Letters to the Editor

Sinn Féin has moved from ourselves alone to standing alone

Sinn Fein’s refusal to re-enter a failed assembly can be viewed as either shrewd political gamesmanship or displaying a determined political backbone.
But which one is it?

Their refusal to return to Stormont, which for many is still seen as a bastion against progress, should be welcomed by all.
For all those who wish true parity of esteem in our society it is an opportunity to address/redress past and current failures, to create an inclusive diverse, welcoming and progressive society moving forward. From the Irish language act to marriage equality, from a bill of rights to ending housing discrimination, they must stand their ground and advance the politics of progressive equality with justice for all.

As the austerity cuts which they have embraced wholeheartedly in the past begin to bite, from benefit caps to our ailing health service and education, SF have been given a golden opportunity to press for national reunification.

Stormont has failed yet again in 2017 as it did in 1971 and in 1922. I for one believe it to be unreformable.

The way forward is now clear for SF.

The Tories will continue to cut the block grant and impose misery on the working poor and those on income supported benefits.

Poorer health, poorer education, more suicides and shorter life expectancy – will this be Sinn Féin’s legacy? Does SF want to continue to devastate those most at risk?

As a party which was vehemently anti-European Union it now wants farm subsidies and peace monies to continue and to stay in the EU. It does have a mandate as a remain party.

We now have a convergence of opportunities for a border poll to be demanded.

Stormont has failed and SF should demand joint sovereignty. A sharing of power and responsibility to govern here by both the British and Irish governments.

In order to end Tory-led austerity Sinn Féin should further the call for the north to reunify with the Republic with a special financial package from the EU to encourage the north and its voters to re-enter the European Union.

This would marginalise the UK further as it Brexits from Europe, weakens their cause and strengthens Brussels hands in the negotiations.

Something the EU mandarins might welcome.

A resurgent SF north and South can push for a Border Poll based on these aligning strands – national reunification, coupled to an EU
aid packet to literally end austerity in the north and border counties and remain within the European Union.

It’s an opportunity to convince those opposed to reunification to reconsider their position with a real chance to end austerity and gauge the appetite for a united Ireland.

Belfast BT14


Must councillors be retired or unemployed?

The Irish News story ‘UUP defends councillor who commutes to London’ (September 15) about a councillor who, horror of horrors, sometimes commutes to London to fulfil work commitments during the week, deserves closer consideration.

What does The Irish News want?  Councillors not to have jobs?
The logical extension of this is that all councillors would either be retired or unemployed – and therefore full time – or in the employment of political parties. That would give an unassailable advantage to the two current larger parties with their considerable staff and office allowances. 

The fact is that we need a mixture of people with proper life and work experiences in local government. 
The 11 new councils are now more powerful with planning and other responsibilities. With that, there are much more time pressures on councillors and higher public expectations. Yes, councillors get paid, but it is not a full-time wage and is heavily taxed. There is no comparison between MLAs and MPs who are full-time, professional politicians.

Surely there needs to be room for people with ‘normal’ jobs, outside of politics to be involved in and make a contribution to local government?  Obviously, they will not be able to be on every subcommittee that is created and attend the proverbial ‘opening of an envelope’, but there needs to be that mixture of people, otherwise the quality of our democracy will decline even further.

UUP, Mid and East Antrim
Borough Council


Alliance is party of reconciliation

The Alliance Party was called a ‘unionist party with a small u’. Now it is the enemy of unionism.

The current dualistic (zero sum) division of politics in Northern Ireland will never work. Jim Hendron is quite right in saying that the Alliance Party is a cross-community party and cannot be pigeon holed as unionist or nationalist.

I would call it the party of Reconciliation. Reconciliation of the communities is its aim.

I have explained this in my book History and Hope – The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, which was based on my MPhil Thesis The Contribution of the Alliance Party to Reconciliation.

Reconciliation involves four aspects – forgiveness, repentance, truth and justice. Forgiveness is very difficult, but refusal to try to forgive results in ongoing anger and bitterness in oneself. Forgiveness does not deny that wrong was done, nor that justice should not be sought. It does not let the perpetrator free, but it frees oneself from continuing bitterness. Forgiveness does not require repentance, though that helps if it is forthcoming. It is an act of will, starting with a determination to avoid revenge.

Witney Stokes said in 1799: ‘The only thing that will save Ireland is mutual forgiveness’.

Rostrevor, Newry


Hurricanes not due to global warming

Recent statements from the met office about the reasons for the recent hurricanes are wrong. It is not due to increasing water temperature. Quoting from Dr Roy Spencer, NASA’s top meteorologist, in his book just published Inevitable Disaster: Why Hurricanes Cannot be Blamed on Global Warming, says major hurricanes have been part of Atlantic and Gulf coastal life for centuries. Over the last 150 years the number of major hurricanes hitting Texas has been the same when the Gulf of Mexico water temperatures were below normal as when they were above normal. He further says Harvey’s record setting rainfall totals were due to its slow movement, which cannot be traced to global warming. 

Major hurricane strikes in Florida since 1900s have become less frequent and less severe. What has changed is coastal development over the last 100 years. Miami now has a population of over six million, whereas a little over 100 years ago it was zero. So destruction  therefore appears magnified.

Bangor, Co Down


Has Mervyn Gibson no ambition?

Mervyn Gibson says “he was born British and will die British” (September 11). Has he no ambition at all?

Like many British people who have never lived in England or in the Republic, I believe he knows little about the reality of either place.

He’s wrong about attitudes in the Republic towards the Commonwealth – a sizable cohort of there would fall over themselves to rejoin the colonised club.

As for being British, I’d love to see some Orange bands at the Notting Hill carnival.  They could maybe learn something about Britain post-1690 and about how to have a parade that people might enjoy.

Trillick, Co Tyrone

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