The People’s Letters Page

Padraig Conlon 01 Feb 2023

Dear Editor,

I have just listened to an ex-hunter on radio recalling how a hare’s screech, when he shot the animal, turned him against shooting. He is typical of many “conversion” cases I’ve heard of.

I know several people who kicked the blood sport habit after similar epiphanies …A pheasant shooter for example who felt revulsion when forced to finish of a bird he’d failed to kill outright and was struck by the magnificence of its multi-coloured plumage as it gasped for breath, its life-blood dripping into the snow; and a hunter who “turned” after befriending a fox that came mooching into his garden.

Close-up contact with the nocturnal visitor made any further pursuit of a fox with a pack of baying hounds unthinkable.

I find the child-like screaming of a hare in distress heart-rending, having heard it many times at coursing events. When a hare is forcibly struck by a pursuing dog it emits what sounds like an unearthly plea for help.

The 19th century poet William Blake in his poem Auguries of Innocence wrote “Each outcry of the hunted hare/a fiber from the brain doth tear.”

Sadly, its cry seems never-ending in Ireland. A few days ago the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity Loss rapped up its deliberations, and one hopes that the government will act on its recommendations. How anomalous that within less than a month of this high-profile attempt to safeguard what remains of our decimated wildlife heritage the three day so-called national coursing festival will be held.

An animal dubbed the flagship of Irish biodiversity will have to twist and turn and dodge to avoid being mauled or having its bones crushed… all for a gamble and a laugh.

We should heed the hare’s cry and ask our TDs to outlaw this obscenity.

Thanking you,

John Fitzgerald


Statement by Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee

Today (24th) I attended the Court of Appeal in a tragic case involving a young woman who concealed her pregnancy and concealed the birth of her child with a tragic outcome. The young woman was sentenced to three years and three months with three years of this sentence being suspended. The DPP appealed the leniency of this sentence. This appeal was heard today. In dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the sentence was not unduly lenient and indeed a wholly suspended sentence would not have been unduly lenient in the circumstances of the case.

The phenomenon of infanticide is a rare event that cannot be fully explained by a single construct as each case involves the unique life circumstances of each woman. Research in Ireland reveals many cases of infanticide are closely associated with concealed pregnancy and the mother having a history of trauma, abuse and adverse childhood experiences. Women whose newborn infants died as a result of infanticide generally have complex and adverse childhood experiences, many characterised by poverty, abuse or lack of strong family relationships or social support.

Such complex psychological, social and personal circumstances deeply impact and influence a woman’s agency in terms of decision-making and help-seeking. Women who conceal a pregnancy generally have had an unplanned pregnancy.

Currently, there is no legal recognition of neonaticide (infant being killed within first 24 hours of life) being different from infanticide (infant being killed within the first year of life). Legal experts must review distinctions between neonaticide and infanticide in order that appropriate responses can be developed. The punishment of women by way of a custodial sentence must be re-evaluated in light of recent research. A legal framework that automatically criminalises women for concealing a birth prevents women from seeking help for themselves and their infant (if born alive). It is time for a more humane and supportive approach that cares for all women and infants regardless of their circumstances and histories and values their lives equally.

I am calling for an urgent examination of legal frameworks that criminalise the concealment of birth. There is currently no legal recognition of neonaticide being different from infanticide. Legal experts must review distinctions between neonaticide and infanticide in order that appropriate responses can be developed.

It is high time in Ireland for an examination of the current laws around the concealment of birth and a trauma-sensitive response from all agencies of the State considering the long and sad history of this country. Our laws are simply Victorian and cruel.

The Adoption Authority should provide access to clear written information which is also available online about the adoption process.

The Press Council could work with the HSE CPP and NUJ (National Union of Journalists) to develop press guidelines around reporting on concealed pregnancies.

Tusla (Child and Family Agency) should develop a protocol and guidelines to deal with cases of newborn abandonment and include other stakeholders such as Gardai, social work, legal experts, maternity care staff and child protection staff.

I am calling on the Law Reform Commission to examine legal frameworks that automatically criminalise the concealment of birth.

The Health Service Executive Sexual Health & Crisis Pregnancy Programme (National Clinical Effectiveness Committee)  should develop accessible integrated care pathways to prevent negative clinical and social outcomes such as maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. In addition, online information about concealed pregnancy needs to be made available and advice about responding to the fear experienced is necessary. Information needs to be made available to indicate how women can access therapeutic counselling services if they have ever experienced a concealed pregnancy. The HSE Sexual Education and Crisis Pregnancy Programme should consider the development of telephone helplines or working with The Samaritans to extend its listening service to include women who have experienced a concealed pregnancy. The National Perinatal Reporting System should consider inserting a question about concealed pregnancy in its current data collection system in order to systematically identify its association with negative outcomes, as the present system only identifies it in an ad hoc manner.

I will be raising these issues directly with the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Justice, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee



Dear Editor,

Listening to the debate on the hotel bedroom tax and it’s really clear hotels are out of touch.

We all remember coming out of Covid and being gouged by massively overpriced hotels, every time there is a gig or a match, prices are through the roof.

This tax is a percentage so if hotels don’t want to pay so much tax they can reduce their prices, and while they are at it stop charging 5 euro for an americano or 22 euro for breakfast!

And maybe recognise unions while they are at it and stop moaning about not being able to get staff!

And also stop trying to demolish nightclubs and cultural venues in Dublin, although we put some limits on that in the development plan at least.

In Solidarity,

Cllr Declan Meenagh



Dear Editor,

Another interesting week on that addictive soap opera ‘United States of America.’

It easily beats Fair City, Coronation Street and EastEnders for pure drama and plot twists.

In the latest episodes over the past few days we had the interesting story of the classified documents stored in President Biden’s former office and Delaware home.

Of course, this linked back to the previous story last year when classified documents turned up in former President Donald Trump’s house in Florida.

Then we had the plot twist that surfaced online that it was the FBI who planted the classified documents in Biden’s house and office as part of a conspiracy to take him down.

If a week is a long time in politics, it is a lifetime in US politics, and by the time this letter is published God knows what will have been found!

One thing I think we can all bet on is that Biden will not be a candidate in 2024.

Yours sincerely,

James Carney,



Dear Editor,

We, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland are deeply saddened and disturbed by the recent massacre of a congregation of worshippers in Burkina Faso.

On Thursday 11th January 2023, terrorists invaded a Mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Burkina Faso, killing nine worshipers in an unprovoked and cold-blooded attack

They separated nine of the elder men, including the Imam of the Mosque, from the other worshippers, forced them outside of the Mosque where they were brutally executed.

Ahmadi Muslims are persecuted – by both state and non-state actors – for their faith in many Muslim-majority countries including Pakistan.

Yours sincerely,

Yusuf Christopher Pender, 

Press Secretary, 

Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, Ireland.



Related News