Dear Editor, On the evidence of last week’s proceedings at the Select Oireachtas Committee on Health, Minister Simon Harris is determined to force healthcare professionals who object to abortion on clinical and/or conscientious grounds to refer women seeking abortions to colleagues with no such objections. Has he considered how this can to be operationalised?
How can a GP or community pharmacist comply with this forced referral obligation without access to a list of colleagues willing to perform or participate in abortions? But if such a list must be compiled anyway, why not simply make this available to the public and obviate the psychological and moral distress introduced by the referral interlude?
For healthcare professionals working in the hospital setting, the accommodation of conscience rights takes a different form but, again, this can be done without undue burden. Already, many pregnant nurses and pharmacy staff are accommodated in relation to handling cytotoxic chemotherapy, because of the (low) risk that exposure to these drugs could harm their unborn children.
If staff who object to work practices with very low risk of harm can be accommodated, surely colleagues who object to inducing the certain death of their unborn patients can, and should, be similarly accommodated?
In a week when the Taoiseach traduced conscientious and committed healthcare staff across the country, it seems counterproductive, perhaps even vindictive, for Minister Harris to persist with his ideological crusade to coerce many dedicated healthcare professionals into a choice between violating their integrity and leaving the vocations to which they have given their lives.
Séamus Ó Cearra,
Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Parishes working alongside Direct Provision Centres
Dear Editor, I was both saddened and heartened in equal measure when I read of the people under threat of eviction from the Direct Provision Centre in Clondalkin, and the response of the parish to their plight (‘Shellshock for parishes as refugees face homelessness’ IC 25/10/2018).
As a regular visitor to a small number of Direct Provision Centres over the years, I am encouraged by the parish’s act of protection toward the 225 asylum seekers and refugees in Clondalkin Towers, West Dublin.
There are about 34 Direct Provision Centres scattered in urban and rural areas across this State, each one located in a given parish and diocese. There is a general public silence regarding asylum seekers and refugees in our communities that stands in stark contrast with the call of the Gospel. I reiterate these people are our neighbours living in our parishes and dioceses: Did local Catholic communities, for example, support asylum seeker families to attend WMOF 2018?
In the midst of this silence, I am grateful for the decision taken by the Combined Catholic Parishes of Clondalkin to support their neighbours in Direct Provision. Through the intervention of the parish priest and parish pastoral worker, by a letter to the Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, the decision to close down the centre will be delayed to allow for a calm and measured resolution. This protects children and families from being moved during the school term and winter. May I make a plea that such attentiveness becomes a greater part of our ministry to the stranger?
Sr M.M. McCarron,
Rostrevor, Co. Down.
King Herod hasn’t gone away, you know
Dear Editor, In a few weeks’ time, millions of people in this state will celebrate the birth of a baby. Billions will celebrate the same worldwide.
While these celebrations are going on our politicians are planning to legislate without a mandate to make it legal to stop the heartbeats of thousands of babies in this State.
We, the people of this so-called democratic state, stand idly by. Such hypocrisy.
We also stand guilty of indifference.
King Herod is very active with his spin doctors and his agents active in every country.
History repeats itself.
Portlaoise, Co. Laoise.
Generosity of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid
Dear Editor, Further to Mary Kenny’s mentioning of the large donation given to the Travelling community by the Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid (IC 25/10/2018), I would like to recall a similar fine gesture by the late John Charles.
In the 1950’s there was a protracted strike by the Deep Sea dockers in Dublin Port. The Marine, Port and General Workers Union which represented the dockers was under extreme pressure as funds had run out, and there was no money to cover strike pay. The Stevedores sensed the situation, and reckoned one more week’ would break the strike and finish the union.
John Charles, who was a good friend of the General Secretary of the union, Jimmy Dunne, heard of the dire situation the union was in, and offered Jimmy the vital week’s strike pay, on the condition that he would not be revealed as the source of the dig out at that time. The offer was accepted by Jimmy Dunne, on condition that the Archbishop would not interfere in union matters again.
The strike had a successful outcome soon afterwards.
The late John Charles, a noble man, who understood the ordinary man.
Roosky, Co. Leitrim.