Letters to the Editor

Union falls way below par on people's list of importance

After the latest series of defeats suffered by the British prime minister in the House –  where her supposed partners-in-arms voted or abstained against all amendments to her propositions for leaving Europe – Theresa May without a hint or an utterance to those same partners turned and reached out to her nemesis in the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn
to try and reach a consensus out of the quagmire she has landed herself in. In so doing she effectively retrieved the knives from her own back silently indicating she was pulling the plug over the perceived treachery of her so-called partners who prop up her government. As more humiliation was heaped upon her there were ominous warnings from pro-Brexit ministers for the DUP who advocate ‘a no deal’ and a full return to ‘direct rule’, Stephan Barclay, the third British minister for Brexit, spoke of the dire consequences of the reckless DUP policies indicating ‘direct rule would have a detrimental effect to the north of Ireland’.
This was a veiled threat to the DUP who they view as having brought their agreement into disrepute by their cavalier attitude when supporting their erstwhile partners. Unperturbed the DUP carried on with their delusions and ignored the obvious declaring, with a high degree of arrogance, “the British need us” with Sammy Wilson claiming “he expected the initiative of May and Corbyn to fall flat on its face”.

This prompted a further response from Chancellor Phillip Hammond who strongly emphasised the earlier sentiments of the Brexit minister. In his usual calm and collected tone Mr Hammond stated: “There were two issues of concern, a threat to the British economy and a threat to the union.”
His priority is the economy and the protection of jobs, income, big business including the banking sector. In his bleak analysis of the union he states: “In the event of a ‘no deal’ the British would immediately impose direct rule to manage the border between north and south.” This portentous judgment would carry an existential ‘threat to the union’ as they seek to shore up their borders from becoming a paradise for smugglers and undesirables.
This suggests British home grown interests top their agenda it is also a reflection of how the union falls way below par on the government and the people’s list of importance.

Belfast BT1


There is clearly a differential in Israeli society

Andrew  J Shaw is back (April 8) with his complaints of the attacks by the superpower Hamas on the victim Israel and its citizens. He disputes my claim that around 100 Israeli snipers have killed and maimed many thousands of unarmed, civilian protesters at the fence in Gaza, behind which they have been imprisoned for many years in desperate circumstances. One has only to check the news from the BBC or ITV to see the truth of my claim and yet Mr Shaw disputes the facts while giving no alternative figures.

Instead he trots out the old Israeli claim of “the intense onslaught on the Israeli public”. Could he please supply us with the total of the Israeli casualties of the attacks by Hamas rockets, described by US writer Norman Finkelstein as “large fireworks”? In reply to these almost “humanitarian” rockets the Israeli air force sends into Gaza flights of US supplied F16 bombers and flattens large parts of the Strip causing more mayhem and destruction in an area described by David Cameron as an “open-air prison”.

I propose that I take a back-seat and let an Israeli ex-government official explain Mr Shaw’s statement that there is “no differential in Israeli society”.
Mr Ben-Yair was attorney general of Israel from 1993 to 1996 and he wrote: “After Israel won the Six-Day War in 1967 we enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories we developed two judicial systems: one progressive, liberal – in Israel: the other cruel, injurious – in the occupied territories. In effect we established an apartheid system in the occupied territories immediately following their capture”. 

Who should we believe?

Belfast BT9


Advice on how to cope with exam stress

As the school holiday are in full swing for many teenagers it’s time to start exam revision. It is an important time for young people who are looking to do well so they can take the next step in their chosen education or career path. However, for many it is a time of immense stress, with some feeling that the pressure is becoming too much for them to take on alone and it can be hard to know how best to support them.

Stress about exams can have many negative effects on young people. It can affect their ability to sleep, trigger anxiety attacks, depression, tearfulness and eating disorders.

It is important that young people know that they are not alone and that Childline will listen to them. There are lots of tips and advice for young people and their families on the Childline website on how to manage exam stress. These include: n Taking regular breaks from revising and getting a good night’s sleep

n Writing down your worries – then throw the paper away or give it to someone you trust 

n Going for a walk or doing some exercise

n Listening to calming music

n Playing a game or taking some time out to take your mind off your worries and stress for a bit

n Trying to think positively – even if you don’t feel like it, a positive attitude will help you during your revision

n Remembering that everyone’s different – try not to compare yourself to your friends.

We would also encourage young people to talk to a family member or teacher if things get on top of them.

Childline is always available on the phone 0800 1111 or at childline.org.uk 

Childline Manager,
Northern Ireland


Smaller enterprises need to be protected

We should champion small business and town centres more in our council areas.

More and more we see the large national and multinational businesses coming under pressure as a consequence of internet competition and the high level of high street rents and rates. A few weeks ago the pressure was on HMV and now we have seen the threat to Debenhams who have gone into administration. 

Stores will close and even our own Debenhams in Newry is not necessarily out of the woods. Decisions will be made elsewhere with no regard for the well-being of the local community,

Progress in business has been cyclical. We started with small shops, then came the supermarkets and then the internet but, all the while, the smaller enterprises, mostly family businesses, have been able to weather the storm.

Community values apply. Small businesses need to be protected from exorbitant rates and rents and planning laws that will favour wise and community-based business developments.      

Independent candidate 
Newry Mourne and Down 

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