Little Englander mentality is turning people off

Every few years another English politician with little or no interest about the north or wider Irish affairs arrives to a fanfare from media outlets, tripping over themselves to get the best profile of our new ‘secretary of state’. When it’s stripped down to the bare bones the reality of the situation is another English politician is plucked from a political party that no-one in the north has voted for, from a parliament and government that has scant regard or interest in our affairs

Further evidence if any was needed was displayed recently in the shambles that are Brexit negotiations, when the British government was quite happy to have a border in the middle of the Irish Sea, only to row back from that situation at the 11th hour at the behest of the DUP and to come up with a form of words a few days later which is open to interpretation, depending on your political viewpoint.

Increasingly, despite not being able to cast a vote for Dáil elections, people of the north from across the political divide are looking and listening to what Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has to say, particularly on Brexit and its impact on our lives on both sides of the border. Despite the tired old predictable rhetoric from various elements within unionism against the taoiseach and tanaiste Simon Coveney, many people in the north want to hear what they have to say as they have a genuine desire to see this country prosper and are trusted by many to tell the truth on how our economy and livelihoods will be impacted in the years ahead by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

The new secretary of state can pose for all the photos she likes and read out the same old rehearsed lines as many of her predecessors have, but the reality is increasingly, people of the north aren’t listening to Westminster anymore they are turned off by the little Englander mentality that has taken the north out of Europe against its wishes. They are much more interested in what Leo and Co have to say and their plans for the turbulent years that lie ahead.


Saintfield, Co Down

Some things can’t simply be taken for granted

A United Ireland, to be or not to be? That is not the question. The question now is, how will it be?

Would a united Ireland be a single unitary state. Would it be a 32-county independent democratic socialist Republic. Would it be a federal Ireland. Would it still have an assembly in the six counties? Would there be an assembly in each of the four provinces with a central government in Dublin? What exactly would be the status of unionists in a future united Ireland. Would they be Irish/British or British/Irish or simply Irish? 

The above are not the only questions relating to a united Ireland, they are only the basics. Lots of other issues would have to be addressed, and could arguably be more important. Some things can’t simply be taken for granted.

Human and civil rights are just two of them. How would living in a united Ireland reflect our everyday lives? Would we be better or worse off?

What about health and social care? Would we have a first or second class health service? Would being retired or unemployed relate to living in poverty, or having a worthwhile pension and a benefit system that would put a loaf of bread on the table and heat the house? Would our children and grandchildren from whatever background have a first class education right up to third level (preferably free as well)? 

Before we know it Brexit will have happened and we will be in unchartered waters. Ireland both north and south are facing an uncertain future. At least the 26 counties would still be members of the European Union. Not so the north, even though a majority voted in the referendum to remain. This situation has had the effect of bringing Irish unity to the fore.

Although more and more people are wondering how unity would work, there has never been a serious debate about it. If ever a time was right this is it.

There are so many questions that need to be answered. If the right choices are not made the north of Ireland could be in a state of limbo. 


Belfast BT15

Harsh realities are still realities

As we enter a new round of speculation on what will be promised and what will be compromised, in an attempt to resurrect the chimera of Stormont, a downtrodden public could be forgiven for losing interest in such repetitive old guff.

It will be seen that the ineffectiveness of Sinn Féin’s protean policies, that assume the shape of whatever their popularity requires, are guaranteed to secure only confusion and disillusion among a weary republican electorate.

Populism and politicking serve well those unable to carry the burdens of principle, scruple and integrity. Ultimately, they do not serve the very people who deserve much better. Harsh realities are still realities. 

The torturous truth of the Occupied Six Counties is that colonialism, and its associated supremacist mindset, continues to obstruct real progress. Unionism lives and revels in its sordid past. 


Newry, Co Down

Display of double standards

Do readers have any consideration, or more appropriately, condemnation of Israel for the barbaric treatment of the Palestinians?

On January 3 a question was asked of US ambassador  Nikki Haley regarding the UN’s double standards of using sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea.

While ignoring the suffering of the Palestinians at the hands of America’s friend and ally Israel, bizarrely her reply was the good old ‘democratic’ US were right now withdrawing all humanitarian aid to the Palestinians to force them into even more talks with their oppressor Israel.

Talk about doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result.


Banbridge, Co Down

Nonsensical arguments

Once again we have the DUP stirring up the spectre of an imminent takeover of the six county statelet by the bogeymen of Dublin. Junior Paisley would have them slapped down; Dodds reckons they are undermining any progress that has been made; Givan harps on about a hypothetical border down the Irish Sea and of course ‘curry my yoghurt’ Campbell had a go at Simon Coveney recently. Do their people not realise how pathetic and stupid they sound every time they raise their nonsensical arguments in Westminster?

The Republic of Ireland is an independent sovereign state and owes allegiance to no one but Ireland, and its ministers are fully entitled to make any comments they so wish to about the six north eastern counties. With the recent rebellion within the Tory party, the DUP must now realise how tenuous their power over Theresa May really is.


Belfast BT13

Well done Ryanair

Ryanair is often criticised in the press and on TV around customer service issues. 

I have to say though that my experience with Ryanair recently has been simply marvellous. After a young grandchild was sadly diagnosed with cancer the family holiday planned for summer 2018 had to be cancelled as chemotherapy starts this month. Claiming a refund of flights costing almost £900 via Ryanair’s online service took just under two hours from submission of the request to confirmation that the refund had been made. This is exceptional service and is to be commended, especially at a very difficult and stressful time for the family. 

Well done Ryanair.


Newry, Co Down