Letters to the Editor

Government should do more to reunite refugees with dependent loved ones

What will you remember most about 2018? For me, it will be a trip to South Sudan where I saw first-hand the life-saving impact of our work with people devastated by five years of civil war. 

It would be easy to despair – the war continues to destroy lives and livelihoods, forcing more than 4,000,000 people to flee their homes since it began in December 2013.
In 2017 alone, more than one person fled South Sudan every minute, seeking safety in neighbouring countries. But because of the generosity of our supporters, including many Irish News readers, we have reason to hope. 

During my visit, I travelled to Nyal in Unity State, a remote town along the banks of the Sudd, the third largest swamp in the world. The area has seen a huge influx of people fleeing violence, who have been welcomed by the local community even though they too struggle to survive. Many people had arrived with nothing joining countless others with shared experiences of trauma and loss. 

With the help of our supporters, we are there, providing life-saving support, including essentials like clean water, sanitation and shelter. 

We’re also providing canoes to transport the sick and vulnerable through the treacherous swamps so that they can access much-needed aid and medical care.
In all we do, our protection teams work with girls and women to ensure their safety in a new and unfamiliar environment.

I want to take this opportunity to thank our supporters in Northern Ireland and beyond. Together, we reached more than 3.34 million people across eight countries in 2017/2018. We couldn’t have achieved this without your support through donating, volunteering and shopping in our shops and online. Thank you. 

Through long-term development projects and emergency response, we’re helping people to build better lives for themselves and rebuild stronger when disaster strikes. But our movement of people across Ireland is also helping to effect real change at home too. We’re calling on the UK government to do more to enable refugees to be reunited with their dependent loved ones. Right now, refugees remain separated from any children over 18, civil partners, siblings, parents, grandparents and guardians – which often adds to the trauma and despair they’ve already experienced. Tens of thousands of our supporters have joined us in calling on the government to allow refugee families to be reunited with those that depend on them.   

Because of our supporters we have hope. Hope that we can continue to make huge strides in beating extreme poverty and see it eradicated for good by 2030. Hope that world leaders will come together to end the violence that is destroying the lives of millions of people in places like Yemen. Hope that we can live in a world where families have enough to eat, where every child can go to school and where women no longer experience violence and abuse. A world where everyone experiences the equality, freedom, safety and dignity they deserve.

Chief Executive, Oxfam Ireland, Belfast


No Fianna Fáil-er is worth further polarisation of north

Brexit has changed the political discourse in Northern Ireland for potentially a decade, it has removed the consensus that the constitutional question was settled. Along with Crocodiles, RHI and revisionist thinking NI has become polarised. When John Hume faced a polarised society he opted for power sharing and the politics of consent, that was his alternative, both noble and progressive. 

He didn’t look to inject more division through the politics of nationalism, he reminded people they couldn’t eat a flag and decided to bring people together. 

The SDLP can choose more nationalism from a leader destined to fail to get into office or they can try as Hume did and present an alternative. 

The SDLP should continue to fight for special status, fight for women’s reproduction rights, fight for equal marriage, fight for a living wage, address the east-west of the Bann investment discrepancy and fight for a victims pension. 

It took John Hume 30 years to build a political consensus. The current polarisation won’t be defeated over night but jumping into bed with an economically right-wing and socially conservative political machine will certainly remove all hope for a labour nationalism collective to emerge from the despair of a decade of SF/DUP governance.

The SDLP requires leadership that professionalises its campaigning, invests in the non-voter and one that rejects the alienation of the unionist population through trying to out-green Sinn Féin through token endorsements from Mr Martin TD who betrayed the Irish people when he bailed out the banks.

No Fianna Fáil-er is worth the further polarisation of the north. 

Belfast BT13 


Petty-minded hostility

Arlene Foster, David McNarry and the PM, in my opinion show a serious misunderstanding of NI’s constitutional position within the UK.

Arlene screamed at Michelle O’Neill that NI was British, David McNarry sobbed with emotion on Nolan’s Top Table, because he had to discuss reunification, making it clear that Britain “owned” Northern Ireland.

Theresa May said that NI was an integral part of the UK.

But NI is only a conditional member of the UK.

The condition being that NI remains so only for so long as the majority of NI’s citizens wish it to be so, per the GFA.

So for the purposes of a border poll, the UK is not a single political unit, unlike in the recent referendum.

The future of NI lies in the hands of NI itself with no say in the matter by the permanent majority enjoyed by England within the UK.

So in this case, London and Dublin have a duty to carry out the wishes of the NI electorate.

Arlene’s insults and David McNarry’s petty-minded hostility, in a new situation where non-unionists may already be in the majority , is not in the interest of their ‘precious union’.

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16


Negative comments

Fr Sean McManus does credit to neither himself nor his organisation with his negative comment on the late Cardinal Cahal Daly – Resentment from many at ‘voice of Catholicism (January 2).  Fair-minded people from both communities in Northern Ireland agreed that the cardinal in his actions and statements was statesmanlike in his unwavering support for justice and peace. And they remember that during very difficult and tragic periods he was tireless in his denunciation of violence.

Blackrock, Co Dublin


No longer a world power

This America first president is firmly on record that any new trade deals will place America first. He has fiercely criticised existing deals with the EU which place Americans at a disadvantage.

Under what circumstances do little Englanders and DUP see this America first president giving the UK better terms than those the EU holds?

In world trade terms most world trading bodies will see the UK as being desperate to negotiate terms and will only agree terms to their advantage.

Even the Commonwealth nations will seek to maximise their benefit from a weak UK, which by any measure is no longer a world power except in the minds of the Brexiteers and the DUP.

Kilrea, Co Derry

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