Letters to the Editor

Anti-EU assertions of empire and collapse are patent nonsense

Alex Kane – ‘Empires rise then fall–EU won’t be exception’ (September 29) – is wrong, misleads with anti-EU falsehoods and hides his true motivation in voting Leave. For Brexit Britain however, domination by a real empire will become a certainty.

For Gibbon, “the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the Earth and the most civilised portion of mankind”. In The Fall of Rome (Robin Lane Fox) contemporary historians mourned Rome’s passing and foresaw the anarchy and ethnic strife that followed. Unlike Rome, the EU was not built by conquest but created voluntarily by states determined to avoid the slaughter of two 20th century European civil wars. The EU does not ‘force laws’ on anyone while its flag and parliament were freely agreed by all member states each of whom can choose their own way forward in Europe.
The EU would ‘punish those who dare to leave’: Europe didn’t ban Brexit but won’t give Britain something for nothing. Emmanuel Macron has an inspiring vision for the EU as a haven of tolerance embracing all identities, safeguarding democracy and sharing sovereignty. Not an “empire” Alex.

‘The EU’s remoteness from the left-behind is responsible for far-right populism’: There was no EU between 1918 and 1945 when much of Europe was a collection of far right fascist dictatorships born of ethnic hatred. The new far right, fed by individuals such as Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Robert Mercer, the US billionaire behind Breitbart ‘News’, plays on legitimate fears of automation and globalisation.

‘Most people prefer clearly-defined nation states with a common identity’: All European states have ethnic minorities and identities either within or straddling borders. Is Alex suggesting ethnic cleansing to make them ‘clearly defined’?
‘The EU will ‘collapse’: How come 67 per cent of Europeans support the EU, up from around 50 per cent before Brexit?
Why do the Balkan states with their recent ethnic bloodbaths want EU membership? The far right was defeated in Holland, Austria and France while the AfD won 12.6 per cent in Germany compared with 15 per cent from internal polling.

Since Alex Kane’s anti-EU assertions of empire and collapse are patent nonsense, what was his real motivation in voting Leave in 2016 and 1975? In common with most unionists, restore the border and delay inevitable Irish reunification. Concerning real empires, Bombardier highlights what Brexit will mean when dealing with an imperial America under a Caesar such as Donald Trump. Without EU backing, Britain will surrender the NHS, hard-won trade union rights and become a US client state. So much for ‘taking back control’.

Alex Kane offers nothing but hand-wringing despair and a return to division. There is an alternative. By sharing sovereignty and respecting ethnic diversity, the EU can strengthen European peace, morally lead the rest of the world and inspire future generations.

Something Alex Kane would surely understand.

Emyvale, Co Monaghan


School data has ramifications for political process at Stormont

There are five education sectors in Northern Ireland – controlled; Catholic maintained; grant maintained integrated; voluntary and other maintained. The two largest are the controlled and Catholic maintained sectors. The former was traditionally associated with ‘Protestants’ and the latter – as the name suggests – associated with Catholics. However, this traditional understanding has been challenged by recent research presented by Rachel McMenemy, ‘An analysis of the controlled education sector in Northern Ireland (Belfast, 2017)’.

This research reveals that of the 1,156 schools in Northern Ireland the controlled sector has 560 schools (48.4%) with 332,986 pupils (42%). In a challenge to widespread perceptions, Rachel’s research revealed that in the controlled sector Protestants make up only 66% of the pupils and that this number has decreased over the decade 2006/7 to 2016/7 by 10.2% or from 76.4% to 66.2%.

However, I must be looking at the wrong set of statistics as they don’t quite agree with those in the report. The report gives as a source the School Census – 2016/2017 data, which is collated by the Department of Education. The department provides a series of tables for school enrolments under the heading: Northern Ireland summary data. This website then has a table for ‘pupil religion by school management type 2000/01 to 2016/17’. And of interest here is Table 5. Religion of pupils by school type and management type, 2016/17 nursery, primary, post-primary and special schools. For 2016-2017 this table indicates that there are a total of 341,257 pupils across all school types and that of these 116,986 are Protestant or 34.28%.

In the controlled sector the bulk of the pupils are in primary, secondary (non-grammar) or grammar schools. In controlled grammars there are 14,267 pupils and of these 10,352 are Protestants or 72.56%. In controlled secondary schools there are 27,434 pupils and of these 21,952 are Protestants or 80%. And lastly, in controlled secondary schools there are 78,314 pupils and of these 51,147 are Protestant or 65.31%. These raw statistics suggests that the pipeline of Protestants becoming eligible to vote in future will increase in number, but decline through time as a percentage of the total.

These data have considerable ramifications for the political process underway at Stormont, the current debate about introducing voluntary coalition, border polls and the status of Northern Ireland in the EU.

Belfast BT9


Casement diaries

AntÁn Ó Dála an Rí writes (20 Sept) that “recent tests have largely confirmed that the infamous diaries of Casement, which ultimately cost him his Royal Pardon and his life, were genuine”.

He does not mention the year or who conducted these tests. As far as I am aware, in 2002 Giles laboratory was commissioned by Prof WJ McCormack to examine the controversial diaries and deemed them authentic. In the years since handwriting experts have strongly challenged this assertion. The Giles report does not fulfil the requirements of forensic analysis because it lacks scientific detail, definitions and clear parameters. These differences clearly inhibit belief in the overall summary and judgment.

As of August 2016 there were six versions of discovery of the diaries. That a single credible account of the origin of these crucial documents cannot be provided after 180 years is most extraordinary. This indicates a major weakness and lack of credibility for the authenticity of the diaries.

The truth will probably never emerge but a scurrilous smear campaign ensured Casement was hanged in Pentonville Prison on August 3 1916.

In 1965 the exhumation of his remains was officially witnessed by Sean Ronan, a senior official in the department of external affairs. These were returned to Ireland and reinterred following a state funeral.

Craigavon, Co Armagh


Working animals need our help

Our pets are often seen as treasured family members and many people go to great lengths – and costs – to ensure their companions lead a happy and healthy life. New research suggests that the average dog owner spends more than £18,000 on their furry friend during its lifetime.

It’s wonderful that the welfare of most pets is well looked after but, sadly, it’s a very different situation for many working animals in developing countries.

Worldwide, around 200 million working animals, such as horses, donkeys and camels, make it possible for impoverished families to earn a small income by transporting goods and people. They play a vital role, but they often endure hard lives without access to the food, water, shelter and essential veterinary treatment they urgently need.

On World Animal Day (October 4), we’re highlighting the struggle they face on a daily basis and asking everyone to give them the recognition and support they so greatly deserve.

Please visit www.spana.org and help us to ensure that working animals overseas receive the same care and compassion as our own much-loved pets.

Chief Executive, SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad)

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