Letters to the Editor

United Ireland vote would be a recipe for renewed confrontation

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams called for a border poll earlier this year

In this centenary year of the 1916 Rising, elections were fought in both parts of this island. Not a single elected TD or MLA from the nationalist/republican community sought a mandate to overturn the basis on which Irish unity could be brought about set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

The argument put forward by John Crawley (Sept 19) and by other correspondents that Ireland must first be united for voting purposes (by whom?) and vote as a single unit, instead of concurrently, in order for there to be a valid vote on unity, has gained no electoral traction, and would of course be a recipe for renewed confrontation and conflict.

All the evidence is that the Irish people are not going there. Invoking Wolfe Tone is to forget that the United Irishmen had substantial support from Protestants who founded them in the north, which subsequently evaporated,and that in Tone’s view uniting the communities was the means to independence, and not the other way round, by demanding independence as a means of coercing communities into unity.

Irish historians are independent and not beholden to government. It surely requires an extraordinarily warped sense of history to represent German soldiers in Belgium in violation of its neutrality as being victims of aggression by soldiers from both traditions in Ireland serving with the British army. Even Pearse, in his notorious pro-war essay ‘Peace and the Gael’ of December 1915, claimed that ‘Belgium defending its soil is heroic’, though it could not have done so for long without allied help.

Seán Lemass, who fought in the struggle for independence, as taoiseach in 1966, the 50th anniversary of the Rising, was to acknowledge that republicans, including himself, had been too ready to traduce the motives of those Irishmen who fought in the First World War, acknowledging that ‘they were motivated by the highest purpose’, and ‘believing they were giving their lives in the cause of human liberty everywhere, not excluding Ireland’. That is the spirit in which they are being officially remembered across this island in the decade of centenaries without any hidden agendas. 

Tipperary, Co. Tipperary


City Cemetery carnage not just confined to Jewish section

Sadly, the systematic and cowardly attack on the Jewish section of the Belfast City Cemetery is not a rare occurrence.

It has been desecrated down through the decades. At the now bricked up Jewish entrance on the Whiterock Road there used to be a small synagogue. This was rampaged by vandals in June 1972 and as a result of this ongoing vandalism it finally vanished sometime in the 1980s.

The destruction which took place last month is now being treated as a the crime. Strong words such as anti- Semitic and Xeonophobic have been used in the media. However, there is also a flip side to this story. What happened in the Jewish section is a microcosm of the rest of the Belfast City Cemetery and the wider area. Other graves have been systematically attacked in a similar cowardly fashion over the last weeks, months and years. These people don’t distinguish between any religions as they have attacked not just Jewish graves but also Protestant, Catholic, military, Travellers and also babies graves. Are these not also hate crimes?

Take a walk up to Gallaher’s steps with its new security fence or the Cross of Sacrifice and look at the carnage these members of our society have made. This happens on a regular basis. Bins are set on fire and fly tipping is common. The site also has frequent muggings, assaults, smash and grabs. Let’s not also forget that the cemetery is used as one big giant toilet for dogs and a car park for drop-offs to school.

So who is to blame? Well, we can get into the blame game and start pointing fingers but the thing is, this can all be turned around. However, it needs to be done collectively.

Remember these people who violate every by-law going use the cemetery as a form of escapism and a sanctuary. The success stories, of other cemeteries can be looked upon as models of best practice, such as Deansgrange in Dun Laoghaire and not forgetting Glasnevin in Dublin. The transformation of Glasnevin from complete dereliction to becoming one of the top five tourist attractions in Ireland surely merits further investigation. The Belfast City Cemetery can be the same but it won’t be until these sensitive issues are dealt with.

The problems are all ours but we also hold the solutions. Maybe the people who are the problem are the solution. Maybe it’s a case of getting them into the cemetery for the right reasons and educating them on a place that captures the diversity and complexity of our great city.

The people who perpetrated this hate crime on the Jewish section are not anti-Semitic, they are members of our society who need to acknowledge the consequences of their actions.  

They have lost all respect for the sanctity of the dead.

It is time for these members to take ownership of the deeds and think about their actions.

Can we encourage them to take an active role in our heritage to better our society?

Crumlin, Co Antrim


Rethinking business

The post Brexit decision to build a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, more roads, high energy pig farms and other outdated developments that represent a centralised, fossil fuels/nuclear economy needs analysis.

In the EU energy companies are buying 20-year contracts with renewable energy small players (farm coops, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and urban renewable energy coops) across the board.

The European Investment Bank is financing these developments because the sun and wind are free and they cannot default. Citigroup Bank carried out a survey and found that coal, oil, gas and nuclear industries have $100 trillion in stranded assets.

China has invested $82bn in a digitalised renewable energy smart grid.

So, as the EU rolls out a renewable energy net to organise, power and move their economy we are out in the cold investing in more fossil fuel/nuclear infrastructure that will inevitably lead to rising costs. How will we compete?

The bull in the china shop is climate change and the lack of a climate act in Northern Ireland shows me that it is business as usual.

Most political parties here and their planning laws support fossil fuel/nuclear/top-down/centralised energy supplies for agriculture, transport and construction.

We need to rethink our politics and business models, listen to the climate scientific reports and think in a joined up way – long term, collaboratively and see the new green business opportunities.

Belfast  BT14


Extolling Gobbins’ beauty

An official notice has been posted on all convenient jetties and ports stating that no boats will be allowed to approach the Gobbins cliffs. No distance of exclusion has been laid down so I would ask does this mean 10 yards, 100 yards, a mile?

In the meantime councillors took advantage of the situation and travelled to Milwaukee at a cost of thousands of pounds to the ratepayers in order to advertise and extol the beauty of this facility which is closed. People gone, boats gone, it must surely be that we can look forward to a ‘no-fly’ zone being imposed.

Kesh, Co Fermanagh


Skewed media coverage

It is now generally stated that Hillary Clinton and Donald J Trump are among the least honest and least trusted persons in the US. Such is the skewed coverage of the presidential election by most of the media, particularly the detractors of Donald Trump, that the media in general will soon be firm favourites for that accolade.

Blackrock, Co Dublin

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