Letters to the Editor

Online world should be made much safer for our children

With the darker evenings approaching and the school term in full swing, young people will inevitably be spending more time online. For many young people much of their lives are lived online while the web also offers a wealth of information to help them with their studies and keep in touch with their friends.

But there is a darker side to the internet. We know that offenders are using social networks to target children for abuse online, grooming and manipulating them all too frequently.  
A recent NSPCC UK survey of 40,000 young people revealed an average of one in 50 schoolchildren had sent a nude or semi-nude image to an adult.

The increase in this content being found online is reflected in police figures. Last year the number of offences across the UK involving indecent images of children rose by almost a quarter to 22,724. 
In Northern Ireland the total rose by 11 per cent to 478 with more than 900 offences recorded over a two-year period. A single offence recorded by police can involve hundreds of indecent images of children and every one of these images represents a real child who has been groomed and abused.

Without adequate support, the impact of this abuse can last a lifetime. Our Childline service, which provides direct help on the phone or online for children who need it, last year (2016-17) carried out 234 counselling sessions with young people in Northern Ireland over sexual abuse including online sexual abuse.

We want the online world to be much safer for children.
The NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is calling on the UK government to introduce an independent regulator to hold social networks to account for children’s safety on their platforms and to tackle grooming. Technology is developing so rapidly that the social networks must be forced to tackle to these problems blighting their sites.

Here in Northern Ireland, our children are also being exposed to risk as a result of the ongoing situation at Stormont. There is an urgent need for political parties and government departments to work together to oversee an e-strategy to protect children. Children are being endangered online every day, in increasing numbers. We cannot allow the continued inactivity at Stormont and from internet companies to further jeopardise their welfare.

NSPCC Northern Ireland


Flabbergasted at appointment of garda commissioner

I find myself in total agreement with Frank Glynn of Cricklewood – ‘Flabbergasted at Drew Harris appointment’ (September 14). 
Mr Harris has ridden into the sunset leaving behind the many questions that remain unanswered

The appointment of their shiny new police commissioner will probably be seen by ‘The Dublin 4 clique’ as some statement of how wonderfully progressive and all embracing they’ve become in 21st century Ireland. 
We in the north of Ireland will never let you adjudicate on our behalf of making some of us feel as we’re being treated like a ‘north of Ireland Jackeen’. 
Instead may I suggest that you get on your knees and thank God your still standing and have through you’re recent history never experienced a dysfunctional police force.
I too like Mr Glynn of Cricklewood am quite ‘flabbergasted’. 

Belfast BT11


Social care work not being valued

The health and social care secretary’s pledge of £240m emergency funding for social care is a step in the right direction.

However, we must question why the social care sector is set to receive just £240m when the NHS is set to receive an additional £20.5bn funding, when both sectors offer vital services and are under an unprecedented amount of pressure.

We must not forget the bleakness of the NHS winter crisis. Now is the time to put structures in place across health and social care, to ensure the system does not fail the people it is meant to serve, and to ensure the delayed transfers of care continue to decrease.

For too long, people have suffered unnecessarily as they find themselves trapped in hospital beds through no fault of their own. With more than a fifth of people saying social care work is not valued by government, the perception of social care is shockingly low and must change if we are to provide future generations with the care they need and deserve.

Historically, it has been frustrating because there are solutions on offer that have not been taken up on a wider scale. Autumn’s long-awaited green paper is a chance for the government to turn this crisis around, giving today’s and tomorrow’s older people the respect and peace of mind they deserve.

Chief Executive at Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit care and housing provider for older people


Israel isn’t a mono ethnic state

JAMES McCann (Violation of human rights, September 27) refers to Israel as “the current mono ethnic Jewish state akin to apartheid ... [that] affords special rights for Jews and views non-Jews as of inferior status”. This is patently untrue as he would find if he examine the facts – there are non-Jewish members of Parliament, High Court judges etc – quite unlike the situation in South Africa under apartheid. In fact Israel is no more a “mono ethnic Jewish state” than the Republic is a mono-religious Catholic state.

Salford, England


Changing  times

If the impact of a hard Brexit means economic hardship, not just for the UK, but Ireland also, then shouldn’t this mean Ireland automatically having a say on future EU status by a referendum?

Wouldn’t the UK leaving mean Ireland having to contribute more to the EU project financially?
If Ireland is going to be seriously affected by Brexit, then it seems right and just that the Irish people should once again be consulted on future EU membership.

Democracy never ends, not just for the people of the UK, but Ireland also.

Belfast BT15

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