Letters to the Editor

Money for RTS should have been redirected towards elderly

So the new rapid transit system has been introduced to west Belfast. It follows the arterial route of the Falls Road, Andersonstown Road and Stewartstown Road. It is being billed as an environmentally friendly solution to encourage people to abandon cars and use public transport. At first blush this £90m investment may seem reasonable but when you consider that other arterial routes are not subject to the same restrictions such as, for example, the Lisburn Road makes you wonder whether the people who live close to, and habitually use this route, are being treated unfairly. Should they, for instance, have their car tax reduced when so much of the local road available is denied to them for such a prolonged period of the week. That is not to mention the months of delay and congestion they had to submit to in preparing lanes and making road modifications for the Glider. This rapid transit system represented a key priority for Chris Hazzard  (Sinn Féin) when he was British minister for Infrastructure
at Stormont.

I had a medical appointment last week and during my consultation my nurse brought up the issue of the increasing cost of social care for the elderly as that population grows and suggested that burden may have been eased if money directed to this rapid transit system had been redirected towards the elderly.
Coincidentally this was also the day that the Health and Social care Board was telling a Westminster committee that almost 3 per cent of health and social care jobs in the six counties remain vacant.  One of the main reasons for this was the disparity of wages between health and social care workers here than in England, Scotland and Wales. This has made it more difficult to fill the vacancies here. How this disparity came about was due to the malign influence of devolved administrations here. For years the Westminster government put a pay cap on public service workers of 1 per cent but in relation to healthcare workers, successive Stormont health ministers went even further. Towards the end of a financial year they awarded 1 per cent unconsolidated pay rise. This meant at the end of the year that pay rise no longer applied. The following year the same pay rise was awarded but again taken away. These were not real pay rises that were implemented in England, Scotland and Wales.
Hence there is a disparity between what health workers in the six counties are paid in comparison to their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales.
Who do we have to thank for that?  Successive DUP and Sinn Féin ministers. Does anyone really want them back?

Belfast BT11 


Mrs McAleese should publish her criticisms of Church

Ms Sambrook (September 4) is surely correct to point out that leaders such as Mary McAleese have both a right and a duty to criticise the Catholic Church for its poor leadership in instances of abuse and other forms of cruelty.
However, this criticism cannot easily extend to those topics criticism of which has been to the fore in Mary McAleese’s recent oratorical indulgences – for Mrs McAleese has been recently vocal on the male-only priesthood and the teaching on same-sex marriage. It is not the case that abusive and morally indefensible behaviour is in reality the same in kind but different in degree from the male-only priesthood and the Church’s views on marriage; rather these realities are different in kind, since the latter are defensible on their own grounds as truths to which the intellect can assent despite the behaviour of members of the Church, whereas the former are not. And it is not the case that in criticising the Church for its teaching on the male-only priesthood and marriage that Mrs McAleese has offered any reasoning against the Church’s well-established, well-argued and well-defended views on these matters.
Mrs McAleese is a highly educated lady, and so she knows the arguments, the authors and the publications in this regard; she thereby owes it to us to publish with all due academic rigour her criticisms of the Church in regard to the priesthood and same-sex marriage, and we owe it to her and to the Church (and to the truth) not to conflate such criticisms with legitimate criticism of morally indefensible behaviour.

Iona Institute NI, Belfast BT8


Don’t stay silent on dormant Stormont

It has been mere weeks since students across Northern Ireland received their A-level results. Many of them will head to university in England or Scotland and many of them will never return home.

As a young person this upsets me. When I look around and see a society bubbling with possibility and opportunity, only to be held back by stale politics, I can’t help but think how different things might be if all of our futures weren’t reliant upon the ability of the two major parties to agree.

Only a matter of weeks ago, the SDLP took part in the Belfast Pride Festival. The streets were lined with thousands of people showing support and solidarity. No sectarianism, no bigotry, just a sense of belonging and togetherness. It provided a snap shot of how our society could look if we worked together in spite of our differences.

The world around us is changing, yet day-by-day, our political leaders seem content as ever to leave us sitting waiting, wondering, when they will come to agreement. As we wait, our politics is turning off more and more young people as the impasse runs on.
Change can no longer wait.

My message and the message of SDLP Youth to our peers is very simple – don’t get angry, get active.

SDLP Youth, Co Fermanagh


Dr Feeney is misinformed

Brian Feeney writes that Queen Elizabeth II is the “supreme head of Arlene’s Church of Ireland” (August 21). Dr Feeney is misinformed. No monarch has claimed to be supreme head of the Church since Edward VI died in 1553; Queen Mary did not use the title and Elizabeth I declared herself to be Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The Church of Ireland ceased to be established on January 1 1871, when legislation passed in 1869 took effect; that denomination now has neither an earthly supreme head nor a supreme governor.

Belfast BT12


SF and DUP need to clear out their Augean stables

Sinn Féin and DUP continue to ruin Northern Ireland. They both have spent the last 40 or so years wrecking the community. Not only was there damage to people and places but the moral fibre was, and still is being, undermined.

We have the continual rewriting of history and the deliberate provocation of the rest of the community by Sinn Féin, but we have the continual drip feed of allegations from DUP.

No reasonable person would hold back the proper government of a province/ country, over such minority interests as it appears is stopping Stormont being restarted.

No reasonable person would reappoint or re-elect politicians who carry on making bad decisions for the community but for the benefit of either themselves or their friends.

Sinn Féin and DUP need to clear out their Augean stables and get the government up and working properly,  before any prudent person invests further in Northern Ireland.

Belfast BT9

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