Letters to the Editor

Troubles pension shows compassion and real acknowledgement

At last a Troubles pension for victims which has been barely noticed in the happening of Brexit. It is a time for Northern Ireland to rejoice in being spared the numerous struggles by victims to get some acknowledgement of their suffering. The previous approach taken to get compensation and acknowledgement was a disaster and totally ad hoc with many broken promises and false commitments. In fact, it actually caused more suffering by making people fight to be acknowledged and to get the state to act in some way. It is surely a day when victims and their families see light at the end of a very long tunnel.
There has been undoubtedly great suffering during the Troubles and the depth of that suffering can only be truly known to the victims themselves and their kin. Thus so far, victims and their families were left out in the bitter and lonely cold, while they had to stomach paramilitaries being let out very early under the controversial terms of the GFA/BA. Some of them committing more offences after being released. A very hard thing to stomach indeed and a double injustice to them in putting killers before the innocent. A Troubles pension shows the one thing Northern Ireland has been lacking regarding its atrocities and that is compassion and real acknowledgement.
Undoubtedly many suffered permanent psychological and physical injury and are suffering in great silence, robbed of answers and forgotten about.
Michael Gallagher’s efforts to get justice for the victims of Omagh – as just one example – graphically displayed how difficult it was to get any kind of real acknowledgement for Troubles-related matters.
It will however be critical to have an ‘appeals office’ should there be any dispute about decisions to award a pension or not, which are taken in the first instance by the Troubles pension panel.
Appeal times should be unlimited given that new evidence could emerge following various inquiries as we all know, to maximize fairness. This could be a vital component in reducing tensions when taking sensitive decisions on whether to award a pension or deny it. A Troubles pension, in the here and now, for victims is proof that Northern Ireland is finally dealing and coming out of the past not just in words, but long-awaited deeds.

MAURICE FITZGERALD
Shanbally, Co Cork

 

Being cyber-bullied is children’s greatest fear when they go online

With the use of internet devices rising year on year, knowing how to protect children and young people online is becoming an even greater challenge. To children, online friends seem like real friends and online life seems like real life. There’s no difference. This leaves them open to the risk of online abuse more than ever before.

A new UK-wide study conducted by Chrysalis Research surveyed 4,730 parents of eight to 13 year olds and 4,048 children between October-December 2019. The questionnaire conducted on behalf of O2 and the NSPCC disclosed that being cyber-bullied is children’s greatest fear when they go online.

Children and young people are becoming increasingly aware of the risks they face when going online. However, there is still a reluctance from them to seek help. The NSPCC would encourage parents and carers to take the initiative and set up regular conversations with their child about their online life, with our new online family agreement being a great way to kick things off.

O2 and the NSPCC also offer free online resources in the form of Net Aware, a website which explains the social networks, apps or games that children are using most frequently.

As well as the family agreement, the partnership has developed a booklet offering the latest practical and simple tips on the risks children might face when using the internet, and advice about what parents can do to keep their child safe. The booklet is now available in more than 450 O2 stores nationwide.

Keeping children safe online is everyone’s responsibility, and at the NSPCC we are also campaigning through our Wild West Web campaign for an independent regulator to be introduced across the UK. We need to hold tech giants to account and implement tough consequences if they fail. For more information go to www.nspcc.org.uk

MARGARET GALLAGHER
NSPCC, Northern Ireland

 

Ineffectual taoiseach

The exuberance expressed by Sinn Féin members as a result of their election success was quite justified but diminished by yells of ‘revolution’ and ‘up the ra’, remarks which provided political nourishment for their detractors.

When ardour cools and reality beckons, Mary Lou McDonald will come to realise that her party defeated two incompetent political parties (Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil) joined at the hip by a confidence and supply belt and led by arguably the most ineffectual taoiseach in the history of the Republic. From his election as leader his tenure has been one of absurd comments like banning UK aircraft from Irish airspace; suggesting terrorism would return in the event of an unsatisfactory backstop; economically the north of Ireland was on the road to perdition. The beholden attitude to the EU by this practitioner of politics by rote bordered on embarrassment. All the time this silly opera of emptiness was taking place homeless people were dying on Dublin streets and on trolleys in Irish hospitals. What would Arthur Griffiths have thought? No doubt Sinn Féin will now supply the much-needed answer.

WILSON BURGESS
Derry City

 

Wrong to commemorate savagery

THE  Irish government commemorating the Dubh Coronoch (Black and Tans 1920-1922) would be like having a statue of the Yorkshire Ripper put up in Yorkshire where he mutilated and murdered 13 innocent women. Or would they be indeed thinking of even putting a statue of Cromwell (remember his war cry “to hell or to Connaught”) in O’Connell Street. What is the world coming to? In every town and every village they terrorised many thousands during their barbarous and savage campaigns. Incidents like the burning of Cork 1921; the burning of Balbriggan 1921 and random shooting of civilians in Cork in their own home. There are thousands of incidents of such savagery.
I’m wondering if Martin Ford who wrote the letter – ‘Has taoiseach lost the plot with plan to honour Black and Tans?’ (January 28) – regarding what they did to his family in Sligo could put his literary skills to writing an account of their savagery. Others have been written but there are not too many.

M HEANEY
Derry City

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