Letters to the Editor: Médecins Sans Frontières says the mass killing of civilians must stop

'Thousands of men, women, and children have been killed in Israel. Thousands of men, women, and children have been killed in Palestine... The indiscriminate bombing must stop'
Letters to the Editor: Médecins Sans Frontières says the mass killing of civilians must stop

A child among the scores of injured people brought to Al-Shifa Hospital after a missile fell on Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City. Picture: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu/Getty

Mass killing of civilians is sickening and must be condemned in all possible terms.

Horrific violence has been wreaked over the last 12 days. Thousands of men, women, and children have been killed in Israel. Thousands of men, women, and children have been killed in Palestine.

The situation today in Gaza is catastrophic. Hospitals and clinics that are running are overwhelmed and are barely functioning. They are running out of electricity and medical supplies. Surgeons in Al-Shifa hospital are now operating without painkillers. 

Hospitals and clinics have been attacked. Others receive orders to evacuate — with just a couple of hours’ notice — with impossible decisions to make.

Patients — including those in critical condition — risk their lives either by moving, or by staying behind, in both cases perhaps to die without treatment.

The bombing right now in Gaza is relentless. People have been killed while forced to move, looking for safety. People are trapped, unable to escape, with absolutely nowhere safe to go. They’re deprived of essential needs — water, food, protected shelter, medicines.

Nothing justifies the shocking attack on Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City and its many patients and health workers, as well as the people who sought shelter there. Hundreds of people have been killed in this massacre. This is unimaginable and inhumane.

Basic humanity needs to be restored in Gaza. The indiscriminate bombing must stop. The egregious level of collective punishment currently being meted out on the people of Gaza must end.

People in Gaza need protected spaces, and ways to reach them safely and unimpeded. People wishing to cross the border into Egypt should be allowed to — with the future option to come back — and be properly and humanely assisted. People also need clean water, reliable electricity, and access to food and healthcare.

The Rafah crossing into Egypt must be opened to allow medical and essential supplies to be sent to Gaza.

For Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), and all medical staff in Gaza to work, we need basic guarantees of safety.

Despite the incredible needs, the widespread bombing and the impossibility to bring in supplies has forced us to suspend most of our activities. Our teams inside and outside of Gaza are doing the best they can to respond. As a medical and humanitarian organisation, we want to do so much more. Today this is just impossible.

Isabel Simpson, Executive Director, Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland, Dublin 4

No record of HAI weddings at abbey

I am writing with regard to Gordon Deegan and Sarah Slater’s article — ‘Humanist weddings and civil ceremonies at ancient Clare abbey damaging grave slabs’ (IrishExaminer.com, October 16) — and I wish to set out the position of the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI).

The HAI follows the General Registrar’s guidance on permissible locations for legal weddings. This means that all legal humanist wedding ceremonies must take place in a venue with a postal address, which is open to the public, and one at which staff are on duty on the date of the ceremony. Any outdoor venue must be adjacent to a legally compliant venue.

Corcomroe Abbey would not comply with these legal requirements, and the HAI has no record of any HAI wedding ceremonies having taken place in this venue.

While the HAI is the only body approved by the General Register Office to legally solemnise humanist marriages in Ireland, the HAI is aware of some celebrants from other bodies who claim to carry out humanist ceremonies. The Irish Examiner article may therefore incorrectly lead people to believe that Humanist Association of Ireland celebrants are involved in ceremonies which are potentially causing damage to a sensitive national site. The HAI wishes to clarify that this is not the case and wishes to distance itself from any such behaviour.

Jillian Brennan, CEO, Humanist Association of Ireland


We are all Fermoy

I mean, there are many who’ve never been on a fun TV show who could also say that Fermoy is not the best — 'Anger as Fermoy labelled ‘horrible town’ on Graham Norton Show' (Irish Examiner, October 16/17). Every little Irish town needs to wear a helmet when someone says what they feel. 

There’s no hate law against opinion. Not yet anyway.

Robert Sullivan, Bantry, Co Cork

Fitting punishment for road offences

I was contacted by a member of An Garda Síochána recently asking why should they bother catching persons speeding when all they get is a fine.

Recently, in a court case in Donegal, a speeding offender was fined only €150 with three months to pay after been caught driving at 171km/h in a 100km/h zone. His Section 53 charge was reduced to Section 52, careless driving.

In another case, in Mayo, a driver doing speeds of up to 217km/h in a 100km/h zone was fined €2,000 and disqualified for two years. Again the charge was reduced to one of careless driving.

This driver, like the first driver, lived abroad so any disqualification wouldn’t really effect him.

Another driver caught driving on the M6 in the Midlands at speeds off up to 202km/h was given the option to pay €20,000 to avoid disqualification. This driver was also from abroad.

Finally, a driver who was already banned for a period of six years for previous traffic offences, including drunk driving and speeding, was again fined €700 and disqualified for another three years at Tullamore District Court after doing speeds of 133km/h in an 80km/h zone. Two other drivers who appeared at the same court were fined €500 each, with two-year disqualifications, for doing speeds of 180km/h in a 100km/h zone on the Tullamore bypass.

While this is only a small sample of speeding offences, road deaths are increasing and garda detections and checkpoints have reduced. 

The courts, and I mean judges, must step up to the plate and deliver more punitive sanctions, including jail time, to those who treat our roadways as Formula 1 speed tracks and not just allow drivers, who endanger other road users while doing dangerously excessive speeds, drive away with just a fine or limited disqualification.

Christy Galligan (retired garda sergeant), Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Global powers operate by Old Testament values

For biblical enthusiasts the Old and New Testaments are somewhat contrarily at odds across many of their allegorical entreaties.

While “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” etc might square perfectly with the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy utterances, Mathew’s gospel (5:38-48) recalls Jesus encouraging us to “turn the other cheek” when attacked — rather the difference.

Current geopolitical tendencies would seem to hover more (nay exclusively) in the Old Testament zone, as did so many aggressive socio-cultural tribal jousts through time immemorial. One atrocity begets another ad nauseam and ad infinitum.

Despite an occasional pause, the cycle of oppressive violence perpetuates.  Typically, the key underlying injustice cultivates yet another round of tragic travesty.

Modern global powers generally operate by proxy. Their economic and military superiority is essentially predicated on elaborate manipulations along with furtive underhand dealing with other cultures and countries — bribing some, starving others.

The armaments used in most conflicts emanate from the controlling governments, albeit it’s the local warlords and their troops who fire the bullets and launch the bombs. All the while, the manipulators preach a phoney pseudo-democratic rectitude, while covertly facilitating and tilting the battle to suit their own greed.

Overtly, of course they continuously fuel a sham diplomatic narrative replete with photo-ops galore, to engender some credibility. As the perennial motto goes, the first casualty of war is truth, and so the world drifts from major famine to famine and conflict to conflict.

So much for the inspiring influence of the New Testament! We live within an Old Testament mentality, where the Christian message is redundant.

Bizarrely, even in this epoch, it is frequently religious righteousness and fanaticisms that keep the fires burning. Is there ever to be an extinguisher of such hatred, or must we forever endure the corruptive destruction that causes so much mayhem and pain? 

Turning the other cheek need not mean total submission to unprovoked attack, but working honestly and tirelessly at all times to identify and erase all injustices as they present.

Matthew’s version has the right idea.

Jim Cosgrove, Lismore, Co Waterford

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