Those of us who want to make a difference have lots to think about
A change of scenery, a different place and a moment of relaxation may trigger something quite unexpected and create memories that will last for a long time.
On the weekend of the England-South Africa rugby game I was sitting in a house in Donegal, glad of the break and joining two of our grandchildren and their parents.
The eldest, aged five, seemed particularly interested in the excitement and I asked which country was she supporting and she immediately replied: ‘South Africa’ and I wondered why because nothing had been said which might colour the children’s attitudes towards this World Cup event which millions of people would be watching.
Responding to a follow-up question I was told that my grandchild was hoping South Africa would win because the great American Civil Rights Activist, Rosa Parkes, whom she was learning about in school, would be very happy because this was a beautiful story of people, black and white, playing together and that was why she wanted them to win.
From that moment on this game took on a new meaning. No longer was it just about scores or deciding who won but success far greater than victory – much more important than the cup that would be presented at the end. Suddenly, through the eyes of a child, I saw the real meaning of this astonishing event as success unfolded for the Republic of South Africa and every other part of the world that really wants to change attitudes, take risks and collectively make this a better place for everyone.
I watched every move, every hug that those players gave each other as they edged their way towards a victory that would set the world talking about much more than football skills.
Yes, South Africa, was sending out a message to anyone who wanted to hear it – for God’s sake sort out your differences, embrace your strengths and create an image for yourselves on a world stage where others can only envy at your achievements.
As we face an election with predictions about electoral pacts, hung parliaments and all the other issues that divide us, we hear little about partnership, reconciliation and the need to build a future which meets the needs of our grandchildren. The vision of Nelson Mandela is not on the minds of the speech writers of the biggest parties who are trapped in a time warp and doing a serious injustice to the Good Friday Agreement. Their focus is not on the goals that was enshrined in it to allow people to move forward. Through the eyes of a child who knows nothing of the past and the terrible price people in all communities paid, I have much to think about and so should others who can make the difference.
JOHN DALLAT MLA
SDLP, East Derry
Leo’s version of united Ireland is not our united Ireland
Last week Leo Varadkar made unusual comments stating his support and long-term aspiration of seeing a united Ireland in his lifetime.
While to us, the Irish unity community, such statements can only be welcomed as it gives our political and democratic demands long-term substance by putting the Irish unity campaign into the media spotlight, it must be stated that Leo’s version of a united Ireland is not the version we must seek to support nor envisage.
His comments come only a week after the sad image of a child (presumably homeless) appeared on social media, eating his dinner off a piece of cardboard in the centre of Dublin. The Ireland of Leo and his band of Irish Tories is an Ireland of crisis; from housing to health, an Ireland that only facilitates the few.
Irish republicans and the entire Irish left must seek to ensure that this version of a united Ireland is not the only voice heard, we need to ensure that our vision for a united Ireland is the vision of economic/social justice, political accountability and environmental sustainability, an Ireland that facilitates the needs of the working-class.
We welcome the debate and the growing momentum for Irish unity, but we can’t and won’t allow the future shape of a 32-county republic be entirely dictated by the Irish capitalist elite.
Pro-life voters in Hobson’s Choice quandry
Now that we’re back in election mode political parties, unionist and nationalist, have made unapologetic moves to serve their wider political ends through strategic voting, whether that be pro-Brexit or remain. It is sad that they couldn’t muster up the same level of enthusiasm when they sat on their hands and allowed abortion to become law in the north of Ireland. If politicians can abjectly fail us in serious matters involving the life and death of babies they don’t deserve the votes of any pro-life person in this election. By sitting on their hands they are equally culpable as those GB politicians who imposed their evil abortion law on our society.
As a strong supporter of pro-life I went to marches and lobbied all political parties to protect the unborn.
Sinn Féin didn’t respond to my lobbying efforts but that’s not surprising given their pro-abortion stance.
The Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Alliance responded but sit on the fence in the abortion debate. My advice to them is to get off the fence and show political leadership on important issues like abortion. The stance of the DUP on abortion resonates with voters like myself who are pro-life but I could never vote for them because they failed to represent the views of Northern Ireland nationalist voters in the Brexit debate and failed to show good and responsible leadership and good governance at crucial moments in the assembly. As a nationalist with strong pro-life views I find myself in a Hobson’s choice quandary with a likely outcome of not voting.
North’s political cartel carving up the north – again
The political system in the north of Ireland is the most dysfunctional in Europe. Stormont is shut for more than 1,000 days. 300,000 people are in poverty; 36,000 people received food parcels last year and 11,000 people are homeless and yet all the while the establishment parties collect their pay cheques.
At a time when the north radically needs a new beginning, at a time where change was needed more than ever what we see is parties signing up to what amounts to a political cartel.
Shoring up and consolidating power is the order of the day when in reality we should be seeking to break the stalemate.
Establishment political parties rallying around one another to protect their power bases does not give confidence that the main players are in anyway interested in politics that benefits ordinary people.
A new beginning is needed. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to break the dysfunction.
It will only happen if we break the cartel.
Aontú will do its utmost to make the new beginning happen north and south.
PEADAR TÓIBÍN TD