Letters to the Editor

Alban's fantasies are incompatible with the historical facts

Alban Maginness (May 17), will tell his grandchildren that the SDLP were unique in Irish politics, changed the face of politics throughout Ireland, and since its formation in 1970 they steered the history of this island as the most successful party since partition.

It is difficult to speculate as to what such delusions can contribute to a proper debate about the history of this dying political party, its perceived achievements and relevance.

The truth is that these fantasies are incompatible with the historical facts. It is true though that some of their founder members attended civil rights marches. I walked beside Gerry Fitt at the first march from Coalisland to Dungannon. But when this political party was founded in 1970 they opted for a parliamentary career. And they did so in the full knowledge that their trips to Westminster could never address the grievances of those who elected them.

Before partition Ireland sent over 80 nationalist members to that forum. And many of them, including Michael Davitt, Stewart Parnell and Joe Devlin, were more eloquent orators and more capable politicians than anybody from the SDLP. But they could not stop the genocide of more than two million Irish people by famine, the Black and Tans, Auxiliaries or the wastage of Ireland’s youth in England’s imperialist wars. And the grasping landlords who carried out the evictions, were only defeated by the massive agitation organised by Davitt and the Fenians.

In 1792, Presbytarian preacher, the Rev Sinclair Kilburn collected 600 signatures at a public meeting in Belfast. They demanded that the British government end the oppression of Catholics in Ireland and introduce Catholic emancipation. The motion was tabled by local MP John O’Neill in mid-February and binned by the government before the end of that month.

If Alban really believes that the SDLP succeeded in Westminster where everyone else failed he should point us to even one of those successes.

And in 1991 it was left to political activists who were not affiliated to any political party to enlighten a shocked subcommittee of the European parliament about the extent of religious discrimination in employment throughout the Six Counties. We have a long way to go to secure human rights here, but the residents of the Ormeau and Garvaghy roads do not endure sectarian marches today because people sat on the road and were batoned by police. Fair employment legislation was secured when people met in derelict buildings and planned lobbies, protests and boycotts. And we stopped them from chaining the children’s swings up in the parks on Sundays.

The SDLP contributed nothing to any of this and I wouldn’t advise Alban to have that conversation with his grandchildren.

Belfast BT11


What can be more wrong than to rob a child of life?

I can agree 100 per cent with Gerard Herdman (May 31) as I too find it absolutely heartbreaking and depressing to see and hear the gloating and carnival atmosphere in celebration of the result of the referendum in the Republic, to change the pro-life laws of the Eighth Amendment and permit the termination of the most vulnerable – the unborn.

Shame on all Yes voters. You have stepped from civilisation conveniently inviting people to view abortion as a medical not a criminal matter.

And to see the taoiseach involved in those celebrations, all smiles, congratulating and hand shaking, was particularly galling.

Very obvious double standards. While Leo Varadkar (May 31) sincerely apologises on behalf of the government to people affected by illegal adoptions, he said: “What was done was wrong, robbed children, our fellow citizens of their identity.”

Two wrongs don’t make a right.  
What could be more wrong than to rob a child of his or her right to life?

Next we will be seeing the opening of chambers of horror in the Republic in which to allow doctors and nurses to end innocent human life.

To take an innocent life is always gravely wrong, very sinful, not a matter of choice. I fail to see any sign of a mother’s love in all of this.

Belfast BT7


Republic is post Christian society

Perhaps it is time to be honest and realise that after the Referendum vote the Republic is a post Christian society. The insertion of the clause allowing the termination of unborn children is incompatible with the Christian message enshrined in the Constitution which ‘acknowledges our obligations to Jesus Christ’. We can have one but not both. Further, the Republic we have now is not one that was envisaged by the men and women of 1916.  
This is not the Republic of Pearse, Plunkett, Connolly etc but one moulded by various ephemeral celebrities of pop culture and sport. Is there any point in having Dáil prayers or piously reading out the Proclamation for a republic which no longer exists when the standards they aspire to are being so wilfully ignored?

The defining images of the age are of joyous crowds dancing at the impending ending of other human lives. These are as distressful as they are wrong.


Leitir Ceanainn, Tir Chonaill


Should men have equal rights?

If a man believes and can prove that he is the father of an unborn child, does he not have an equal right to refuse or agree to the abortion of that child within 12 weeks? Can this choice be left to the pregnant woman?

Nowhere in all the debate on the rights of women have I heard the mention of a father’s rights. Are we to assume that all men are indifferent to the fate of the babies they have like the women who have the so-called right to allow or refuse those babies life?

Belfast BT4


Sinn Féin’s double standards

Where does double standards begin and end? Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (June 4) tells us about the DUP record on civil and human rights.

Could this be the same Máirtín Ó Muilleoir who with his Sinn Féin party were centre stage in denying the innocent unborn the right to be born and voted to have them aborted in their mother’s womb? Is the right to life not the most basic of all rights?

Martinstown, Co Antrim


No to British abortion laws in Northern Ireland

If Sinn Féin voters want to reject British abortion laws in Northern Ireland then they should vote DUP and they won’t get them. 
We will stop any British abortion laws. If you regard yourself as a good Catholic then support your Catholic clergy. No British abortion laws  here. Vote DUP.

Bangor, Co Down

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Letters to the Editor