Letters to the Editor

Renewal and reform of Catholic Church can no longer be delayed

Pope Francis’s visit to Ireland came at a time when people need hope. The Irish Church has been devastated by the abuse scandals, which have never been properly dealt with. The victims and survivors of Church abuse have told their stories and knocked on doors trying to get a hearing, and meet those who would listen to the terrible injustices perpetrated on them by some Catholic clergy and religious institutions. It is only in the last few years that it has been recognised by the Catholic hierarchy that clerical abuse has taken place. The pain, frustration and anger of so many victims has been allowed to fester and perpetrators of these abuses in the past often protected for fear of damage to the institution. As with all corruption, unless we go to the root of the problem and take positive action to root it out completely, we can never have a true healing. It was into such a situation of pain and suffering of victims of clerical sexual abuse that Pope Francis arrived  in Ireland. The Pope’s plea for forgiveness for the abuse scandals was long overdue.

 The Pope’s call for forgiveness and firm and decisive action will be followed closely by  many.
I would support the victims’ call for a tribunal to be set up by the Pope to judge the bishops action and make and hold the perpetrators of the abuse to full account, so demonstrating a commitment to full transparency and accountability. 

So too on the question of reform in the Church. Renewal and reform of the Catholic Church is  necessary and can no longer be delayed. The renewal of the Church will not be easy, but it can begin immediately with a holding of the Vatican Council III in which, through respectful listening and deep dialogue, solutions to the urgent issues of today can be found and put into place. 
The abuse scandal in Ireland is only the tip of the iceberg, as indeed in many countries human dignity is being destroyed with the abuse of children, women and men, as they are deprived of the basic needs to enable them to live fully human and dignified lives (and know what it is to be poor and live in an unjust world where the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer). The basic right of freedom of conscience for people – to be allowed to choose how to live their lives –  must be upheld. It was very symbolic that Pope Francis spoke from the Marion Shrine at Knock where the message of peace and non-violence needs to be proclaimed   strongly. In Ireland, and indeed the world’s people, are looking for moral and spiritual leadership and Pope Francis gives hope when he speaks out against war, nuclear weapons and for peace and disarmament.

Nobel peace Laureate,


Will FF be all-encompassing or a sectarian party?

I would like to pick up on Patrick Murphy’s claim (September 1) that there is an argument that if we voted in 1998 for sectarian institutions in the GFA, then we voted for sectarian parties. OK, I agree with that. It was the electorate’s choice.
In the six counties we have, and will continue to have, for the foreseeable future, sectarian parties. However under the GFA we now have a consociationalism type of government in Stormont.

If I am to continue with Mr Murphy’s theme, ‘look South’, intimating that Fianna Fáil are looking at entering six county politics by forming some type of partnership with SDLP.  The SDLP has been fading fast with the emerging dominance of Sinn Féin.
Back in the mid-2000 the Fianna Fáil administration led by Bertie Ahern had a similar ambitious vision for the six counties. It came to nothing then.
In its peak in 1998 the SDLP held 24 seats in the assembly but this is currently halved to 12.
Sinn Féin having engaged in a strategically brilliant form of political cross-dressing, stole the democratic clothing of the SDLP.
A vast majority of those seats lost went to Sinn Féin. 

Any alliance with Fianna Fáil, whether it be a full merger or a looser alliance will accelerate the demise of the SDLP. 
To counter Sinn Féin’s  growing popularity will Fianna Fáil take the leap and open up a challenge to go head-to-head with Sinn Féin who is the only
all-Ireland party with significant electoral presence in both jurisdictions. Will Fianna Fáil be an all-encompassing party or a sectarian party? That again will be the people’s choice.

Dublin 6


Ineffectual secretary of state

Several weeks ago in a letter to The Irish News it was suggested that the present secretary of state was vying with James Brokenshire for the title of the most ineffectual secretary of state – ever. Apologies to James Brokenshire. Karen Bradley wins in a landslide. That this Pollyanna of politics did not understand the voting patterns of this state beggars belief, especially when the dogs in the street are fully aware that nationalists do not vote unionist and vice versa. Moreover that Theresa May would make such a hapless appointment only confirms the contempt which she holds for this region.
Since Karen Bradley’s arrival it seems that things are more barren, sterile and hopeless. We the electorate have been living in a vaporous place, already peopled with one dimensional politicians like Ms Bradley, until we can no longer tell a political illusion from a political reality. All this to keep a rickety Conservative government cobbled together with the DUP in power, at the expense of long suffering people in this so-called part of the UK.

Derry City


Devolved matter no more

When British Labour MPs like Conor McGinn and Ged Killen have raised the issue of marriage equality with Karen Bradley, the people of this place have become well used to hearing her riposte that it is a devolved matter for the assembly to deliberate and legislate on.

Mrs Bradley however has herself begun to blur the line in what matters remain devolved and what is returning to Westminster. Her announcement in the House of Commons last week makes it clear that the British government intends to undertake the business of governing this place whilst politicians won’t, including in relation to devolved issues like policing.

If that is the case, why then can’t Mrs Bradley extend her pride in supporting the extension of marriage equality to not just her constituents but to all citizens in Northern Ireland too, or will the British government only be interfering in the devolved matters the DUP instruct them to?

Belfast BT7


Double standards

Regarding the First minister and her comments over legacy cases and how they are not progressing I must ask her: What has she done personally to help victims?

She refused to release funds for inquests, including my own murdered son Raymond jnr. She refused to acknowledge or return one of 10 calls I made to her office seeking a meeting with her about support in Raymond jnr’s case.
Arlene tries to play the victims’ card for herself yet victims of ‘loyalist paramilitaries and state security forces’ are ignored. We have witnessed photographs of Arlene with ‘loyalist’ paramilitaries in east Belfast and the Shankill Road yet  she is dismissive of the victims of those ‘loyalist’ organisations. 

Belfast BT15

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