GFA clearly states there can be no change to constitutional position
In the mid-1990s I suggested to a young, republican prisoner that the book Ten Men Dead would be good for him to read and to my astonishment he made the remark – which I am sure that he later came to rue – “Why would I want to read that, that’s history?” My astonishment was because I had lived through the period of the Hunger Strike and the pain of it was still emblazoned on my mind. Years later I reflected on this encounter, I thought to myself that I was born in the middle of the IRA’s border campaign but although it was far less significant in comparison to the recent conflict, it was not something that was really talked about when I was growing up and my generation would not have had much awareness of it but to those involved it must have been well etched on their memories and many of them would come to play roles in the conflict from 1969 onwards.
A recent survey indicated that 50 per cent of the population here neither identify themselves as nationalist or unionist now. Only 26 per cent identified as unionist to which the recently co-opted Sinn Féin MLA, Emma Sheerin, reflected the party’s glass half-full philosophy by commenting that this was further confirmation that the majority in support of a union with Britain no longer exists. On that basis she advocated that both free state and British governments plan for a unity referendum. Emma, of course, was just a baby when the party she represents supported the GFA which clearly states that there can be no change to the constitutional position of the six counties unless a majority in the six counties support a change. The same survey suggested that only 21 per cent of people living here see themselves as nationalist and that it is older people generally who identify as either nationalist or unionist, and younger people as neither.
Emma should ask how this trend has come about. It may be that those who lived through the trauma of the Troubles, where it is firmly ingrained on their memories, will always identify as either. But to her generation the conflict does not have the same significance. Much of the responsibility for that is that Sinn Féin has pursued a policy of normalisation where the constitutional question has largely been removed from the consciousness of younger people. In any event it is irrelevant if only 1 per cent of people here identify as unionist, unless there is more than 50 per cent who support a united Ireland then there will be no constitutional change here under the GFA.
ECHR has ruled same-sex marriage is not a right
Family Watch International has recorded that there are now 14 European nations with constitutional provisions preserving the male-female definition of marriage (Bulgaria, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, Armenia, Georgia). Eight countries have adopted these constitutional provisions since 2005. Ten additional EU countries specifically preserve the male/female definition of marriage in their statutes (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Monaco, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Estonia). Among nations that do provide legal recognition of same-sex civil unions eight still retain the definition of marriage as requiring a man and a woman. (Andorra, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, Hungary, Greece, Cyprus, Italy).
Countries that have redefined marriage are the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Malta, Germany Finland and Austria. This means that more than twice the number of European countries have enshrined the male-female definition of marriage in their law (31) as have redefined marriage(14). The overwhelming number of nations in Europe by a ratio of more than two to one, still understand marriage to require a man and a woman. Also across the globe there are only 26 nations out of a total of 192-plus (13 per cent) that allow same-sex marriage.
The ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) ruled on June 29 2016 that same sex-marriage was not a right. This is being hidden from the public by branches of the media especially the BBC. To listen to the nonsense from some BBC programmes one would think the opposite.
Bangor, Co Down
Perpetuating hierarchy of victims
Mr O’Fiach – ‘Victims hierarchy’ (July 6) – addressed the issue of a response to these people whose loved ones have been killed or maimed during the Troubles. He writes about the stumbling block of who defines who is a “victim”.
He goes on to talk about “British victims” during British occupation.
I would like to refer to the earlier part of his letter. The stumbling block in my view is obviously among the living, we survivors. And that leads me to think that victims hierarchy must need to relate to we survivor’s hierarchy. If we, who are alive, are perpetuating a hierarchy of who are alive then how are we to restore who or who we believe to be a victim.
Therefore it appears to me that the issues of parity of esteem, acceptance and difference, that we genuinely seek a level playing field is a way of unlocking the painful and seemingly unending debate about who is or is not a victim.
If we who are living cannot treat each other as we ourselves want to be treated, then there is little prospect that we can give solace to those who have survived, peace of mind to those that have lost loved ones, and resting peace to those who have died in the Troubles.
Is it not possible for loyalist leaders or indeed any leaders, as both communities share the bonfire problem, to designate an area, go through planning permission and build the bonfire site subject to the usual planning regulations with health and safety issues etc all planned in?
It seems to me that the difficulties with many urban areas is that they don’t have a bespoke site and activists are forced to build wherever they can. By the same token an illegal bonfire, one without planning permission, would be removed.
Cross-border bodies no longer needed
Former RUC/PSNI chief George Hamilton is to take up a post with Co-operation Ireland. Co-operation Ireland, along with a host of other such organisations wish to promote and encourage interaction between the north and south. Very commendable except the north now has a nationalist majority with no issues with fellow Irishmen south of the border. These organisations should state they are there to aid and facilitate interaction between northern unionists and southerners. Most northerners do not require their services thank you.