Letters to the Editor

Catholic Church needs to be slimmed down and re-structured

Apparently the Diocese of Dromore will remove Bishop Francis Brooks’s coat of arms from a church mosaic. How is one to react to that revelation? My first thought was surprise such a thing existed and then try to imagine a new bishop discussing what statement he wanted to make with his new logo? Perhaps Monty Python missed a trick in “The Life of Brian”, or did they? Some things are beyond parody, it is though, a comfort to know diocesan money is being well spent.

From a wider perspective of education in Dromore, beyond the physical abuse of children in Dromore schools, things do not look much better. The diocese’s track record of school building, heavily biased towards the grammar sector, is an all too visible indictment. It could be argued the Catholic Church is complicit in its willingness to work the iniquitous 11-plus, because a lot of Catholics want it. Curiously the same logic of doing what the laity wants, does not seem to hold for other issues such as abortion and gay marriage. One might suggest the Church either has principles and gives a lead, or it does not.

There are 26 diocese and bishops in Ireland. As the Church shrinks how many bishops, with their coats of arms and titled acolytes, do we need? Why not dissolve or merge the Dromore Diocese and a few more besides? There are about eight million people in Ireland, while for example the Archdiocese of Liverpool has 1.9m parishioners. The logic is clear, re-structure from 26 to say four dioceses, slim down the Church bureaucracy and titles and leave more time for the clergy to pursue its pastoral role.

Put another way would the Church be any worse off without Dromore with its protracted and calculated choreography? If the Church authorities really want to make a statement they could do much more than remove a coat of arms, and sooner rather than later.

Frank Hennessey

Belfast 9


Life's too short to peel a redcurrant

Having recently made a batch of redcurrant jelly with my own berries I thought I would take a look at Niall McKenna's recipe (Saturday September 14). Imagine my surprise at his instruction to peel the redcurrants. What kind of redcurrants was he using? Genetically modified mutant redcurrants the size of grapes? Redcurrants are small, usually smaller than blackcurrants and I wouldn't want to peel those either. Maybe it's feasible to peel redcurrants in the kitchen of top class restaurant but even then why would you do it? The skins are full of colour and flavour and the whole point of making redcurrant jelly is to strain the cooked redcurrants and use the juice with sugar and any other ingredients to make the jelly. My redcurrant jelly with port is a firm favourite with family and friends at Christmas and has never involved peeling a redcurrant.

Vivienne Quinn



Suicide prevention needs to be a priority

Last Tuesday marked World Suicide Prevention day. Unfortunately, this a 365 day a year issue. It coincided with the health department publishing its suicide prevention strategy aimed at reducing suicide in Northern Ireland by 10 per cent over the next five years. Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate within the United Kingdom with statistically a person dying almost every day and many more attempted suicides requiring hospital treatment each day. 609 people have taken their lives here in the two years since Stormont collapsed in January 2019.

The current increased rate is unacceptably high and the Department of Health’s strategy clearly doesn’t go far enough in addressing the issue that affects so many families here. The report aimed to dispel the myth that most suicides happen suddenly and without warning. However, as many bereaved families will tell you particularly with young males, someone can seem relatively fine and then the knock nobody wants comes on the door.

It has been 974 days since Northern Ireland has had a government and to really get a grip on this dreadful issue and implement the proper strategy we need the executive up and running again and mental health waiting list services down.

Frank McCaughey



Reading Professor Bill Tormey's letter on September 13, I would make three points. 1) Saying something is improbable admits a possibility : 2) Saying "religious faith as a backdrop to war" is still trying to forward the long-ago discounted nonsense that religion is solely responsible for wars : 3) All of us held views in our youth that have changed with age and experience. Finally I would counsel that sneering at ordinary people in a national newspaper is never a good look.

C Murray BT11


Thanks for Uganda support

Overseas development charity Self Help Africa thanks the public in Northern Ireland for supporting their recent Give2Grow appeal, which raised a total of £268,939, including £129,530 match funding from the UK government to support rural poor communities in Africa.

The amount, which was raised over a three month period between February and May is to be invested by Self Help Africa to support 1,000 farming families.

Self Help Africa, which merged with War on Want NI last year, raised much of the funds through events and charity shop based activities in the north. Thanks to the community in Northern Ireland for their generous support, this sum will have a life-changing impact on the lives of local people in Teso, Uganda.

Denny Elliott

NI head of operations

Self Help Africa

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