Letters to the Editor

Gerry Adams and Michell O'Neill acting as recruiters for unionists

"Mr Adams and Ms O’Neill have ensured that the level of anger among previously apathetic Protestant non voters is unprecedented" 

I can’t help feeling during this past few weeks that the two unionist parties do not need to do any canvassing for June 8. Mr Adams and Ms O’Neill have ensured that the level of anger among previously apathetic Protestant non voters is unprecedented.

Between lionising the Loughgall eight and persisting with the usual whingeing about persecution is not just irritating but dull and uncouth.

Surely the nationalist side of the electorate can grow up and stop huddling around the embers of old grievances.

Cannot the two parties help devise a new jobs investment and health service  programme?

Learning Irish is for your own time not a state-run handout. 

Portadown, Co Armagh


We should remember our patriots with pride not repentance

It was said of unlamented French royals “they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing”. Trevor Ringland’s letter – Ensure what happened in past never occurs again – (May 5) coming amidst an array of unionist outrage at Loughgall commemorations, was printed on Bobby Sands’s anniversary.

Unionism seems to have forgotten nothing of their litany of outrage from 1981 and learned nothing about why many remember Bobby Sands MP, or the Loughgall martyrs, as patriots.

The view, voiced elsewhere by Nelson McCausland or Tom Elliott and here by Mr Ringland, seems simple to understand. They feel political and emotional loyalty to British law and rule. They consider the British army, RUC and UDR their uniformed forces, which upheld British rule. Excesses, like Bloody Sunday, ‘Hooded Men’ torture, or murder by loyalist proxies were committed with good intentions in terrible times.

They judge anyone who fought against British rule as criminals to be remembered, if at all, with repentance rather than pride. Mr Ringland says his perspective is “shared by many across our society”. We can understand this view. Understand we make no apology for rejecting it.

Why do the feelings of those who attend republican commemorations seem incomprehensible to unionists? Why do they seem as dismayed by Loughgall commemorations as they were that people dared elect Bobby Sands MP?

Mr Ringland says of the 1968 to 1998 Troubles “we had got into a mess that we should have avoided”. This ‘mess’ began when Britain carved out as much of Ireland as they could keep, based on a sectarian headcount. For 50 years Westminster ruled behind an Orange State, giving unionists carte blanche to impose a system of discrimination and second-class citizenship in housing, jobs and voting rights.

Republicans commemorate men and women, who refused to submit to the sectarian clampdown on civil rights, internment, Hooded Men torture, Ballymurphy Massacre, Bloody Sunday et al. 

We read the 1916 Proclamation over those who died for its principles.

We commemorate them as patriots and volunteers.

James Connolly, who signed the 1916 Proclamation, said of British troopers about to shoot him, he would “pray for brave men who do their duty according to their own lights”.

No-one expects Mr Ringland to accept our view. Can he at least understand that there were honourable individuals from opposing backgrounds and allegiances, acting to maintain the right as they saw it, in the extraordinary times of 1969 to 1998? Can he understand why we remember our patriots with pride? 

New York


Give me good old Northern Ireland politics any day

I was gobsmacked to read Patrick Murphy’s column (May 13) in which he compared what he described as NI’s sectarian politics, to Utopian British politics.

He claims that the election debate in Britain revolves around the role of the state in society, unlike sectarian NI.

“In Britain, election results are predicted by analysing policies, opinion polls and parliamentary performance”.

Is he serious or is it April 1st again?

Most people can see that British politics are mostly dictated by a cabal of right wing newspapers owned by three foreign-owned groups paying no tax in the UK. This media creates the cult of Theresa May, jingoistically defending Britain against Johnnie Foreigner wearing her Brexit armour.

The unpleasantness of more than seven years of excessive Tory-driven austerity, punishing the poor while giving tax breaks to the rich is not mentioned.
The suffering masses are directed by this media to blame immigrants, refugees or Europe for their lot while the country drifts towards fascism.

Any attempt to discuss the NHS, the widening income gap, poverty, the collapse of policing in England, housing crisis or homelessness are met with personalised attacks on the personality of the leader of the Labour party.

This media, if anything, is worse in Scotland, but the SNP somehow rises above the deluge.

Give me good old NI politics any day. Here, we can debate the real economic effects of Brexit free of jingoism. Where we can debate whether we are better off in a united Europe or a Britain declining economically, culturally, politically and morally on the international stage. Whether we tie our future to colonial apron strings, or bale out while the going is good. Or even which local party is best at manipulating the tiny levers of power our foreign masters trust us with.

That’s real politics.

Independent, Downpatrick, Co Down


Blinkered Brexiteers

I refer to the speech by the EU’s chief negotiator in the Dáil in which Mr Barnier said: “The UK’s departure from the EU will have consequences. Customs controls are part of EU border management. They protect the single market”

In the light of such plain speaking it is unfortunate that no agreement seems to be forthcoming on a progressive anti-Tory Brexit pact for the Westminster election.

Despite a majority in the Dáil  and assembly supporting special status for the north, blinkered British Tories and the DUP have tried to pretend that this is not an option. However, there are at least 30 territories all over the world from north  and south America, to the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans that have special arrangements with the EU. And, of course there are special provisions for European entities such as Cyprus, Greenland, Gibraltar and the Canary, Faroe and Channel Islands.

In the crude British ‘first past the post’ system it is essential to overcome traditional tribalisms and vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the undemocratic imposition of a Conservative/UKIP/DUP hard right-wing Brexit where vital public services will be severely cut as a consequence of a tax-dodging race to the bottom.

The last election showed how progressive people voting tactically put (some) humility on the likes of Arlene Foster – well, at least until she traded ‘crocodiles’ for ‘blonde’.

Dublin 11 


Too much at stake to vote SDLP 

I am saddened that decent supporters of the SDLP are being put in an invidious position by their divided party. They are being asked to vote for candidates who have no chance whatsoever of winning seats in the coming election, simply to prevent Sinn Féin winning.

There is no conceivable policy justification for what the party is doing and the outcome may be the election of people who oppose Irish nationalism of all kinds. That would be a disaster at a time when the goal of a new Ireland at peace with itself is in sight.

If the SDLP insists on pursuing this selfish aim just to satisfy a few figures within the party who in the past have relied for election on unionist voters, I would appeal to people who have previously voted SDLP not to do so in this election. To vote instead for Sinn Féin. There is far too much at stake to do otherwise.

If we all stand together we can copper fasten the message which we delivered to political unionism in the assembly elections. That we will not accept second class citizenship in our own country. That the days of unionist or British denial of our national rights are gone and not to return. 

Omagh, Co Tyrone

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Letters to the Editor