Dark days of past are not that far away, if we’re not careful

"Our elected representatives need to wake up and see the real problems here" Picture by Paul Faith/PA
"Our elected representatives need to wake up and see the real problems here" Picture by Paul Faith/PA

On Tuesday (March 29) I picked up The Irish News in the local shop, as I was intrigued by a story at the back in relation to the football. I said “aye, I’ll read that when I am eating my Corn Flakes” and bought it. When I looked at the front page and the remaining 14 pages, I felt sick as my heart sank. I had just realised that the political situation in this country hasn’t improved. It is getting bad again – more riots, more stories of republican threats.

We’re now stuck in a vicious circle of further separation and it saddens me to say that this would all seem to be by design, where the old adage “divide and conquer” comes to mind. We have our nationalist/republican voters saying: “Och sure isn’t it great that we have peace.” The hidden reality is that we’re only one or two incidents away from a complete change in circumstances. The language is getting similar to that of pre-1994, and the images are not so different.

So, is there anything we can do about it? I don’t think so.

I grew up in the 1970s and remember organisations such as the old RUC, the UVF, the UFF, the British army, INLA, UDA and the IRA. It was a time where fear was genuine and many lives were lost. Back then I lived in Tyrone where, for example, if we saw significant army/police on the roads my father would always have said: “They’re clearing the roads for another massacre.”

People didn’t want to go out, wishing to avoid the hassle of being stopped and searched. Dad hadn’t these words uttered long until someone nearby was shot dead. The victim in question was usually a member of the nationalist community.

I never fully understood what my father meant by this, at the time I was young, and not that interest, but still affected. I am sure things were no different within loyalist circles either. Scary times, not that long ago.

When I reflect on these headlines, I feel afraid for future generations. I feel afraid that it won’t take long until we’re back to square one again wondering why I brought children into the world to go through the same as I did. This is something that can quite easily define us.

As our politicians argue over past histories, refusing to stand together, I think that the clock is ticking as they successfully fail us. Our elected representatives need to wake up and see the real problems here. I’ve seen the death and destruction right into the 1990s with two violent deaths in my own family. Being asleep at the wheel is not an option. Meanwhile, our politicians continue running to a standstill, getting nowhere fast.


Glasgow (formerly Tyrone)

Once again Ireland has betrayed its founders

Like many Irishmen I am dismayed at the inclusion of the names of British soldiers on the 1916 Memorial Wall in Glasnevin.

The definition of a traitor is “a person who is not loyal to his or her own country; a person who betrays a country by aiding, assisting or helping an enemy”.

There are many varieties of traitor but any man or woman who enlists in a foreign army or takes up arms against their own country and countrymen, is perhaps the most despicable form of all.

Since antiquity history has been littered with stories of such treachery. Ireland is not unique in having traitors blemish her name but is there any other nation whose government would be so insensitive as to honour the names and memories of her enemies in its national pantheon? Once again Ireland has betrayed its founders in what can only be described as an idiotic, perverse attempt at inclusivity.

I ask those who saw fit to include these enemy names why are these traitors being honoured? Is Benedict Arnold’s name honoured in Arlington? Is Vidkun Quisling’s name glorified in Oslo?

No, of course not. Think about it, the names of those who attempted to strangle our nascent nation now hold a place of honour among Ireland’s national heroes. The resting place of Casement, Collins, de Valera, Griffith, Markiewicz, O’Connell, O’Donovan-Rossa etc is sullied by the inclusion of these names and by the recent erection of the British Commonwealth’s so-called “cross of sacrifice”. What next, a statue of Cromwell on O’Connell Street? 


Belfast BT14

Private hire taxi drivers call for action from MLAs

MOST private hire taxi drivers in Belfast are aware of Mark H Durkan’s proposal to bring Belfast taxis in line with the rest of Northern Ireland, allowing all taxis to pick up on the street.

Belfast is the only part of Northern Ireland where a customer cannot stop a private hire taxi in the street, therefore limiting choice and competitive prices to the customer.

At present there are four categories of taxis operating in Belfast and the reason for Mr Durkan’s proposed change in the taxi system was that local people and tourists were totally confused.

Unfortunately, DUP and Sinn Féin MLAs rejected the proposal.

In discussions with myself and other private hire taxi drivers, one reason cited  was that Belfast city centre would be flooded with cars; however this is something that has been happening for years.

The deadline for the parties to withdraw their objections was January 31. The earliest meeting we were offered with Sinn Féin was February 1.

The parties objected to it despite being informed that there was support for the proposal from business organisations.

It is now up to all taxi drivers to lobby their prospective Sinn Féin and DUP candidates ahead of the election, to get them to withdraw their objections.


Belfast BT1

Date of border boundary

A Boundary Commission Panel was appointed by Westminster in 1921 to decide on a Northern Ireland territory, comprising roughly the six counties of Down, Armagh, Antrim, Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh. This panel had three members – Judge Feethan from South Africa, a Unionist newspaper editor and Eoin McNeill.  

The latter resigned when he discovered that the other two were refusing to be bound by a judicial system, meaning that the commission members were sworn to secrecy not allowing negotiations with anybody else about anything. The judge and the unionist editor wanted to ensure a unionist majority by removing nationalist south Down and south Armagh from the Six County landmass. They decided against this course as the remaining area would not suit the unionist businessmen with no access to the sea down Carlingford Lough.

In October 1925, this was the political reality and the unionists had to accept that their Protestant state would have to include the whole area of the Six Counties.

Although guilty of improper procedures, the two remaining members of the boundary commission’s proposal of a six-county territory with partition from the 26-county Irish Free state was accepted by the British.  

The Irish Free State government acceded to the British demands and approved the proposalin the Dail in Dublin in December 1925.

Q.E.D., for the information of British unionists, the six county state of Northern Ireland did not come into being until December 1925.


Banbridge, Co Down