No place for the Sash at football matches

 'During the game I became aware of someone within earshot whistling the Sash and a couple of other loyalist and Rangers ditties'
 'During the game I became aware of someone within earshot whistling the Sash and a couple of other loyalist and Rangers ditties'

I had the pleasure of attending two very good games recently in the U-21 SuperCup NI in Ballymena Showgrounds.

It is a reincarnation of what others might recognise as the Milk Cup – a very prestigious international football youth tournament.

It’s a competition I have a huge amount of sentiment for having played in it around 20 years ago for Shankill NI Supporters Club.

I’m a Celtic fan as is my 11-year-old son.

I brought him and his friend along to the final on Saturday between Celtic and Everton. 

During the game I became aware of someone within earshot whistling the Sash and a couple of other loyalist and Rangers ditties. 

Looking around I saw it was half a dozen or so 18 to 20-year-olds.

They were well away from the main body of Celtic fans but their hope was that their musical talents would be picked up in the air by those they wished to offend.

Nothing more than a deliberate attempt to antagonise and provoke fans at the game.

It’s indicative of this sick little society that we live in that the mere sight of green and white is enough to bring a loyalist fringe out to strike a blow for queen and country.


Newtownabbey, Co Antrim

 Unionist backing for Brexit could lead way to united Ireland

As the dust settles on what has been one of the most astonishing periods in British politics, the reality of the Brexit decision is beginning to become clearer. Perhaps one of the most astonishing elements in the entire Leave campaign is the support it enjoyed from the DUP and its valiant leader, Mrs Foster.

I would consider myself relatively sane and fairly tuned into the political comings and goings in Britain and Ireland. Therefore, I cannot for the life of me conceive why the leader of unionism in the north would wish to rip us out of the European Union and reinstate a hard border around the six counties. It certainly does seem Mrs Foster believes that the Atlantic Ocean starts at Belcoo and that the dreaded rebel republic does not exist.

Her efforts to pull us back to the days of isolationism are completely out of touch with the more open-minded and outward looking younger generation of nationalists and unionists in the north. It appears that Arlene views the north as the last bastion of Britishness that needs to be protected from the Brussels Bureaucrats and the Catholic southerns who still have their eye on her beloved Ulster.

What is also quite unbelievable is the fact that Arlene, a former minister of finance as well as minster of enterprise, trade and investment, fails to recognise the catastrophic impact that Brexit will have on the fledgling economy in the north. Having one small part of Ireland outside the EU and the rest in it, as well as the introduction of the inevitable customs posts and tariffs, is a throwback to the dark ages.

Perhaps she thought that the harmonisation of corporation tax between north and south would have us better placed to attract foreign and direct investment. That was until, in the Brexit fallout George Osborne announced that corporation tax in the UK would be cut to below 15 per cent leaving the north as uncompetitive as ever.

Osborne’s actions in this case are symbolic of the utter disregard that the British establishment has towards that little (and completely unwanted) corner of Ireland they still occupy. It is precisely this attitude, combined with the bleak economic outlook that will create the perfect storm for republicans. When even the most moderate nationalists (and perhaps some unionists) are sitting in their cars queuing to cross the border checkpoint, glance over into a thriving and outward looking republic, the mood for change will grow.

Perhaps the greatest irony of the last few weeks is the fact that Arlene’s backing of Brexit may lead the way to a unified Ireland, or at least act as a catalyst for it. It would not be the first time a unionist leader made a catastrophic error.

In the meantime, the average Joe Bloggs will have the displeasure of watching investment dry up in the north and the inevitable loss of jobs all because of a Tory party internal spat and the staggering short-sightedness of unionism.  


Omagh, Co Tyrone

Post-Brexit alternatives would meet needs of all

To the casual observer calls for the Sinn Féin president to step down look long overdue.

Patrick Murphy (July 23) observes that the president has been in position for 33 years, but makes the valid point that this in itself is no argument that he should resign.

Instead Patrick looks for evidence that might explain the party’s performance either side of the Irish border, and finds that it effectively operates as two separate parties which are each shaped by the political topography and constitution in which they operate.  

However, there is another observation that can be made.

After the Sinn Féin president moved south to energise the party there its electoral performance has improved exponentially.

In contrast Sinn Féin has struggled in Northern Ireland elections under the deputy first minister and his ministerial colleagues, which makes calls for the Sinn Féin president to stand down while retaining the latter appear incongruous.

In Northern Ireland the party has suffered electoral setbacks.

Why would you want to reward that unsuccessful performance while penalising those that are demonstrably successful?

The DUP demonstrated no such confusion and slotted in an effective political performer to sustain their remarkable electoral success, albeit it could be argued that they flat-lined.

Their ‘presidential-type’ campaign was extraordinarily effective pitching Democrats against Republicans. Kudos to the DUP strategists.

Lastly, Patrick observes that the Sinn Féin president is open to and imaginative about possible new constitutional arrangements.

I have presented six possible post-Brexit economic and trade bloc alternatives (ISBN-13: 978-1535324373) that include a currency union, British-Irish Council and Nordic Council trade bloc, and another for Europe’s constitutional monarchies.

Arguably there is something there that would meet the needs of the people of these islands.


Belfast BT9

Lambasting Sinn Féin

Sean O’Fiach (July 15) continues his personal crusade to lambast Sinn Féin.

Yet again he has failed to outline how he believes the reunification and independence of our country can be achieved. His arguments are akin to telling someone not to walk as it may hurt their legs but then failing to tell them how exactly they are meant to get from A to B.

Not once have I ever read a letter from Sean outlining the continuing problems that the British government’s involvement in Ireland is having.

I’m sure during the conflict Sean concentrated his anger and time towards the main instigators and those responsible for the continued partition of our country – the British government.

Sean, they haven’t gone away you know. Might I suggest that you send the odd letter aimed at that never-ending source of our political and social ills and then maybe you will not be presumed to be fanatical anti-Sinn Féiner.

One of the main topics in the news lately has been the debate around a united Ireland following the Brexit vote. In fact, I can never remember a time when it got that much airtime. 

The British government were never going to just pack up and decide to leave without an interim period following the end of the conflict. I believe we are in that interim period now and that reunification is only a matter of time.


Belfast BT14

Skewed thinking

The Irish News is quite right to challenge the ‘skewed thinking’ of the PSNI in its editorial (July 21). Indeed, it is far worse than skewed thinking when the police say Catholics must accept Protestant glorification of the murder of Catholics in the interest of ‘balance and mutual rights’.

That is a truly disturbing double standard for police to have. The PSNI must formally and officially repudiate it.


President, Irish National Caucus, Washington DC