Unresolved problems of GFA persist and require our attention
Manus McDaid’s letter – GFA a chance to move this situation forward (April 12) – did not address any of the legitimate concerns that I raised in my previous letter (April 2). Manus fails to realise that if these issues had been addressed in a satisfactory manner then I would not be in a position to highlight them.
However, these unresolved problems persist and require society’s attention. His referencing of the UUP and their overt separate development practices only adds further weight to my argument that the illegitimate six county and 26 county states’ illegal existences should not be extended. His specific criticism of Westminster and Leinster House increases the strength of my argument as well. Can he admit that the GFA exacerbated the evident shortcomings that he wrote about? How can the situation be moved around when the six county veto was enshrined in the GFA? Is Manus unaware that a border poll is in the gift of the secretary of state and not in the gift of the people in the six counties, never mind the whole of Ireland? That means Downing Street and Westminster can prevent Irish unity, if people in the six counties want it, by simply appointing a secretary who won’t call a border poll, as the secretary of state’s appointment is the responsibility of the prime minister. This shows that the premise of the GFA was unionists insisting on perpetually remaining part of the British state thus allowing the impositions of partition and separate development to further damage our society.
Manus did not explain how republicans dissenting from Stormont, Leinster House and Westminster makes a united Ireland more unlikely. He ignored the irony of Provisional Sinn Féin declaring themselves to be republican while they’re consistently acting in an anti-republican fashion.
If Manus was serious about moving to a better scenario then he would be promoting the conciliatory spirit of Éire Nua and advocating the human rights of the Brythonic diaspora in a provincial context and in a national context as well. His reply amounted to internecine nationalist bickering which only assists unionists in the British state with their divide et impera strategy in relation to Ireland.
Claims of full employment are a contrived myth
The obscenity of claims that we have secured full employment has to be challenged and the untruth that the local economy is improving rapidly has to be exposed.
Recent statements by a leading economist that we are “effectively at full employment” have been unquestioningly reported and repeated while the reality of local life tells a very different story.
Let’s dismantle these contrived myths with some stark realities. Recent research reveals that 370,000 people in Northern Ireland are living in poverty.
The percentage of people in work in Northern Ireland remains well below the UK average and the lowest of all 12 UK regions.
The number of people here not looking for a job remains the highest in the UK.
There are thought to be around 16,000 people here on zero hour contracts. Zero-hour contract workers earn significantly less than regular employees, pay less tax and National Insurance and are more reliant on tax credits. These jobs offer no security, no career path and no personal development. Irrespective of individual anecdotes the principle of these contracts is wrong – but the last assembly refused to do away with them.
As the trade union’s ‘Better Work – Better Lives’ campaign points out, Northern Ireland has been the subject of greater cuts than the majority of the other UK regions.
More than a quarter of a million people in Northern Ireland are in part-time employment – two thirds of them women. One in three jobs in Northern Ireland is considered ‘insecure’.
At least 250,000 people of working age are in receipt of benefits because they are on low pay.
As the quality of jobs here continues to decline the view from the board room of a bank might look healthy and optimistic. However, for the vast majority of working people and for those in search of a job the reality is very different and the outlook very grim.
CHRIS BAILIE, GEMMA WEIR
Workers Party, North Belfast
Coping with addiction
M uch is being made of the fact that Ant McPartlin has been fined £86k by the courts and that this in merely less than a week’s wages to him.
His addiction is costing him a lot more than money in terms of damaged family relationships and mental health. His particular problem of drinking is the same for the multi-millionaire as it is for the cruelly-named wino on the street who has to beg for a drink.
The suffering of the alcoholic knows no distinction of class or profession. Ant is in a bad way and it must be hoped he will garner understanding and not be seen as a source of blood-in-the-water to be torn apart for showing he is human, like everyone else. Good luck to him and to those who are in pain from the same problem, but who are largely invisible to society.
Bantry, Co Cork
Dublin devoid of warmth
Amidst all the attempts by the Fine Gael cartel to distract people from the abortion referendum by compromising the nation’s neutrality by siding with the UK against Russia I see a distant capital devoid of its old character and warmth.
Generation Starbucks rules the roost. With the students and workers from all parts of the world increasingly making the city nihilist and ‘dog-eat-dog’. Add to that a war on drugs which has turned the city into a miniature Los Angeles.
Ardboe, Co Tyrone
Arlene should take herself out of the equation
After reading The Irish News article on Patrick Kielty and Arlene Foster and hearing how she would uproot rather than live in this country if the border was to go, I wonder what does she thinks is going to happen to her? It’s clear to all that she hasn’t, nor even had, the remotest intention of sitting down to negotiate a government with equality for all. It is a non-starter. Since being elected (and before) Arlene has made one mistake after another, so why doesn’t she just step aside and take herself out of the equation or let her party decide for her, and perhaps there might be some right-minded DUP politician who is prepared to do what they were elected to do – govern, create stability and give us all peace.
Assert right to national freedom
If you are opposed to partition why would you want to be a British border guard with ‘special allegiance to the crown’?
Why are Irish people who have no allegiance to the crown conscripted as part of the people of Northern Ireland? We should assert our right to national freedom.
Tighten the border to exclusively embrace the unionist people and leave them in peace. No more useless talk about a united Ireland or Irish unity.
Of course unionists will always be welcome. There will always be an open door and a chair at the table but it is entirely up to them. No persuasion, and no ‘offers they can’t refuse’.