Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor: Julian Smith's departure denotes London's obvious indifference to north

Julian Smith was sacked

Julian Smith’s sudden and shock departure is to the dismay of all. It is surely ill-advised as the executive has only just got going again. It denotes an obvious indifference to Northern Ireland by London in changing out a minister at a critical time with an executive needing all the support it can get.

But let’s face it – London is sick to the back teeth of the northern parties and their differences.

It also should be remembered what Julian Smith said to the parties in telling them “to get on with it and to raise their own revenues”.

So, it should not matter in the long run who is secretary of state or if there is none at all.

However, in the current situation with Stormont coming out of mothballs after a three year stay in a box up in the attic, it seems ill-thought out that Julian Smith be given the chop. He seems to be the most successful secretary to date in delivering devolution out of the ashes with his Republic counterpart Simon Coveney who had high praise for him – something which a government minister in the Republic has never done to this date in such a laudable way.

Yet, Mr Smith was sent on his way. He was flexible too in setting up a scheme for victims of the Troubles, which was not opposed as far as anyone knows.

So, what did he do wrong or does London feel anybody can do the job and it does not matter one way or another?

Secretaries of state do matter and we all remember Lord Bannside saying: “Faulkner must go.” And criticism too for those who hadn’t the first clue about Northern Ireland and were just handed a brief and told ‘there has been a snap reshuffle and off you go’.

‘Misrule’ in Northern Ireland was acknowledged by former secretary John Reid and no better way to do that than to have a NI secretary who does not satisfy.

Julian Smith was well regarded and was a pivotal player in getting the parties to try again and succeeded. 

Devolution will have to fly its own plane without big brother. Perhaps London is pulling the rug from underneath the parties to see if they can fly on their own, or is just plain stupid in making a very bad decision at this crucial moment in time.

Shanbally, Co Cork


Why has our society become so dishonest, dangerous and violent?

When we see the tragic rise in deaths – particularly among our young people – the violent muggings, the drug deaths, the knife killings, the suicides, dangerous driving and all the other forms of crime that plague our society, we must ask ourselves the question: Why has our society become so dishonest, dangerous and violent?

Why are our young people so Godless and lawless? Why is there no moral guidance from those people who should be teaching the younger generations solid moral values?

In the ‘swinging 60s’ some leading figures in our society began to believe that the people were developing a ‘guilt complex’ about the Ten Commandments, so they deliberately played down their significance. 

Society then was less violent than it is today. It proved to be a dastardly decision. The Ten Commandments are the basic rules of civilisation, the legal system and the infrastructure of our moral responsibilities.

Above all, the then Ten Commandments are the sacred laws of God and the basic rules of a safe peaceful society.

The laws of god do not change with the seasons or with whatever trendy idea that happens to be fashionable at the time. The Ten Commandments are for the human race to obey until the end of time.  They were written in stone.

Whether we like to admit it or not, the Ten Commandments underpin our understanding of the difference between right and wrong.

Those people who played down the significance of the Ten Commandments forced an agonising price on our society.

Omagh, Co Tyrone


Well thought out voting patterns

I must take issue with Tom Kelly (February 17)likening young voters to naughty children raiding the tuck shop.

As the father of adult children living and working in the Republic I can tell you that the anger amongst well-informed, well-educated and well-travelled younger adults is real and visceral.

They know that in rent-controlled Berlin a two-bedroom apartment can be rented for €500 a month giving the landlord a fair return. They know the same apartment costs €1,500pm in Dublin, often paid to rabid US vulture capital funds with no control over their activities.

They know that expenditure per head on the Irish health service is 150 per cent of the average expenditure in the NHS. That US-style private health companies have been allowed to penetrate the Irish health system driving up overall cost but ensuring that those with the least resources get the worst service.

They know the childcare options that their peers in France, the Nordic countries and Benelux countries have and expect the same here.

I would suggest that if Tom Kelly was as well-informed and well-travelled as most younger adults in the Republic he would take a less cynical attitude to their voting patterns. He might understand that what we are witnessing is a rebellion against so-called economic liberalism in favour of the quality of life norms found across northern Europe

Independent, Co Down


Bridging the divide

The Celtic Crossing story has ebbed and flowed since I first considered a link between Scotland and Northern Ireland possible in January 2018. My interest was sparked by a question asked of me by The National newspaper – ‘Could a bridge between Scotland and Ireland be built?’ My reply was yes and my response – ‘A Bridge to A Celtic Powerhouse’ – made the front page three days later and it attracted national and international interest, most of it positive, particularly from Ireland.

I cited precedent and when pressed I considered the initial costs. That’s where the £15bn to £20bn came from, not Boris Johnson. I considered two possible routes, from Mull of Kintyre to Torr Head and from Portpatrick to Larne, after I made a detailed study of the land and sea bridges with comparable geological, engineering and technical challenges built since 2000; with examples of bridges and complex infrastructure project currently underway or completed in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, China, US, Canada, Scotland, France and others. I believed it to be challenging  but achievable. We have the talent and expertise to see it through.

I’m not a supporter of Boris Johnson. His intervention into my call for a feasibility study gave the idea a massive but mostly negative push, which is fine but the  Brendan Mulgrew ‘Fantasist Ego Trip’ piece (Business Insight, February 18) is the equivalent of a bar room rant.

Glasgow, Scotland

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Letters to the Editor