Letters to the Editor

Defending communities during Troubles wasn't any easy decision to make

I commend The Irish News coverage of the emergence of the civil rights association and the events surrounding the Duke Street march 50 years ago.
Leona O’Neill’s column (October 9) about her brave father’s involvement and decisions made then were made in response to what he experienced on the ground. However, at that time there were no easy decisions to make.

I was a 17-year-old in 1969 living in the St James’s area off the Falls Road. My interests were sport, the Beatles and girls. I was serving an apprenticeship in an engineering firm where I had many Protestant friends. In later years some of my friends were to become members of the RUC, UDR and Prison Service. The Duke Street march was a catalyst which sent me on a quick learning curve and the media was portraying the awakening of a people’s revolution throughout the world. As a 17-year-old this excited me and I wanted a part in this revolution, a part that would see me spend nearly 22 years in jail.

I attended marches, rallies and protests but they were almost all attacked by the RUC, B-Specials or unionist mobs. We were beaten, battered and burnt out of our homes and then shot off our streets. 

I was on the Falls Road in August 1969 when it was attacked by the state forces. I was half way up Norfolk Street trying to protect homes when the shooting started and we had to retreat onto the Falls Road. I remember a few derogatory remarks were made against the IRA and lack of guns to protect our people. However, these conditions made for a resurgent IRA to come to the fore because in my experience on the ground everyone seemed to have a part they wanted to play. No matter their standing in the community they didn’t say no to defending the barricades. It was not an easy decision to make but it was the right decision.

As the events took over and we were educating ourselves ‘on the hoof’ it wasn’t long before history taught us that the British set up this sectarian state on the threat of all out war against the Irish people. 

I am proud of my participation. I am also proud of the women and men who took the same path, especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Their part has never been acknowledged properly. 

‘Terrorists’ and ‘terrorism’ are words that come too easily to commentators describing the IRA. I can tell you that the people I know and knew loved the community they came from. They received no rewards, no finance, no pension, no ‘freedom of any towns’ bestowed on them and no post traumatic stress clinics opened for us. Nor did we ask for them.

I feel this needs to be said on behalf of the many good people and their legacy needs to be remembered. 

I hope our children and grandchildren do not have to go through what we had to. Every life lost was terrible and brought about devastation to each family affected. The loss was the same for everyone.

 

B FOX
Co Down

 

Theresa May is latest PM to sell UK down the river

I would like to draw readers’ attention to the European Union and some facts the media never seems to mention.

Germany and its Aryan race of people created two world wars against Britain,  – 1914/18 and 1939/45 – but in each occasion they were humiliated by losing not one, but both world wars.

On each occasion the British people,  and the people of Britain’s colonies, suffered horrendous loss of millions of very brave people, but also suffered inhumane torture and gassing, that included civilian men, women and children.

Germany needed a change of tactics, if they wanted to achieve Adolf Hitler’s dream of a unified Europe so they came up with the idea of a Common Market to create an inoffensive family of nations and this worked.

Countries fed up with Germany’s wars  joined this European Common market, including Britain, yes this appeared to be the sensible thing to do.

However, quietly and slowly, bit by bit, alterations were surreptitiously added, to the rules of the Common Market,  enticing new members with enormous (and what appeared to be) unlimited financial incentives. Many countries took the bait, including Ireland, Spain, Greece, Italy etc. The Common Market title was soon changed to become the European Union.

These countries were now in debt to the European Union, so their financial gravy-train was switched off, Ireland’s Celtic tiger being a prime example.

The effects of this debt on these countries damaged and destroyed their economies. So what happens then?

The European Union bails them out.

The more you borrow, the more you are in debt then you now have nowhere to go except to remain locked into the European Union.

Now quite a few British prime ministers have sold their country down the river, sadly I view Theresa May joining this club.

HARRY STEPHENSON
Kircubbin, Co Down

 

Inconvenient truth on abortion

At the rally at the Dáil supporting Doctors for Freedom of Conscience (October 17), one of the many excellent speakers, Dr Aisling Bastible from Dublin, hit the nail on the head. She pointed out two things that are not true but yet keep being repeated. 

Firstly she said that “it is a glaring untruth to call abortion healthcare”. This was echoed by Dr Brendan Crowley, a GP from Cork who said: “The government expect us to ignore the fact that the new bill has nothing to do with evidence-based medicine. We are being asked to surrender our clinical judgment and pretend that what we are being asked to do is healthcare even though we know it has nothing whatsoever to do with it.” 

Secondly, Dr Bastible went on: “The people didn’t vote for this extreme and inhumane abortion bill in the referendum. They simply voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment. It is the Oireachtas not the people who are responsible for the grotesque bill.”

I do not envy TDs their weight of responsibility over life and death as they cast their vote on this bill. But they should be clear that neither healthcare nor democracy require that this destructive bill needs to be passed.

RUTH FOLEY
Clondalkin, Dublin

 

Brexit highlights denial of sovereign rights

The problems highlighted in the Brexit talks emphasise the violation of our sovereign rights as Irish citizens whereby we are forced to accept the will of the English people irrespective of whether we agree or not with their expressed view.

This position of having to accept enforced British sovereignty as opposed to having our own sovereign rights upheld epitomises  the real difficulty that the Brexit issue presents to our people.

The time is now for the British government to treat their Irish neighbours with respect at this difficult time and to look realistically at the underlying problem.

In public pronouncements there would appear to be consensus on having no hard border in Ireland. If these statements are genuine then the next logistical step to ensure no border is to address the issue of sovereignty. To fully ensure no border and to fully uphold the rights of Irish citizens, it is time to end the British claim to sovereignty here and to work respectfully as neighbours in our common interests,

The future of all the people on this island lies within its people and not in Westminster, therefore it is time to end the violation of our sovereign rights as Irish citizens. 

FRANCIS MACKEY
32 County Sovereignty Movement
Omagh, Co Tyrone 

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