Arlene and Co are peripheral figures among Westminster chaos
The high jinks on display in the past few weeks in London SW1 has seen Boris Johnson – who as prime minister is considered ‘first among equals’ – treat the whole legislative assembly of the British parliament with contempt, misleading the British monarch in his attempt to stifle debate.
The injudicious advice to suspend the parliamentary process in order to put his vision of no-deal Brexit to the council of Europeans has gone disastrously wrong. Its very concept labelled treacherous by the opposition and senior figures in the Tory hierarchy, with a fair number openly labelling him a ‘liar’ and untrustworthy.
As he attempted to quell the fears of doubters, supporters and Brexiteers the PM spuriously claimed “hard negotiations were continuing with the EU”. This was proven to be an outright and blatant misrepresentation of the truth as it was revealed by MEPs in Brussels ‘no meaningful conversations were happening’.
Quick to endorse these inconsistencies was the DUP with Sir Jeffrey Donaldson proclaiming on a live broadcast “intense talks with the EU are happening right now in Downing Street”. These same impressions were repeated by party leader Arlene Foster as she alluded to ‘the tough negotiations taking place’ and she was ‘encouraged by Mr Johnson’s commitment to securing a better deal’.
The DUP are now peripheral figures among the chaos of Westminster. They were blarneyed with false adulation, invited into the inner realm of Tory elitism, courted as pseudo deal makers, then coldly cast aside like sour milk – their influence irrelevant. The leadership of the party needs to cease peddling falsehoods to their electorate and accept the halcyon days of milk and honey are over. They have overplayed their hand and are quickly realising they have been duped – used as pawns on the international/world stage. Asleep at the wheel they have inadvertently highlighted the inequities of their uncompromising stance and
perhaps have damaged the cause of unionism irreparably.
The words of Eddie Carson, the father of unionism, have never been more portentous.
Blame for the shameful state of education system rests with the DUP
How long can the DUP remain in denial about the dreadful state of our education system? Much of the blame for this shameful state of affairs rests with them.In the last two months we’ve had two reports from two independent groups of economists. The first report was from the Institute of Labour Economics, ‘The Political Economy of a Northern Ireland Border Poll’ and the second report ‘The Northern Ireland Economy: Problems and Prospects’ by Professor John Fitzgerald of Trinity College Dublin and Professor Edgar Morgenroth of Dublin City University. Both these reports highlight the abysmal state of the economy here and the ‘very low productivity growth’ and both reports trace the cause to our outdated and elitist education system which has failed and continues to fail a very large section of our population.
We have fewer graduates than any other region in the UK and up to 30 per cent of the population with little or no qualifications. Professor Fitzgerald warned the north’s economy needs a devolved government to tackle ‘the worst educational system of any region in the UK’.
Post-primary schools in England are judged to be failing schools if fewer than 40 per cent of their pupils achieve five or more GCSE’s A* - C. Of Northern Ireland’s 142 secondary schools 82, or 58 per cent, perform below the 40 per cent standard and in those under-performing schools the average proportion of year 12 pupils obtaining GCSE passes was just 28 per cent.
Successive Sinn Féin education ministers Martin McGuinness, Caitriona Ruane and John O’Dowd have tried and tried again to reform an outdated and elitist system which caters for the few and denies the many. Again and again they have been blocked by the DUP at every turn. Their continued support for an education system that has failed so many young people shames them but then I think that perhaps the DUP are beyond shame.
Downpatrick, Co Down
ACP is one of the biggest problems the Church has got
James Barry’s rather long-winded letter (September 9) could really be summed up in one sentence – Amalgamate with the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church provides married priests, has women priests and even women bishops.
In my opinion the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) are one of the biggest problems in the Church, constantly undermining the Catholic faith and calling for it to adopt Protestant practices and changes, changes which have done nothing but cause confusion and splits among their (Anglican) congregations, creating more problems and solving none.
I would suggest that the ACP should reach out to a traditional order of Catholic priests with a view to arranging retreats for their membership and assist with refreshing their vocations as Catholic priests.
Newry, Co Down
Undermining Irish unity
I wish to appeal to those republican organisations and individuals still engaged in armed actions to call ceasefires. The opportunity to unite Ireland peacefully has never been more favourable. Every shot fired or bomb detonated now undermines the campaign for Irish unity and drives people away from potentially supporting a new Ireland.
Ireland can be united without another life being lost or another republican going to prison. Call ceasefires and campaign to have your prisoners released and returned to their families.
A new Ireland awaits. Let us all grasp the opportunity.
Lurgan, Co Armagh
Intransigence could be costly
It was suggested recently that the DUP prioritised opposition to the Irish language act over resisting changes to Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.
Many Catholics, including those from a republican background, voted DUP, purely on their pro-life stance. If abortion now comes into law here because of DUP intransigence over the Irish language act their significant Catholic following will vanish.
DR OWEN GALLAGHER
Glenavy, Co Antrim