Letters to the Editor

Image of Bobby Sands being used with shameless disregard

Us of Bobby Sands image "was nothing other than shameless electioneering" - Thomas Dixie Elliot

Recently Raymond McCartney, who is standing for Sinn Féin in the forthcoming elections, unveiled a billboard of himself, which included a ballot paper with Bobby Sands’s image on it and a comm by Bobby (a letter written on cigarette paper), at Free Derry Wall. He claimed that the billboard commemorated the 35th anniversary of Bobby’s election to parliament.

This was nothing other than shameless electioneering with the sole intention of promoting Raymond McCartney using Bobby Sands and the Hunger Strikes otherwise why would the image of the Sinn Féin candidate be at least twice the size of that of Bobby?

In fact why would he be on it at all if it merely commemorated an election Bobby stood in only in the hope that should he win Thatcher couldn’t let an MP die on Hunger Strike?

While no-one can say for certain where the dead would stand today had they lived it is beyond doubt that Bobby and his nine comrades most certainly would not have died on Hunger Strike had they foreseen a future in which so-called republicans would apologise to the British military forces for the hurt they experienced during the war.

That the party which rallied behind ‘Smash Stormont’ in 1981 would now prop Stormont up. At the time of his death Bobby wrote that ‘they would not churn us out as systemised, institutionalised, decent law-abiding robots’. And yet those who have become exactly that now claim ownership of Bobby, his writings and his legacy.

Recently and for the second time Sinn Féin blatantly ignored the request of Bobby’s family that they cease using his memory as a commodity. They also asked that the Bobby Sands Trust stop laying claim to the copyright to his writings. Would it be too much to ask for that they follow the lead given by the Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick who painted the iconic Che Guevara image?

Fitzpatrick became so sickened by what he termed the ‘crass commercial use of the image’ that he eventually copyrighted it and now intends passing the copyright to the family of Che Guevara in Cuba.

It’s bad enough that Sinn Féin uses Bobby Sands with such shameless disregard as to what he in fact died for but it quite simply beggars belief that they would put a living party member, standing for an election, on a par with someone who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Derry City


Make internet world a safer place for our children

Online safety is an issue close to the hearts of parents across Northern Ireland and it’s easy to see why.

According to recent research one in three of all internet users is a child and 92 per cent of children and young people had accessed a social networking site by the age of 13.

Those are incredible figures – and they’re growing all the time.

The internet is an invaluable resource for a child’s development. But with 11,000 calls to ChildLine last year focusing on online abuse we need to do far more to ensure it’s a safe world for our children and young people.

That’s why the NSPCC has just launched innovative proposals to boost online safety through our Net Aware initiative which is a simple guide for parents to social networking platforms.

The site is free and accessible at Net-Aware.org.uk and a free app for mobile devices can be found on googleplay or iTunes under ‘NetAware’

After next month’s Assembly election, we want the new programme for government to include the e-safety strategy being developed by the Safeguarding Board for NI  and to ensure a coordinated response from  NI  government departments and agencies.

Crucially, we want to have an ongoing dialogue with the big social media providers who operate here engaged in what they’re doing to keep our children safe on their platforms. Whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or any other emerging company.

For children, the online world is as immediate and real as the one offline.
A wrong decision could be just one click away.

Let’s do everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen and we make sure  Northern Ireland leads the UK in fighting online abuse.

Head of Services NSPCC Northern Ireland, Belfast BT15


‘Illegal settlements’

In response to Andrew J Shaw’s claims (March 24) re ‘West bank settlements not illegal’, all I can say is, as I did when he previously wrote that Palestine did not exist, ‘hogwash’. He knows full well the settlements are illegal in that they are against both international law and countless UN resolutions.

No less a person than the British prime minister (who is a friend of Israel)  criticised Israel in the House of Commons recently for their building of illegal settlements in Palestine and their effective encirclement of east Jerusalem by such settlements as shocking. What would his reaction be if his neighbours treated him or his family as the Israeli’s treat the Palestinians?

Andrew’s view is that Israel is the victim when actually they are the victim makers.

With regards to the figures quoted at end of his letter about the murder of Israelis in Palestine, that is what happens when bullies invade a neighbour’s property and lands and establish illegal settlements. My only wish is for those with any compassion for fellow human beings to step in and say to Israel stop.                   

Banbridge, Co Down   


Politics don’t work

TJ Carragher (April 13) mentioned about genocides carried out by Bosnian Serbs on Muslims. While that was, undoubtedly, a crime against humanity so were the US air strikes on Belgrade in 1999.

The conflict in the former Yugoslavia 25 years ago was ultimately a failure of communism, which tried to juxtapose Serbia – an ally of Britain and France during the First World War – with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia; which were part of the Austria-Hungary Empire prior to WW1;

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. Also, it was a failure of both Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt to stand up to Stalin’s bully-boy tactics when determining the future of Europe following the end of the Second World War.

Ultimately, it proves that politics don’t work.
Bear that in mind the next time a British prime minister, a US president or a taoiseach offers us help.

Magherafelt, Co Derry


In need of a Plan B

Alex Kane (April 11)stated: “If turnout at the [May 5] election falls below 50 per cent that would pose problems for the assembly and executive, because it would not represent the people of Northern Ireland; and when a governing institution doesn’t represent the people it is robbed of moral and political authority.”

More importantly, Stormont is a British institution, strictly for British unionist people. Alex knows that unionists will never accept the authority of an Irish parliament, even if they were outvoted in a border poll. They should be open and honest about it. In turn, united Irelanders will have to think up a Plan B.

Belfast BT15

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