Letters to the Editor

‘Ourselves alone' is a meaningless phrase in the modern world

Leo Varadkar’s (un)intentional slip recently revealed something we all knew to be true and this point was well elaborated by Chris Donnelly in his article (May 11). Basically the Republic sees us as foreign and are heart scared of having anything to do with us. Perhaps we need to change our thinking on achieving a united Ireland. At this time all talk of unity is seen by unionists as dominance and by the ultra conservatives of the shires as the final humiliation of the empire. Nationalism underestimates these feelings at its peril.

However, last week also revealed something that has been growing in front of our eyes for years – the UK is no longer “united” and that the Welsh and Scottish identity, as well as devolution assertiveness, is growing daily. The PM decided to encourage the workers to go back as early as last Wednesday and the furlough is expected to be reduced to 60 per cent in a corresponding effort to force workers to return.
There is also the fact that Britain cannot afford to pay millions of workers to sit at home.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales at once rejected the route map to normality set out by Johnson choosing instead to go their own way – the Home Nations now have four separate opinions on how to come out of the Covid crisis. This brush with independent thinking, a rare thing in Stormont, will increase as Britain leaves the EU, demands for independence in Scotland grow and Northern Ireland is left ever further behind in social and economic wellbeing.

Maybe the time has come to shift the focus from a narrow idea of independence to a wider four or five-nation view and reverse it from one of dominance, as understood by unionists, and defeat, as seen by the Shires, to one of international cooperation between growing sovereign nations in a world where globalism will inevitably decrease after Covid and as the American empire declines.

This would call for new novel ways of thinking, moving away from the narrow ‘ourselves alone’ mentality to one of seeing Ireland as part of something bigger, with a place to play on the international stage.
Has it never dawned on Sinn Féin that ourselves alone is a meaningless phrase in the modern world and that it reveals a vision of narrowness that is at odds with an increasingly outward looking vision?

Portglenone, Co Antrim


Fine Gael should contest all constituencies in Northern Ireland

Chris Donnelly is partly correct when he writes that the republic’s parties have been socially distancing from the north long before Coronavirus (May 11). The absence of Irish history in schools beyond 1916 ensured that in 1969, the attacks on nationalists in Belfast could never be placed in their true context. The civil war was never referred to in my school and I really knew virtually nothing about it. Without an equipped army or air force, any incursion into Down and Armagh would have been obliterated by the RAF in short order. So a smokescreen was launched to avoid having to admit the truth of the Haughey, Boland, Blaney arms trial.

Later the Provos murder campaign repelled most of the republic’s electorate. Over time the state evolved from a Catholic theocracy to an open society today. The north’s Catholicism is a badge of identity and judging from The Irish News contributors has a conservative outlook that is reminiscent of Dublin in 1970s. There are major problems as there are in all societies but the idea that outcomes for health in HSE land are worse than in NHS land are not true.
Infant mortality in the HSE is less than in the NHS or the Benelux countries or in Scandinavia. Longevity is 80 for a male and 83 for a female right at the top of the tree.

I want Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to contest all Stormont and council elections. I want the north-west to have a university in Derry at Magee. There should be greater options for the electorate in the north than is currently on offer.
I’m uncertain where FF are with regard to the SDLP. Listening to unionists in the north, I cannot see Stormont disappearing.

I want FG to contest all constituencies in the north. Choice is everything and failure to do this sends a rejection message.

Dublin 11


Heartbreak of cremation protocol

LAST week our family lost a member suddenly, completely unrelated to Covid-19 and as he had wished, was cremated. As someone, who is in the “at risk” category with COPD, I fully appreciate and adhere to the appropriate protocols regarding this terrible disease. Supermarkets, pharmacies and other establishments have successfully limited this spread with distance markings and cleansing where required. We have one single room in the only crematorium in Northern Ireland, where a grieving relative can say a fond farewell and prayer, as they witness their loved one or lifetime soul mate being committed for cremation, yet no effort has been made with screening to accommodate this heart-breaking moment. Instead they must see the deceased being driven away, while the family must stop at the first roundabout in Roselawn. If up to 10 mourners are allowed to attend burials, why can Belfast City Council not show some  compassion in allowing a limited number of close family into one appropriately controlled and protected space?

Newtownabbey, Co Antrim


Call for an all-Ireland health service

Many groups and individuals have watched Covid-19 take a heavy toll on the lives of working people around the country. Decades of underfunding, privatisation and commercialisation have weakened and undermined the public health services that people need and have access to. The creation of two-tier health systems in both parts of Ireland has contributed to further inequality within society.

Leading medical experts have pointed out that it endangers public health to have two separate strategies for fighting Covid-19 and this problem is compounded by two under-funded health services. An all-Ireland, universally accessible, free public health system is in the best interests of all. This would maximise the use of medical expertise and facilities throughout the whole country. It is crucial that the profit motive is removed from all health services, from hospitals and from care homes.

Outmoded thinking that rejects the creation of a single health service for all our people will endanger future generations. We need to plan for the future, not to be locked in the past. We need a universally accessible all-Ireland heath service and we need it now.

Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum

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Letters to the Editor