Letters to the Editor

Biased recall of history only serves to perpetuate old hatreds

The accessibility of information in the modern era makes a mockery of any claim to ignorance of the facts. Jack Duffin (November 20) reminded us of Cromwell’s cruelties in Ireland but disputed the veracity of the massacre of Protestant settlers in the Irish Rebellion of 1641.These atrocities are recorded in many publications of which a few are: ATQ Stewart’s ‘The

Narrow Ground: The Roots of Conflict in Ulster’, and Marianne Elliott’s

‘The Catholics of Ulster: A History’.Wikipedia also provides extensive coverage.

This apparent disbelief did not stop Mr Duffin from concluding “It is not surprising if many perished in the bloody conflict they [the settlers] created”. This disturbing comment is tantamount to saying they deserved it. His temperate response to my letter made several valid points and he might have retained some sense of equity had he treated the American settlers with the same disdain as he treated those in Ulster whom he claimed “were not hard working immigrants seeking a new life living according to the laws, culture and customs of their new home”. If Irish immigrants (with whom he was making the comparison) assimilated to any great extent with the Native Americans history must have overlooked this.

As for the anachronistic Act of Settlement (1701) it is intellectually incompatible to look at this in isolation from the many other major events which framed this turbulent period: the Gunpowder Plot (1605), the Reformation (1517), the English Civil War (1642-1651), the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 (1558-1603) etc. It is equally incompatible to attempt to connect specific 20th century events to those which happened four or five hundred years earlier, although as Mr Duffin’s letter testifies, it is apparent that this atavistic mindset still prevails. If someone wants to trawl history to make loose connections to our ‘Trouble’ they should have the moral fortitude to concede that all they are doing is fighting the Battle of the Boyne all over again, and as Einstein reputedly said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”.

I conclude with returning to the main theme of my original letter, the reasons for Protestant mistrust of Catholicism.
In 1570 Pope Pius V condemned Queen Elizabeth 1 as illegitimate, excommunicated her and forbade Catholics, under pain of excommunication, to recognise her authority. In 1962 the Second Vatican Council reaffirmed the dogma of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) that the Catholic Church is “the one universal Church of the faith outside of which there is absolutely no salvation” (admittedly most religions adopt a similar stance). Such actions have done little to endear Catholicism to Protestantism, it being a truism that the same applies the other way round.

Attempting to balance the ledger of injustices or to claim pole position in the hierarchy of victim status via a biased recall of history is not only futile but serves  to perpetuate centuries old hatreds.

Ballyclare, Co Antrim


Overseas firms must be encouraged to come to Derry

Recently an articulate, educated young Derry man said this on BBC Radio Foyle:“There are no jobs here. Everyone I know is leaving. This is a terrible place.”
He will likely be one of the many best and brightest evacuating the city to get a properly paid job. If they used little evacuation boats the majestic Foyle would be choked bank to bank.

Only raw political power levered on getting overseas firms into Derry can reverse this continuous destructive evacuation. But because of the DUP/SF ILA schism the city’s five MLAs have very little power now.
But Foyle SF MP Elisha McCallion can lever political power aimed at getting properly paid jobs into Derry. To quote the late Martin McGuinness: “SF do not have to sit on Westminster green benches to effectively use their elected power.”

Indeed, regarding SF political power Elisha McCallion said bluntly – when criticised for the no green seats policy by Gregory Campbell – “we go to the top”.

So regarding new Derry jobs, from for instance the US or Japan, she must go to the top of Invest NI and tell them to make a grant aid offer they can’t refuse  to encourage these firms to come to Derry and not Belfast.

Yes. This is buying jobs for Derry at a high price. But the Derry jobs famine is so bad its the only way of generating properly paid jobs in 2018.

If successful this strategy, as well as generating properly paid jobs, will help make good Elisha McCallion’s Westminster May Election pledge of helping to get properly paid jobs into Derry. 

Most useful as the Foyle seat May election was a ‘photo finish’ giving Sinn Féin victory by only 169 votes after a recount demanded by Mark Durkan. 

Therefore if a Westminster election happens before Easter – sparked perhaps by the DUP pulling off in a fit the Tories engagement ring over their £1bn dowry – SF Foyle will enjoy a landslide victory brought about by SF using aggressive political power to get properly paid jobs into Derry.

Derry City


Kingdom is coming apart at seems

There are only two possibilities for the future of the kingdom. The first is a constitutional United Kingdom as a unitary kingdom. The second is a constitutional federal kingdom as a kingdom of togetherness for all. With the 1801 Act the kingdom had one central government at Westminster that legislated for each region of the kingdom equally. The kingdom was united. The only way the kingdom can be united nowadays is by imposing direct rule and closing down the government for Scotland and the assemblies in Wales and Northern Ireland.
This is not a realistic proposition so a federal kingdom is the only realistic option left.

The Brexit debate has thrown up the anomaly of the kingdom. Those who still claim that the kingdom is united argue if Great Britain withdraws from the EU so also does Northern Ireland to maintain the union. Those nationalists who see the kingdom divided into distinct regions argue that since a majority voted to remain in the EU in Northern Ireland, it should be treated as a special case and should remain within the single market and customs union.
Without radical reform the kingdom will come apart at the seams.

Kilfennan, Co Derry


Children in adult sporting world

Karamoko Dembele made his debut for Glasgow Celtic’s under-20 development squad in October 2016 as a 13-year-old. Last week Conner Byrne played in goals for Irish League side Glenavon in the mid-Ulster Cup semi-final. He is 14. Both made headlines – to play at these levels is remarkable for such young children. The GAA has Rule 6.17 (Official Guide 2017) stating that children must be over 17 to play adult club games and over 18 to play adult inter-county games. This rule to look after our children is sensible.

Awareness of such  factors should not be clouded by the temptation to fast forward or accelerate natural growth to adulthood. Mol an óige agus tiochfaidh sí, in her own time.

Trillick, Co Tyrone


Losing out on palliative care

Northern Ireland needs a consultant specialising in palliative care for children.

It was excellent and inspiring to read of the work of consultant Dr Mary Devins (November 28) in the Republic in providing palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions. The vital role she plays in supporting families and physicians in treating children with such conditions is one which is much-needed in Northern Ireland. I read with dismay the fact that Northern Ireland is the only NHS region not to have a consultant specialising in children’s palliative care.  The full Children’s Palliative and End-of-Life Care 2016-26 strategy needs to be rolled out as soon as possible. The political situation at Stormont should not be allowed to stop parents and children facing this situation receiving world class care.

CARE’s Northern Ireland Policy Officer 

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