Letters to the Editor

United Ireland will not be a simplistic case of south taking over the north

Tom Cooper from the Irish National Congress distorts my words concerning the future possibility of an agreed Ireland (January 3).

I aspire to a new united Ireland but believe that it can only come about through dialogue and a shared understanding among all about the new state that we will be creating.

This will not come about through a rushed border poll with no plan nor without all on this island having an input into its creation.

It will not be a simplistic case of the south taking over the north, as Mr Cooper advocates.

I am personally opposed to Ireland’s commonwealth membership, but am aware that for some from a unionist background, this is something that is important to their identity.

Therefore, it needs to be on the table for discussion. He seems to think that such membership would involve the British monarch as a head of state as a result – nonsense.

There are many commonwealth member countries that are republics – the largest member, India, being a prime example. (On a side note, historically, the original Sinn Féin actually proposed a policy of dual monarchy for Ireland during the 1910s – something I would oppose today).

In an agreed Ireland, the input of unionists must be sought and welcomed, as well as of nationalists, and those who defined themselves as neither.

The views of those south of the border must also be considered. We will be creating a new state and I made reference in my remarks to what happened in post apartheid South Africa as an example of how Nelson Mandela recognised the importance of including all traditions in the new rainbow nation.

There has been limited consideration given to how a new agreed Ireland might look and we need to be imaginative in our thinking as well as honest by not seeking to misrepresent the views of others.

In the first place, however, now that Stormont has been restored the parties in the north must deliver on the bread and butter issues. That requires compromise and real engagement in an honest fashion – an approach that will also be needed if and when the question of an agreed Ireland is to be considered.

Fianna Fáil, Wexford


Gay Christians are not protected in same-sex marriages under civil law

Christians in Northern Ireland hold different opinions – for and against – the availability of civil marriage for same-sex couples. The opposition from the conservative evangelical group ‘The Christian Institute’ has been reported in this newspaper (January 1) but what is less known is the support by other Christians for same-sex couples. The marriage regulations in Northern Ireland need to respect the religious freedoms of both opponents and supporters. This point was made in the submission sent to all MLAs by the Church of Ireland group ‘Changing Attitude Ireland’. The submission titled Faith and Marriage: A Church of Ireland call for equality for same sex couples in Northern Ireland (April 2013) contains the following statement: “We call for churches and other faith groups to be allowed to “opt in” to registering same-sex marriages while protecting them from any attempt at compulsion, as this is the best way to respect the religious freedoms of both those who support and those who oppose same-sex marriage.”

The proposed marriage regulations in Northern Ireland will protect conservative Christians from compulsion. This is as it should be. Calls by ‘The Christian Institute’ for additional protections are unwarranted and are not supported by the evidence from the experience in England and in the Republic of Ireland since the introduction of civil marriage in those two jurisdictions. In contrast, it is the Christian same-sex couples who enter into civil marriage who are vulnerable to discrimination practised by conservative Christians. This is evident in the recent case in Sligo where a church organist, himself a Christian, in a Church of Ireland parish was dismissed by his rector after he entered into a civil marriage with his same-sex partner. Unlike the conservative Christians, it is gay Christians who are not protected under the civil law.

Queen’s University, Belfast


Fine Gael has hatred of all things republican

No republican or nationalist should be surprised that the blue shirt government of Fine Gael would dare to suggest holding an event to honour the notorious Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police. Both forces were supported by the brutal Black and Tans during the years of 1919/20 and 1921. In that time they murdered and maimed hundreds of Irish citizens.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his minister for justice Charlie Flanagan were given their answer by the people and they had no choice but to defer their ridiculous plans.
Fine Gael have a hatred of all things republican and have always believed that Ireland consists of 26 counties and not 32. They are out-and-out partitionists and consider the six north-eastern counties as another country. They have by their arrogance made a major mistake with their plans to honour the hated enemies of our country.

The people have spoken.

Newry, Co Down


Dublin government’s seriously flawed suggestion

Robert Lundy, governor of Derry during the siege of 1689, remains synonymous with ‘traitor’ in Ulster unionist rhetoric.
The Dublin government’s seriously flawed suggestion to commemorate those Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police members killed opposing the fight for Irish independence 100 years ago was heavily criticised and quickly suspended.

The unionists do not forgive Lundy after 330 years so it is naive to expect the nationalist memory to be indulgent within 100 years. A well-organised educational seminar and public debate to discuss and probe the complexities of the Black and Tan war would have been a more sensible idea.

Detectives of the “G” (political) division of the Dublin police selected and in some cases humiliated leaders of the rising. They were promptly shot after biased court martial.

Those righteous unionist commentators and fellow complainers seeking succour or compassion, to appease their angst, will not find any from this horrific period. Each year events from 1690 are reversed and wildly celebrated in the Protestant bonfire culture. The English parliament and people ignore the Orange event.

Craigavon, Co Armagh

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Letters to the Editor