Letters to the Editor

Is it any wonder Sinn Féin are playing hardball with the DUP?

"Is it any wonder Sinn Féin now feel the need to play hard ball when dealing with them?"

J HYLAND (September 13) accused Sinn Féin of not treating Protestants with respect and equality. 

For 10 years Sinn Féin has had to deal with the DUP. They have reneged on almost everything they signed up to in the Good Friday and St Andrew’s agreements. Is it any wonder Sinn Féin now feel the need to play hard ball when dealing with them? 

Derry City was changed to its proper name by the will of its citizens. (75 per cent nationalists). No other city in these islands felt the need to fly a flag 365 days a year over its city hall. The RUC was known to be a sectarian force and its name was changed by Westminster. The Irish language is a real hate subject to the DUP as they try to equate a nondescript local dialect called Ulster Scots with it. 

Finally, when this little statelet what was formed the first statement that James Craig made was, ‘we have a protestant Parliament for a Protestant people’. Where was any respect ever shown to Catholics in this hate-filled little statelet? 

Belfast BT13


There’s nothing for Newton to ‘fear’ from enriching form of communication

NEWTON Emerson’s article – ‘Irish language act fears not groundless’ (September 21) reads like a charter for discrimination worthy to appear in a manifesto of the DUP, TUV or UUP.

I suspect Newton’s argument is a prejudiced one based on historical fears, arising out of the erosion of unionist political domination and discrimination, which the leaders and opinion makers of the unionist community are tapping into in opposing the Irish language.

Newton knows well that affirmative action, legal and other forms, is required in all democratic societies to create equality for all therein. Perhaps it is just that he opposes that?

He, like some others, refuses to acknowledge or accept that Irish is the indigenous language of this place, worthy of protection and promotion as well as legal and statutory defence in order to offset the kind of hostility, abuse and discrimination we have seen dished out to speakers.

Perhaps he simply refuses to accept the Irish identity, citizenship and sense of place and nationhood as being equal in this society? The Irish language is a living language, spoken by increasing numbers of people here. It is appreciated, supported and celebrated by even more people again and those who do come from a diverse range of backgrounds and traditions. They know there is nothing to ‘fear’ from an ancient and enriching form of communication.

There is nothing to fear from giving people rights. You don’t ‘fear’ equality, you only ‘oppose’ equality. The advance and undeniable success of Irish medium education ensures that not only will Irish speakers not go away but they will continue to grow and grow in number. Perhaps Newton simply wishes this weren’t the case?

The Irish language is political, not because Sinn Féin endorses a rights-based society where the Irish identity is cherished, respected and legally protected, but because a systematic and generational denial of Irishness here has reawakened a new and enlarged group of Irish speakers.

Young people who have grown up in a post-conflict society where their rights and entitlements weren’t only promised to them, but political agreements were supposedly made that would see them treated as equal in their home place. Imagine that? Why would a prominent columnist reflect on the alleged fear these children and families instil in some people yet not reflect even slightly on how they must feel to be so regularly disrespected, disenfranchised and insulted by people in political authority?

It is a denial of rights and equality that makes an issue ‘political’ not the speaking of a language, unless of course your ethos has been to suppress, insult, ignore and disenfranchise that language.

When Newton talks about a ‘fear’ within a portion (because the reality is that many from that tradition are now engaged with the language given that it is as much theirs as anyone else’s) of the unionist community I suspect what he really means is a ‘longing’ by that small number; a longing for the days when the proverbial foot was quite literally on the neck of the Irish language, where people who dared establish an Irish medium school were threatened with internment.

Newton talks about the ‘fear’ of some without once reflecting on the ‘needs’ of others. The need for a society that respects and acknowledges as well as celebrates the identity, culture and language of all. What’s to ‘fear’ in that?

East Belfast


No grounds for Royal Mail postmen and women to strike

PEOPLE may have read about a potential strike at Royal Mail by the Communications Workers Union (CWU). Our postmen and women have the best pay – and the best terms and conditions – in our industry. They do an amazing job in all weathers – rain or shine. Average pay is 45 to 50 per cent above the National Living Wage. None of that is changing. There are just no grounds for a strike.

Previous strikes at Royal Mail meant we let our customers down. Some of our major rivals today were actually established because of those strikes. There really is no point shooting ourselves in the foot.

So, what’s at issue? Well, not the great terms and conditions postmen and women have, as I said before. On pay, we have made a very good offer. That follows a 10.8 per cent pay rise in the four years since privatisation. That compares favourably with the 6.4 per cent UK national average earnings increase over the same period.

On pensions, we know how important pension benefits are to colleagues. Our proposal would be by far the best pension scheme in the industry – and one that benchmarks to other large employers. Many of our postmen and women are in a Defined Benefit scheme – 63 per cent, in fact, compared to just 6 per cent of workers across the UK private sector.

We do need to change to a different type of Defined Benefit arrangement. That’s because – every year – it would cost us at least three times more than the cash we generate just to keep the existing pension open. No business could do that. Royal Mail is a very good employer. We provide great terms and conditions. We are working hard to keep improving our services to customers in a very competitive industry. There is no need to strike.

We want to work with our postmen and women, our great ambassadors, to keep being the best delivery company in the UK.

General manager, Royal Mail Northern Ireland


North is different from rest of UK

SPOKESPERSONS for the DUP keep telling us that in respect of Brexit that they will not countenance a deal for Northern Ireland which is different from the rest of the UK.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your political allegiance Northern Ireland is different from the rest of the UK in at least two important respects: Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK with a land border with the EU.

Indeed it is the only part of the UK that does not have a land border with the UK. Under the Good Friday Agreement it is the only part of the UK which if supported by a majority of its citizens can elect to leave the UK and join a united Ireland.

Should someone remind the DUP of these not insignificant facts particularly in light of the Brexit debate?

Holywood, Co Down

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