Letters to the Editor

Legacy of recent conflict continues to traumatise victims and survivors

This community is representative of society at large – it is diverse in nature in terms of background, political persuasion and how historical, legacy events have impacted on our lives.

Individuals and support groups tend to approach the issue of legacy in different ways and we all have our own story to tell. Each individual, family and group must have the right to approach the issue in a manner of their choosing, free to designate for themselves what tactics, strategy and participants they employ to drive their quest for truth, justice and accountability. This should constitute a universal and underlying principle for all victims and survivors and their support groups, irrespective of their perspective of the conflict or their political persuasion.

All members of that community and society at large should and must respect the right of every member to devise their own approach to meet their demands and requirements and access to due process.

If we are really serious about devising a legacy process that is victim-centred and victim-led, then all victims and survivors should be free to pursue their own approach to achieving their objectives. Other groups and individuals choose different methods to realising their own objectives and we wish them well as we believe that a win for one is a step forward for us all.

The Time for Truth Campaign has three simple, modest objectives which we believe offer our society the best opportunity to deal with the legacy of the past regardless of our background or creed. Nevertheless, as only the British government can fund and legislate for these and as it is the British government which is denying families these basic rights, the second Time for Truth March will take to the streets yet again to demand that the state:

n Implements and adequately resources the Stormont House Agreement legacy mechanisms in a human rights compliant manner

n Adequately resources the Lord Chief Justice’s five-year plan to clear the backlog in legacy inquests

n Adequately resources the Office of the Police Ombudsman to allow it to complete outstanding historical investigations.

All Time for Truth Campaign protests and demonstrations are open to the general public to attend, irrespective of their political persuasion. The call to action for the second Time for Truth March is the same.

A single, legitimate narrative of our conflict does not exist despite British government attempts to impose their narrative upon us. We believe that all narratives regarding the conflict are legitimate and should be respected and considered.

Indeed, we have attracted a wide range of speakers at our demonstrations, events and delegations and we hope to continue to do so at future protests and meetings. But our three simple objectives remain the same and we reach out to anyone who will support these. So, in Belfast city centre at noon on Sunday June 9 will you walk with us? 

CIARÁN MacAIRT
Time for Truth Campaign

 

Decision needed on Casement Park proposal

In 2009 the executive agreed major redevelopments for the Windsor Park, Ravenhill and Casement Park stadia. These grounds catered for soccer, rugby and GAA respectively. Ten years on Windsor Park and Ravenhill are complete, but Casement remains stalled.

The Casement project is a 34,000 capacity state-of-the-art stadium which would serve as a hub of Gaelic games in Ulster and deliver a significant jobs boost to west Belfast.

A number of local residents have expressed legitimate concerns about the size of the stadium and these concerns are being addressed.

The main obstacle now appears to be the lack of urgency among government officials about this investment.

A planning application for the new Casement stadium was submitted in 2017. Two years on, the Department for Infrastructure has still not decided whether to approve it. Meanwhile major applications which were submitted after the Casement Park proposal have been approved by the department.

It simply isn’t good enough and I will be continuing to press the Department for Infrastructure to take a decision on the planning application.

A new and vibrant Casement Park will benefit everyone in the community including sports fans, residents and businesses. This is a landmark project. It will greatly enhance the regeneration of the west Belfast area and will be a first-class stadium for Gaelic games in Ulster. It needs to happen and Sinn Féin has worked tirelessly with all the stakeholders over the last 10 years to make it happen.

Casement was endorsed by the executive and backed by all parties. I remain determined to see the stadium, and the jobs it will provide, delivered.

PAUL MASKEY MP
Sinn Féin, West Belfast

 

Devoid of facts

Yet another polemical letter from Maurice Fitzgerald (May 16).

His opinionated and scatterbrained missive concerning climate change is devoid of facts. That is his choice but it undermines the credibility of his viewpoint.

Scientists regularly and independently produce reports that his type do not comprehend and attempt to dismiss serious warnings as politicised or false.

It is an indisputable fact that the Earth’s climate and ecosystem does change. This takes place over millions of years. The unprecedented increase in air and sea temperatures is the big conundrum. He should view aerial images of the disappearing ice glaciers in Greenland over the past 60 years. Cyclones and tropical storms are becoming more frequent. Massive summer forest fires rage out of control in every continent. Recent cyclones that flooded large areas of Mozambique and flattened forests in Zimbabwe were very extreme.

These are meteorological facts and not propaganda.

Mr Fitzgerald probably does not believe a discarded plastic item was recently photographed at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. This was at a depth of 35,800 feet.

Climate change and plastic pollution threaten mankind’s very existences.

Mr Fitzgerald and his ilk display arrogant immunity to accurately documented and well presented scientific information. An unwise position as the planet accelerates towards cataclysmic disaster.

BRIAN WILSON
Craigavon, Co Armagh

 

Unimpressed by Adams

Am I alone in being unimpressed by what Gerry Adams said to the Ballymurphy inquest and his letter (May 15)? He tells us that after internment the IRA in Ballymurphy decided ‘not to engage with the British army’ but how can he know this for certain given that of course he was never in the IRA? He claims too that there was no firing against the army by the IRA. Maybe it’s time he read the book Ballymurphy and the Irish War by Ciarán de Baróid which came out in 1989, rather closer to events than we are now. The author lived and worked in Ballymurphy during the height of the Troubles.On page 112 he describes how by 7pm on August 9 1971 ‘a pitched battle was raging’ along the interface between Ballymurphy and Springmartin. A pitched battle normally needs two sides to take part, though his account makes clear that loyalist snipers were also involved. On pages 117-118 he writes of weapons being given  out to young and ill-trained IRA members who ‘found themselves in the front line’. He goes on to say that ‘far from destroying the IRA, the British initiative (internment) merely unleashed an IRA ‘offensive’. It will be interesting to see if this narrative is cited in the inquest. It will be even more interesting to see if Mr Adams dismisses it as untruthful. For me it remains vital testimony to what happened when the IRA, in a heavily populated area tried to take on a formidable and often brutal, army unit.

IAN S WOOD
Edinburgh, Scotland

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