We shouldn’t let world’s future be manipulated by the past

Since the beginning of the Palestinian Grand Return March on land day April 30, the world has looked on in horror as Israel has killed at least 109 Palestinians and injured thousands of unarmed Palestinians asking to return to their land and seeking to protect non-violently what little of their land is left.

The massacre and ongoing slow genocide in Gaza where two million are subjected to Israeli government policies that ignore human rights   and international law and implement apartheid and ethnic cleansing policies goes unchallenged by the rest of the world. We should not allow the Palestinians to be punished by Israel because of what happened to Europen Jews in the Holocaust  during the Second World War. Nor should we allow the world’s future to be manipulated  by the past and to be held to ransom by Zionism. 

For more than 70 years anyone who criticises Israeli policies, has been silenced by threats of being anti-semitic and political leadership  has yet to call Zionism’s bluff and demand they stop the persecution of Palestinian people.

The Middle East and Palestinians should not be made pay with their lives for what happened 70 years ago and surely at some point in time Europeans, including Germany, will have to question how big a price Palestinians must pay through their silence and complicity.

For too long anti-semitic accusations have been wielded by Israeli Zionists as a political weapon to silence anyone who challenges Zionist policies and it is widely known and feared in media and politics that to question Israeli policies and be labelled anti-semitic, is a possible career ending for anyone with the courage to do so.   

It is time for the people to wash away the shame and guilt of the Second World War and no longer be silent and complicit in the modern day slow genocide of the Palestinian people.    

I extend to the Palestinian people my deepest sympathy on the killing of their sons and daughters and the continuing  occupation and seizing of their land by Israel. I thank them for their courage and sacrifice to challenge injustice and the latest inhumanity perpetrated upon them by Israeli/US policies. 

Though our hearts are aching watching your suffering, we take hope from the Palestinian people’s brave struggle and pray your hearts will not be hardened by injustice and suffering but remain at peace and your struggle non-violent and true to the great spirit of the Palestinian people.


Nobel Peace Laureate, Belfast

Needs of deaf community not taken in account

We are in agreement with the contents of a letter from Arnold Carton (May 16) which points out that Belfast City Council has not properly taken into account the communication needs of the

deaf community.

More importance is given to the officer for Irish language – this post is advertised to look after the needs of Irish speakers and requires fluency in both spoken and written Irish. In the other post there is no requirement that the person can communicate in sign language (Irish and British sign language). This raises questions about equality and respect.

Both Irish and British sign languages are indigenous languages used by Deaf people in Northern Ireland. Both are languages in their own right and are unrelated grammatically to either English or Irish spoken languages.

The local deaf community has been campaigning for decades for BSL/ISL legislation, similar to what has been achieved in Scotland (BSL Act 2015) and in Ireland (ISL Act 2017). It is also interesting to note that the United Nations has recently declared September 23 as International Sign Languages Day.

In 2001 the deaf community here welcomed the stated objective in the new Programme for Government to develop a policy on sign language. It was noted at the time that significant funding had been provided for both Irish Language and Ulster Scots but not for BSL/ISL – both of which could be considered as languages of need.

The majority of people here can choose to communicate in English, Irish or Ulster Scots. Deaf people, whose primary language is BSL or  ISL, do not have that choice. We do not have an issue with those who are seeking legislation for Irish language or Ulster Scots but believe that BSL/ISL, which are also languages in their own right, be given greater priority


authors of British and Irish Sign Languages – The Long Road to Recognition

Belfast BT5

Unclear over criteria on border poll

Secretary of State Karen Bradley has stated that she remains confident of a majority in the favour of Northern Ireland’s constitutional status quo, however, Theresa May has told Jacob Rees-Mogg  that she wouldn’t be that confident.

I believe the secretary of state needs to outline clearly what are the criteria she will use when deciding the conditions are ready to call a border poll.

Will it be based on when votes for nationalist parties have a majority in either the assembly or Westminster election?  Many nationalists vote for Alliance in places like East Belfast, so how is this considered? How does she consider those people who do not vote for nationalist parties but who would want to remain in the European Union such as all the Eastern European migrants or all those pro European unionist or Alliance voters.

I haven’t seen any international recognised polling agencies such as Ipsos, MORI or YouGov publishing any latest figures or research on the question.

The criteria that the secretary of state will use is totally unclear and I believe it is imperative that she both publishes the definitive conditions that are required and also commission a number of independent international polling agencies to carry out a comprehensive study or poll. 


Belfast BT5

Paisley own goal

Recently in the House of Commons when members were debating a motion to hold a second part of the Leveson Inquiry set up to examine the ethics of the newspaper industry, culture secretary Matt Hancock intimated that: ‘We propose to have a named person review the standards of the press in Northern Ireland.’ A show-boating Ian Paisley asked: ‘Would it be fair for me to characterise that review as a Leveson for Northern Ireland?’ That Northern Ireland newspaper editors and police chiefs had testified before the inquiry and the integrity of the NI press was acknowledged, what was the point of Paisley’s superfluous question?

Would it be fair to characterise the person appointed to review the standards of our press in the north as someone who will rap the knuckles of a press that had the audacity to expose the fiasco of a Renewable Heat Incentive, or members of Parliament on expensive paid junkets to foreign shores. Was this what Ian Paisley had in mind when he posed his inane question?


Derry City

Inactive politicians

I watched Sinn Féin  MEP Martina Anderson being interviewed on BBC’s Newsnight. As a unionist I would like to know where were the so-called unionist MEPs Diane Dodds of the DUP and Mr Nicholson of the UUP?  Nowhere to be seen.   Again Martina Anderson was interviewed at the Balmoral Show speaking to secretary of state Karen Bradley. Where were the DUP the UUP politicians? Again nowhere to be seen. The unionist community is being badly served by these inactive unionist politicians. 

Speaking as a unionist I find it  is disgraceful.


Bangor, Co Down