Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Electorate can not be blamed for the depth of MLA talent pool

The Stormont executive
Letters to the Editor

The Covid-19 circuit breaker shambles, in an executive tasked with what passes for governance, revealed many things about our current politicians either elected or selected.

A few sobering thoughts come to mind. Firstly, how glad I am that I do not have to take decisions which will impact so many people’s lives – it is very easy to criticise.

A frightening thought is that our current ministers supposedly represent the brightest and best of each party. Given the less than dizzy heights enjoyed by some, one shudders to think what their respective party’s weakest links are like, although I fear most of us can guess. Uniquely since nearly half of our well-paid MLAs were appointed, without even a vote, the electorate cannot be blamed for the depth, or otherwise, of our MLA talent pool.

Sinn Féin as ever, are an exception, evidenced by John O’Dowd’s relegation to the backbenches. Proven ability aside, apparently John’s exile is due to his mistaken belief that internal party positions were open and democratic.

John at least, has the consolation, as confirmed by Mary Lou in the spring, of drawing his full MLA pay instead of the supposed industrial wage.

On the unionist side things seem if anything worse, with the honourable exception of  Robin Swann who appears to be doing his best, grappling with a challenging portfolio, trying to take the least worst decisions for us all.

The DUP give the impression their default position is that any policy promoted by Sinn Féin, especially those with an all-Ireland dimension, must be opposed, as a matter of principle.

The DUP claims to be prioritising economic concerns over the health of its citizenry – such Trumpesque baloney would be laughable, but for the potential tragic price in human life. Apart from the obvious point that an economy serves the population and not vice versa, this twaddle is coming from a party which for nearly 5 years now, has facilitated and pursued the most extreme version of Brexit.

Never mind being a country, Northern Ireland does not even have an economy. If it did, it most certainly would be Soviet in character.

There is an election coming soon and I think it likely, so too a reckoning for these parties supposedly running the executive and responsible, literally, for all our lives.

Belfast BT9


Gentrification of lyrics diminishes song’s meaning

The Christmas holidays are a very tough time in many households across the globe – economic difficulties, lost love ones. There are a myriad of reasons for the pain felt over the yuletide festival. Yet, in a year where Christmas will be an escape from the harsh realities faced in the year of the social blight, we find ourselves discussing the lyrics of the greatest Irish Christmas song to ever have been written.

LGBT activists have applauded the decision to redact two words from the song, the BBC has said that “young listeners were particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality”. In a way, this could be perceived as understandable, but at a very long stretch. The song is clearly a satire of the glamourisation of Christmas, the story of two ‘junkies’, clearly in love, battling out the festivities, as many of us have in the past. The gentrification of the lyrics diminishes the meaning of the song, one which encompasses death, depravity, loneliness and domestic abuse, of which both characters are to be found guilty. To quote Shane MacGowan: “Not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively.”

The two words proving to be difficult are two of the most impactful, yet passé words in the song. Neither character means the words they use, clearly using them in the throes of anger. The song is a more accurate reflection of Christmas Day across the globe, as opposed to the pipe and slippers ‘American dream’ vision. Moreover, in the fires of fury, the term ‘haggard’ is more likely to draw confusion than raise ire.

There is a very simple solution to this matter. If the BBC disagree with the content, they could simply choose not to exploit it over the Christmas period, when they will exhaust it as they tend to every year.

For LGBT activists, they could simply change the channel or station. The lyrics of the song are not an attack on homosexuality. The attempts to take the words out of context are censorship of art in its purest form.

Belfast BT15


Despicable to scapegoat NHS

Recently Boris Johnson announced, with great fanfare, the biggest increase in military spending in 30 years.

Last week it was a different story. No fanfare but the poor mouth instead. We are cutting our commitment to help the poorest people in the world because we are in such dire straits ourselves and the underfunded  NHS is struggling. Despicable to scapegoat the NHS and introduce pay freezes.

Who is really paying for the whopping military increase?

Rostrevor, Co Down


Democratic accountability

THE Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to impose lockdown from last Friday should have been voted on by MLAs at Stormont. A decision by the executive does not provide the democratic accountability for such an action. This decision needed to be debated in Stormont and put to a vote. To accept the decision without a vote is a derogation of the duty of MLAs to represent their constituents.

Glenavy, Co Antrim



should lead

by example


ccording to Michelle O’Neill (November 9): “The decision by the Public Prosecution Service not to charge state agents in the Operation Kenova investigation is further evidence of a strategy designed to shut down avenues to families seeking truth, justice and accountability.”

Republicans should lead by example. Many families are seeking truth and justice for loved ones who were victims of republican atrocities.


Belfast BT15

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access


Letters to the Editor