Letters to the Editor

DUP MPs should be challenged over support for PIP and Tory government

A few brave disabled people (some profoundly so) have turned to the press after being embarrassed, demeaned and humiliated in their PIP assessments.

Roisin McWilliams, diagnosed with cancer, had her application refused.  Her father said she was heartbroken by the “humiliating” process.

I know of Dermot Devlin who  worked as much as possible during his adult life. Despite formidable challenges, he has contributed to society more than I or most others and, certainly, infinitely more than he has received in benefits.   

My relative is 20 and has been in special schooling, now in adult disability services. He is doubly incontinent and wears a nappy. He cannot clean himself or express himself very well and he gets scared in public. He cannot cook or clean. But he is still very happy in his own way. My mother-in-law cares for his every need.

He and his mum have recently experienced the PIP process. 
The process was indeed demeaning, degrading and humiliating. 
The assessor has to ask extremely personal and entirely unnecessary questions. The State, in the form of its doctors and specialists, already has all of the information. Simple cross-referencing would obtain the information without a stranger asking if these people can they clean themselves after toileting.

The Department for Communities trots out standard statements, claiming it cannot discuss individual cases (despite the individuals consenting). I don’t blame the assessors doing their job.  I do blame any senior management who knowingly facilitate and encourage such a heartless system without pushing back on same to their political masters.  

The most blame must attach to politicians, of whatever persuasion, who either acquiesced in the introduction of the system or who now support the British government administering same.  The DUP supports the Tory government responsible for this pernicious policy. When Ian Paisley appears on the doorsteps of North Antrim or Gregory Campbell canvasses in Limavady or Sammy Wilson seeks votes in Carrickfergus, can they look their constituents in the eye on this issue? Are they proud? Can they face the humiliated families of the disabled? When the politicians sit in churches listening to teaching on poverty and helping the suffering, do they feel any twinge of double standards?

Would they or their fellow Tory-supporting MLAs like to ask a stranger whether they can clean themselves after toileting? Would they like to be asked that on behalf of a disabled relative?  Shame on them and shame on those responsible for such an unthinking, unblinking, unfair system, based on the patrician, Victorian thinking of millionaire Tories, none of whom is likely to even recognise a social welfare application form.  

So, when the politicians come knocking, ignore their flags and rosettes. Challenge them on whether they support PIP and this government. Ask what they are doing to oppose PIP? You won’t necessarily be asking for yourself.  You’ll be asking for those who cannot complain themselves or for those caring for those who cannot complain. You’ll be asking for Roisin, for Dermot and for my relative and their families.

Jordanstown, Co Antrim


PSNI itself needs to do some self-examination

Mr Martin, the temporary deputy chief constable is perfectly correct when he states that the proportion of Catholics in the PSNI is a cause of deep concern which cannot be ignored. A police service, to be accepted and effective, must reflect the composition of the society which it serves.

The Deloitte Report, commissioned by the PSNI, proposes some reasons why the PSNI has failed to reach its target for applicants from the Catholic community. These were entirely external excuses and placed much of the fault unfairly on the failure of Catholic political and civic leadership to give support. The PSNI have responded to Deloitte by tinkering with the first three stages of the recruitment process and yet more calls from the PSNI hierarchy for more backing from the Catholic community.

The PSNI themselves need to do some self-examination since they are responsible for the final five stages of the recruitment process, they acquiesced in the premature ending of 50:50 recruitment in 2011, at the behest of unionist politicians, believing there was a critical mass of Catholics in the service. Was this a misjudgement on their part?

They have not adequately explained the reasons why 80 per cent of the thousands of eager to serve young Catholics – many of whom were university graduates – who have applied to join the Police Service since 2011, have been rejected. 

Could Mr Martin clarify the reasons why these young Catholics are outperformed in the recruitment process by their young Protestant counterparts?

Are they unable to cope with the tasks set at the assessment stage? 
Are they less physically competent, less computer literate, in worse health than their Protestant counterparts?

Are they more likely to fail at the vetting stage? We are informed this is a ‘complex process and involves various checks’. This includes everyone declared on the vetting application as well as the applicant’s wider extended family and also their close associates. 

Randalstown, Co Antrim


Facts about Irish history

For starters the British Americans-Israelis- French etc call anyone who objects or fights back at being bullied or tortured by them ‘terrorists’. There has been a lot of debate of late over who were the protagonists and who were the good guys regarding our so-called Troubles and accusations that one side was rewriting our history.

Now to the actual history of the British in Ireland. The Irish did not just wake up 50 years ago and decide this is the year we will hate and attack the British. You can not write any country’s history by starting in the middle, one must start at the beginning otherwise it means nothing. The ‘Troubles’ started many centuries ago with Britain deciding she would invade and occupy our country by force. They then commenced ethnically cleansing by force Ireland’s 32 counties, obviously the Irish fought back but had no chance against Britain’s military experience and might. We then had the plantation of our ethnically cleansed homes and lands with strangers of Britain’s chosen religion. And of course when writing Irish history one must include Oliver Cromwell  and his murderous henchmen. Followed by the special powers act, The Black and Tans, the B-Men and many other British empire supporters and builders. Our history is as above and cannot be rewritten to infer that the British are not the cause of our present day troubles.

Banbridge, Co Down


Forgotten victims

I am just after reading Brian Rooney’s letter (October 9) concerning those who were murdered by loyalists after the Shankill bombing. Brian, like most of you letter writers, always mention, and rightly so, Loughinisland and Greysteel etc. In two weeks time it will be the 25th anniversary of the murder of my two nephews, Gerard and Rory Cairns who were brutally murdered by loyalist gunmen on the 28th of October 1993 in their own home. They were completely innocent victims so why are they always forgotten?

Lurgan, Co Armagh


Devoid of fairness

The column by Tom Collins (October 9) on Brett Kavanaugh and the recent political shenanigans in the US senate is devoid of fairness and balance. It reflects a closed mind on a number of very complex issues. And one is entitled to ask him what value does he place on the principle that a person should be regarded to be innocent until he or she has been proven to be guilty.

Blackrock, Co Dublin

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