Letters to the Editor

Before beginning anew lessons must be learned by all parties

The motto ‘Begin Anew’ urges us to override despair and start again no matter how insurmountable problems may appear to be. Surely this must apply equally to the disastrous political impasse that the two main political parties have got us into.

As each day goes past and we learn more of the failings of politics, particularly over the last decade, it is becoming all too easy to accept that there may be no turn in the road and ironically that may well suit those political leaders who have dedicated their lives to instilling fear and hopelessness into the minds of their supporters.

That’s worrying because it is when the vacuum of despair is filled by negative political thinking that hopelessness becomes the order of the day. But let us assume we are past that period in our history; the bombs and bullets, burned out properties and the state violence. Let us believe that no-one wants us to go back to violence, irrespective of where it came from and robbed us of the opportunity to engage our people in the process of partnership and reconciliation that needs to happen. 

In the past we had the support and goodwill of the US who played a key role in making things happen and invested millions of pounds in businesses to sustain progress. We must never forget John Hume, the man who made enormous personal sacrifices to bring about that glorious moment when we arrived at the Good Friday Agreement and people genuinely believed we were beginning anew, moving forward towards a new dawn, a new beginning.

That lifeline has been squandered by those who learned nothing and forgotten everything from the past and have shown no leadership to our people who need to believe that there is a way forward that is much more powerful than a headcount or a stash of arms and pipe bombs.

The exposures in the RHI inquiry are shocking, the unholy alliance between the Tories and the DUP is reprehensible and doing no favours for either community. However, it is short term and then we can pick up the pieces, or as John Hume and his colleagues planned it, begin anew.

Lessons must be learned that one community cannot dominate the other in a divided society.

We can begin anew genuinely and sincerely with lots of goodwill on all sides. However, it won’t come either from those who have organised their own ‘blame game’, making us all equally guilty and hoping to come out smelling of roses without the sacrifices that John Hume and others made and many people are still making today but going unnoticed while the problem parties grab the headlines and must be delighted we are all equally blamed for what is not happening.

JOHN DALLAT MLA
SDLP, East Derry

 

Ballymurphy documentary rubbishes British claims of democracy

Ben Wallace, (British security minister) recently commented that UK has some of the best intelligence in the world, both technical and traditional. This, of course, was their bragging about the resources they have spent on tracking two Russian suspects in and out of the country in relation to the Novichok episode.

The double standards of successive British governments was exposed to the world by a welcome, disturbing and brutally honest documentary on the Ballymurphy murders carried out by the Parachute Regiment. These are same soldiers were responsible for the murders on Bloody Sunday in Derry.

Therein lies the double standards.

We know that Mr Wallace has publicly said that he holds Putin ultimately responsible for the two Russians who were injured on British soil. In effect then, we have to ask the question who is responsible for the murderous atrocities perpetrated against the Irish people at Ballymurphy, in Derry on Bloody Sunday and at different times and places in Ireland.

The message that was most revealing from Channel 4’s documentary was the sectarian killing frenzy whipped up among the Paras as they went about their murder spree and the demonstrably sickening notion that the Paras were under no threat and these people were Irish scum whom they could cut down and murder and not have to suffer any consequences.

Invariably when murderous episodes akin to Ballymurphy and Blood Sunday are perpetrated by British army units in Ireland the British system of government kicks in and the cover-up begins. What does this say about the people in power in the British parliamentary system and where is their sense of  responsibility? 
We witnessed recently the in-depth coverage given to the Westminster Bridge killings, another instance if needed that the British army murder of unarmed Irish civilians does not even merit serious reportage.

Some people would argue that we live in a healthy democracy. When we countenance the notion that state sanctioned and British army perpetrated executions can be carried out, then covered up for nearly 50 years, as exposed by Channel 4, then we treat this claim to democracy as unpalatable rubbish.

VIN McCULLAGH
Derry City

 

UUP divided on issue of equality

I was disappointed to see UUP leader Robin Swann state on BBC’s Top Table programme he would vote against equal marriage if Stormont is restored.

In addition, Mr Swann refused to clarify if the UUP would use the Petition of Concern to block any attempt to pass an equal marriage bill. 

He has previously said the UUP are on a ‘journey’ regarding this issue.
That is fine but it would be helpful if the pace of that journey went from the current dead stop to at least a slow dander. The LGBT+ community cannot wait any longer for Mr Swann’s party to increase its pace. 

Mr Swann would be best to listen to the people of Northern Ireland, who emphatically support equal marriage, rather than the voices within his own party urging him to vote against equality.

One of his own MLAs recently said none of the party’s representatives would use the Petition of Concern to block equal marriage legislation. However, Mr Swann’s refusal to answer on whether or not he would block any bill shows the UUP are hopelessly divided on this issue.

I would urge Robin Swann to show leadership and make it clear the UUP are ready to join the rest of us in embracing equality for all the citizens of Northern Ireland. 

JOHN BLAIR MLA
Alliance, South Antrim

 

Unionists are the laughing stock of the world

The recent arrests of Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffery by the PSNI on the orders of Durham police sounds very similar to the arrest of Sean McPhilemy, author of The Committee back in the late 1980s – the only difference is that the PSNI has got the Durham police involved this time around.

Nothing much has changed, RUC/PSNI investigating themselves on issues of police collusion.

I am surprised that the unionist politicians have not asked for the documentary to be banned yet. Or maybe they are too busy with RHI, Brexit and money worries, all of which could be solved if they agreed to an Irish Language Act and Gay Marriage Rights. What is the unionists’ problem? Scotland and Wales have a language act, and everyone has Gay Marriage Rights in the UK and Ireland. They are all very keen on the six counties remaining in the UK but happy not to give the citizens of the north the same rights as afforded to everyone else in the UK.

Unionists of the north need to waken up. They are the laughing stock of the world.

Maybe the next time they are back at Stormont it will be to hand back the six counties to the Republic or when it opens as the new Primark store. We can always dream.

GERRY BLANEY
Cushendall, Co Antrim

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