We shall indeed overcome but only if we continue to work for it
RECENTLY I participated in a panel discussion about events leading up to and surrounding the Caledon Eviction, the first Civil Rights march from Coalisland to Dungannon and the ensuing Civil Rights struggle across the north.
The Dungannon event, chaired by Brian Feeney was addressed by some of the key players of the era, such as my mother, Geraldine Gildernew, Angela McCrystal, Michael McLaughlin, Mary Theresa Goodfellow and Francie Molloy. The genesis of the Civil Rights struggle in the south Tyrone area, and the north more generally, was outlined with reference to actions taken at Currans Terrace, Fairmount Park and other locations stretching back to 1963.
There were honourable mentions for many of the deceased activists of the time, including Annie Mary Gildernew, Tommy O’Connor, Patricia and Conn McCluskey, Aidan Corrigan, Pat McCusker, Peter Monaghan and Malachy McGurran. A broad spectrum of republicans and nationalists researched, planned, strategised and acted to force the state to deliver on the rights demanded at that time.
Former Dungannon councillor Michael McLoughlin made a very interesting point during the debate when he observed that: “The seed planted at Caledon fell on well-prepared ground”.
This is not only undoubtedly true, but should also act as a rallying cry to those of us who seek to promote rights, equality and respect for all in our society today.
We are currently experiencing an unacceptable blockade on a swathe of rights-based issues by the DUP, including Irish language, marriage equality, women’s health and
In addition, there are huge concerns arising from Brexit and the recent Boundary Commission proposals, seen by many as a new attempt to gerrymander the north.
This could have a chilling impact on rights and representation in the Six Counties.
If indeed the ‘Price of liberty is eternal vigilance’, then it could be considered that the cost of rights is constant activism.
In Ireland today, we continue to see housing waiting lists rise to unacceptable levels. The shocking pictures of children sleeping in a Garda station recently and unacceptable housing waiting lists in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, north Belfast, Derry and beyond stand testament to that reality.
This is the opportunity for our generation to speak out and stand up, to achieve and assert these rights. We cannot allow the progress of previous generations, sorely won, to be undermined and diminished in today’s Ireland.
Those seeking to be treated with respect and as equal citizens attended last Saturday’s recreation of that first Civil Rights march, and demonstrated their resolve to continue to deliver basic rights for all the people of our island.
We shall indeed overcome, but only if we continue to work for it.
COLM GILDERNEW MLA
Sinn Féin, Fermanagh and South Tyrone
No excuse for wanting Westminster to legislate on north
The Irish Daily Mail and The Journal reported on Provisional Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald asserting the idea of Ireland rejoining the Commonwealth of Nations must be discussed. Can Provisional Sinn Féin not see that joining a free trade association, free trade is a citerion for Commonwealth membership, with 53 other entities would leave the Irish Free State’s market open to economic dumping? Are they unaware that farmers in EU nations are reliant on the common agricultural policy subsidies due to the economic dumping made possible by the EU’s free movement of goods and services? In any case why would a party with a largely Irish nationalist base want to join a free trade association headed by no other than Elizabeth SaxeCoburg Gotha? Why would a party claiming to be Irish republican want to join a free trade association of former British Empire colonies?
In the Commowealth only Britain, India, Canada, Australia, Nigeria and South Africa have a higher nominal gross domestic product than the Irish Free State. The aforementioned nations, along with Pakistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Singapore are the only Commonwealth nations with higher gross domestic product purchasing power parity than the Irish Free State. Only Bermuda has a higher nominal GDP per capita than the Irish Free State in the Commonwealth. The Falklands, Singapore, Bermuda and the Isle of Man are the only Commonwealth entities with a higher GDP purchasing power parity per capita than the Irish Free State. The idea of the Irish Free State rejoining the Commonwealth of Nations is not the only questionable issue they have raised recently. In the pursuit of legally recognised same-sex unions in this part of Ulster, Provisional Sinn Féin has called upon Westminster to legislate for gay marriage in the six counties. Regardless of where one stands on the social issue there is no excuse for people who claim they’re republican while calling for Westminster to legislate for any part of Ireland.
My recent letter (July 23) seems to have worked Danny Treacy (August 1) into quite a lather, when I challenged his view that the Church was to blame for the ‘yes’ vote in May.
He still insists that the Church was largely at fault, but I don’t think there will be too many abortionists rushing to agree with him, as that would mean admitting they consented to an even worse kind of child abuse, the termination of the innocent baby. No they wouldn’t be too keen on that.
His claim, that the Church conceded they were mainly to blame is nonsense. I don’t recall Bishop Martin, Bishop Doran or indeed Fr McCafferty saying any such thing.
What stands out, in Danny Treacy’s many other delusional rantings is his reference to the New Testament as a first century book of myths. To imply that Jesus and the gospels are mythical, is a sign of a mind devoid of reality. We are aware of the term, used on recent disputes, theological ignorance, now thanks to him, we can add historical ignorance.
He has honoured me by mentioning my name in the same breath as Bishop Doran and Fr McCafferty as these are people who stand in the light and are not afraid to speak to truth.
Mr Treacy, instead of trawling history and the scriptures, to feed his obsessive spite against God and his Church, he should let a little of this light into his own mind.
Coleraine, Co Derry
Trevor Ringland (August 3) stated: “There were democratic avenues available through which [republicans] could have pursued their constitutional aspirations, but instead they chose violence.”
Whatever about ‘constitutional aspirations’, there is no democracy without freedom. British sovereignty over Irish people in Northern Ireland denies them their right to national freedom. However, republicans had no right to murder and maim people.
Mr Ringland blamed “violent nationalism and loyalism, that caused our conflict”. However, it’s worth remembering’ the role of British sovereignty over Irish people in all of this.
I see that Trevor Ringland got top spot with his letter (August 3). The only comment I will make on Mr Ringland is that he has shown himself to be a blinkered unionist, a true champion of British rule here in the six counties. Of course he is entitled to his opinion which he has regularly stated in The Irish News, I am disappointed that he gets top billing in your newspaper as his letter is just the same old anti-republican rant.
Newry, Co Down