Letters to the Editor

Political progress being frustrated by a focus on the past

Recent news stories of Michael Stone brought back memories of some the horrendous events of our history. I’ll not say the worst because that would be comparing the suffering, loss, pain and grief people suffered here and appearing to create a hierarchy. It was all horrendous and suffering and grief unique to those who endured it. However, all that lived through it were victims in some way. But for what? We have come a long way since those dark days of the 1970s, 80s and 90s. There have been a few awful murders and my sympathies go out to those who have suffered loss as a result.  But the period since the Good Friday Agreement has been relatively peaceful and in this 50th anniversary year of the civil rights campaign huge strides have been made in furthering basic human rights.

Is it good enough to keep reminding ourselves that we have stopped killing each other and that we recognise, albeit driven by a legislative imperative, some basic human rights? My view is that of course it is not. Political processes have failed to take us on to the next level of evolution, failed to develop strong economic, social and cultural infrastructures that will allow us, as Emmett had it, ‘to take our place among the nations of the world’. Instead we have political stagnation, progress being frustrated by a focus on the past that I do not believe the general public share.

When I was nine I recall being hugely excited by the talk at home when Ivan Cooper and John Hume used to call. I knew later that that was the beginnings of the SDLP, an institution that did more than most to bring about the peace referred to earlier.
It was exciting and it was purposeful.

I believe the current lacuna presents a huge opportunity for politics here, and arguably across these islands, to redefine itself in the context of today’s generations, freed from the shackles of the history and wars that have shaped the constitutions we have today. The basis of the foundation of  Northern Ireland was, of course, flawed. 

We have spent too much time trying to make what we have better as opposed to taking the time to create an optimum model of governance across the British Isles, including Ireland. We need and deserve new dynamics.

We should not have an assembly back until our politicians present us with different choices than heretofore. Choices based on the true will of the people, not on historical sectarian differences. I believe there are many that read these pages and elsewhere prepared to drive that demand and I urge you to let your voices be heard.

Garvagh, Co Derry


Nothing could induce Ireland to part of the UK

James Annett, Popular Unionist, London, in his letter ‘Republic should rejoin the UK’ (August 28)asks if anyone in government has sat down and worked out the economic impact of an all-Ireland economic structure if Northern Ireland was absorbed into what would amount to a, ‘united Ireland’.

The answer to this question is yes, several people have over the two years since Brexit, the coming change of demography in Northern Ireland towards a Catholic majority, along with the cross-community majority vote for remaining within the EU has very sensibly made scoping and preparation for a new or united Ireland active, and essential if we are to avoid a situation like the current Brexit debacle upon a ‘yes’ vote in the unity poll.

The work that has been undertaken, along with the fact that the Republic already has a GDP 17 per cent greater than the UK’s, has been positive and encouraging for the economic outlook for a united Ireland. The 2016 study for the Oireachtas carried out by those involved in the reunification of east and west Germany, predicted a dividend over the first eight years post unity of almost €40bn, with the north being the larger of the two benificiaries (although the south will benefit considerably as well), therefore dependence on those Mr Annett has cited – Britain, Europe and the US – would, if required initially, reduce quickly.

However, economic arguments aside, Mr Annett misses a major point for Irish nationalists which is that nothing would ever induce Ireland to agree to being part of a British United Kingdom again. Would the UK consider being part of Ireland I wonder and would that suggestion ever be made?

Belfast BT9


Ludicrous suggestion

James Annett (August 28) advocated for the Free State joining the British state to improve economic conditions. This idea is preposterous. While Britain has a higher nominal GDP and a higher GDP purchasing power parity than the Free State it should be noted that the Free State has a higher nominal GDP per capita and a higher GDP purchasing power parity per capita than Britain according to IMF and World Bank statistics. He also asserted that the Free State could not afford the six counties. This myth needs to be debunked once and for all. Eurostat states that the six counties have a nominal GDP of €43.432bn and a GDP PPP of €39.873bn. The British government’s Finance NI website published a six counties budget of £10.6128bn for 2017-2018. The IMF’s statistics show that the Free State’s nominal GDP is $333.994bn and that its GDP PPP is $343.682bn. The Free State government’s budget website states that there is a budget of €60.923174bn for 2018. To maintain the current level of service provided a budget of over €72,629,092,400 would be required and the revenue could be generated from an economy worth over €380,704,206,472. 

Belfast BT11


Citizen McAleese

I am grateful for Mary McAleese’s voice as she resolutely lets everyone know what she thinks about the Catholic Church’s governance. I’m also grateful for the honesty of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s voice.  

Yes, there may be many who don’t share her views – that’s the trouble as far as I’m concerned. Generations of Catholics have been aware of the power and the glory of their Church and the lack of compassion and downright cruelty especially to the poor and ill-educated. Others prefer to bow their heads and hope that reality will go away. Because of who she is Mary McAleese’s voice will speak for Catholics like myself who are sickened by the anti-Christ like behaviour that still goes on generation after generation.

Birmingham, England


Sinn Féin MP has questions to answer

May I please ask the MP for Mid Ulster, Mr Molloy, why he attended the conference in Tunisia where Mr. Corbyn also attended?

How can anyone honour the planners of the murdered Israeli athletes at the Olympic games in Munich, who were later killed by Israeli planes as they sat in their offices in Tunis?

May I also ask Mr Molloy  who paid for that trip and his expenses?

And further, why would he sit with Hamas leaders who have vowed to destroy Israel and to kill every Jew on earth? It is in the Hamas charter [Arabic version] in case anyone doubts my word.

Kfar Vradim, Western Galilee

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