Letters to the Editor

Trevor Ringland's analysis of north's Troubles needs correcting

I think it is Trevor Ringland’s analysis that needs correcting. Trevor insists (December 19) that we would have had a settlement in 1990, but for Irish nationalism. He should remember we should have had one in 1974 but for unionism and Orangeism, and perhaps not needed one at all if but for the bigotry of the old unionist one-party state prior to the Troubles. He further asserts that Ian Paisley snr was not directly involved in violence. Has he ever heard of Burntollet? This was the first real act of  major sectarian violence organised and orchestrated by Paisleyites and their friends in the Protestant militia – the B Specials.
Is he aware that this man was involved in the ‘Ulster Protestant Volunteers’ who bombed power lines in Ballyshannon in an attempt to blame republicans.
Who helped launch Ulster Resistance an organisation involved in the importation of arms subsequently used to kill innocent Catholics? Has he forgotten the UWC strike and Paisley’s collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, or indeed UWC 2, Paisley’s attempted putsch.

Paisley snr always made sure he was absent from the dirty work at the right time.  As for the RUC it should be remembered that they were responsible for the first deaths of the Troubles and always acted as a force in the service of unionism as their main objective. They beat peaceful demonstrators off the streets and into the arms of militants who saw no other possible route to Civil Rights.
Today many young men and women join PSNI to do good for the community, but the leadership is still largely Protestant and unionist. Take for instance two recent events someone puts a snowman with a  rocket launcher in the window (bad taste I agree) and are charged with an ‘offensive act’ but somehow a banner of UVF mass murder in Moygashel is not. How is that for impartial policing? The senior ranks of the PSNI carry on the ethos of the RUC hence their block on documents to protect the RUC. 

FRANCIS RICE
Belfast BT11

 

Don’t let history repeat itself by doing same old stunts

Just over 50 years ago Ian Paisley pelted the car of Taoiseach Jack Lynch with snowballs and shouted ‘No Pope here’. The rest is history, awful history. Today it seems that little has been learned over the years by the DUP, Ian Paisley’s son, Ian Óg and others in that party who appear to be at fever pitch as to who can be the most insulting towards representatives of the Irish government. Sad, regrettable and yes, very dangerous.

If Ian Paisley hadn’t thrown those snowballs and had welcomed Jack Lynch to Stormont perhaps those 3,500 people might not have died. Perhaps.

Today the risk of another outbreak of senseless violence is something that worries me just as it did when I was a young boy and saw those pictures of hate 50 years ago.

Do the DUP seriously believe that throwing insults at fellow Irishmen doing their best to sort out an awful problem created by the British government over Brexit is clever politics? Is this the intelligent way to go? Surely not.

Have they learned nothing from the errors of the past – the snowballs; the hill climbing with fake gun permits; the public appearances on platforms shared by loyalist killer gangs; the dark glasses and black berets and all the other stunts that created fear and bitterness. 

While Theresa May may claim she is a unionist, her role as the British prime minister is to preside over a situation which fundamentally changed in 1998 following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Like it or like it not there are three strands to that agreement and in the absence of a fully-functioning assembly adhering to the principles of that agreement the north-south strand of it took on a new importance in terms of how governments interact. The Irish government has a particular role to play in protecting the interests of nationalists living in the north, holding Irish passports and aspiring by peaceful means to unification of this island by agreement sometime in the future.

Those encouraging instability by refusing to participate in the assembly, abusing the Irish government and laughing and sneering at the Irish Language are doing nobody any favours.   

JOHN DALLAT MLA
SDLP, East Derry  

 

Churlish to oppose papal visit

The cost of the proposed papal visit to Ireland next year by Pope Francis, estimated at €20m, has been referred to by some as unjustifiable. 

This ignores a statement from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin that €5 million has already been raised through church collections and the remainder will come from fund raising and perhaps a Vatican contribution. Furthermore, I believe a contribution from the Irish State, if realised, would be appropriate. I regard it as churlish and mean-spirited to oppose a visit to Ireland by the spiritual leader of the worldwide Catholic Church especially as the Catholic faithful are contributing so generously to the cost of the visit. It may be a surprise to some objectors but Catholics do pay taxes here. I do not recall similar opposition in 2011 when Queen Elizabeth II, as head of state and Head of the Church of England visited Ireland at costs in excess of €40m at a time when our coffers were depleted and the country was teetering on the brink of financial Armageddon.

In Northern Ireland Papal flags and Catholic religious statues are routinely set alight atop Orange bonfires and Orange Order ‘bands’ play sectarian tunes as they pass Catholic churches. 
Now it seems the leader of the Catholic Church should not be welcomed in this state.

If such behaviour was aimed at any other religion anywhere else there would rightly be an international outcry.

TOM COOPER
Dublin 6

 

Future could be very bright

The most appropriate time for the next Irish Unity Referendum should be  spring 2023.

It will the 100th anniversary of the end of Irish Civil war in 1923.

It will be the 50th anniversary of the first Irish Unity Referendum held in the North on the 8th March 1973.

It will also be the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The impact of Brexit on everyone here will have truly been felt and people should be given a judgment call on all of that.

The 2021 census results published in 2022, will categorically show that the North is no longer a Protestant state for a Protestant people.

The vast majority of the nationalist population and a good subset of the unionist population in the north would vote for a united Ireland if and only if the economic conditions made it favourable. So let’s plan ahead, and make much more of the economic arguments going forward. Maybe all that gold found in the Tyrone could make the future very bright.

JOHN McSORLEY
Belfast BT5

 

National freedom

Does Trevor Ringland (December 14) accept that Irish people, including Irish people in Northern Ireland who are not of the ‘British/Irish tradition’, have the right to govern themselves without British interference? British sovereignty over Irish people denies them their right to national freedom. It is an unjust and unjustifiable attack against Irish sovereignty and is a constant provocation. It should at least restrict itself to the Ulster British people.

Trevor asked if the people who signed the open letter to Leo Varadkar want an Ireland that includes the British/Irish tradition. The stark reality is that the Ulster British people want no part of a united Ireland in any shape or form. Irish sovereignty over unionists would deny them their right to national freedom as British people.

MALACHY SCOTT
Belfast BT15

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