Letters to the Editor

Sinn Féin not treating Protestants equally

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams with the party's northern leader Michelle O'Neill and SF deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald

Protestants are not being given respect and are not being treated equally by Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin wants to make Protestants feel like foreigners in their own country.

Protestants have already had to change the names of their state from ‘Ulster’ to the more nationalist ‘Northern Ireland’.

The police force had to take ‘Royal’ and ‘Ulster’ out of their name and insert Northern Ireland instead.

Ulster’s second city had to change its name from Londonderry to Derry. The national flag cannot be flown over Belfast City Hall except a few days per year.

Now Sinn Féin wants to give special privileges and grants to Irish language speakers. They want to impose the Irish language on the Protestant people. Just as was done in the Republic where the language was used to exclude Protestants and non-nationalists from state jobs and to reward extreme nationalists. 

It is suggested Sinn Féin wants to reserve 10 per cent of jobs in the civil service to Irish speakers. This is blatant discrimination against Protestants disguised as love for the Irish language.

What concession has Sinn Féin given to unionists for all this compromise, nothing except to stop killing and bombing people.

Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin 


Central problem for nationalists has been about consent

It is looking increasingly likely that the DUP, at least in the short-term, is focused on indirectly wielding power in Northern Ireland through the Tory Committee established to administer their supply and demand payoff. This conveniently circumvents the need to work with nationalists/republicans on an equal footing in Northern Ireland, something John Taylor recently remarked was not necessary while unionism remained in the majority.  In a sense this is old-style unionism writ large, simply ignoring the wishes of the large minority in Northern Ireland, and in that sense is deeply disturbing. This harks back to the good old days of Ulster unionism, when nationalists knew their place, and everything was as it should be.  But it wasn’t, and we’ve 30 years of violent political conflict to evidence that perspective.

The central problem historically for Northern nationalists has been about consent. They did not give their consent to be locked into a British state in 1921, with a predetermined unionist majority that thwarted any possibility of political change, and which treated them, as John Taylor alluded to, as lesser than. They did not give their consent to be absented from representation in Dáil Éireann, and instead ruled by an Orange political elite, at the acquiescence of London. Effectively, they were being ruled against their wishes. This type of political sterility was fertile ground for a philosophy that sees the use of violence as the only means to resist political oppression. The emergent IRA saw this as the only solution, as did the ANC. 

However, for Northern Ireland hope arrived in 1998 in the form of the Good Friday Agreement, that had at its core the principle of power sharing between unionism and nationalism, centred on equality and parity of esteem. This was voted on by the people of Ireland and for the first time in history a political architecture was consented to by nationalism/republicanism in the north. This consent is now absent again and this is very concerning.  

They say that if you do not learn the lessons of history then you risk repeating them. So, my advice to the British government and political unionism is to be extremely careful at this juncture in our shared history.  The failure to resurrect the political institutions and the return to some form of direct rule, will mean that hundreds of thousands of nationalist/republicans in Northern Ireland will be ruled against their wishes again.
In a sense Northern Ireland will simply revert to being a colony  without its own political institutions  and being ruled from a distance by the dominant power. This needs to be avoided at all costs, lest the stench of the cesspit starts to rise again. 

Belfast BT11


Hard to comprehend tribal animosity still exists

BBC broadcaster Stacey Dooley visited Northern Ireland to investigate the DUP’s £1bn payoff. She also expressed her shock at the scenes she witnessed at an Eleventh night bonfire (August 8). 

It is impossible for any rational person living beyond the bounds of these six counties to comprehend the tribal animosity that still exists. In almost every other conflict the antagonism abates eventually, here the hatred is perpetuated annually by the raising of tension which culminates in the Eleventh night diatribe, as witnessed by Ms Dooley. Bonfires are bedecked with every thing Catholic, nationalist and Irish and the Catholic community is seen as being synonymous with the IRA. It is highly unlikely that any of the bonfire builders remember an IRA atrocity and it is equally unlikely any of them know anyone from the Catholic community on a personal level.

The Orange Order purports to hold biblical principles but teaches an anti-Catholic doctrine which would have more relevance in 17th century. The Orange Order virtually ran Northern Ireland for 50 years – practically every elected unionist in the old Stormont was a member. Orange Order controlled unionists were given carte blanche by the British to distribute funds as they pleased and began by building the most ostentatious parliament building, which was a unionist preserve, both in terms of elected members and civil servants; Westminster handouts then funded ‘Protestant jobs for Protestant workers’ while Catholics were forced to emigrate.

Unionists of today know full well that their forefathers discriminated in the most blatant fashion imaginable; they also know the security forces colluded in acts of terrorism. Neither of these abhorrences could have happened without the acquiescence of the British government. 

As for the billion pound payoff – judging by history – it is most unlikely that it will be spent for the benefit of ‘all the people’ as Sir Jeffrey Donaldson promised. 

Newry, Co Down


Distressful country

If Napper Tandy were to inquire today about Ireland’s standing the reply would still be the most distressful country you have ever seen.

The north has become a rudderless piece of ungoverned flotsam, while two insouciant parties abdicate every shred of common decency and their political responsibility.

The fiasco is compounded by Secretary of State James Brokenshire, lacking in charisma and wielding all the leadership of a dead sheep.

In the Republic an equally facile twosome, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his sidekick Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney, whose role in politics would appear to be clocking up air miles tee heeing to the European Union or any other outpost prepared to listen about Brexit or borders.

All this while homeless people are dying on the streets of Ireland and thousands of Irish people do not have a home they can call their own. You could wear the green Napper, only now there are more important issues.

Derry City


Issue of equality

Fr Joe McVeigh (September 11) misrepresents me – I hope unintentionally. I did not say that nationalists can never be equals to unionists. I stressed that nationalists must have equal opportunity with unionists in Northern Ireland but that numerically they were not equals. That is why, in the Belfast Agreement, all parties approved an executive at Stormont which would not have equal representation but would be pro-rata the political support of each participating party.

Mullinure, Co Armagh

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