Letters to the Editor

Welcome leadership puts focus on humanity not ‘idols'

Concrete Jungle under the bridges at Titanic Belfast            
PICTURE: Hugh Russell 

ST Patrick’s Day brought two fine examples of the kind of leadership we desperately need, at a time when the political atmosphere seems filled with anger and polarisation.

The taoiseach – who has previously called on both the UK and the EU to tone down their rhetoric – said that a preoccupation with Irish unity was “divisive and puts people back into trenches”. 

He emphasised that the key priority was to build “consensus and unity of purpose”, and that “trust is the only basis on which sustainable long- term solutions can be found”.

He quoted from Seamus Mallon’s A Shared Home Place: “It’s about time we learned to share this patch of ground.”

Hopefully, President Biden will have listened carefully to this wise counsel, rather than some of the more imbalanced views presented to him.

The joint statement by the four main Church leaders was the most powerful and effective I can recall for many years:

“We have often been captive churches; captive not to the Word of God, but to the idols of state and nation.”

This is a searing criticism, not just of themselves, but of our whole political system, which is based upon the idea of two apparently separate groups of human beings, who are deemed to identify with one of two supposedly separate ‘nations’. ’Idols’ is a strong word, used so that we know exactly what they are saying.

They build further on this by referring to “the corrosive impact of violence”. 

The Church leaders – unlike some others – clearly see no justification for killing. This is of course no surprise, but is very welcome in the current context of admiration of past violence, and continuing threats and shootings by loyalists and republicans. Our shared humanity, our common human decency, must always transcend the ‘idol’ of the nation.

They conclude by speaking of creating “a shared space, of belonging and welcome for all”.

The taoiseach and the Church leaders have spoken incisively for Ireland at its very best. We owe it to them to support their commitment to a genuinely shared society.


Dr Philip McGarry OBE FRCPsych



A fantastic plot and acting and directing were only satisfactory


‘THE interview’ was strongly reminiscent of the 1967 TV series The Prisoner.

If you think you have been confined in a palace, had your passport, keys and driving licence taken away and prevented from communicating with anyone you are either delusional or the victim of a crime, in which case you should tell the police.

If Jane Doe walked into a police station with this story it is easy to see how they might think she was delusional since, out of context, it does sound a bit strange just as, out of context, it does sound a bit racist if a mixed couple are asked about the colour of their children. Every family fights except the ones who lie about it and as Max Bygraves sang “you always hurt the one you love”. 

Every parent knows how often they have dried the tears of a child whose sibling had been mean only to find out that there are three sides to everything: your side, my side and the truth.

As for an Oscar or a Golden Globe, the acting and directing were alright but the plot was unconvincing.

Dermot McNally




No northern exposure on national broadcaster’s St Patrick’s Day special

I WATCHED the Late Late Show St Patrick’s night special. 

Apart from Barry Devlin from Ardboe, Co Tyrone, who played with Horslips, no-one was featured from north of Dundalk or east of Buncrana. 

No-one from Antrim where he first toiled as a slave. No-one from Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, where he established his first church. No-one from Down where he is buried. No-one from Ireland’s second city, Belfast. 

No northern expatriate families were permitted to wave tricolours and/or greet their grandparents as Bearla nó Gaeilge.
A hard border from the ‘national broadcaster’? 

Brian Patterson
Co Down


Boat clubs seeks help for history project

MAY marks the 100th anniversary of Northern Ireland and the folks at Portadown Boat Club are seeking your help to pull together any historical records of the club (all the way back to 1877). Have you any old photos, posters, flyers, newspapers, video (or 8 track) of the club, stories about the dances, medals, trophies or anything at all connected to the club? Now is a great time to have a rummage around your roof space or to dust-off the old photo albums and see what you can find.

The club will be digitising the collection and will be making it freely available online via its website. The members are also aiming to display the collection at the club over the summer when things have opened up again and are looking forward to welcoming many to come along and see the collection. Details will be published nearer the time.

If you find anything you feel the club would be interested in, you can contact it via the facebook page or by emailing portadownboatclubsecretary

Barry Kelly
Portadown Boat Club





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