Letters to the Editor

DUP has no interest in research that questions its right-wing ideology

Brian Feeney  – ‘Some unionists have blind spot for political opinions of academics’ (November 6) – points out that any opinions expressed by academics that question the union or talk about Irish unification are ‘vehemently’ objected to and the reputations of those academics vilified.
You’re free, however, to express a political view as long as it supports the unionist position. It’s a bit like Henry Ford’s sales pitch for the Model T Ford: “You can have any colour you want as long as it’s black.”

When it comes to research it has to be assumed that if it is contrary to the DUP’s ideology then it just gets ignored. The most comprehensive and extensive research that springs to mind is the research on academic selection.

Research from the OFMDFM, The Public Accounts Committee, the Equality Commission, the OECD, Centre for Shared Education, the work of Professor Peter Shirlow ‘Educational Disadvantage and the Protestant Working Class’, the PUP’s Firm Foundations, all point to the detrimental effect that academic selection has on our education system. And in an interview on Radio Ulster recently when Seamus McKee asked former education minister John O’Dowd: “What would you have done to replace two tests with one?” John O’Dowd pointed out to Seamus McKee: “Your question is the wrong one.” Five political parties, the teaching unions, United Nations Committee For the Rights of Children, the Equality Commission,the Human Rights Commission, all agree that Academic Selection is bad for our education system.

As education minister the DUP’s Peter Weir ignored all this research by attempting to replace two tests with one. This was a bit like saying, we know that this is bad policy but we’re going to make it easier for you to do it anyway.

We’ve known for a long time now that the DUP have no interest in any research that questions their right wing ideology.
The RHI Inquiry proved that they don’t even bother to read the research, as Arlene Foster said to the inquiry she couldn’t be expected to be over every ‘jot and tittle’ of policy. Unfortunately for the DUP Sam McBride was.

Downpatrick, Co Down                                                                                                 


Voters’ loyalty and support is being taken for granted

A number of pacts have emerged with the two main unionist parties disenfranchising their members, they say for the greater unionist good and a corresponding pact emerging between the SDLP and Sinn Féin parties, they say to diminish the influence of the DUP on Brexit. It is hard not to see that the two pacts are certainly  damaging to the notion of choice that separate political parties are supposed to offer. Choice has been a frequently used word by different lobbyists and commentators in Northern Ireland in recent years but most of these voices have been pretty silent on this issue. No doubt when this election is over each party will return to their core support and expect continued loyal support. I believe that people in Northern Ireland need to ask themselves if their loyalty and support are being taken for granted by established political parties.
Potential voters need to realise that when the Brexit issue is finally settled, the successful candidates from both Sinn Féin and SDLP in this election will become flag bearers for the right to abort our unborn children. On the nationalist/republican side it is good that at least in Derry that a real alternative to both Sinn Féin and SDLP will be available through Dr Anne McCloskey running as a member of the Aontú Party and my expectation is that Aontú members will run in several other constituencies.

Dungiven, Co Derry


Social housing waiting list a crying shame

The new social housing scheme under construction at Carrick Hill is progressing well. The site at the junction of Clifton Street and Stanhope Street will contain four houses and six apartments. A modest scheme no doubt, but one that will be most welcome all the same. The social housing waiting list in north Belfast is out of all proportion, the largest in the city and a crying shame. There are still a few derelict sites in inner city north Belfast that have not yet been snatched up by property developers. These remaining sites must be made available for social housing, not for more student accommodation or private apartments. Community activists Frank Dempsey and Gerard Brophy from Carrick Hill Residents Association and St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s Housing Committee led the campaign for the scheme presently underway at Carrick Hill. Those two indefatigable campaigners are in discussions  to acquire further sites at Carrick Hill for social housing. I hope their efforts bear fruit.

Belfast BT15


View of Sinn Féin far from reality

Out of the past 36 years Sinn Féin have held the West Belfast seat for all this time bar five years from 1992 to 1997. 
I do not know where the   thousands of jobs have been created as described in a recent letter (November 11).

After all this time with Sinn Féin at the helm  it is still the most deprived constituency in Northern Ireland as judged by official government data. One has just to listen to the news and read the papers day after day, to be aware of the unfortunate levels of violence and drug abuse within west Belfast.

As someone who was born and reared there it breaks my heart to see and experience this. However, unless you are an avid Sinn Féin supporter who has access to some of these jobs or attend their party meetings, the reality on the ground is very different.

I suppose if you live in the wonderful Sinn Féin bubble thousands of children have been lifted out of poverty, the drug problem has almost been eradicated and crime rates totally eliminated.  Unfortunately, for many this is not the experience as the   almost most daily suicide rate underpins this.

Belfast BT12


Can SDLP still call itself a pro-life party?

The SDLP continue to claim they are ‘a pro-life’ party even after their leader Colum Eastwood signed a letter asking the British parliament to legislate for the introduction of abortion to Northern Ireland.

Have the SDLP the right to call themselves ‘ a pro-life’ party? Can they be honest with voters and themselves and tell us what they
stand for?

Glenavy, Co Antrim

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Letters to the Editor