Letters to the Editor

Letters - Support for Father Coyle at a difficult time

'Anyone who knows Fr Rory will speak of the warmth and devotion he has for the local community and I’m proud to see the community in Armagh standing up for him'

I’d like to join with many others in offering my support to Fr Rory Coyle in what is a very difficult time for him.

Dealing with your sexual orientation can be one of the most pressurised and challenging processes a person has to go through, even more so for him given his vocation and public role within the community. It is a process people handle very differently.

Some handle it with ease but others face a battle; a battle leaving many scarred with emotional wounds; a battle some struggle to get over; a battle some people sadly lose. Over a third of young gay men have been diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives and one quarter have attempted suicide.

We shouldn’t always reflect negatively on coming out. For individuals, it can be empowering. Being liberated from the fear of hiding who they are. Opinions are evolving and people are far more accepting, first reactions aren’t lasting reactions. I just hope we can work towards fostering an environment where people feel no need to hide where people feel supported and where everyone feels equal.

Anyone who knows Fr Rory will speak of the warmth and devotion he has for the local community and I’m proud to see the community in Armagh standing up for him. As a member of the Armagh parish and an LGBT+ activist, I join with them in offering my support for him. No matter the path he chooses, I hope it’s one where he’s happy.

Chair of SDLP LGBT+


As predicted 'Northern Ireland count can be capricious'

As noted earlier, (letters May 10), the conduct of the election was again at fault – alas, so too the count.

Take, for example, Strangford. Hamilton (DUP), the beneficiary of a transfer from his eliminated party colleague Harvey, was elected at stage seven with a relatively small surplus of 320 votes. This was distributed at stage 10, by which time four candidates had been elected, eight had been excluded and only three of the original 15 remained to contest the last two seats.  

Now DUP voters are not best known for cross-party transfers, so you might expect a few of these 320 to be non-transferable either by design or by default – that is, either no more preferences were cast, or the chosen subsequent preference candidate(s) did not include any for one or more of the said three remaining candidates. Well, your expectation would be wrong – all 320 votes were transferred. Unbelievable. And all ‘Totals Correct’ – www.eoni.org.uk (although stage 11 is in error).

As predicted, counts can be capricious because some transfers are made according to the wishes of the relevant voters – and quite right too – while some are made quite wrongly, as if all concerned had transferred in the same way as those who did cast further valid preferences.  

After many years campaigning against this quirk in the rules, a delegation went to see the then minister, George Howarth MP – this was some 15 years ago. He agreed there was cause for concern but suggested we should meet his chief electoral officer because, he said, he (the minister) didn’t really understand voting systems.  

So we did but he (the CEO) said he didn’t really understand voting systems.  

Director, The de Borda Institute
Belfast BT14


North is a net beneficiary from EU membership

The Irish News reported (May 18) that EU membership costs Northern Ireland £67m a year according to the Leave.EU campaign. This claim is highly misleading as it fails to take into account the UK’s annual rebate.

I understand Leave.EU has since admitted that they overstated NI’s contribution to the EU budget. Your readers deserve the truth.

The CBI estimates that the correct figures, based on HM Treasury figures published last November are that Northern Ireland was a net beneficiary by around £60m in 2015. This is calculated taking account of the Northern Ireland share of the UK’s net contribution to the EU, including its annual rebate, and taking account of the receipts we receive, including £236m of farm support and around £144m of other EU funds spent in Northern Ireland last year through a wide range of programmes.

These figures do not include the research funding our universities and businesses receive directly from the EU, and other funding organisations can apply for. There are no guarantees that these levels of funding will continue in the event of UK leaving the EU.

While there are a number of factors which will influence how people will vote on June 23 the implications for the Northern Ireland’s prosperity and economy will be one of the most important. CBI members have been actively considering the issues for over three years and the majority have concluded that the best outcome is for the UK to remain in a reformed EU.

We need to ensure the public is provided with accurate information to help them arrive at a decision.

Director, CBI Northern Ireland


Where are we now?

Now the election posters are coming down where are we? SDLP did not fair too bad. All their old guard gone (except Patsy McGlone), a new young leader and a new young team is just what this tired old party needed.

Sinn Féin got a bit of a shock, their leader at Stormont only getting 67 more votes than the SDLP leader; their economy expert loosing his seat and their minister of education nearly loosing his seat to the SDLP deputy leader – certainly changed times.

Colum Eastwood now has an opportunity to build on his ‘12 apostles’ but not from a lone ministry on the government bench. On the unionist side Mike Nesbitt certainly had a good election and Arlene Foster won all by herself – so she and Martin can rule this ‘wee country’ without any help.

If all the smaller parties – providing Alliance can be prised away from a position they have not earned – come together in a loose alliance (like the Republic) then maybe they would have some influence on the DUP/SF axis or at least it would show up both main parties as they are left alone to shore one another up without being able to spread the blame around and we will see how long before they want Westminster to take back more than just
welfare policy.

Newry, Co Down


Observations on the mark

Both Brian Feeney’s (May 18) and Niall Meehan’s (letters, May 18) observations are on the mark. The fact that People Before Profit’s newly elected assembly members will designate themselves as ‘Other’ as opposed to nationalist in the new assembly will be neither here nor there to the nationalist  vote in West Belfast or Foyle.

What they will however watch carefully is how the new PBP reps of Carroll and McCann vote when the (inevitable) issues of flags/emblems and Orange Order parades are up for discussion. 

Belfast BT11 

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Letters to the Editor