Letters to the Editor

DUP has own understanding of what is meant by democracy

As this Brexit disaster limps towards the final conclusion the DUP’s moment in the sun with its confidence and supply deal, may be about to come to an end, possibly with a no deal crash or, more likely, by a climbdown and vote for the deal on offer. 
One cannot however, rule out unionism’s capacity to demonstrate their unerring ability to find new ways to alienate their fellow citizens. Those of us from the nationalist tradition are well used to the tin-eared DUP interpretation of what they understand by the voice of the people and representative democracy.
At no point since June 2016 has the DUP by word or act demonstrated any recognition that the majority vote in Northern Ireland was against Brexit, but then like Carroll’s March Hare, (words mean what I want them to mean), I suppose they have their own understanding of what is meant by democracy.
Looking back you do not need a long memory to recall David Trimble’s inspired and visionary leadership of unionism with remarks about the need to house train Sinn Féin, unbelievably uttered in this the 21st century. Back then in those early days after the Good Friday Agreement, some of us wondered if Trimble was consciously working to undermine the middle ground and recruit for Sinn Féin and the DUP alike, if he was, he did a great job. 

That leads to Sinn Féin, Ying to the DUP’s Yang and their contribution to our shared society.
The question arises – how well is that going? Their calculation seems to be, the worse Brexit the better. I suppose having a salary for doing nothing, is a nice insurance policy, it is just a pity about their voters.
Of course, if the Tories collapse there is always their best friend Jeremy to count on, except it seems he would now happily do a deal with Nigel and Sammy after all.
Yet again their predictable, abstentionist policy continues to be the gift that keeps on giving, to their opponents that is.

Leo Varadker has already publicly attacked Sinn Féin twice over their “let’s do nothing and help our opponents strategy”.
Looking forward what do they think he will say at the next election in the Republic? Whatever happens, economists note globally we are long overdue a recession, it will all be blamed on Brexit. What would you say if you were a politician whose party has been in power for nearly a decade? Sinn Féin talking points for their doorstep canvassers will need to be good ones, as some of this mud, deserved or not, will definitely stick.

Belfast BT9


Political pantomime overshadowing day-to-day matters

As the hype increases over Brexit  it can be seen that the more day-to-day matters of life are being overshadowed by the political pantomime that assails us. Christmas approaches and it’s easy to forget that there are tens of thousands in the six counties for whom this time of year is a nightmare.

Some are those are caught up in the travesty of PIP. These are people who have been dealt a bad hand in life. They, and their families, could have reasonably expected that the state would stand with them in their time of need. But sometimes the authorities are the problem.

There is also the hidden world of mainstream need and mounting debt. At Christmas time, many citizens struggle to provide gifts for their children. They fret over the cost of meals, clothes, nights out and the obligatory general merry-making. Too many people carry the fear and weight of penury but are too proud to reveal their plight. The festive season is not a time of celebration for those caught in such precarious circumstances. It becomes a time of financial terror.

The well-fed politicians who dance around one another in the Dáil, Westminster or Strasbourg don’t have to worry about clothing their children. They don’t carry a burden of debt that threatens to overwhelm them. 

Their problems are small when compared to those of the ordinary people. It’s a question of perspective, and politicians quite often don’t have a healthy one. 

So this Christmas, perhaps it would be a good thing to remember those among us for whom life is not so great. We might also do well to remember that the politicians of Europe are supposed to work for us. It’s not meant to be the other way round.

Ballynahinch, Co Down


Smart lighting can improve quality of life

I was encouraged to read a proposal from the SDLP and Alliance Party on opening up our city parks across Belfast after 4.30pm during the winter months.

Winter can be a long and lonely time for many people across our city. Keeping active over the winter months is really important for mental and physical well being.

It’s all too easy to spend too much time indoors during the winter, but particularly when our parks and green spaces aren’t open and accessible.

My proposal, building on the ambition to widen access to public and green spaces, is to look to other cities for inspiration particularly around the use of smart lighting in public spaces.

Smart lighting can be used to open up public spaces, creating a welcoming and safe space for citizens while saving energy and reducing environmental impact.

Eindhoven is a great example of a city pioneering the innovative use of smart lighting. Parks and public spaces have been illuminated by smart lighting since 2014.

Smart street lights can switch on and off depending on how busy the public space is. These are the new, bright, sustainable ideas that can improve quality of life for all of Belfast’s citizens - without costing the earth. 

Green Party, Belfast BT6


More clarity needed

Not for the first time, Jack Duffin (December 7) has claimed that the apparitions at Knock were faked, and that the person mainly responsible was Archdeacon Cavanagh. He mentions things like fallouts, land disputes, lights, lanterns and of course trickery, everything except how this fakery was actually carried out. The question that still remains is this, how were these images projected, outdoors, on to a gable wall? Remember, this was rural Ireland 1879, there was no electricity and I’m sure Fr Cavanagh was not into time travel. So you would see why many would seek more clarity on his claims.
No doubt Jack Duffin will have all the answers and give us all a detailed explanation of how this magic trick was imposed on the parishioners of Knock. 

Coleraine, Co Derry 


Britain not a second rate nation

In fairness I acknowledge Theresa May has worked her boots off, that no-one can deny but for what?

Having said that, beside all her strenuous efforts and appeasement to the principal negotiators of the European Union she has achieved nothing in return.

Britain is not a second rate nation, it has always been a wealthy, progressive country.

Britain’s present problem has been created by its own pocket-lining politicians.

This country has nothing to fear from a no deal, as it will only be an inconvenience for a period, whereas for the EU it will be a disaster.

 Let us not forget, even Theresa May said, that a no deal was better than a bad deal.

Kircubbin, Co Down

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