Letters to the Editor

Heartened by outrage expressed at Lyra's death

As a parent, a gaelscoil principal and a community activist for over 30 years, I am heartened by the outrage expressed at the death of Lyra McKee – a pioneer and true leader. It has been said that the real tragedy (outside of the pain her family and those closest to her will feel) is that the good she did for others will be overshadowed by the wrong done to her. It is so sad that far too many people here know exactly what pain such a loss brings. 

I am intrigued by the use of the Irish word ‘Saoradh’ (Liberation) – the name of the group standing by the misinformed individual who fired that fatal shot. Irish history tells us that true Saoradh comes from education. It’s the only true way forward. If Pearse, Sands, Mandela and Gandhi et al promoted such an idea, why can’t young Irish people today follow their teaching? If those in charge of Saoradh believe that they know better than those I list above, Ireland has much to worry about. 

Educationalists and school leaders need be a third voice in this matter. We should not be voiceless at a time like this when we can be quite vocal in less important matters such as school budgets and deficits. Lyra’s death demands our comments – she deserves it. 

I want our pupils to know who Lyra was, what she stood for and to have her held up as a model of the true global citizen – inclusive, informed, responsible, courageous and people-loving. She knew the questions to ask and knew where the answers weren’t to be found. She had forward-thinking followers. Lyra wasn’t stuck in reverse gear. 

Lyra’s death will be a catalyst for good – it has already brought out the best of Derry’s people in opposing what was done ‘in their name’. It has shown that politicians of all colours can unite – in itself, a rare moment for us. 

Our country needs more Lyra Mc Kees – and less of those who live in the wrong answer. To be truly saortha (liberated), the answers lie in books – not bombs or bullets. 

Let Lyra lead us in death as she did in life. Thank you, Lyra, for your life and legacy – our school will celebrate both. 

Principal, Bunscoil Mhic Reachtai, North Belfast


Top table’s wishy washy messages being rejected 

It is of no surprise that the Brexit Party has caught the mood of the mainland electorate and is set to cause a political earthquake. According to the opinion polls both the Conservatives and Labour are feeling the tremors and are in trepidation should a vote take place. People are leaving May’s Tories and Corbyn’s socialists in droves. Not only supporters but previous dyed-in-the-wool activists in the Conservative shires and Labour northern heartlands are rejecting the wishy washy messages from the top table. Millions have concluded that they will not be governed by a bunch of Tory wets and dawdlers or by a band of Marxist militants and non-conformists – even here where there are no votes for the Conservatives or Labour with the latter not bothering to stand candidates. Unionists have always shared with the mainland in a time of crisis the expectation that a popular person will emerge to demonstrate inspirational leadership. Not today. Instead of expectation there is palpable anger and discontent at the abysmal lack of courage from within Parliament to challenge the lamentable Theresa May. Except for Nigel Farage who is winning massive support as the Brexit champion.

Soon enough the consequences of their sell out will decided in a general election. 

There will be no overall majority party able to form a government that is for sure. It is inconceivable that a government of any coalition can be formed without the consent and inclusion of the Brexit Party which will be returned in significant strength having given the establishment parties a pasting at the polls.  

Strangford, Co Down


Stand up and be counted

The killing of the young journalist Lyra McKee in Derry last Thursday night has shocked and saddened us all. Our hearts go out to her partner Sara, her family, friends and colleagues, in their great loss, and to the people of Derry at this very difficult time. Political, Church and community leaders have come together to condemn the killing and have called for calm, the people of the Creggan have courageously spoken out, and her bereaved partner has appealed to us all to ensure that Lyra’s death be not in vain. Let us take up that challenge and renew our commitment to the building of peace, understanding, healing and reconciliation in whatever way we can. For the politicians and the two governments, surely the first priority must be to provide determined and responsible leadership now, to restore the institutions of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement, to address the increased polarisation and distrust, the fears, anxieties, misunderstandings and uncertainties arising out of the Brexit issue, a situation only deepened and exacerbated by the political vacuum of the past few years. And it is up to us, the “ordinary people” to get behind them in this, as was done by so many at the time of the agreement and afterwards, when sacrifices were required and given, and a difficult compromise made for the good of all.

Batterstown, Co Meath


Facing up to reality

According to Brian Feeney (April 17) “The mechanisms of the GFA correctly analysed the [ethno-political] problem and gave both communities equality of status and parity of esteem.”. Rubbish.
British sovereignty over Irish people is basically foreign rule. Irish people have always been the ‘minority’ community with no say regarding the so-called ‘constitutional status’ of Northern Ireland.

In his book Countdown to Unity, Richard Humphreys states: “It is as well to bear in mind this major limitation of the value of any legal or constitutional measure in terms of the politics of Northern Ireland ... the fundamental objectives of each tradition can only be realized in an absolute sense within one state or the other. Short of joint sovereignty, there is no mechanism for absolutely accommodating the ultimate constitutional objectives of both traditions.”

Equal status for both communities means equal freedom and equal sovereignty. But, to quote Brian’s parting shot: “That would mean facing reality.”

Belfast BT1


Appreciating our past

After reading Damien Bennett’s well-written letter – ‘North should have its own curriculum’ (April 11) – I have to agree with him 100 per cent, and I ask these questions.

Where are the benefits to our students learning the history of a foreign country?

Why is our history and culture forgotten about or deliberately omitted from the curriculum?

Are they afraid of the knowledge that would be gained by our young people?

I suspect that British governments down through the years had a major input in the decision not to allow our history to be taught here in the six counties. Our teachers must also shoulder some of the blame for not insisting that our history be taught from an early age.

Newry, Co Down


Confused, again

Thomas Hardy’s letter –  ‘It’s a miracle that modern Israel exists at all’ (April 15) – has me confused, again, as to the nature of miracles. If the Jewish people benefited from one  with the founding of the modern Israel, “as the Jewish people remain under God’s favour” is it not strange that in Auschwitz, Majdanek, Sobibor, Belsen and Treblinka the Nazis exterminated some six million Jewish people?

Carrickfergus, Co Antrim

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