Letters to the Editor

Conor mistaken to think his British friends will keep SF sweet

Crashed the car I nearly did on the way to work this morning. On ‘the biggest show in the country’ Conor Murphy, Sinn Féin MLA for Newry and Armagh, claimed that the British government had assured him that if a restored Stormont Executive failed to pass legislation on equal marriage, then Westminster would pass it for them. 

Now let me be clear, I couldn’t give a fishes’ mammary gland about equal marriage one way or the other. And on the doorsteps of Derry, where we were canvassing recently, the good people couldn’t care either. Let them tear away, as long as they know what they are letting themselves in for, seems to be the consensus, in the rare case where an opinion was given. It’s a non-issue where people are reliant on food banks, the waiting list for a routine gall-bladder operation is two years and the schools have no, that’s no, budget for children with additional needs.  

But for a republican, who avows that the British government should not  by right have any authority in this country, and cites the legacy of dead generations of rebels to attest to the truth of his assertion, to boast that his friends in Brit-land will keep him and his party sweet on this or any other issue is Alice in Wonderland stuff. 

Sinn Féin’s insistence on an Acht na Gaeilge, likewise, has no resonance in working-class communities, except for a vague sense of a promise broken, and a feeling that wanes who took the trouble to learn the language should have employment opportunities. Most would love to speak Irish, but it’s complicated. What Mr Murphy and other career republicans don’t understand, maybe because they have never taken that trouble, is that a language is more than a grammar and phonetic system, more than a set of sounds, or even a means of communication. It is the linguistic history, a distillation of the culture and collective consciousness of a people.
In our literature, poetry and song, the spirit of the Gael is preserved. For example, the Irish for unborn child is ‘beo, gan breith’ – alive without birth. This is our historic and collective understanding, our distillation of thousands of years of Celtic civilisation. This understanding defines us as a people. 

Yet Sinn Féin, the Irish translation of whose name may be construed as ‘ourselves’, are running to Westminster, as only ideologues on a mission could, to ask a cross-party group of MPs to impose abortion legislation in the six counties. (The leader of the SDLP signed the letter too) against the express wishes of the people here, as passed in Stormont as recently as 2016. Make it up, you couldn’t. 

Aontú, Derry and Strabane District Council 


Pen mightier than the sword but both can wound

As a long-term reader of The Irish News I have always appreciated the quality of the journalism and the balanced commentary produced week after week by generally well-informed contributors. 

Last week, however, I was disappointed and disturbed by the commentary, particularly that of Brian Feeney who, echoing Fionnuala O Connor in reflecting on the murder of Lyra McKee and the  inter-denominational obsequies in St Anne’s Cathedral, was heavily critical of the Catholic Church, in particular Fr Magill, whom Brian accused of pointing the finger at politicians and “carrying the day on a wave of emotion and sentiment”. 

Of course, Fr Magill did not publicly reflect on why he was “not saying Mass in a Catholic Church”. Why should he have? Surely that was entirely irrelevant, and I would assume was a private decision taken in consultation with Lyra’s bereaved family.

The Catholic Church has a lot to answer for, yes, but Fr Magill was not there as an apologist for the organisation to which he belongs. Rather he was there as a pastor – a priest – who despite belonging to and ministering in a Church whose flaws and failings are well documented, demonstrated compassion and courage and like his colleague, Fr Joe Gormley, (Creggan) captured the horror and outrage felt by right-thinking people everywhere. Both these priests gave strong witness to the courage that is needed to free our society from people who think it is alright to fire a gun into a crowded street in the hope of killing a policeman. They need our support and our prayers not our disapprobation. 

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but both can wound.

Omagh, Co Tyrone  


Fascinating reflection

Prof John Rooney (April 29) considers ‘Original Sin’ and ‘Eden Restored’ in his fascinating reflection. In an age of information overload few people express such a deep interest in theological detail. The ‘Charismatic Renewal Movement’ and ‘Pentecostalism’ stress immediacy in spiritual matters. Charismatic Renewal Movement-influenced Churches can be accused of emotionalism, but their growth surely reflects an ability to meet modern people at their point of personal need.
As we approach Pentecost, this should hardly surprise us. The Acts of the Apostles records the Holy Ghost empowering a diverse group of men and women to believe in the Messiah.
Can overemphasising complex denominational systematic theology make the message of the Church less clear? A three-legged milking stool ceases to be effective with only two legs present. Are mainstream Irish Churches sometimes inclined to present God as creator and redeemer – with attention possibly directed largely to two of the ‘Persons of the Trinity’? Charismatic groups more forthrightly consider the sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost and experiencing God personally. Many middle aged and older people in Ireland report fond affection for teachers and clergy, who often gave them high-quality religious instruction. Design evidences were carefully considered. We had sublime teaching on the life of our Lord.
However,  did the wider Irish religious culture sometimes neglect to mention personal experience of God?  

Belfast BT5


Deprived of right to vote


My father passed away a year ago.

I returned from England last Thursday to visit my mother and assist her with voting.

No voting card had been sent for my father. In other words, the system had picked up he was no longer with us. However, it still sent a proxy card with his name on it for mother’s vote (she is under a disability).

I went to the named polling station with mother’s passport and my own. It was referred to the supervisor, who in turn contacted Belfast. Outcome – not permitted to vote on behalf of mother – who had made clear her preferences.

Seemingly we should have been sent a form seeking confirmation of who we wanted to be the named proxy. We were not, so mother was deprived of her vote – despite identification being shown.

Pretty ironic, when one considers the historical level of personation here.

Randalstown, Co Antrim

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