SF fully respects views of those who wish to remain in Union
Trevor Ringland (April 6) contradicts himself in relation to Sinn Féin’s series of united Ireland conferences. On one hand, he questions the point of having such conferences outside the north of Ireland, as it is people there, particularly unionists, who must be convinced of the benefits of Irish unity. On the other hand, he says it is ironic that Sinn Féin wants to hear unionist views as they are content with the constitutional status quo.
As I am sure Trevor knows, the London ‘Towards A United Ireland’ conference was merely the latest in a series which has already involved similar events in Belfast and Dublin with others currently being planned. Sinn Féin fully understands and respects the views of those who wish to maintain the Union. However, that does not mean that societal and political change is not happening. It clearly is. The north has been transformed in recent years and that transformation is ongoing.
The perpetual unionist political majority in the north is gone. Meanwhile, demographic trends and the threats presented by Brexit cannot be ignored. Change can be agreed. It can be planned or it can be chaotic. But it cannot be stopped. Sinn Féin believes in an agreed process of change.
Central to the Good Friday Agreement is the provision for a referendum on a united Ireland. Sinn Féin believes that in any referendum campaign, those advocating unity must emphasize that the British identity of many people in the north can and will be accommodated in an agreed, united Ireland.
This may involve constitutional and political safeguards and republicans and nationalists must be open, flexible and imaginative in that discussion. That clearly involves talking and listening to those within unionism.
Each of Sinn Féin’s united Ireland conferences has involved a speaker who was either a unionist or from a unionist background and who addressed unionist perceptions of Irish unity. We are determined that this constructive dialogue continues.
Our view is that politically, socially and economically we will all be better off in a united Ireland and of course we want to have that conversation with those who are yet to be convinced.
Contrary to Trevor Ringland’s suggestion, Sinn Féin’s democratic pursuit of the legitimate aim of Irish unity does not negate our belief that the political and power sharing institutions, established by the Good Friday Agreement, are the best option for the people of Ireland to chart a way forward together.
MATT CARTHY MEP
Sinn Féin United Ireland
The hunger strikers’ sacrifice is being undermined
I am old enough to remember the blanket protest and hunger strikes. The republican prisoners had five demands but the rationale for those demands was that they were not ordinary prisoners but political prisoners, that they were not criminals. They were political prisoners because they were opposed to the constitutional position that the north of Ireland was ruled by Britain which they regarded as illegitimate and often they opposed militarily. They rejected all the agencies of the British government as illegitimate, including police, British army and prison service.
Many of these people have created a Facebook page that celebrates all of these characteristics that they utilised then against British rule but there seems to be some gap in the political consciousness of those who subscribe to this page because many of them appear to support politicians who now accept the current constitutional position of the six counties until a majority of the people who live there decide otherwise, who accept the British judicial system that many of them had previously refused to recognise, who accept the PSNI, who accept the prison service that treated them so brutally as legitimate, who denounce those who adopt the position that they previously held.
Do they not realise that they are undermining the very arguments for which they previously sacrificed themselves to imprisonment. These contradictory positions tend to question your political consciousness and undermines the sacrifice of the hunger strikers.
Protect the innocent children of Ireland
I am writing as someone whose family voted Sinn Féin up until recently. Having read the interview with Mary Lou McDonald (March 24) I am horrified at the path she is leading Sinn Féin and their supporters down especially on the issue of abortion. An excerpt from The Irish News interview included, “the leader [Mary Lou] advocates support for the Fine Gael government’s legislation that is expected to emerge if a majority votes to repeat the amendment. It is likely to legalise abortion under any circumstances in a period of up to 13 weeks”.
The repeal of the Eighth Amendment should be recognised for what it is. The termination of an unborn baby’s life up to three months on demand even if the mother’s life is not in any danger. That is total disregard for the child’s right to life. However, there is hope. Letters to The Irish News from highly respected republicans such as Anne Brolly, and Dr Anne McCloskey from the ‘Cherish the Children of the Nation Equally’ organisation echo the views of thousands of people in the six counties. I would ask the people of the north to assist these noble women in their campaign to protect the innocent children of Ireland.
Glengormley, Co Antrim
Not a hard call to make
Mary Lou McDonald (March 24) rejects Church theology in favour of a European Union state religion of abortion.
When I look all I know is what I see, a culture of life Church theology and a culture of death European Union state theology. Not a hard call for me to make. I am an Irish citizen with family in the south. Can Mary Lou please tell me why I am being denied the right to vote in the forthcoming abortion referendum?
Omagh, Co Tyrone
I’ve been a resident of the Highfield Estate, which is part of the Upper Shankill in Belfast, for the past five years. I’m a complete outsider to Northern Ireland but I’ve never encountered the sort of ‘hostility towards outsiders’ that you occasionally read about.
I often tell the folks around here that I was actually born in Greece, 53 years ago, but that doesn’t seem to offend them. If anything, I’m the one who feels offended every time I go into town and I see so many outsiders hanging around Royal Avenue and Botanic Avenue. I feel that they truly stick out like a sore thumb, and that’s why I voted ‘Leave’ on June 23 2016.
Belfast BT 13
I think its ironic that Ian Paisley jnr and Maurice Bradley can survive in the DUP after their recent comments on twitter. Surely they must resign for these terrible comments. It is not acceptable, especially from elected representatives. These comments were totally unacceptable as were other comments from other elected representatives in other parties in the north who made stupid comments about other atrocities. Surely there must be a parity of esteem or is there a law for the DUP and a law for everybody else?
Ballycastle, Co Antrim