Letters to the Editor

Britain wasted 47 years of chances to deal fairly with Ballymurphy massacre

Trevor Ringland – ‘Honest debate needed on why conflict occurred and who was to blame’ (April 9) – laments that “failure to deal fairly” with the legacy of crown force killings is “poisoning political life”. He thinks “the English don’t deserve the opprobrium heaped on them ...they just wanted us to live in peace.”

In reality Britain sowed the seeds of today’s legacy whirlwind because truth would have shattered their fairy tale justifications for crown force murders and for ruling part of Ireland. 

An example of how Britain’s “failure to deal fairly” with legacy murders ended up “poisoning political life” today, is the ongoing Ballymurphy Inquest. An ex-trooper from England gave explosive testimony which added the words “ghost gunmen” to the north’s lexicon. “Ghost gunmen” were made up by British troopers to excuse murder. Another former trooper was requested to plant bullets on the dead. Some bodies were carried like sacks of potatoes, with the casual excuse there was a shortage of stretchers.     

Why are shocking revelations emerging to haunt Britain today? Britain wasted 47 years of chances to “deal fairly” with the massacre of a priest, grandmother and nine other victims. Had the crown admitted the truth promptly, they might have spared themselves from Bloody Sunday and all that followed.

Instead British strategists opted for Internment, ‘Hooded Men’ torture and the Ballymurphy Massacre. They whitewashed Massacre with an orchestrated cover-up that branded the dead guilty. Instead Britain denied the truth, delayed any legal means of getting justice and waited for parents to die and families to be ground down into submission that they would never get truth. 

Had Britain come clean, 20, 10 or even five years ago, the Ballymurphy families would have responded generously to any genuine offer of justice. Now that Ballymurphy outlasted “deny, delay and die” tactics to get their inquest, Mr Ringland blames everyone but Britain that the truth should emerge at all.

Ballymurphy is one example of Britain’s strategic approach to hundreds of crown force and collusion murders. If, as Mr  Ringland recites, crown force killings were justified, why did they delay hearings which would exonerate their forces?
Why resort to cover-ups at all?

However, Britain may really fear a greater whirlwind to come. Books and documentaries are revealing mounting proof of what nationalists always knew. British “peacekeepers” worked with loyalist agents to commit hundreds of state-sponsored murders. If Mr Ringland wants reconciliation, he should begin by reconciling himself with the truth.

New York


We owe it to Lyra to forge path of peaceful co-existence

My father was murdered by gunmen many years ago and I know how Lyra McKee’s family and loved ones will be feeling.

I call for all groups involved in violence to hand in their weapons to the relevant authorities and direct their energies toward a sustainable and lasting peace. There is an overwhelming feeling in the community here in Co Tyrone that Lyra McKee should be remembered and a fitting tribute to her gifted life would be the total cessation of political violence. Twenty one years after the Good Friday Agreement we owe it to future generations to forge a path of peaceful co-existence.

It is clear from the turbulent years of murder and mayhem that political violence does not work. We need to throw our resources into removing the causes of why young people still harbour ideas that violence can solve political and social problems.
It is our problem to solve and what is needed is leadership and resources to tackle deprivation and sectarianism. It is bewildering and unacceptable that ‘armchair generals’ are still  coercing young people into political violence .

SDLP, Moy, Co Tyrone 


A case of tunnel vision

PATRICK Murphy – ‘Sinn Féin in need of a new leader already” (March 30) – makes much of a couple of issues in his piece. He views the rejection by Fine Gael of any circumstance that would allow it to have a governmental relationship with republicans. There were “toxic” values in the Sinn Féin movement.

Now a party then hovers around 18 to 19 per cent of the 26 counties must have some resonance among citizens. That raises a query. A party that questions the establishment is “toxic” by Fine Gael standards. Again this asks the question about the cosy relationship that exists between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. What unites them – the status quo on citizens rights, or its attitude to British mismanagement of the six counties or submissive behaviour to the banks? That and more unites them. So I would see a republican strategy of facing down establishment politics and the rejection by FF and FG as badges of honour.

I’m aware of Mr Murphy’s determination to point negatively about republicans, it is his entitlement. In this article he is quite close to being seen as suffering from tunnel vision. Republicans need no reminding about the challenges  that permeate this country.
The thing is that this is a primary rationale in working throughout the country.

Maybe, just maybe, the likes of Mr Murphy will put pen to paper and objectively address establishment politics.

Derry City


Dementia must be  made a priority

I’m sure many of your readers will know of someone with or directly affected by dementia – in Northern Ireland more than 20,400 are living with the condition including more than 3,175 people in Belfast.

Our research shows that every three minutes, someone in the UK develops dementia. Despite almost all of us knowing someone affected, two-thirds of people living with dementia report feeling isolated and lonely.

Many people are worried about ‘saying the wrong thing’ to someone with dementia, yet a friendly face or listening ear can make the world of difference. This Dementia Action Week (May 20-26) Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging everyone to take action by starting a conversation; whether it’s calling a relative with dementia or visiting a neighbour, it’s time to start talking.

Council elections give everyone in Northern Ireland the opportunity to start demanding better for local people affected by dementia.  Alzheimer’s Society is asking voters faced with council candidates on their doorstep to remind them that dementia must be a priority.

So, when candidates come knocking at your door appealing for your vote, we are asking you to ask them how they will make your local community more inclusive for everyone affected by dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society, Belfast

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