Letters to the Editor

Despite interventions of border backstop north has never had it so good

We are now set in the Brexit fast lane as independence day hurtles toward a deal or no deal. Those not willing to face up to the fact need now to slow down their recklessness and be careful what they wish for. Despite the misery remainers, the antagonistic Junker and the reprehensible interventions of a border backstop and lamentably a border poll our place has never been a better place to live. How much improved it would be when republicans back off and play their full part in giving the country the feel good factor it deserves.

No doubting that exiting the EU will bite hard during the transition period but with the Chancellor’s Brexit bunker packed full with contingency strategies and sterling the world’s fourth richest economy is primed to back out safely and efficiently. Yes, there are concerns across many sectors especially those entertained to dinner at Downing Street.

But it is smoke and mirror moaning by the bad losers .How many EU-flavoured elitist economists, industrialists, chief executives and luvvie entertainers does it take to stitch up and disrupt Brexit? Answer – hundreds on the government payroll and grace and favour rewards from Brussels. Not forgetting the unfriendly aggression of our southern neighbours jointly governed by Leo Varadkar and the EU Commission.

Surely not even those pretending that we can enjoy the best of both worlds inside and outside the EU under the madcap scheme of a Dublin/Brussels border backstop would swallow swapping all the benefits enjoyed and derived from the UK economy for the dubious economics of the south. That is a no-brainer according to respected Oxford Economics number cruncher Martin Beck.

He asserts that over the past three years the official statistics posted in the eurozone by the Irish overstate their underlying pace of growth.
Perhaps not cooking the books but it gets fiscally dicey when the Irish Bank Governor and the head of the European Central Bank both say the economy is overheating. Top that with warnings by EU inspectors about how a Brexit related shock would rock the fragile Irish banking system causing significant risks overshadowing the outlook of the Irish economy. Cue in the taoiseach’s rush of blood demanding Brexit damage compensation from the EU in the range of €100 million.

All taken in the round it looks okay for us. We commence the year comfortable and at peace with tensions lowered. Employment is rising, investment is holding if not increasing. The elderly are being looked after better and the younger generations are moving on.
We are wealthier with the prospect of living longer and the quality of life improving looking good. All we Northern Irelanders need to do now is keep it that way.

Strangford, Co Down


No crystal ball required to see what 2019 holds

Unfortunately, we can be fairly confident what 2019 will bring for ordinary working people and their families. This year will see thousands of local people struggling to make ends meet. Thousands of teenagers will leave school with little or few qualifications. Many of those seeking a university education will find it unaffordable. Others will search in vain for apprenticeships.

The assembly will continue its sectarian standoff as Sinn Féin and the DUP prioritise local cultural identity issues over political progress, and both parties will continue to stand idly by as education, health, housing and other public services grind to a standstill.

Both parties will also ramp up the sectarian temperature, creating further divisions and leaving themselves no room for compromise because of the expectations they have engendered in their supporters.

Those who vote for this toxic stalemate should question their actions and examine the consequences.

At the last assembly election nearly 650,000 people n Northern Ireland voted for parties that supported cuts to public services, segregated education, zero hours contracts, lower corporation tax and austerity for working people and their families.

All the while there are more than 100,000 children living in poverty and at least 15,000 people officially homeless. We are looking at a generation scarred for life.

Tribal politics and sectarian brinkmanship can only survive if it receives support. If we continue to condone it, then subsequent condemnation is meaningless and worse.

Working people, those seeking employment, students and the elderly need a socialist, secular and anti-sectarian road map to chart a way forward which offers a quality of life for all in a society run by them, for them. We have seen what the alternative offers.

Workers Party, North Belfast


Safety of medicines

I would like to comment on a UK-wide independent review which is on-going into the safety of medicines and medical devices. The review was established in 2018 by the former secretary of state Jeremy Hunt. One aspect of the review is in regard to conditions referred to as Fetal Valproate Spectrum Disorders. This relates to women who are epileptic and who during the time of their pregnancy were prescribed medication called Epilim which has an ingredient called sodium valproate. Epilim, while generally recognised as an effective epilepsy medication, sodium valproate is now globally accepted as detrimental to women while pregnant. The independent review team are undertaking a series of engagements with families affected by sodium valproate across the UK and visited Belfast in early December. It was evident from discussion at the meeting that the promotion of the event by the review organisers was flawed and not one that would reach the many hundreds of individuals potentially impacted by sodium valproate. I did get an undertaking from the review team that if they were contacted by families directly or if families wished to submit written evidence that it would be taken into account. I would therefore encourage anyone who would wish to submit details in respect of Fetal Valproate Spectrum Disorder to avail of the opportunity and to contact the review team at reviewteam@kcl.ac.uk or by phone on 02078486383.

Belfast BT17


Hold a PR referendum

I think I’ve got it. Have a PR referendum with the following ballot paper: May’s Deal; Remain or Total Brexit. Vote 1, 2, 3 in order of your choice. I know the Brits don’t do PR but unique challenges require unique strategies. The PR aspect should reduce national disunity and hopefully put this to bed once and for all.

Send Bertie & Co and all our parties experienced tally men and women over to tally the votes and explain the beauty and fairness of an inclusive electoral system. I think the result of such a referendum would be broadly respected and then they might actually start having proper general elections using single-seat or multi-seat PR which would produce parliaments that more closely reflect the beating hearts of the English, Welsh, Scottish and the Northern Irish. Go for it.

Palmerstown, Dublin 20


Expression of  thanks

The National Graves Association Belfast,  Cumann  Uaigheann na Laocradh Gaedheal Beal Feirste, would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank you for your continued support and loyalty which allows us to maintain the memory of our patriot dead in an appropriate. Your support this year has allowed us to restore a number of our patriot dead graves and upgrade the main republican plot in Milltown Cemetery.  


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