetal abnormality”. Marc was only ever referred to as a “baby in difficulty”, which is what he was. It grieves us to witness the massive push to legalise abortion in Ireland, allowing the destruction of life at its most vulnerable.

I am the mother of a dead baby. I know that terrible raw ravaging pain. Yet we have the comforting knowledge that we did all we could to give him life. The Eighth Amendment guaranteed that Marc had the same right to life as every child, even if that time was very short, and guaranteed that I be supported by the health system because they recognised his life had value. If the Eighth is repealed, the experience of every other country tells us this will change, for all babies, with any disability. The push for babies such as Marc to be aborted is very alarming, upsetting and short-sighted. On his birthday each year we take the day to celebrate Marc’s life, remembering, honouring and celebrating what he has done and been for us. In our kitchen, Marc’s footprints hang on the wall, footprints of feet that never hit the ground, a voice that never spoke a word. Yet by his life he has had a greater influence on me, on us as a couple and family, than any other person that ever lived. Marc’s life and death have purpose.

Carmel Uí Churraoin,

Cill Bhríde,


Co Na Mí

We all know people saved by Eighth

Like the newly launched Love Both Project (a new initiative of the Pro Life Campaign), we all know someone whose life was protected by the Eighth Amendment. In many cases they will be people whose circumstances are unknown to us — maybe their mother faced an unplanned pregnancy on her own; maybe their parents were given a difficult or challenging diagnosis or maybe there were other factors that made abortion seem like a more reasonable option.

The fact that the Eighth Amendment has kept abortion out of Ireland for so long means that these people have all had a chance to be born, to be part of a family, to go to school, to develop their talents, make friends and do a thousand other simple things that we take for granted.

I know people who are alive because of the Eighth Amendment and I know that there are people who I’ll never know who have been saved in the same way. I want to see the Eighth Amendment remain and I’m delighted to see the Love Both Project working towards this goal.

Claire Stack,


Co Cork

Paying homage to a great leader Fidel

I cannot comprehend the unwarranted onslaught on Michael D Higgins when he paid a fitting tribute to former president of Cuba, Fidel Castro on his death.

It is only natural for the capitalist Luddite brigade to berate those who believe in a more equal society, such as that extolled by Fidel Castro.

As for some of the comments which stated that Michael D had committed a gaffe by paying tribute to a dictator that will seriously damage Ireland on the international stage? This is already an occurrence on a grand scale by our feeble, week-kneed government, ie; payments to scrupulous unsecured bondholders, insulting president- elect Donald Trump, allowing gigantic continental factory ships to lay waste to our once rich fishing waters, forcing Irish farmers to become slaves to the shopping centre giants.

Since Fidel took power there is not one photographic piece of evidence available of police abusing citizens, contrast this with former British premier Margaret Thatcher who had shoot to kill operatives roaming the six counties. She caused untold suffering in the Miner strikes by sending police in using brute force to attack innocent strikers. She gloated over the deaths of Bobby Sands and his collogues on hunger strike.

She ordered the sinking of the ship the General Belgrano in international waters, with hundreds of young conscripts (who perished) on board in the Malvinas/falkland war. In comparison to that record, Fidel Castro was a genuine saint!! And when Margaret Thatcher, the real dictator, died, the Irish government sent a flurry of grovelling representatives with messages of condolences to her wake, and following funeral?

In Cuba, you have from the cradle to the grave healthcare, you do not have a flurry of stealth taxes to deal with, you did not have lecherous entrepreneurs making vast profits on people ill health, (private clinics/hospitals). Managing his country and looking after his people as he did, under a complete US embargo can only be applauded.

We must remember that General Batiste took over power in a coup in 1952 and throughout the 50s Cuba was better known as the whore house of America, the rich created a hedonistic playground of prostitution and gambling where the poor as always were the unwilling victims.

Fidel Castro took inspiration from Ireland’s historic independence struggle against the coloniser, and in turn inspired others to take up arms against their oppressors. Castro was a figurehead against the powerful elite, and Nelson Mandela attested to that because Fidel helped bring an end to apartheid in south Africa. Fidel has over the years sent scores of highly trained doctors to treat the poor in the third world countries and none of them absconded or tried to seek asylum elsewhere.

Yes he had his detractors in places like Miami where a mixture of corrupt wealth, Mafia and ousted plantation owners etc settled.

Just like when Gerry Adams attended Nelson Mandela’s funeral, he was welcomed as a guest/mourner, and shared a front seat with those deemed friends of Castro.

Perhaps this is why Enda Kenny did not send a government representative because the recognised face of Gerry Adams would outshine their pretentious efforts at sympathising.

I believe that by looking in the mirror to get a grasp of your own faults or the circumstances where we came from is important, before pointing out the unjustified and perceived fault of others.

Thank you Mr Uachtarán for signing the Book of Condolences, and paying homage to another great leader, by not vilifying him as other po-faced pandering critiques have done.

James Woods

Gort an Choirce

Dun na nGall

Be proud of Love Both campaign

It is with great pleasure that I read in your newspaper about the launch of the new initiative by the Pro Life Campaign, the Love Both Project. The time is well overdue for a new, positive movement that has life-affirming aims at its core.

Speaking personally, I know of at least three families who say that they have immediate family members who are alive as a direct result of the Eighth Amendment. That is surely something we should all be proud of.

Mimi Cashman



Co Cork

Can they really not talk to Assad?

We are told that the UK and American governments are desperate to get humanitarian relief into Aleppo and are blocked by Putin and Assad. Is that really true? Is it really impossible for them to talk to Putin and Assad and come to an agreement which would allow this to take place very easily and quickly? Is it not the case that the real reason they will not do this is that it would be perceived as a symbolic victory for Putin and Assad and that is intolerable?

Brendan O’Brien

Winchmore Hill



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