Critique of Northern Ireland Agreement

One can recognize the futility of hatred and revenge ("Hope in N. Ireland" editorial, April 13) and still see the Irish agreement as seriously wanting in justice.

The two years it took to produce this document is a testament to how difficult it is to craft an illusion. It avoids core issues like policing, army abuses, the use of plastic bullets in demonstrations, etc., leaving them to the work of "independent" commissions.

The history of such commissions in Ireland is a sad one. The document describes these tinker-toy-like political structures, whose ultimate authority and power is derived and controlled from London.

If the referendum in May is adopted, it will be an act of fatigue, not an affirmation of truth. With this sleight-of-hand deceit, Britain's force-of-arms claim to six Irish counties would be blessed and their 80 years of garrison rule approved. By calling those who oppose this referendum "extremists," you have collaborated in this deception.

Michael Cummings


National Secretary

Irish American Unity Conference

Houses of worship can welcome all

Regarding the opinion-page article "Accessibility: Churches Shouldn't Be Without It" (March 24) and reaction to it in "Readers Write" (April 2): As a lifelong wheelchair user, churchgoer, and longtime church member, I understand that elevators are not an option for every church. Like many in my community who need it, I'm happy with any degree of safe and reasonably convenient wheelchair access. If an elevator or permanent ramp is too expensive, then a portable ramp and some helpful hands are sufficient - and greatly appreciated.

Access is a matter of attitude as well as architecture. Though it is frustrating when costly modifications aren't frequently used, I don't think that wheelchair users should have to "earn" access by consistent church attendance. Even a one-time visit to a church can make a difference.

Televised services are a good idea, but they are no substitute for giving as many people as possible the opportunity to participate in a "live" service and worship with others.

Logistical problems like a lack of accessible transportation may keep an interested disabled person from visiting an accessible church building. These problems are not something to feel guilty over, but they are something to pray about - along with all the other difficulties that would seem to keep people away from church.

Despite the apparent lack of immediate demand for wheelchair access in some communities, I still think that the much-quoted line from the movie "Field of Dreams" applies: "If you build it, [we] will come."

Finally, while churches need to take some responsibility for providing access, it would also help if contractors would retrofit the edifices of nonprofit organizations at a reduced rate.

Julie Morfee

Berkeley, Calif.

Cat freedom

I enjoyed "Baseball Pitches Plight of the Baltimore Oriole," (April 8), which included a suggestion to "keep your cat indoors. Free roaming cats kill millions of songbirds each year."

As an animal lover who dislikes the thought of keeping animals confined to man-made environments, I would put forth the suggestion of obtaining a bell collar for cats. It not only alerts birds to the presence of the cat, but helps people keep tabs on their tabbies.

Leah Gallant-McFall

Brighton, Ill.

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