Letters to the Editor

Personnel changes will bruise a lot of egos, hence Mary Lou's interview

Recently Mary Lou McDonald gave an interview praising the IRA campaign and suggested that she might have participated in the campaign of murder and mayhem that we all endured for 30 odd years. The result was predictable, cue outrage from unionist politicians. But then for Mary Lou the more outrage the better – they were not her audience.

Mary Lou’s interview begs two questions – why, and more particularly why now?

We all know that Sinn Féin are very good at PR, especially an Orwellian tendency to rewrite history. One does wonder if Sinn Féin will ever seriously revisit the past? Did anyone ever ask the question what did the Provos achieve? Did anyone ever seriously consider that unionism was on its knees after Heath – a Tory – took away their ruritanian parliament. By 1971 most of the civil rights agenda, (one man one vote, reintroduction of PR, housing removed from sectarian council control, the disbandment of the B-Specials), had all  been achieved. From one perspective, apart from the accumulated deaths and misery, the Provos merely enabled unionists to present themselves as victims and block reform.

If this analysis seems improbable consider the damage to unionism by Jeffrey, (I could live with 40,000 job losses), or Sammy, (no climate change), through continued exposure to the wider UK media over Brexit. They condemned themselves out of their own mouths. Bad and all this 21st century cohort, what would the UK media have made of Johnny McQuade? We might have had a peaceful resolution much earlier by force of argument and debate.

Such questions are ultimately pointless, so back to Mary Lou’s interview. One view is that while quarantined, Mary Lou was heaving a huge sigh of relief. Her bluff, however unwisely, had not been called by the big two, so she would not have to go into coalition relying on the team she inherited from the late surge.

Sinn Féin strategists are almost certainly working on the next, or even next but one, election. One challenge will be to ease out some of these unexpected ‘winners’.

Personnel changes will bruise a lot of egos, hence the interview.

In months ahead as new faces, perhaps with northern accents, appear in Sinn Féin cumann, some sitting TDs might have reason to be uneasy?

Belfast BT9


During extraordinary circumstances volunteering has never been more timely

National Volunteer Week (June 1-7) is an annual celebration of the contribution of volunteers across the UK and in these extraordinary circumstances it has never been more timely. In my 16 years of working with Childline, I have never been more proud of the Childline volunteers and grateful for their tireless work to support children and young people in Northern Ireland and across the UK while facing the extraordinary challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Childline provides a vital lifeline to young people who are trying to cope with the fear, anxiety and distress caused by the pandemic. We know from the counselling sessions we have delivered that children’s mental health has been directly impacted and those children who are living in homes which are not safe, where there is violence, addiction or abuse are finding it especially difficult during lockdown. Young people in times of stress often find that their friends and the security of school are crucial to their mental wellbeing, but now they are without them, and are isolated and alone. The services of Childline have never been more important.

Since the start of January Childline has delivered 6,938 counselling sessions to children and young people who have got in touch about coronavirus and a number of these contacts were handled locally by our bases in Belfast and Foyle.

We have recorded the top concerns of young people across all our sessions and in the period since the crisis began, three of the four top main concerns relate to mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
We are ever thankful for our wonderful volunteers and we urge the public to support our Still Here for Children appeal by visiting our website so we can continue to support our young people.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering for Childline in Northern Ireland, please contact heather.cardosi@nspcc.org.uk.

Childline, Belfast


Courtier shall not upstage the king

Olivia O’Leary on RTÉ’s Liveline on (May 26) made a comparison between King Henry VIII and Boris Johnson. She told how Henry had his powerful adviser called Thomas Cromwell who helped him out of a great international union with the Roman Catholic Church among other things. Cromwell was his right-hand man but he became more famous and feared than the king so Henry had his head chopped off.

Boris Johnson has his right-hand man who helped him get Britain out of the EU and get the Tories elected to government. His name is Dominic Cummings. For the first time ever an adviser held a press conference in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street. This is the prime minister’s own garden. He called it to explain why he had driven 450 kilometres with his sick wife and child during the pandemic lockdown imposed by his boss. He completely upstaged his boss who had good news to tell the nation about the lockdown. The good news was relegated to second place in the media while Cumming’s press conference was broadcast all over the world.

Cummings made a great mistake – ‘The courtier shall not upstage the king.’

Johnson may not be able to chop his head off but there are other ways in which he can get rid of his svengali.

Newry, Co Down


Left-wing task force

Another day, another issue of The Irish News, and yet another onslaught from the left-wing task force earnestly lecturing us on why Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are such beastly cads and rotters and responsible for everything bad. As the acclaimed brains and driving-force behind Brexit and the Tory election victory, Cummings is the quintessential bogey man for the left and a totemic figure for their hatred. I think that the Labour Party, with its sub-standard leaders, conspired in its own election downfall but I had to come up with that all on my own as the task force rarely touches on such uncomfortable matters. As an Irish News reader from my days in primary school in the early 1960s I am somewhat resentful of the increasing sensation that these days I am reading a provincial issue of The Daily Mirror or The Guardian. Finally, I was wondering why none of the task force had taken the time to comment on China’s responsibility for the pandemic, the cover-up by the Chinese Communist party and its cosy relationship with the WHO but an answer did occur at last. They are all too busy hating Donald Trump.

Belfast BT11

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Letters to the Editor