Letters to the Editor

Complete forgiveness is only key that brings genuine freedom

In 1994 James Molyneaux is reported to have said: “A prolonged IRA ceasefire could be the most destabilising thing to happen to unionism since partition.” He said this because unionism cannot deal with Catholics as equals. As V McCullagh pointed out in his criticism of my letter, Northern Ireland was set up and maintained on the untruth that unionists are superior to Catholics and that Catholics can never be trusted.
Mr McCullagh goes on to state that I don’t know what freedom means and that I show this by saying that partition is only a line on a map. Let me make myself clear.

The Northern Ireland state was based on oppression of Catholics and discrimination in favour of Protestants. It was as simple as that. We had a ‘marching season’ to display unionist ascendency over the natives – victorious armies march through conquered territory. This made us feel inferior and as long as we felt beaten down unionism was on top.

In 1969 the pressure of resistance exploded and it took 25 years for the repression of Catholics to dissipate. We have won, but we must claim that victory – we are the equal of unionists but as long as people continue to play the victim our victory cannot be complete.

Freedom has two forms. First is the freedom from the feeling of oppression.
A man can only be free when he knows that he is equal to everyone else. To attain this we must forgive unionism all wrongs done to us, because as long as we hate unionists for how they treated us they have us exactly where they want us – in a position of bondage. A man can never be free while he harbours resentment about the past. Forgiveness is the only key that brings genuine freedom – and that forgiveness must be complete. This is what V McCullagh can’t understand.

Secondly freedom is political: I am a Wolfe Tone republican. For my republican ideology I go back to 1798: “To unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter under the common name of Irishmen in order to break the connection with England, the never failing source of all our political evils, that was my aim.”

If I lose sight of that quote I am not interested in building an Irish nation –  I want dominance not freedom. Republicanism must be about equality. Without equality you can’t build a country. Nor can you be free.

Portglenone, Co Antrim


Transfer testing – schools or Covid?

I have been listening to the debate on whether or not school transfer tests should be held in the present Covid crisis situation. All sides, whether or not motivated by factional, ethical or social interests, are missing the crucial point and are failing to see the obvious answer to the real problem.

The real problem is how to save lives by eradicating the Covid-19 virus from this island and beyond. That involves eliminating or blocking the routes by which the virus is transferred from person to person and from place to place.

Giving parents and pupils a choice of which school to attend, and giving schools a choice of which pupils to accept, whether or not by having to pass a transfer test, means that many children will be travelling considerable distances to and from the schools of their choice or acceptance, as many did prior to Lockdown and may intend to do when schools reopen.

If travelling by public transport or by dedicated school buses, how will physical distancing be achieved and maintained? How will transmission of the Covid-19 virus to/from the disparate home areas, to/from the school environments, to/from the buses, to/from the teachers and other school staff and to/from their home areas be prevented?

While the Covid crisis persists, and perhaps even thereafter, the obvious and logical course of action is for all children, primary and secondary, is to attend the school nearest their home, irrespective of whether the school is in the state, denominational or integrated sector or is a grammar or comprehensive secondary school.
So too should teachers and other school staff, as far as possible.

It is the responsibility of the education authorities to ensure that the standard of education in all schools is of the highest standard, and caters for all abilities and aptitudes. Transfer tests would be pointless and unnecessary.

Strabane, Co Tyrone


Courthouse must be protected

The Belfast Civic Trust is dismayed that there has been another serious fire at Crumlin Road Courthouse. This is probably the most historic building in Belfast which is derelict.

It has the potential to complement the jail as a very important tourist draw and to contribute to the economic regeneration of the Crumlin Road area of north Belfast. Sadly, this building represents the lack of a strategy by government or the city council to address the heritage assets of the city. These assets are important for attracting tourists and inward investment.

We would urge government and the city council to intervene to protect the Courthouse. A task force of cross agency expertise should urgently address how to reuse and adapt the building as a needed catalyst for investment.

Belfast Civic Trust


Danske playing its part

IT HAS been pleasing to see important stakeholders in the economy doing the right thing and supporting local businesses and personal customers. It has been of real help for our business to be able to go to the bank at any time during the day. This has helped us sustain cash flow and keep our business going. Danske should be congratulated for maintaining normal banking hours during lockdown.

PR Hanna Solitors, Belfast


Hostage to fortune

Mary Lou McDonald’s recently published  support for, and  justification of, the IRA’s  violent indiscriminate killing and destruction for some 30 years begs this question. As Northern Ireland was then a democracy, unsatisfactory maybe, she says that the IRA was justified to try to overthrow it, does this mean that if I and others don’t like a democratic solution we are justified in bombing and killing to get change?

I don’t like the democratic decision to Brexit. I don’t like the current democratic structure of Stormont, largely because both of these democratic decisions are likely to fail. Would she approve any action I might take to overthrow these democratic decisions?

But perhaps more urgently Ms McDonald says that a vote of 50 per cent plus-1 will be enough to start forming a united Ireland. So, by her logic anyone who doesn’t like this democratic decision can be justified in aping the  IRA. A really scary thought.  Another 30 years of pointless bloodshed and destruction.

We need leadership to get us to a society which can live harmoniously and productively together, Ms McDonald is not offering it.

Belfast BT1

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Letters to the Editor