Letters to the Editor

Perhaps it's time to properly deal with our past and be mature about it

Yet another consultation has been launched proposing convoluted ways of dealing with the crimes of our past. It would at least create a solid foundation if we could establish how many unsolved murders there are from the pre-1998 conflict we call the Troubles.

At a meeting with the Historical Enquiries Team some years ago, it was stated that just over 3,200 murders were carried out, with around 1,800 to some extent resolved, leaving around 1,423 outstanding.

Then, in researching a pamphlet for the RUC GC Foundation, we were told that approximately 30 per cent of republican murders (say 700 out of 2,148) were solved and 50 per cent of loyalist (say 535 out of 1,071). This would mean that about 1,983 paramilitary murders are outstanding.

The figure from the public consultation document is approximately 1,700.

The police (52) and army (309) were responsible for 10 per cent of all deaths, some of which were crimes, but all of which are presently being reviewed. A deeper analysis of the prime minister’s recent comments might indicate that she has a point.

Meanwhile, The Detail was recently provided figures indicating that 1,186 killings are being investigated, which includes all those by the security forces (which they cite as 352) leaving the rest (834) being paramilitary murders. Only the state forces were legally entitled to take life in specific circumstances. Paramilitary murders were crimes.

Finally, I understand that some 700 murders of security force members are outstanding out of a total of 1,021. Around 200 police and 500 army. In most democracies the investigations of such murders are prioritised.

As you can see, some clarity is required over the statistics.

Of course, when you look further into the cases some have only been solved to a certain degree. We know who the Shankill bombers were, but not who sent them to carry out that atrocity and the same for Greysteel and so many others. So we are pursuing those carrying out the murders but too often not those who directed or encouraged them.

Yet we can find out who they were. as intelligence can clarify the internal structures of the various paramilitary organisations. This type of information could be disclosed in a formal legal setting.

Perhaps it is now time to properly deal with our past and be mature about it and in a way that ensures we create the solid foundations to build a successful society on for the future and so that we never again allow unnecessary conflict to emerge on this Island.

To begin with we should recognise the ‘Troubles’ should never have happened and some young people acted in a way that in a normal society they would not otherwise have done. In addition is it right that we champion those who promoted the flawed ideologies that caused our conflict around the world as peacemakers?

In my view an amnesty cannot legally be given in the context of our conflict, but there could be a process involving a clear admission of a wrong, which in this instance means murder or injury, an apology to those on whom they inflicted the tragedy and a formal acceptance of a sentence. The perpetrator could then be released on licence.

Such an option could be given to the suspected murderers and if they reject it, then they should be pursued for as long as they can draw breath by our justice system. 

Holywood, Co Down


Can we expect the DUP to be renamed as ‘Katholikos DUP’?

I’m beginning to think that Arlene Foster has, as Trump would say, ‘tapped my lines’ because she has used language from Catholic theology that I recently used to explain the meaning of ‘Catholic’ to a person in the north

Here’s how I had explained it.

The famous expert on world religions Mircea Eliade has pointed out that the opposite of Catholicism is not Protestantism, but rather sectarianism (Roman Catholicism, The Encyclopedia of Religion).
Catholicism is universal. It does not seek to “come out’’ of this world but rather to transform this world. ‘Come-outism’ is the very antithesis of Catholicism.

Moreover, ‘Catholic’ means more than ‘universal’. Let me, ironically and ecumenically, turn to a good Protestant  – and a leading expert on Martin Luther – Rev Martin Marty for perfect explication: “If ‘universal’ is the adequate meaning of ‘catholic’ why did the Latin church, which in its vernacular language had the word universalis, not use this word but rather borrowed from Greek the term katholikos instead? The etymological history of universalis is not, in every, detail clear but it certainly involves the concepts of ‘one’ and vertere, ‘turn’. It suggests using a compass to make a circle around a central point.  It is an inclusive concept in the sense that the circle includes everything within it. But by the same token, it also excludes everything outside it.  Universalis contains a subtle note of negativity. Katholikos does not. It is more unequivocally positive. It means simply “through-the-whole” or “throughout-the-whole” – kata or kath, or through-or throughout-holos, whole, from the same Indo-European roots as our English ‘whole’.” (October 31, 1517: Martin Luther and the Day that changed the World.
Page 35).

So, why do I say Arlene ‘tapped my lines’? Well, because she is now saying: “Nationalism is by its nature narrow and exclusive. Being a unionist is the opposite. Unionism stands for pluralism and multi-culturism. We are inclusive and welcome all.”

So, can we now expect the DUP to be re-named ‘Katholikos DUP’?

Washington DC


Wrong to use plight of poor to highlight abortion

 notice yet again the subject of the Magdalene Laundries have been singled out in order to convince us of the abortion agenda.

Let’s not forget that there were similar such places in our recent past. 

Take Britain for example, unmarried women had their babies taken off them and were placed in workhouses and other state-run institutions along with the poor and destitute.

In prison-like conditions, female inmates were forced to scrub floors on their hands and knees, do washing and polishing in order to obtain starvation-like rations. Thankfully these oppressive places are long gone, never to return.
I know today we live in a very sick world but it is despicable that there are people who use the plight of those poor women in the past to justify abortion.

Coleraine  Co Derry


‘No’ side didn’t have a chance

In reality, the ‘No’ side hadn’t a chance against the might of all the party leaders in Dáil Eireann, the government’s powerful PR machine, large elements of the media, self-opinionated celebrities and Amnesty International. The abuse levelled at prominent figures in the ‘No’ campaign was at times shocking, unprintable and completely uncalled for. On the day following the result, such abuse, especially on social media [but not exclusively] took on a new ‘low’. This was a disturbing development, a form of ‘witch-hunt’ and an attempt to suppress freedom of expression. As a recent recruit to the world of journalism, the last few weeks have been a steeper ‘learning curve’ than I could ever have imagined. 

Derry City

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