Letters to the Editor

Majority unionist party paying loose adherence to international obligations

The recent revelation that four DUP MLAs went to the Middle East as ‘Friends of Israel’ should come as no real surprise to anyone. The allegation that these DUP members failed to declare their trips to the NI Electoral Commission may or may not be a shock either in light of the British House of Commons damning indictment on Ian Paisley jnr’s trips to Sri Lanka.
However, in a wider context a pattern is surely emerging on the behaviour of the majority unionist party and its loose adherence to parliamentary procedures and international moral obligations.While it is rightly the responsibility of Westminster and the north’s Electoral Commission to establish and determine the rights and/or wrongs of the DUP’s statutory responsibilities in respect of these trips, it is also surely the duty of wider society to ask questions of the reasons behind them. 

The British House of Commons established that Ian Paisley went on paid holidays to Sri Lanka worth £100,000-plus that were not only a breach of rules on ‘Westminster paid advocacy’ but which according to Amnesty International were also a ‘scandal about a British MP attempting to lobby the British prime minister against supporting a UN investigation into gross human rights violations and mass murder of civilians by the Sri Lankan government”. This surely is the greatest violation in this case?

The fact that the DUP is also in an alliance with The Friends of Israel group should be a grave cause for concern.
This fundamental pro-Zionist movement quite actively supports and encourages the provocative Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands and the draconian military actions and human rights violations against the Palestinian people. The Friends of Israel group are active on the international arena subverting the truth and spreading propaganda against the Palestinians. It is also a fact that Israel has broken 65 UN resolutions. 

One also has to look at other controversial international scenarios where unionism ‘intervenes’ and gives its backing. The illegal Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus, as deemed by the United Nations, has garnered the support of major unionist political and business figures while many unionists vent their allegiance and sympathy to Donald Trump with his anti-immigrant/build a wall of policies.
Indeed Ian Paisley jnr has boasted of his close friendship with ‘The Donald’. No doubt unionism takes its lead on the Irish border, Brexit and wider society from the divisive US president in the White House. 

All of the above shows the insular mindset and apartheid, colonial, thinking of unionism whose DNA and lifeblood is isolation, separatism, domination and supremacy. Consequently one can only determine that ‘by their friends shall ye know them’. 

Belfast BT15


Sinn Féin undermining goal of a united Ireland

Mary Lou McDonald, a post GFA member of Sinn Fein who thinks she has the authority and credentials to determine who in the six counties are republicans, has said that she wants the Stormont institutions back up and running. It suits nobody more than the British government to have these institutions up and running because it allows Britain to rule the six counties by proxy. Sinn Féin, which would like to claim true legitimacy of republicanism, are the most fervent advocates of supporting the administration of British rule in Ireland.  Sinn Féin has endorsed a unionist veto over a united Ireland in the principle of consent in the GFA but under that agreement went even further in agreeing that a majority of the people in the 26 counties must also consent.
Now Mary Lou McDonald is urging a delay in a united Ireland referendum.

The truth of the matter is that in Sinn Féin’s pursuit of power in the six counties it has pursued a policy of Ulsterisation and normalisation that may serve its party interests but has undermined the goal of a united Ireland.  This policy has perhaps served the leadership of Sinn Féin but it certainly hasn’t served the interests of those who were at the coalface of the republican struggle who remain impoverished and criminalised by the policies of Sinn Féin.  For example, Sinn Féin commemorates fallen volunteers but if any of them had survived and were being sought by the RUC/PSNI Sinn Féin would support the PSNI’s right to pursue and prosecute them. It is time republicans acknowledged this contradiction.

Belfast BT11 


Comments on abortion are correct

On the subject of abortion, Fr Patrick McCafferty (July 31) comments are correct and consistent. For Christians everywhere, St Paul’s simple advice is: ‘Accept God’s word for what it really is, God’s word and not some human thinking’ (1Thess 2.13). On abortion, God’s word is given in the Fifth Commandment; ‘You shall not kill’.

As progressive, practising Catholics, we stand in church to individually and collectively affirm belief in the Gospel (God’s Word) – and also stand again at The Creed, affirming belief in the teaching of ‘The Holy Catholic Church’. Jesus taught an unconditional love for truth. ‘Let what you say be simply Yes or No’.

Without being hypocritical can I publicly pass myself off as a practising Catholic, while also regarding myself as a ‘regressive’ Catholic, who sometimes secretly votes against God’s Word, and the teachings of His Church?

Two other thoughts: Since 1967, more than 8,000,000 babies have been deliberately aborted, in UK’s National Health hospitals. Many UK people voted for Brexit, ‘because migrants are taking our jobs’. Is the continuing high abortion rate contributing to the need for migrant workers? In both Ireland and the UK, it is a criminal offence to remove an egg from a wild bird’s nest. Should a bird’s egg, have more protection than a human baby in its mother’s womb?

Downpatrick, Co Down


Change of mindset needed at NICS 

Most technicians and engineers, finding themselves stymied by an obstacle blocking their progress, would find a workaround to get the job done.

It’s a state of mind that could help the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) deliver projects currently stymied by the lack of an executive and Northern Ireland Assembly.

If the NICS are not able to complete projects such as Arc21 themselves then maybe they should hand these projects off to existing agencies in NI or Great Britain, or create special vehicles capable of delivering these.

And surely there are enough third sector bodies (‘Third sector leaders demand “alternative decision-making”, July 30) set up by the NICS with the wherewithal to do so?

My guess is that there already exist standalone government agencies or mutuals in NI that could deliver most of these projects through to completion.

Belfast, BT9

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