Letters to the Editor

Schools show there's a clear alternative to academic selection

Towards the end of May Archbishop Eamon Martin and the Catholic Principals Association had asked schools to suspend academic selection this year. Now five Catholic grammar schools have agreed. Abbey Christian Brothers, Our Lady’s, Sacred Heart and St. Colman’s in Newry and St Louis in Kilkeel have announced their joint decision to suspend the test. We can also add Lagan College to that list.

These schools have all shown strong leadership from their boards of governors and principals and are to be commended. It’s clear that they have acted in the interests of the wider community of parents, teachers and children.

Education Minister Peter Weir’s response to the archbishop’s appeal was that there was “no viable alternative to put in its place”. These schools have shown that there clearly is an alternative, if there is a will.

Over the last number of years in the Catholic sector there has been an inexorable move away from academic selection towards a more inclusive comprehensive model. This move has been supported by all the main nationalist parties as well as the Alliance Party. It has also been supported by the Catholic Church, the Catholic Principals Association, CCMS and the teachers’ unions.

Unfortunately, there has been little support for a move away from academic selection in the Controlled Sector, despite the fact that it is young working-class Protestant males who are most likely to be left behind by a selective education system. The DUP and the UUP continue to support academic selection. The only group within unionism to call for an end to selection are the PUP.

In 2016 the DUP published a report by one of its councillors, Peter Martin, who is now Peter Weir’s special adviser. The 35-page report ‘No Child Left Behind’ managed to avoid mentioning the transfer test. Quite a feat, up there with the Fawlty Towers ‘Don’t Mention the War’ episode. And where are the main Protestant Churches in all of this? They need to make their voices heard.

Within mainstream unionism there seems to be a clinging adherence to an old feudal type system where everyone knows his place. The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate. But change is coming and the DUP know that better than most.

Downpatrick, Co Down


Truth about abortion is not decided by what ‘majority’ think or say

Dr Maeve O’Brien from Alliance for Choice blithely referred to “the first recorded abortion in 650AD performed by St Brigid”.

This claim has been well refuted by many authorities. It is an appalling falsehood and a slur.

Faithful Christians have opposed abortion since the earliest times. Two sources, from the first and second centuries of the Christian Era, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles and the Letter of Barnabas, clearly condemn abortion.

It matters not that abortions are perpetrated here or elsewhere. The faithful Christians of today – along with many others of all faiths and none – will always oppose abortion and seek to persuade people not to commit abortion.

This is not a mere matter of one opinion against another but a matter of life and death. The unborn child is a human being with the right to be born and to live. No man or woman has the “right” or so-called “choice” to deliberately terminate that boy or girl’s life.

We will never desist from opposing the ideologies that seek to justify and promote abortion.

On this anniversary of the repeal of the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution, abortion remains as abhorrent today as always.
No human authority has the power to change that reality.
Neither is truth decided by what the ‘majority’ think or decide. Truth s truth.

Belfast BT12


United Ireland is basically a lost cause

When the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was up and running Brian Feeney stated that it was a fatal blunder to leave the timing of a border poll entirely in the hands of a British secretary of state. However, the crucial blunder concerns the GFA declaration “that Northern Ireland in its entirety remains part of the United Kingdom”. Instead of Irish people asserting their right to national freedom, they basically “consented” to remain political serfs under British rule.

According to Brian Feeney (May 6) “Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have twisted the “consent” principle in the GFA into a unionist veto on change.”

What does change mean? Unionists simply want no part of a united Ireland in any shape or form. This is not a unionist veto on Irish freedom. 100 years ago unionists asserted their right to freedom from the threat of Irish ‘Home Rule’. It’s time for Irish people to assert their right to freedom from British rule. A united Ireland is basically a lost cause.

Belfast BT15


Dominic Cummings did the right thing

Dominic Cummings broke no rules or the law of the land when he dashed to be with his family in his hour of need.

When it comes to protecting our loved ones we are, as parents and spouses worthy of the name, bound to do whatever is necessary in this regard.

If Mr Cummings had ignored his natural instincts I believe this is the issue he should be held to account for. He did the right thing.

But the man will never be forgiven for steering Boris Johnson to political success, not least by a shambolic Labour Party and junior dissidents in the Tory ranks who may have personal gripes. Dominic put his family first at a time when he was ‘allowed’ to. We do what we have to as human beings.
Well done, sir.

Bantry, Co Cork

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Letters to the Editor