Tedious perspective on realities of Norn-Iron's history beggars belief
Trevor Ringland’s letter (April 9) – ‘Honest debate needed” – aligns seamlessly with his regular commentaries via The Irish News. His tedious perspective on local historical realities beggars belief. “We need to have an honest debate about why conflict occurred and who was to blame”, he proffers, yet proceeds to niftily circumvent the actual authentic origins of the conflict and all the many injustices that were brokered both by the successive British regimes and the corrupted statelet of NI.
It depends how far back one wishes to start the apportioning of ‘blame’, but by any standard of truthful assessment the initial bulk of blame must land squarely on the statutory powers in vogue at any given time. This is not to condone the murderous actions of the many who fought to assert respectful autonomy from a corrupted system, but one must expect the balance of righteous responsibility to lie well inside the innate statutory remit for protected egalitarian democracy .
One must always remember that Ireland, as an island, was taken over by a colonial power some centuries back; used and abused to suit the greedy aggrandisement of an at times brutally suppressive regimen of ‘governance’; artificially planted with GB ‘outsiders’ who, when the islanders tried to assert their self-governing autonomy by negotiating Home Rule, imported a major glut of armaments to threaten and manipulate a shaky UK government, who acquiesced to this threat of loyal unionist violence (UVF 1914).
Springing forward to around 1921, when the contrived statelet of NI was born out of a selective one-sided electoral dominance ruse, proceeding to foster and cultivate a system of dedicated discrimination, grotesque gerrymandering and a controlling elite who dictated and determined most of what ensued ‘democratically’.
Having essentially given in to that complexion of contrivance, successive British governments turned the blind eye of convenient forgetfulness allowing the ‘bad-orchard’ of NI to ferment and eventually foment. The notorious B-Specials outfit which emerged as an ultra-partisan auxiliary police force were a clear indictment of an already biased security force apparatus, which, when faced with peaceful protest at the blatant travesty of ingrained civil rights denial, opted to ‘baton down’ (literally) the hatches of disenchantment presenting. One also recalls the burning of Bombay Street as a seminal symbol of repressive sectarianism in 1969 which, allied to the murderous activities of a young UVF ‘activist’ Gusty Spence in 1966-67, ignited further flames of violent passion.
All this set the tone for the 70s, 80s and 90s, and this not even mentioning ‘shoot-to-kill’ policies, loyalist collusion, Stalker ‘fodder’, Stakeknife, Bloody Sunday, Ballymurphy, Dublin/Monaghan bombings, Miami showband etc
Perhaps Trevor might care to revise and review anew.
Lismore, Co Waterford
Honest debate involves consideration of other points of view
On April 2 I responded to Trevor Ringland’s sense that he was excluded from or ignored in a place named “Sinn Féin’s Ireland”. I thought he might attempt to reply to the points I made about a beam in his unionist eye.
Instead, on April 9 Trevor addressed a “poisoning [of] political life” caused by “our failure to deal fairly” with the ‘Troubles’ legacy. Unfortunately, he reverted to a unionist ladybird version of Irish history. In it the 1916 Easter Rising is a “cancer” that “has eaten way at relationships” and “thrives on hatred”. Unionist responsibility is reduced to one 27-word sentence where, “Ian Paisley contributed to the environment emerging where violence occurred and was fuelled once it started”.
That makes little sense.
In Northern Ireland a minority section of the population suffered 50 years of oppression in various, well-documented forms. It began with an attempt at ethnic cleansing, thousands being put out of their jobs and homes during 1920-22. The dominant, contrived, majority justified the discrimination that maintained its privileged position. In 1955 Thomas Wilson, economic adviser to the Stormont government, explained that Roman Catholics were made to feel inferior because “they often were inferior”. In 1960 the ruling Unionist Party debated whether Roman Catholics could join and concluded – no.
Those nearer the bottom rung of the unionist ladder received cruder versions of this message. Ian Paisley articulated nakedly sectarian views unionists had promoted. They did not come across well on British television. While that may have inhibited the Unionist Party it did not bother Paisley, who hoovered up pre-existing support for his message.
A sectarian force policed this sectarian system. During the Troubles it became more corrupt. Alongside the British army, the RUC used loyalists to combat the IRA, to assassinate political leaders and to kill Catholics. This also is well documented. Nationalists did not require knowledge of what happened in 1916 to sustain hostility to the Northern Ireland state. Their experience was justification enough.
I sense a great deal of hurt in Trevor’s letter, due to IRA attempts to kill his father and the evident nationalist hostility his father faced as an RUC officer. I have no wish to contribute to that hurt. Articulating his frustration publicly will include Trevor confronting opinions confounding his sense of reality. ‘Honest debate’ involves consideration of other points of view.
Irish National Congress
Getting their priorities right
In the first three months of this year at least 15 people died in Belfast as a result of drug misuse. At least two homeless people have died on the streets of the city centre and hundreds of vulnerable individuals with mental health problems – many of whom are self-harming or have attempted to take their own lives – are on waiting lists hoping to receive professional health or counselling services. Increasing numbers of families and individuals are relying on food banks to feed themselves and their children. All of these issues need addressed as a matter of urgency before more people lose their lives.
On reading The Irish News headline (April 13) that £500,000 of Belfast ratepayers’ money is to be allocated from the council for ‘Bonfire diversion activities’, I actually thought that it was a belated April Fools joke. Can the councillors be for real? Belfast City Council already has a funded Bonfire Management Scheme and now on top of that they have decided to give another half a million pounds to ‘Bonfire diversion activities’.
With all the health, homeless, and poverty problems in the city, you would have thought the councillors would have had more important priorities to allocate this funding for the provision of services to address these needs.
I guess it shows how far removed our councillors are from the problems being experienced by working-class communities not just in Belfast but right across the six counties.
New world order
The Catholic journalist and mother of five, Caroline Farrow has been recently subjected to a six-month investigation by Surrey police for views surrounding the use or misuse of the wrong pronoun. Does the image of the Rainbow Project hierarchy (April 8) now show that holding orthodox views on life and family issues are now verboten? One remembers JR Mogg MP being hounded for stating a pro-life view, in 2017.
Maybe if they read the GAA ad on the preceding page 7, where it states that to belong we all need a voice in order to say what is right. Some may view the Rainbow protest as an inability to listen or to accommodate a different perspective. In doing so, we can clearly glimpse that the LGBT community are adopting a mindset that once treated them with unjust discrimination.
Clonoe, Co Tyrone