Letters to the Editor

Political parties embrace darker forces to promote twisted ends

Brian Feeney (July 14)highlighted the difficulty for the PSNI policing in the ‘sick counties’.
The fact that some of our political parties periodically, if not regularly, embrace and exploit the darker forces in our community to promote their twisted ends must confuse bonfire builders.

The appearance in north Belfast of Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson - representing the DUP in full wise monkey mode, seeing no evil – was as predictable as the absence of our First Minister Paul Givan was pertinent. One does not need to be an expert PR handler to see a slight difficulty in having someone, supposedly representing us all, entering the debate when that familiar picture of a besuited Mr Givan grinning while lighting a bonfire is in circulation.

In retrospect, it is no wonder Givan snr was worried.

Brian’s column detailed extensively the ways taxpayers’ monies are shuffled into the hands of loyalist ‘community workers’, ending with a brief reference in passing that 50p in the pound was funnelled through Sinn Féin as well. Brian claimed since Sinn Féin stand and win seats at the ballot box, the use of such funds was somehow above board. One wonders if Brian has spoken to many Sinn Féin members in Derry who clearly would not share his complacent reassurances?

Closer to home, perhaps Brian missed the damning 2019 audit report on certain Belfast council projects as well?

As the labels and routes by which public monies are disbursed become ever more creative it is of course hard to measure.

However, a rough estimate of splitting, say, £5 million per annum suggests Sinn Féin’s controlling share of the pot in the 15 years post the St Andrews Agreement must be greater than, say, the proceeds of one Northern Bank robbery.

Derry aside, as the saying goes, nice work if you can get it.

Belfast BT9


Catholic education has shown it can be as integrated as anybody else

I was intrigued by the by the title of the platform piece by the Deputy First Minister, ‘Let’s help break the cycle of segregation in education’ (July 14). That is a rather tired trope.

We all want to move beyond the pain of the past where sectarianism was rarely promoted in schools but was actively weaponised by the strong as “a resource” (to quote Professor John Brewer’s research) in their tribal power battles.

Education is keen to play its part in critiquing the past and building a future.

Michelle O’Neill’s piece tries to both champion moves towards “a single education system” and “prioritising equal investment and the active promotion of state controlled, Catholic maintained, integrated and Irish-medium sectors of education”. That leaves me confused as to what she is arguing for.

One thing is clear to everybody in education. We need to improve from where we are to educational provision that stops failing too many, celebrates diversity, promotes the parental right to choose and avoids the widely known pitfalls of a centralist ‘the state knows best’ monochrome world of education.

Catholic education – the highest achieving sector in Northern Ireland  and an educational leader around the world – seeks no privileges. However, we have the right to expect a place at the table when it comes to developing a network of schools that deliver quality outcomes for all young people in a shared future.

We are part of a highly valued worldwide phenomenon and not merely relics of Northern Ireland’s segregated past.

Catholic education has shown that it can be as integrated as anybody else. All we ask is that we are not stuck in the corner with the dunce’s hat on and told that we have nothing to offer.    

Bishop of Derry
Chair, NI Commission for
Catholic Education


Lacking compassion

Fr McCafferty – ‘Whether president or pope the law of God applies’ (July 6) – takes the view that anyone who condones publicly (or privately) abortion is in sin and therefore must be refused Holy Communion.

No equivocation, no shilly-shallying. As well I’m drawn to a moment recorded in scriptures Matt 11.35, it reads: “Jesus wept.” Jesus wept at the sadness Mary and Martha expressed at the death of their brother Lazarus. He could have explained that life. He did not. Dead’s dead. Jesus showed compassion.

I do not believe that I read this vital Christian virtue in Fr McCafferty’s letter, yet I do know how secure one is in having rules that are explicit black and white.

This is a safe way.

Yet compassion brings about challenges to our ‘comfortableness’.  And the verse above shows that Jesus challenged, as He did after received wisdom.

Paul in Corinthians talks about charity and when actions are without it –  sounding brass tinkling cymbal – I believe the same applies to actions without comparison.

Derry City


Question for Stephen Nolan

Stephen Nolan (July 5) asked: asked: “What is it with England we can’t all here in Northern Ireland get behind them?”

He continued with “wait till you see me in my skimpy shorts and England kit” (which is something I personally would not wish to witness). I did request to get on air and ask him if the British army had done on the Shankill Road or Newtownards Road as they did in Ballymurphy and Derry would he still be such a keen supporter of the England team. I was denied to do so on BBC Radio Ulster, hence I am asking The Irish News to pose this question to our publicly funded BBC Radio Ulster.

Banbridge, Co Down


Farcical situation

Did anyone think it would come to this? Pings across the country – house bounding a mostly healthy population. A vaccine passport to deny freedom to those who trust their own health. Simultaneously absurdly stupid and chillingly totalitarian.

A prime minister, double vaccinated and having already had Covid, sits in isolation for a week and tells the country who can and cannot go to the dance.

TS Eliot said it ended with a whimper. We are too farcical for that.

Glanavy, Co Antrim               

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Letters to the Editor