Feeling let down by Sinn Féin
As a republican socialist I would like to thank the DUP’s Edwin Poots. The statement he made a few weeks ago helped me indirectly. He was commenting on the inability of politicians at Stormont –because of the ‘sticking point’ of an Irish language act – to put a government together.
Anyway, Mr Poots remarked that “because there is no government at Stormont people are suffering, including the people who may go blind because they are waiting a very long time on cataract operations” – which I am one. I have been waiting almost two years for a call but an appointment was sent to me last week.
Contrast this with my wife’s problems. She fell and was injured 20 years ago, destroying discs in her spine that led her to suffer many operations, having to leave work and claim Disability Living Allowance. She suffered an aneurysm 10 years ago but survived.
Three weeks ago, she had to go to Linenhall Street for a medical examination – the change over from the DLA to PIPS. She received word back she had failed. Where is a woman aged 63 years going to get a job on Jobseekers Allowance? Just why did Sinn Féin return Welfare Reform back to Westminster when they promised to fight the Tory policies? What changed their minds? We have voted and supported Sinn Féin – like lots of other sick Sinn Féin supporters over the years – but why let us down now?
I would like to again thank Edwin Poots for inadvertently pushing my appointment on.
PADRAIG O FEINNAIN
Newtownabbey, Co Antrim
Tedious writings of Malachy and Sean need to be challenged
Two of the letters published in The Irish News (September 29) need to be challenged. The authors of said screeds were Malachy Scott and Seán Ó Ceallaigh.
Malachy Scott takes issue with ‘forcing a united Ireland on the Ulster Protestant people’.
However, the historical injustice of forcing the six county state on Irish nationalists has not yet been addressed and given the mess created by the Good Friday Agreement’s implementation it is unlikely to be rectified in the near future. He then implies that this somehow infringes unionists’ rights to identify themselves as Brythonic and that it hinders acceptance of the aforementioned fact. It is widely accepted, with good reason, that the unionist population are the Brythonic diaspora in Ireland. He states that Ulster Protestants do not want to be part of a united Ireland. It must be emphasised that Irish nationalists didn’t want their country to be partitioned. Using Malachy’s logic the Free State has a legitimate claim to US territory as there are 33 million Irish people in America. Also if Britain stakes a claim to a part of Ireland due to 1.4 million unionists then surely the Free State can stake a claim to a part of Britain due to an Irish diaspora of 869,093 people in Britain. Can people not see how absurd and ludicrous this notion is?
In Seán Ó Ceallaigh’s defence of the anti-life position he has the brass necked audacity to pontificate on human dignity. Where is the child’s human dignity in the barbaric practice of abortion? He then brought up bodily autonomy which originated in relation to patients consenting to organ donation.
He wrote about women’s bodies but the biological fact is zygotes are genetically complete and distinct specimens of Homo Sapiens. Therefore it is the child’s body that matters on the subject of abortion. He assailed the 8th amendment to the 1937 Free State constitution even though 196,000 Irish people are alive today because of its existence. He states his view that abortion is a valid demand when the reality is that such an imposition on society will never be legitimate.
Time for Mr Brokenshire to practice what he preaches
Despite our best efforts to secure a meeting with secretary of state James Brokenshire, including contacting his office on numerous occasions and more than 50 children personally handing over letters at his residence asking for a meeting, we have yet to hear from him. This is an inexcusable dereliction of duty given the prominence of the question of rights for Irish speakers in the ongoing political crisis.
Almost 11 years ago, the British government made a clear commitment in an international agreement to introduce an Irish language act. Failure to do this has led to consistent condemnation from the United Nations and the Council of Europe; has obstructed the development of the Irish language; and made it a subject of attack and point-scoring at the assembly.
There is nothing strange, wrong or excessive with the Irish-language community campaigning and calling for legislation that will protect and enhance an Ghaeilge. In Wales [for over 50 years[, Scotland and in the south of Ireland legislation has been developed to achieve just that. It must be stressed that that legislation to protect their native languages has not heralded any crisis or decline in either health or education provision. This is clear not here, but across the world.
Given Mr Brokenshire’s role as the representative of the British government and that government’s clear commitment to our community, it is not acceptable for him to remain ‘neutral’ or ‘objective’ on this key issue. To ensure concrete expression is given to promises made by his government, he must actively pursue and encourage the adaptation and implementation of an Irish language act; to provide the same equality to the Irish language community that has been afforded to other native languages in other jurisdictions; to use their power to ensure rights, respect and recognition in our society.
A minority opposes change; a majority calls for an Irish language act. It is time to practice what has been preached, and in his role as representative of the British government, to finally fulfil a promise that was made.
C Mac GIOLLA BHEIN
An Dream Dearg, Béal Feirste BT12
SDLP is needed in Irish politics
As the SDLP approaches its Annual General Meeting this Saturday it must take stock of its current shape and the political situation in Northern Ireland.
The SDLP has achieved some of the greatest achievements in Irish politics from the Good Friday Agreement under the guidance of John Hume, Seamus Mallon and Mark Durkan to the reform of policing under the stewardship of Alex Attwood. While elections have been difficult in recent times there has been injections of hope – no more recently than the last assembly election when the SDLP held 12 seats which included a nationalist seat in Lagan Valley.
Many hold the opinion that the SDLP sacrificed itself for the greater good of peace and devolution. Well this is one thing no-one can accuse Sinn Féin or the DUP of doing. The current stalemate is down to the two larger parties prioritising political point scoring over government. Marriage equality and an Irish language act can happen but it requires the two larger parties to do a deal – they sought the mandate now deliver.
In the most recent mandate we saw Sinn Féin and the DUP transfer welfare powers to the British government. They have put the most vulnerable in our society at the mercy of the Tories.
If ever the SDLP was needed in Irish politics, it is now. The SDLP has a record of delivering devolution and performing in government. It has some of the best political thinkers on this island in Claire Hanna, Nichola Mallon and Colum Eastwood.
The SDLP should look forward, standing on its own two feet with confidence in the current leadership and mark the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement by rebuilding the party.
SDLP vice chair, Belfast BT13