Letters to the Editor

Ten years on it's time to stop stalling and deliver Casement Park

Casement Park in west Belfast is the missing piece of the stadia redevelopment scheme that has already seen multi-million transformations take place at Ravenhill and Windsor Park.

The people of west Belfast finally want to see movement on what will be a vital project, bringing a positive dividend to the people in the area providing opportunities for residents and businesses in terms of investment and job creation opportunities.

Indeed, the GAA community in the north wants to see their sport invested in with state-of-the-art facilities that will be a hub of Gaelic games in Ulster.

We are now a decade on from the announcement of a new Ulster GAA HQ. Casement was a priority project for the last executive and was included in the Programme for Government. The Department for Infrastructure must deliver on it.

The major issues have now been resolved. The Safety Technical Group has backed the spectator safety procedures. A new planning application for a 34,000 capacity stadium was submitted in 2017 and the Ulster Council of the GAA has reiterated its absolute commitment to the project.

There has been other significant planning applications submitted after the Casement Park application was submitted. Decisions have been taken on these projects.

At all times we have sought to work closely with local residents concerned about the impact of the redevelopment. That will continue to be the case and the hope is that the majority of those concerns have now been resolved by the revised plans.

Ten years on, it is time to end the stalling.
This project is already far too long overdue. Gaels and the people of west Belfast deserve so much better than the current derelict site.

The success of this developed will transform this part of our city, securing good jobs and world-class facilities for the entire community.

As Sinn Féin candidate for West Belfast, I can state that I remain absolutely determined to see the final part of the stadium jigsaw completed and will do all in my power to bring about the realisation of a new and modern fit-for-purpose Casement Park built in the heart of west Belfast.

PAUL MASKEY
Sinn Féin, West Belfast

 

Public transport woes forcing commuters to take the car

We are all encouraged to leave the car and use public transport but how well are our public transport providers delivering? I checked the price of a return train journey with Translink to Dublin for Saturday November 23. Of course they advertise an excellent return offer but you have to wait until 72 hours beforehand and take your chances that  there are seats left. You’d also have to get a train down and more or less go straight back so it is just a spin on the train. I priced the standard return fare which was £45 each return so £90 for my fiancee and I. I then checked Iarnród Éireann and to my delight the same tickets cost €70 which is almost £30 cheaper than buying through Translink. At the moment of purchase however, I was advised that due to my location I had to buy through Translink and the purchase refused.
I have contacted Translink for an explanation but without response. Both Translink and Iarnród Éireann are at fault here but surely it shouldn’t be that it costs more to purchase a ticket in my own city than a different jurisdiction and certainly not by £30.
It makes me think of 1960s southern America. I wonder would I have to sit in a cordoned off area just for being from the north also. Taking the car.

BARRY FEGAN
Belfast BT17

 

Rash voting decisions may cause problems

I believe, like all other elections, there will be those who will be voting for the first time.

Any form of voting, be it trade union, religious or political, always requires serious thinking, for rash decisions may cause problems.

You may feel at ease to ask someone what drink they like, or what sport they follow, followed by what team they support and if you wish to maintain a cordial friendship you would be advised to adopt a non-partisan approach with your answer.

Now the general purpose of trade unions and political parties should be hoping to improve the working and living conditions of employment and our society. Bearing in mind that your vote will have an impact on what employment and society you voted for.

From childhood right through to the 1960s I was fortunate to have enjoyed 30-plus years of a harmonious utopian society. I view the challenges that face today’s youth are colossal, but such challenges can be overcome by believing in yourself to make your country, and this world a better place than it is at present.

I say to all first-time voters if you wish happiness then accept the challenge ahead of you.

HARRY STEPHENSON
Kircubbin, Co Down

 

Is Brexit likely to break the Union’s back?

Brexit has enlivened the border issue within Ireland as it threatens the Union. But paradoxically Sinn Féin are against Brexit and the DUP are for Brexit – although Brexit must be the right type of Brexit for unionists. Traditionally the Union was important to maintain economic prosperity within NI. The EU, however, has been seen lately as the guarantor of economic prosperity for those on both sides of the border. So why the continued importance on maintaining the Union? It’s difficult to drop an idea after generations of struggle to secure something that was important at one time but is now of less importance. Many see the forthcoming general election as a sectarian head count within NI. A good showing for the DUP could mean the Union is threatened (depending on the nature of the ‘deal’) while a good showing for Sinn Féin will mean the Union is as it was. At a time when a new politics could have emerged within NI, we seem to be slipping backwards into the old clash between orange and green. Both unionist and nationalist need to question their traditional stance on the border as the Union no longer ensures greater economic prosperity and an all-Ireland state, far from bringing freedom (whatever that means) means, essentially, dictatorial rule from Brussels.

LOUIS SHAWCROSS
Hillsborough, Co Down

 

Too little, too late

Many Catholics voted DUP because of their moral  stance and in particular their ‘pro -life’ views. When the legislation was going through Westminister the DUP was in a strong position to exert influence on the Conservative party and the Bill could have been pulled. They did go to Stormont on  October 21 in an attempt to bring forward alternative legislation. Was that a sham?

DR OWEN GALLAGHER
Glenavy, Co Antrim

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Letters to the Editor