Letters to the Editor

Electorate more willing to look at a fighting alternative

"Change is coming and People Before Profit is in the vanguard"

Brian Feeney writes (April 13) that the media are “trying to excite some interest in how the six seats in South Belfast will pan out or whether Sinn Féin can overtake the SDLP as the main party in Derry”. 

But what’s mainly exciting about the Foyle constituency is whether the nationalist and unionist parties can continue to hold all six seats between them or whether People Before Profit can break their grip and take a seat for a radical alternative. 

This would be a more significant and positive change than a reshuffle of the establishment parties’ representatives. 

In the 2011 Assembly election I polled more first preferences that now-SDLP leader Colm Eastwood and was just 120 behind Pat Ramsey, who has since retired from the assembly. 

Of course, Colm and Pat did better on transfers and passed us out. But if we can put on a few hundred more first preferences this time and stay in the race longer, we can definitely take a seat. My own sense of the mood is that discontent with Stormont is higher now than in 2011, and that votes are more willing to look at a fighting alternative based on class rather than community. 

I also believe that it is on this basis that we can best face the ‘difficult’ questions arising from the past and from the communal divide – Bloody Sunday, Ballymurphy, the Shankill, Birmingham, McGurk’s, flags, emblems, etc, etc. If we start from asking where the working-class interest lies in all these matters we won’t eliminate difficulty – but we will take a step towards seeing our conflict in a different and more hopeful perspective.

We are not at all complacent but our canvass so far has boosted our confidence that we will win a seat – and maybe not the last seat either.

I have loads of respect for Brian as a commentator but he shouldn’t assume that there’s no need to see politics in any other way than the way they always have been seen. Change is coming and People Before Profit is in the vanguard.

EAMONN McCANN
People Before Profit candidate, Foyle

 

North not out of step over Sunday working hours

Newton Emerson (March 31) implies that Northern Ireland’s Sunday trading legislation is backward and speaks positively about a previous breaking of the “logjam of religious conservatism and commercial vested interests”. However, he ignores the fact that NI is not out of step with some other European countries.

In Germany while the recent trend is towards relaxation of opening hours three regions which are noted for their high proportion of Catholics, have kept with more restrictive rules. In France there has been considerable opposition from trade unions to liberalisation of the regulations. When the economy minister tried last year to introduce more liberal regulation he was opposed by a coalition stretching from left-wing trade unions to the Catholic Church, which argues that widespread Sunday trading will destroy the traditional French weekend and fail to deliver the promised new jobs.

The commercial vested interests which should be resisted are those which press for liberalisation. One danger of unfettered capitalism and its associated consumerism is the threat to personal mental health and family well being. Sunday working interferes with family life, especially on the ability of parents to spend quality time with their children who may well be at school, and partners who work Monday-Saturday. The shorter Sunday hours allow even those who do have to work to finish early and have some family/social time or to attend a worship service – often the only time for this is the weekend as so many staff have to work Saturdays.

The recent intensifying of competition in the retail sector, the squeeze on costs and overall staffing reductions have led to more widespread practices of changing staff hours to suit the ‘needs’ of the business.

As a child mental health professional who is also an evangelical Christian I thank God that the market worshipping Conservative government’s recent attempts to further liberalise the legislation in England and Wales were defeated in parliament.

NOEL McCUNE
Newry, Co Down

 

 

Promoting an apartheid fantasy

Eugene F Parte (March 29) accuses  me of “passing on the ‘facts’ put out by Israel’s propaganda organs”. I do no such thing. Indeed I object to The Irish News repeating such a claim as it adds some credibility to his spurious claims.

Mr Parte then goes on to refer to the Or Commission and it’s subsequent report  into clashes between Israel Arabs and Israel’s Police. Not ‘Palestinian Israel citizens’ as Mr Parte claimed. One is either a Palestinian or an Israel. One in five Israel citizens is non-Jewish. Most are either Christian or Muslim Arab.

Indeed Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a growing Christian population.

Yes there are social problems if inequality in Israel. What’s new? Can Mr Parte tell your readership of any perfect country? I think not.

Going back to the Or Commission and enquiry. Who do Irish News readers think initiated this investigation? The UN? The European Union? The US? No, the only democratic country  in the Middle East. Yes, you’ve guess it. Israel. Furthermore they have reacted to its findings over the past 16 years. There are Arabs in the judiciary, diplomat service, academia and all walks of life.

Hardly an example of an apartheid state Mr Parte. But perhaps he can quote some Israel laws that promote this apartheid fantasy?
That would be interesting. 

ANDREW J SHAW
Belfast BT10 

 

Republicans managing as best they can

OLIVIA O’Kane (April 6) addresses how the republican movement has ‘failed’ on its pledges.

Now, cut to the chase. We in the Six Counties are tenants, the British are the landlords. Reject that if you want. Republicans are managing that as best they can – and with some great success.

Trying to bite into that budgeting landlordism is, I imagine, a fierce struggle but here people count. Therefore it requires republicans to meet opponents on their ground.

Grandstanding in Westminster is pathetic and useless. Remembering that we are not more than tenants of the British landlords, understand that there are republicans who see things otherwise and try to put people first.
Never easy Olivia when dealing with a landlord, is it?

MANUS McDAID
Derry city

 

Drain on public purse

The recent revelation that Camp Twaddell has cost the taxpayer £18m and counting is not only shocking but horrifying.

The lack of leadership by unionist parties has whipped up this situation into one where money, which could be spent tackling the dissident threat or bolstering community policing, is instead spent on officers at Twaddell watching over a black hole on police finances.

I call on those North Belfast candidates whose parties have pledged their support for Twaddell – including the DUP and UUP who remain on the camp organising committee – to publicly say if they still back such a drain on the public purse. 

Cllr NUALA McALLISTER
Alliance, North Belfast

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