There are individuals in the Republic who can think for themselves

J  Watson (August 25) writes attacking the views of people in the Republic, which do not agree with him. The missive is full of ‘Brits Out’, anti-imperial rhetoric and innuendo and is unhappy that some people in the south do not share anti-British views with those in Northern Ireland. He needs to understand that there are individuals in the south who think for themselves and can step outside the them-versus-us psyche.

There are some among us in the Republic who can go beyond narrow social and national constructs when looking for a solution, understanding, respect, or detente – instead of those who may believe everybody in the south should be anti-British. I am not, and far, far, far, from a ‘IRA-Brits-Out’ mentality.

Some of the best days of my life were spent with British nationals and I cherish those days as I do the people themselves. J Watson mentions ‘acts’ committed by nationalists. If these ‘acts’ mean actions which represent murder, mayhem and terrorism, and politically justified by those committing them, then they will always be opposed by right-thinking people no matter where they might be. Violence is a choice and political justification will always meet with critics.

A great number of people in the Republic murmured severe criticism among themselves at the violence in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles but remained non-outspoken. They did not write to newspapers or make their views public because of fear of criticism, which is still there today as we can see from J  Watson’s contribution in berating views from ‘western Brits’ – who are not British but inconveniently objective.

The Troubles were a curse indeed and even nationalist/republican combatants criticised and regretted some of their own activities in hindsight, as did combatants in unionism. It is surprising indeed that J Watson should be more mature and allow people in the south to have their views on matters up Ulster way on the Trouble’s infamy.

I will continue to write to The Irish News as objectively balanced as I possibly can and will not tailor my views to suit J Watson or any other nationalist/republican that we should all be anti-British because we come from the Republic and give succour to the implication that the British were totally at fault, because they were not, with republicans statistically proven to be responsible for a larger death toll.


Shanbally, Co Cork

Time to remove crucifix from the classroom

I  can’t but notice over here across the pond the debate as to whether so-called Catholic schools have any future, or have a right to continue to exist in Northern Ireland.

I taught for 10 years in west Belfast and Downpatrick.

I am also a past pupil of the so-called Catholic schools in the Republic.

It is incredulous to me that any bishop or cleric should have any say whatsoever in the education of our children and young people. The sad and truthful reality is that a Catholic environment is not a good place for our children to be. Our credibility is in the gutter and we have no claim or right to have any say in their education and the sooner the so-called Catholic schools with its ever-elusive Catholic ethos be ended.

When as a student I was attending these so-called Catholic schools, being from a working-class family and struggling academically, we were assigned the weaker teachers and I was constantly on the receiving end of ridicule and verbal and physical abuse. Thankfully many, if not all of the religious orders who ran schools will soon be non-existent, a judgment rendered – poetic justice.

You can imagine my dismay when I started teaching in west Belfast to being assigned to teach those that were not able to do GCSEs as well as being frequently assigned to supervision of the ‘sin bin’. I was now one of those weaker teachers.

The staff room was to be avoided like the plague, it was the fount of all negative comment, soul destroying.

The truth is that many parents only want their children to attend the so-called Catholic schools purely for results and discipline. The Republic is a glaring case study of the failure of Catholic schools. Many alumni no longer practise the faith and in two referenda rejected decisively the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion and marriage equality – a resounding indictment if ever there was one.

It is now time to remove the crucifix from the classrooms - it is merely cosmetic - and assign the hard-working taxpayers’ money to better effect.


St Paul’s Catholic Church,

Douglas GA, USA

GAA pundits should stop letting themselves down

Pat Spillane has exceeded his “puke football” remark with “cute hoors” in reference to Tyrone following their narrow defeat of Kerry in the All-Ireland Football semi-final. Will he find himself having to apologise for this too? Another Kerry man, Tomás Ó Sé, felt the question about the validity of Tyrone’s Covid status was fair. In a free country I suppose any question is fair but the implication is both absurd and telling. Tyrone offered to concede the semi-final. They are hardly to be blamed that good sense and good sport prevailed. But did it? Was the extension allowed only on the presumption that they would be beaten. Were Tyrone only entitled to the extra week on the assumption they would have the decency to lose?

Two weeks previously we saw a display of  foul play from Dublin which pundits agreed should have led to three red cards. Dublin’s indiscipline was criticised but not with the venom that Sean Cavanagh suffered for his pulling of the jersey of Monaghan’s Conor McManus.

Tomás Ó Sé commented on RTÉ’s The Sunday Game that Tyrone do the chip on the shoulder better than anyone else and tried to pass this off as a compliment. Perhaps he and Pat Spillane and Joe Brolly and some others should stop letting themselves down.

Just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not all out to get us.


Castlerock, Co Derry

Outdated legal protections for bereaved workers

Stormont needs to urgently update the broken system of legal protections for bereaved workers in Northern Ireland. At present, one in seven people who lose a loved one aren’t offered a single day of paid leave from work to grieve for them, and more than half of bereaved people rush back to work before they are ready because they can’t afford to stay off. That is totally unacceptable.

The Coalition for Bereaved Workers – a campaign group of charities and trade unions – is calling for a legal right to two weeks’ leave and pay for everyone bereaved of a close relative or partner in Northern Ireland. That would ensure more people are given the space to come to terms with their loss away from work and stop staff being forced to choose between taking time off to grieve and putting bread on the table.

In a new poll, 84 per cent of the public supported our proposals. It would be beneficial for businesses as well, as staff who aren’t given the support they need when they experience a bereavement are often less productive and more likely to need extra sick days.

Legal protections for bereaved workers in NI are out of date and unfit for purpose. It should be a priority of our MLAs to fix them.


Coordinator, Coalition for Bereaved Workers NI