Ongoing stalemate has particular problems for border counties
A recent statement from the secretary of state calling for a devolved government could be described by some as a pathetic attempt to manage a train wreck coming down the line.
The SDLP may be a much smaller party now than we were when our former leader John Hume’s years of sacrifice and hard work enabled the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) to begin a process which would bring different strands of political opinion together in trust and harmony for the common good of everyone.
On successive occasions the key elements of the GFA were chipped away by those who wanted to sustain different communities pulling in opposite directions and in doing so proved they are incapable of governing or managing the complex nature of the new political agreement based on trust and mutual respect.
The situation is now progressively worse with a British and alien government in control propped up by the DUP and facing no real challenge from Sinn Féin.
The most recent utterance from the mostly absentee secretary of state claiming ‘a functioning North-South Ministerial Council is vital to ensure Northern Ireland makes the most of its unique position within the UK and in relation to Ireland’ could in naivety be welcomed by some but the experience of the last 18 months makes most people circumspect about the sincerity of such a statement.
Surely the SOS must realise that without the direct input of the Irish government she is doing nothing more than trying to manage a train wreck coming down the line. It is as serious as that and particularly catastrophic for constituents in close proximity to the border and this most certainly includes east Derry.
When the North-South Ministerial Council meets it must be much more than a talking shop and must be able to provide representation at relevant EU meetings post-Brexit.
This has already been argued by our current leader Colum Eastwood at the MacGill Summer School last year and, if anything, is more obvious now than ever.
What we need now is for the two governments to meet immediately to agree a package of legislation between them to get Stormont back up and running and end the political vacuum.
The SDLP did not create this political vacuum and have no desire to see it remain for one more day. We regard it as totally immoral that people are not being represented and no process is in place to even try and resolve the problems and tackle the issues.
Fundamentally both governments need to remember they are co-guarantors of the GFA and as such must not be stymied by an unsavoury alliance between the Tories and the DUP which may appear to have short term gains for some but in the long term is only adding to the prospect of a train wreck.
SDLP, East Derry
Before pointing fingers make sure your hands are clean
Writing on the Sinn Féin party website on September 4, North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan “has urged the people of the constituency to sign the petition to unseat Paisley, given the serious nature of his wrongdoing”.
Firstly, McGuigan is deluded if he thinks anyone, least of all himself is going to unseat Paisley, or would he prefer Jim Allister? Secondly, how serious is ‘serious’ and would he or his party care to share with constituents what serious wrongdoings might’ve led to him being deselected in 2008? Thirdly, is he aware that the cost of a by-election – the inevitable outcome of which will be the re-election of Mr Paisley – is estimated at £250,000, which would pay an NHS nurse or teacher for 10 years?
Mr McGuigan continues by claiming that “he [Paisley] was suspended over his links to the notorious Sri Lankan regime... and lobbied to prevent the UN investigating the mass murder of Tamil civilians by the same government”.
Mr McGuigan conveniently fails to mention that yes, human rights in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka have come under criticism, with British Colonial Rulers, the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, (LTTE,) and the Sri Lankan government all being accused of violating Human Rights.
Given that Britain is also accused of alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka and that Sinn Féin have seven British MPs, can I assume that Mr McGuigan will be calling for their suspensions?
I’ll quote the late Bob Marley: ‘Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be, but before you start pointing fingers... make sure your hands are clean!”
Cllr PAUL MAGUIRE
Independent, Mid & East Antrim Borough Council
Adopting the usual Zionist position
It was with some bemusement that I read the diatribe by Martin Stern (August 28) concerning the discriminatory exclusion of Arabs from the term anti-Semitic. Mr Stern epically failed to invalidate my point and, instead, adopted the usual Zionist position of callously attacking anyone who dares raise their head above the parapet to criticise the rogue state of Israel.
It should be noted that Mr Stern lives in Manchester, yet deems a letter in The Irish News important enough to respond to. This should tell readers that there is a concerted campaign by Zionists to try to smother any and all opposition to the barbaric conduct of the Zionist state.
Martin Stern appears to have little understanding of etymological truths surrounding the term anti-Semitism and the accompanying Zionism of the IHRA and its deceptive agenda. Or perhaps he does, yet, like most extreme Zionists, doesn’t care.
ANTÁN Ó DÁLA AN ARÍ
Newry, Co Down
Catholic Church was too powerful
The Pope’s visit to Ireland was overshadowed by abuse scandals. There is no doubt that many victims would have been spared the horrors of clerical Sex abuse etc if our country had never been partitioned.
The overwhelming power and control exercised by the Catholic hierarchy in the 26 counties ensured many perpetrators were protected and never brought before the courts until it was too late. If any Catholic bishop had tried to silence the likes of Ian Paisley in an all-Ireland parliament he would probably have grabbed the crozier and snapped it in two. IRA volunteer Cathal Goulding spent years in English prisons in the 1950s and noted that many clergymen of a Protestant denomination were jailed for sex crimes, unlike the situation in the 26 counties where the Catholic Church was far too powerful to allow any of its ministry to come before the courts even for a motoring offence.
MICHAEL O FLYNN
Friars Walk, Cork
Flabbergasted at Drew Harris appointment
The recent confirmation of Drew Harris as Garda Commissioner is both startling and disturbing. The government’s decision to choose the former Deputy Chief of the PSNI in the occupied part of Ireland leaves a lot of unanswered questions. We have had almost 100 years of partial independence, now the Irish state has introduced British-led policing into our coveted republic. The nomination of Mr Harris is a grave insult to the many families who continue to fight for truth and justice for their loved ones. He was sworn in as commissioner at an extraordinary midnight ceremony at the Gardai HQ in Kevin Street, Dublin. It leaves me flabbergasted that Mr Harris was the preferred candidate for this position.