Letters to the Editor

Young people need educated on dangers of online gambling

A serious problem in our society is on-line gambling which has no limits relating to the amount gambled or the time in which money can be whittled away. There is no book-maker to advise when things are out of control as did happen on many occasions when bookie offices were run by local people who were certainly there to make money but not to the extent that their customers went bankrupt, lost their job and became broken-up families because no-one would help them with their addiction problem.

Like all addictions, gambling addiction won’t go away and those affected need help from professionals who are trained to help the victim through counselling so that they can build a path towards recovery. This is often not available and many victims find it difficult engaging with support networks which are a very powerful tool.

Online gambling is particularly nasty because it requires no cash – just your debit or credit card or someone else’s. No cash passes hands and therefore it is harder if not impossible to realise how much money is being spent or how much is being lost. And importantly, there is no age barrier – there are no valid checks or controls and those who start to gamble early in life as youngsters tend to develop gambling addictions.

In a changing technological world, we must ask ourselves if we have made enough efforts to educate our young people on the dangers of online gambling and the addiction that follows.

Government must act to protect the most vulnerable from exploitative gambling syndicates who have no feelings and no affiliation with the individual who has become addicted. They are not the old-style book-maker who may have intervened and refused bets from people clearly in trouble. 

Schools must review their curriculum in keeping with the changing world we live in and built this topic into their subject material. Children need to recognise the symptoms and dangers of addiction and, most importantly how to seek help and recovery where it has gone too far. 

While problem gambling is a progressive disorder which will not get cured on its own no matter how much the addict wants it to and for that reason those affected need to understand that they must seek help from specialists who are trained to deal with gambling addiction.

That in itself is not enough. Government is there to make laws which protect people and especially the vulnerable from new challenges which present themselves whether it is alcoholism, obesity or indeed gambling. That is not happening and our assembly is not addressing these and other everyday challenges. Shame.

SDLP, East Derry


Royal Mail enhancing deliveries in your area

At Royal Mail we never forget that we form an essential part of the UK’s social fabric. We know our postmen and postwomen are valued members of the local community as they deliver letters and parcels six days a week – in all weathers. We’re also continually looking to make our services even better to give customers greater convenience as they shop online.

I’d like to make readers aware of a few changes to their doorstep deliveries so there are no surprises.

Customers expecting tracked items from large retailers are among those to benefit from these changes. If they are not at home when we deliver, they’ll now receive email/SMS notifications on the whereabouts of their delivery. For customers who have provided their contact details, the notifications will confirm when their items have been delivered to a neighbour, as well as specify the neighbour’s address.

The ‘Something for You’ card is also going digital, making it easier for customers to retrieve their item if they are not at home when we deliver. Email and SMS notifications will let customers either re-arrange their parcel delivery for another day or collect their item from their local Customer Service Point using relevant identification. Customers will no longer need to go home to collect the physical card – which we’ll continue to be post through letter boxes.

And finally customers taking pre-paid parcels (including returns) to selected Royal Mail Customer Service Points will receive an acceptance scan as soon as they drop off their item thanks to new scanning technology.

We hope that these changes bring greater levels of convenience, and wish all your readers hours of happy online shopping.

Belfast Mail Centre


Is there a divide in SF north and south?

It is scandalous that 20 years after the GFA there has never been a border poll and if the utterances of the British Secretary of State are anything to go by it is unlikely that one will be called anytime soon. In this, Karen Bradley has been supported by not only Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael but now also by Sinn Féin apparently.  Mary Lou McDonald says now is not the time and a “conversation” about it is better discussed in a climate of more certain economic and social stability. In a similar vein and contrary to the terms of the GFA, which all of these parties claim to support, a similar majority in favour of a united Ireland is not Leo Varadkar’s view of how a united Ireland should come about. Mary Lou McDonald seems to concur with this when she talks of maximising consent when it comes to constitutional change.

The question that needs to be asked is whether there is a divide in Sinn Féin between six county party members and free staters.  Recently John O’Dowd, party chairman Declan Kearney and former president (of Sinn Féin) Gerry Adams have all called for a border poll. Isn’t ironic that the minute a free stater is elected party president that she is able to tell northern nationalists, at a time when it is becoming more apparent to everyone that a border poll in favour of Irish unity is more likely to succeed, that they may have to delay their dream of freedom for a bit longer? And all of these people are supposed to be democrats.  Republicans now need to come together and assert their national birthright and sweep away all of those who would deny them it.

Belfast BT11


Vestige of dignity

Given the rightful concerns expressed about the seeming lack of respect given to the remains of babies in the likes of the Tuam home and a similar lack of care for many years towards the mortal remains of more than 1,100 bodies of the impoverished in post-famine Donegal in St Conal’s Hospital cemetery in Letterkenny, until recently, when an inter-dominational prayer service was held for them and flower bulbs planted and seats installed for contemplation and prayer in their memory, what respect is given to the aborted babies in our hospitals? Surely Sammy Wilson cannot be correct, as he said in House of Commons, that these children’s bodies are ‘binned’? This would be a horror story, if true. Surely, as a society we give these little mortal remains a vestige of dignity? Do we? 

Leitir Ceanainn, Tir Chonaill


Cancer Focus NI says thanks

Cancer Focus Northern Ireland thanks the people of Belfast for their support during their recent collection in the area. The collection took place on 27 June in Belfast City Centre raising a total of £447.14 for the charity. Cancer Focus NI is a local charity fighting against cancer. All the money raised stays in Northern Ireland to benefit your local community.


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