Letters to the Editor

How does Britain escape blame for using internment or hooded men torture?

The Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest is a fundamental test of Britain’s ability to give legacy justice. If relatives cannot get justice where 11 victims, including a Catholic priest and mother of eight were killed by British troops, how can we expect justice in any killings or collusion murders where British troops were involved? Trevor Ringland’s blame anyone but the British outlook mirrors the immaturity of a British government still unwilling to take responsibility for its actions (November 1).   

Mr Ringland urges understanding of ‘the context’ in which these killings occurred, an ‘environment of hatred brought about by our extremes’. What context for the ‘Ballymurphy Massacre’ would shift blame from the British troopers who opened fire or the regime which deployed them to do so?

The ‘context’ was created by British prime minister Edward Heath granting  Brian Faulkner’s wish for internment. Faulkner’s Ulster Unionist Party, using blatant sectarian policies, may  have fostered an ‘environment of hate’ but Britain gave them carte blanche to run their Orange State for nearly 50 years.  

On Monday August 9 1971, British troopers in Ballymurphy and across the north broke into homes, terrorised families, jailed hundreds without charge and began a catastrophic internment policy lasting four years. Next they selected men held without charge, to be hooded and tortured. How does Britain escape blame for using internment or hooded men torture?

This was no sudden short-lived burst of gunfire. It was hours after the first day’s raids ended before a Catholic priest, waving a white handkerchief (Fr Hugh Mullan), 19- year-old Francis Quinn and  mother of eight, Joan Connolly, were shot dead for going to help wounded victims. Daniel Teggart, was shot a total of 14 times, as he lay on the ground. Noel Philips was also shot dead that first night. The killing spree lasted three days.

Joseph Murphy was wounded, taken into custody and seems to have been shot again while in the barracks. 

Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr and John McKerr were killed over the next two days. An 11th victim, Paddy McCarthy, died of a heart attack after a mock execution.

The families then saw British Royal Military Police brand their dead loved ones guilty to proclaim troopers innocent.

Forty-seven years later these families are still fighting for truth. Tory MPs shouting witch-hunt, or Mr Ringland blaming phantoms, are signs they still refuse to see, much less work through the legacy truths of British rule. 

MARTIN GALVIN
New York

 

DUP consigning Protestant working-class boys to scrap heap

An article in The Irish News (Nov 7), ‘Sectors must unite to support poorly performing students’ by Barry Mulholland, the chief executive of the newly formed Controlled Schools Support Council, talked about the sharing of best practice and collaboration between schools as part of a wide range of strategies to support effective learning and achievement among Protestant working-class boys. 

He quoted a figure of 29 per cent of boys entitled to free school meals achieving five or more GCSE’s grades A*-C, including maths and English. This is a shameful situation and a huge waste of talent. The DUP by its continued support for academic selection has directly contributed to this sad state of affairs and they should hang their heads in shame. They are consigning large numbers of Protestant working class boys to the employment scrap heap of minimum wage or zero hours contracts which make up the so called gig economy.

Academic Selection is largely responsible for the high concentrations of poverty in many of these schools. In almost 20 per cent of our secondary schools 50 per cent or more students are entitled to free school meals. Pupils in these schools can succeed academically but the dice is heavily loaded against them and their teachers. Research reliably finds that schools with higher percentages of poverty have lower levels of achievement for all students including those from more affluent homes. A recent report from the OECD (Equity in Education Breaking down barriers) found that disadvantaged pupils did much better in schools where they are in a minority. Schools with a smaller proportion of disadvantaged pupils were found to produce results that were on average two and a half years ahead of those with a majority of disadvantaged pupils. A study by Tulane University Professor Douglas Harris found that schools that serve a middle-class population are 22 times more likely to be consistently high performing as high poverty schools. 

I would wish CSSC every success in such important work and urge them as part of their strategy to campaign for the abolition of academic selection and for levels of social integration in all our schools which will benefit not only disadvantaged students but equally their more advantaged peers.

JIM CURRAN
Downpatrick, Co Down

 

Green Party’s abhorrent stance

I see Clare Bailey has yet another letter in The Irish News (November 2) about ‘abortion reform’ or ‘reproductive healthcare’ as she puts it. She is ‘delighted’ at an Isle of Man pro-abortion law. How can anyone be ‘delighted’ at the deliberate taking of another person’s life? As someone who was once a member of the Green Party I now find the abortion of children in the womb stance of Green Party statements to be abhorrent as I profoundly believe in the right to life.

I cannot understand the Green Party championing abortion; the same as I cannot fathom Amnesty International in Ireland extolling ending the life of another human being. 
As Alban McGuinness correctly writes this is the greatest human right outrage of the age.  

I used to write to the press and was published on many occasions denouncing the murder of people by the likes of the IRA as evil. I never thought I would have pro-abortion people in the Green Party, SDLP and Alliance, which my late father helped found.

SEAN O DIOBHILIN
Letterkenny, Tir Chonaill

 

United we stand against global warming

The world we live in is in such peril from global warming that we all must unite to reduce carbon emissions and to bring about climate justice. This will require huge changes on a global scale from governments and business. 

Every citizen must make this a political issue in forthcoming elections.  

It always requires each person on the planet to act in solidarity to reduce carbon emissions and to work to end the use of fossil fuels. 

We owe it to future generations. A world united against global warming is more urgent now that ever before. It is the most urgent issue facing the whole of humanity – if life on this planet is not to become extinct.

Fr JOE McVEIGH
Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

 

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