Letters to the Editor

Those at the bottom will play for Sinn Féin's lack of action

I read Colm Gildernew’s letter (August 21). He  linked the Civil Rights 50th anniversary to the recent hot topics of equality, the Irish language and the upcoming changes to electoral boundaries and ended with the words “we shall overcome if we continue to work for it”.

Some of us might ask when did the work start and of course what he means by work? Certainly all the heavy lifting to produce the equality and rights legislative framework we have, was founded on patient, painstaking, dedicated persuasion and argument by people such as the incomparable John Hume. 

Still rather than going back arguing about who did or didn’t do what, can we agree on recent history? 

As I recall the executive  asked Westminster to take back powers over social welfare. This is the only example where a devolved assembly has handed back power, usually it is the other way round. Of course by doing less our MLAs effectively negotiated an increase in their
hourly rate. 

The added advantage of handing back this power for our MLAs being that when  PIP, bedroom tax and universal credit changes kick in, they can say ‘not me guv’ it’s those terrible nasty Tories”. Real politicians such as Labour in Wales or SNP in Scotland took this responsibility on. Of course to do so would have required policy positions, priorities and of course responsible decisions. Decisions such as perhaps finding money by charging for prescriptions, water charges, looking at the university fee levels, or even closing some hospital units. People in north Down and the Malone Road hardly need these freebies.
Do they?

Does Sinn Féin have any well-worked-out policies? If so perhaps they could share them with us. They certainly will have to down south very soon.
Colm’s humorous letter referred to gerrymandering of constituency boundaries – true the latest boundary commission draft has Dungiven carved into three different constituencies. 

The fact that Sinn Féin made no suggestions or submissions means yet again, that they have the ready cooked alibi ‘not us guv’. This time, no doubt, they will blame the DUP,  you know the ones who work for their voters. Whatever else Colm and colleagues have been doing, I really struggle to see how thinking, writing and doing nothing, can be described as “work”. 

We all know that both the UK and the Republic will be poorer after Brexit. A first step for success usually refers to the need to turn up. So given their non-contribution to Brexit, what do they suggest? What plans do they have? Who will pay the price in the future? Usually it is those at the bottom, which in Northern Ireland, must mean a lot of their own voters. 

Belfast BT9


Voters’ interests not served by people who prey on prejudices

We are probably seeing the predictable unravelling of Donald Trump’s presidency after one and a half years of stormy leadership. Some of his closest staff have been convicted of crimes including tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts and perjury.
 After claiming he had a great team round him, he has fired 16 people from his White House team – including four of his cabinet members – in only 18 months. He harangues his own intelligence agency the CIA and berates the FBI, and cosies up to dictators like Putin.

Trump’s constant untruths is something to behold. He humiliated Theresa May to the Sun newspaper and the next day denied it, even though it was recorded and shown repeatedly on television. He thinks: “The bigger the lie, the more likely people will believe it.” And he might have a point. 

Despite his behaviour his voting base, made up of the extreme right-wing and evangelical Christians, still supports him. Which brings me to the comparison with Northern Ireland.

Ian Paisley, a supporter of Trump and born again Christian, accepted free holidays in Sri Lanka worth £100,000 but much worse he lobbied on their behalf in Parliament knowing they had been accused of human rights abuses in their treatment of the Tamil population, who were tortured, killed and disappeared.
Paisley’s voting base of Calvinist Christians will no doubt support him in the event that he is forced to stand in a by-election. 

The similarities in Northern Ireland with the scandals that have engulfed the Trump regime are stark.
We have had the RHI scandal, Nama, Red Sky, Charter NI scandal, all in the last decade. 

People will continue to vote along sectarian lines until we wake up to the fact that their interests are not served by people who prey on their prejudices.

I still feel optimistic and I cite the fact how the Irish Republic has changed regarding same-sex marriage, abortion rights and the separation of Church and state, in a very short time.

Bangor, Co Down


Still waiting for justice

The deadline is fast approaching for people to make their submissions on legacy issues.  Everyone has their own story to tell, and it is important that each is told.

Tim Collins is just one in a long queue of those who seek to perpetuate the ‘hierarchy of victims’ line and who seek to protect, at all costs, the Crown forces and other state players, who took the lives of the innocent.

My uncle, Paddy Elliman, was shot by an English soldier close to his home during the Falls curfew in July 1970. He died one week later without regaining consciousness.

Soldier ‘R’ fired the fatal shot, while soldier ‘D’ was by his side. No-one was ever held accountable and the authorities claim they do not now know who ‘R’ and ‘D’ are.

Why my uncle was shot, no-one has ever offered any explanation. 48 years on and we are still waiting for answers, truth and justice.

I would urge everyone to make a submission before time runs out. Make your voice heard and do not let this opportunity pass. 
There can be no re-defining of a victim. There must not be any statute of limitations or any ‘national security veto’ which will only serve to deny us the full disclosure to which we are entitled. No party should be allowed to continue blocking funding for inquests. These are not, in my opinion, unreasonable expectations. We are all entitled to expect and receive, truth and justice in our quest for some degree of closure.

Belfast BT11


Diplomatic faux pas

One can readily appreciate that as an Anglican Arlene Foster found herself between a rock of RC-ism and a hard place of FP-ism (Free Presbyterianism). But the civic reception to which she was invited was for a visiting head of state. A diplomatic faux pas could have been averted and a big-hearted unionism gesture made by RSVP-ing the taoiseach’s office  and asking her predecessor to substitute. At worst, they would’ve found themselves among ‘Castle (ie soft) Catholics’, ie they of the Home Rule variety, more than those rough ’n’ ready hard Catholics of SF. And in what used to be the second city of the British Empire

Baile Átha Cliath 



Having heard Gavin Boyd of the Rainbow Project recently on The Nolan Show, I was surprised to hear him say a gay person should play the role of a gay man in a new Disney production and Jack Whitehall was the wrong choice as a straight actor.

Doesn’t Gavin believe in diversity?

Isn’t diversity something the LGBT community constantly champions?

Maybe it’s just a certain type of diversity as Gavin sees it though.

Belfast BT15

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