Letters to the Editor

Tricky decision deciding if a child is ready to be ‘home alone'

The long summer holidays are here and while they’ll be welcomed by children, it can be a stressful time for parents and carers because of the inevitable extra childcare. Deciding if a child is ready to be left home alone during the holidays can be a tricky decision and it is made even more difficult by the fact there is no legal minimum age for children to be left alone to look after themselves.

So that means it is up to parents and carers to use their judgment when deciding if their child is ready to be on their own for an extended period. To help them, NSPCC Northern Ireland has some key advice and tips to help parents decide.

We recommend that babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone under any circumstances.

Children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to cope in an emergency and should not be left at home alone for a long period of time while youngsters under the age of 16 should not be left alone overnight.

It’s important to remember that a child should never be left at home alone if they do not feel comfortable with this, regardless of their age.

Also bear in mind if a child has additional needs, these should be considered when leaving them at home alone or with an older sibling.

And remember when leaving a younger child with an older sibling think about what may happen if they were to have a falling out – would they both be safe?

When the wrong decision is made, parents and carers can be prosecuted for neglect if it is judged that they placed a child at risk by leaving them at a property by themselves.
Our specialist counsellors on our 24-hour NSPCC Helpline are available to offer members of the public help and advice but in the year 2016/17 they also made 60 referrals to authorities like police and social services in Northern Ireland after being contacted by members of the public concerned about children left home alone.

We know that children mature at different rates so it’s vital there is flexibility for parents as they are best-placed to know what is right for their child.

Parents should check their children are happy and confident and know what to do in an emergency if the decision is taken to leave them alone at the family home.
There’s lots of advice for parents on our website:


Head of NSPCC in Northern Ireland


Route to Republic lies in struggle from below

While a changed circumstance, born of Brexit and demographic change, suggests some form of united Ireland may well be in the offing, for Irish republicans a key consideration lies in what kind of Ireland is intended toward. Here we might remember that Ireland has been united before, under British rule, and so that concept, of itself, is not a panacea.

Irish republicanism sets toward a national democracy mounted on the 1916 Proclamation – a separate endeavour to the supposed united Ireland that can be formed out of the Good Friday Agreement. If the writ of the British in Ireland is to be ended, republicans must take note. For there is no viable route to the Republic through the provisions of the Good Friday process.

That process is set, instead, toward John Hume’s ‘agreed new Ireland’ – a revisionist construct whose intent and design is to reconcile Ireland to Britain, ensuring thus, should a united Ireland emerge, the retention of British domain. Other avenues need considered if the republican object is to be realised.

Our response to the challenge this presents, rather than to retreat into mere ‘rejectionism’, must be to build support for the 32-county Republic set out under the Proclamation. Engaging our people on its merit is the work now before us. Failing as much, the more limited design of constitutional nationalism will only be further emboldened.

No matter how outward appearances may present, this design, were it to proceed, would be a further set back. For the ‘agreed new Ireland’ of Varadkar and co intends not on the Irish Republic but on a continuum of the Good Friday Agreement, to be entered into as a revised compromise with the British state on an all-Ireland basis.

Irish republicans must focus accordingly, to ensure things do not end up so. Building struggle from below at a grassroots level, engaging ordinary people on a positive basis through political campaigning and initiative, is the journey that now must begin. Any hope that remains for the Irish Republic depends on it.

Omagh, Co Tyrone


Ireland now a scary place

Mother Ireland has sold her soul. The laws of nature and the laws of God have all been thrown over the cliff. For what? Some day there has got to be consequences.

The only political party left in the whole of Ireland prepared to defend the unborn child is the DUP. Those of conscience who still see any validity in casting their vote now face Hobson’s choice. To ensure abortion is not carried out in their name, do they consider the previously unthinkable and vote DUP? The same DUP we are all told are anti-Irish, but surely there is nothing more anti-Irish than aborting Irish babies?  

The Ireland of our forefathers is dead and gone and the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation have been made to look antiquated in an Ireland where fathers are not consulted on the welfare of their unborn babies and where freedom has been reduced to a slogan.

For many of conscience, the defence of the unborn will take precedence over any cultural, historical or political issues, so wouldn’t it be ironic if the survival of the DUP depended on the support of nationalists and republicans of conscience who have nowhere else to turn?

Ireland is now a scary place for the unborn and indeed their supporters as demonstrated by

Fionnuala O Connor (June 12) when she sought to name some of the brave souls who had the courage to speak out in aid of the unborn.

Martinstown, Co Antrim


Political blind spot

Joanne Lowry, of The Workers’ Party (June 20) writes that she witnessed a love-in between Sinn Féin members and Leo Varadkar recently at St Mary’s College and says that her money is on a Fine Gael/SF coalition in the south. She may be right, as both parties seem to be making conciliatory noises in each other’s direction. She goes on to criticise the Shinners for their ‘fake socialist credentials’ while fawning over the “conservative, right-wing” Fine Gaeler, and suggests that “Sinn Fein has probably found its soul mate in Fine Gael”.

Ms Lowry makes some valid points about SF’s avowed socialism versus their quest for power, but she seems to have a blind spot when it comes to the history of her own party. Fine Gael were only able to form a government in the 22nd Dail in 1981 with the support of the one Workers’ Party TD, Joe Sherlock. Her party helped the Blueshirts take power, so she cannot criticise other parties for doing the same.

Belfast BT12


Arlene not first unionist leader to come from Fermanagh

Newton Emerson states that Arlene Foster is the first unionist leader to come from a Fermanagh background in the last 40 years (Opinion, June 21). I am afraid that Mr Emerson has overlooked Tom Elliott, a Fermanagh farmer and the Ulster Unionist leader from 2010 to 2012 – a period not even 10 years ago let
alone 40. 

Belfast BT12

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