Letters to the Editor

Unique opportunity to achieve an all-Ireland public health service

The Greater Belfast Branch of the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) welcomes the growing and necessary debate on an all-Ireland health service as an intrinsic part of the process of Irish reunification, which we believe would contribute to building trust and overcoming fears and division. Thereby putting the question of a united Ireland in a concrete form rather than just an aspiration. In particular we welcome the article by Seanín Graham – ‘All-island health-care services in spotlight’ (July 8).

The Covid pandemic has clearly demonstrated the critical role of, and the necessity for, a fully-funded and protected public health service. The health pandemic has clearly demonstrated that the existence of two healthcare systems and strategies in Ireland to continue is irrational, impractical and dangerous to public health.

The CPI are calling on both health services to develop existing cross border cooperation into a unified public health service for the whole country. The NHS, as it exists in the north, has been eroded through years of underfunding, cuts and privatisation.

Nevertheless, the template remains as a desirable model to be built on, the principle of healthcare free at the point of delivery. In contrast, the prioritisation of private medical care over the public health system in the south has also been exposed by the Covid pandemic as being a disaster.

The best parts of the original NHS need to be rebuilt and expanded on, to develop a new all-Ireland public health service fit for the 21st century which provides free healthcare from the cradle to the grave, from childcare to nursing home and everything in between.

As Ireland moves towards reunification, the health of all our people must be prioritised with a new all-Ireland public health service, fully funded from general taxation and under public control and ownership.

With the reality of the move towards Irish reunification, now is a unique moment in the history of Ireland which makes this a real and achievable goal to benefit all.

Chairperson Communist Party of Ireland, Belfast BT2


Covid and popularism

Decisions on the relaxation of Covid restrictions should not be influenced by the desires of a political leader to increase his/her ratings. Populism in politics can probably never be eliminated, but it could be reduced.

Westminster’s electoral system of first-past-the-post is manifestly unfair – the Tories with 43.6 per cent of the vote won 56.2 per cent of the MPs; so it’s minority rule. The binary voting system in decision-making is even worse. When MPs voted on ‘Johnson’s Brexit deal’, yes-or-no? a ‘yes’ might have just meant they didn’t want ‘no deal’, and ‘no’ that they wanted Scottish independence.  To take a binary vote on a non-binary question can be at least illogical, at worst a total nonsense.

Covid and climate change suggest not only that nations should cooperate, but parties within nations should work together as well. This cannot best be done by voting ‘for’ or ‘against’ each other. It could be done, however, in multi-option voting, the MPs casting their preferences ‘with’ each other. Thus they could identify the option with the highest average preference, and an average, of course, involves every MP, not just a majority of them. So binary majority rule could be replaced by a system of real majority rule ie all-party power-sharing. It might be similar to that which is practised in the seven-member Federal Council in Switzerland. Instead, therefore, of just one prime minister, the leader of just one party, there could be a team of, say, seven – the Swiss use a ‘magic formula’ by which the top five parties in parliament appoint 2-2-1-1-1 members (and if the parties’ electoral fortunes vary, the ratio can be, and has been, adjusted). Then, in government, if there’s no consensus for a decision, there’s no decision.

Would it work? It could work. It works in Switzerland.

The de Borda Institute, Belfast BT14


Trendy new initiative

“CLIMATE Sunday gives parishes the opportunity to celebrate God’s work in creation as well as His work in redemption, at a time when the need to do so is most pressing.”

The Protestant Archbishop of Armagh, John McDowell, sounds keen to get on the bandwagon and see Anglican parishes support a trendy new initiative. It’s hard to see the need for a Climate Sunday, though, if we circumspectly analyse the facts. Human responsibility for the stewardship of creation is indelibly stamped into the opening lines of the Bible. Dave Brennan of Brephos, a pro-life group, recently cited a World Health Organization estimate of 250,000 human lives being lost each year as a result of climate change. He compares this figure to global abortion: “Baby genocide already claims more than 70 million lives per year. Are these numbers even worth comparing?” Academics, governments and NGOs are highly active in many well funded initiatives to tackle climate change. The salvation of souls and protection of human life should be of first rank importance to the Church. ‘Climate-Sunday’ might be coupled with a trendy new initiative to encourage the use of organic manure – ‘Bull**** Sunday’.

Belfast BT5


Making assumptions

Edward Murphy – ‘Benefiting the few at the expense of the many’ (July 14) – assumes I own my own house and probably others as well.

Sorry to disappoint and to survive the perceived put-down, but this is not true on both counts.

I may know Irish landlords, as we all do, but true to form Edward cannot fathom the concept of anyone having a good word to say about property owners, who also have rights.

Bantry, Co Cork


Sick minds

It’s ironic that  the only way the political parties in Northern Ireland can find solidarity is by prolonging  the strife of ‘the Troubles’ – a conflict which brought so much division.

Castlewellan, Co Down

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Letters to the Editor