Trouble with ‘threesomes’

 

Sir, – I dare say that most of us born pre-1980 have been somewhat damaged by Catholic influence in matters sexual. For example, I received my first sex education at the age of 11 from a nun in a Dublin school in 1986. She showed us pictures, not of couples embroiled in passionate embrace, but of STD-ridden genitalia scabbed and dripping with pus.

One would think that mature Irish people, especially public representatives, would have learned a thing or two from the State and church’s poor past interventions in young people’s sex lives. Not so, TD Michelle Mulherin and Minister for Health James Reilly, who are leaning on the worthwhile SpunOut.ie and threatening it with the withdrawal of State funding.

The happy fact is that today’s young people are thankfully being freed from the yoke of prudishness. TD Mulherin’s muckraking, which will undoubtedly gain her political brownie points in Catholic Mayo, is a step backwards.

Experts such as the hardworking team at SpunOut.ie should be left to do what they know best without interference from politicking muckrakers. – Yours, etc,

CONOR GRAHAM,

St Augustine Street,

Galway.

Sir, – I write from Australia, where I am visiting various youth and community groups. My colleagues and I are observing the scandal surrounding SpunOut.ie’s “threesomes” article with a mixture of sadness and surprise (Home News, March 26th). It is frightening that politicians in a crisis-stricken country such as Ireland can find time for such moral outrage over a relatively innocuous article designed to help informed responsible decision-making among young adults aged 16-25. These are the same young adults who are exposed to online material much more dangerous than anything available among SpunOut.ie’s 3,000-plus pages of quality content that have been proofed by health professionals and youth workers.

My friends and I established SpunOut.ie back in 2005 with the support of the North Western Health Board and numerous community partners. At the time we were in our mid-20s and adult Ireland was failing miserably to adequately meet its responsibility to young people and their health and information needs.

Sadly, not enough has changed in this regard. It is in this vacuum and amid continuing government cuts to youth services, that SpunOut.ie emerged from being a fledgling charity to becoming a world-respected innovator in the provision of information, support and opportunities to the youth of Ireland, winning numerous awards (including a HSE Achievement Award), reaching more than one million users per year, and saving numerous lives along the way.

All of this has been achieved through the enormous dedication of incredible staff and volunteers and partnerships with organisations such as the HSE. Government investment makes up less than 30 per cent of SpunOut.ie’s funding and has been cut annually for the last few years. Philanthropic funding has helped make up the remaining shortfall.

It is irresponsible for sensationalist media reporting and well-paid reactionary lobbyists and politicians to induce a short-sighted moral panic that threatens the existence of SpunOut.ie, the jobs of its modestly paid small staff team, and the critical support it provides to hundreds of thousands of young people who have inherited a legacy of debt, unemployment and emigration.

It is time we grew up about sex and realise that young people need relevant information, education and support. Instead of threatening SpunOut.ie, I urge those concerned to investigate its merits and realise it deserves more support, not less, and that it is fulfilling an important role in the absence of services we might expect our Government to provide. – Yours, etc,

RUAIRI McKIERNAN,

SpunOut.ie Founder

and former CEO,

Clontarf Road,

Dublin 3.