Letters to the Editor

Shame on those who vote along sectarian lines

There have been calls for the Hillview site off the Crumlin Road in north Belfast to be used for social housing 

The ongoing cancer of sectarianism that blights our communities can be seen most clearly in the divergent needs of both communities in north Belfast which is arguably the cockpit of conflict in our fractured society.

The competing narratives of housing versus jobs rings out most loudly in the congested back streets from Ardoyne to the Woodvale from the New Lodge to Tigers Bay.

The housing imbalance between unionists and nationalists was caused by decades of chronic under funding, discrimination, threats of violence, burnt out houses and damaged homes.

These issues are reflected and indeed echoed through Belfast City Council’s decision on the future of the Hillview site on Belfast’s Crumlin Road.

When a sizable land site becomes available in north Belfast these two competing narratives come to the fore.

Nationalists need, want and demand housing. Unionists have in the most part plenty of housing and thus they in turn demand job creation. Add into the mix some sectarian no Catholics here mentality and the scene is set for a clash of competing needs.

The abject failure of our local politicians to consider the needs of those outside of their own community has been reinforced by the council’s decision to deny nationalists housing and force hundreds of families and single people to continue living in what for many are unsuitable, over-crowded, sub-standard housing in private and public ownership, while they wait in vain for adequate affordable housing.

Shame on those who vote along sectarian lines – opposing need and continuing division.

They are only self-serving and not concerned about society as a whole but their own little voting patch.

Belfast BT14


There’s another side to Gibraltar story many prefer to ignore

Fionnuala O Connor’s latest column on ‘state papers’ (August 29) is correct when she writes that they are ‘almost invariably much less than the whole story’.

And so is the case with the recent British state papers relating to the aftermath of the unlawful killing of my sister, Mairéad Farrell and her two comrades – Dan McCann and Seán Savage – in Gibraltar in 1988.

Unlike The Irish News, many media outlets unquestionably repeated the false claim by the British diplomat that our families wanted our loved ones’ remains to be flown home via Dublin rather than Aldergrove in order to make political capital for the republican movement. That is nothing other than British propaganda.

The truth is we were not able to use Aldergrove because the ground staff at the airport refused to facilitate the chartered plane carrying the remains as did the British military. Charlie Haughey’s reluctance to allow the plane to land in Dublin is not a surprise, when one knows that Aer Lingus, then Irish state-owned, refused to charter the families a plane, as did other Irish companies in the airline business.

The most interesting aspect of Haughey’s meeting with the British ambassador is the following: Haughey ‘was preoccupied by the recent catalogue of horrors and was unable to rid himself of the notion that someone somewhere in the British government machine had been orchestrating this scenario.’

These horrors included the killing of Aidan McAnespie weeks earlier and the case of British Private Ian Thain, who had been convicted of the murder of Thomas Reilly but after two years imprisonment was allowed to rejoin his regiment.

Was this Haughey raising the issue of a shoot-to-kill policy with the British government? It seems so to me. Haughey was not willing to challenge the British state on the international stage, as he should have. His government refused to take the Gibraltar killings case directly to the European Court of Human Rights and save the seven long years it took for us to have the Strasbourg Court find the killings unlawful.

Instead, Haughey channelled information to myself via the late journalist and broadcaster Proinsias Mac Aonghusa, that Thatcher had presided over a secret cabinet sub-committee, which had given the shoot-to-kill order. Proinsias told me that the information came from Irish Military Intelligence, in other words from his pal ‘Cathal’, as he called Charlie Haughey. When I announced that at the families’ first Dublin press conference on May 12 1988, the ‘respectable’ press scoffed at it, because I naturally could not divulge my source.

Subsequently the secret cabinet sub-committee was shown to be true. Thirty years on, one side in the conflict, the IRA, has dumped arms. Alas, the British side has not. It has been waging war ever since, from Yugoslavia to Yemen. And during those 30 years shoot-to-kill turned from being a secret policy to President Obama boasting about drawing up his drone kill list every Tuesday. But that is another side of the story many prefer to ignore. 

Co Galway


Irish border problem

Politics has left a dismal legacy in Ireland for the Brexiteers and the EU to sort out – namely an Irish, sectarian border. Theresa May has made the laughable proposal that this sectarian border be made invisible with the use of electronic gadgetry. But with that the sectarian nature of the border will remain in the eyes of the people as a line in the map of Ireland, as peace walls in Derry and Belfast and as a sectarian head count in every election here since 1921.

The sectarian parties of Northern Ireland and Westminster lack the know-how of resolving this historic and political problem. Federalism, however, has the know-how needed to heal the border by getting rid of it. A confederate reform of the British Isles in relation to Ireland is needed. These islands should be reconstituted as the Federal Kingdom of Ireland along with the togetherness of the four historic provinces within the Confederate Kingdom of the Isles of the North Atlantic with a reformed Crown as Head of the Confederation. This is a complex resolution of a highly complex historic and political problem but nothing less will do. 

Kilfennan, Co Derry


‘A la carte’ version of democracy

James Annett – ‘Simple solution to border issue’ (August 28) – forgot to add fantasist to his Orangeman and popular unionist definition. He is beginning  to wonder if the British government and political parties don’t know what they want in relation to Brexit? I assume he has just opened a newspaper for the first time in the last year?  His suggestion to resolve Ireland north and south’s dilemma is to follow the UK lead and start making up rules as they go along. Ignore the want of the majority in Northern Ireland to remain in EU and the overwhelming want in the Republic. Typical unionist ‘a la carte’ version of democracy.

Newry, Co Down


Trump is becoming a dangerous world leader

Trump is now threatening Venezeula with military attack for absolutely no reason.
His continuing appalling language launched at the people of North Korea is a horrendous development.

My early view of his election was that he might introduce some new, innocuous thinking into his reign but now we see he uses threats even more virulent than Hitler did before he made his attacks on Poland.

The US president is a becoming a very dangerous world leader and there is a huge difference when that country is feared rather than simply being seen as the most powerful.

Bantry, Co Cork

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Letters to the Editor