Letters to the Editor

People of Derry incredulously still grappling forlornly with age-old conundrum

Derry's Peace Bridge. Picture by Michael Cooper

Pat Hume has been laid to rest beside her husband John in their beloved Derry, where they were supreme doyens of decency, dedication and diligent democracy. Peace, justice and equality constituted their triad of tenets for a better society, and boy did they walk the walk. Pat’s relentless role of constant backdrop support and stability in the ‘sturm-und-drang’ of violent civil turmoil was quintessential to the double act they performed for so many years. A selfless enactment of ultra-worthy service to the community, country and society at large. Inspiring widespread global approbation, they simply kept plugging away against many odds time and time again. Such dogged servitude deserves all the accolades and respectful awe forthcoming to honour their memory.

While John was somewhat ‘infamous’ for his ‘single-transferable-speech’ which kept his practical social philosophy clear and undeniable, Pat had nothing only ‘multi-transferable-service’ to shore up and sustain the momentum come what may. In a world of exponentially burgeoning ‘celebritism’ and social-media self-promotion she was content to do the business without fuss or focus - a truly inspirational figure all the same, in the quiet manner of noble humility and ‘pure-drop’ authenticity.

It seems such a shame, however, that, after the Humes’ lives of ‘super-service’ to community and society alike, the traditional tribal residue of distrust and local version ‘apartheid’ can still flourish - even in something so banal as the agreed title of their home town. People there are incredulously still grappling forlornly with an age-old conundrum.

The perennial etymological dilemma that swirls robustly around the historic walls of that north-west of Ireland city is nothing short of pathetic fallacy. Perhaps for sanity’s sake it could best stay ‘nameless’ to save any and all brewing acrimony in the round.

The feisty entropic flux which has beset attempts at an agreed name for the place, bodes bleak for any sustainable harmonious result that ‘sticks’.

Of course the original name for the place ‘as-Gaeilge’ was Doire Calgach (Oakwood of Calgach) which identifies Calgach, an ancient Caledonian warrior chieftain, who claimed the area as his own way back in the fifth century era, before even Colmcille came to fame with his monastic settlement there. While the Doire (Derry) tag lasted a fair span of centuries, it has been brutally tampered with for the last few ‘siécles’, especially in recent years. Dredging up faux-monikers for the place seems to be currently in vogue, as the regional tourism folk fluster about, attempting to secure a benign phrasing, to side-step any potentially toxic karma appending.

The obvious solution would be to call it after the glorious river and lough, Foyle, which is the eternally defining feature flowing forever therein. The Gaelic translation for Foyle is ‘feabhal’ which can be translated as ‘lip’. Thus, given the deranged search for an agreed verbal descriptor of the place and the relentless commentary on same, ‘Lip City’ would surely do the trick.

After all, Derry people are renowned for their zippy quippery, so why not honour and celebrate their ‘lippery’?

Tourism chiefs can thus ‘lick their word-wounds’, chew it over and move on to digest bigger issues on their list of priorities.

Not a ‘wee-buns’ assignment for sure.

Lismore, Co Waterford


Sir Jeffrey’s strategic route map could prevent a winter of discontent

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s speech has cemented his credentials to lay claim as the leader of unionism. It is for others to follow with support or pitch their tents outside.

The NI Protocol has placed Northern Ireland’s status within the UK on the line and in jeopardy of annexation. Unionism has no choice other than to resist its implementation and demand its removal.

The Irish, the EU, Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance are joint partners in support of the protocol and all are willing conspirators in diminishing Northern Ireland’s constitutional position. None speak or act for the majority here who clearly see that the protocol threatens the peace and stability created by the Belfast Agreement. Positive reason why the four demands outlined by Sir Jeffrey will resonate with the overwhelming strength of public resentment against the protocol.

There can be no going back on the promises underscored in the Donaldson speech. Any deviation or diminution and the DUP can kiss goodbye to ever being trusted with power again. But one senses that with Sir Jeffrey’s commitment unionists are genuinely putting the country before party. If that remains the true case then he deserves support.

One speech does not make a summer but there is every expectancy that Sir Jeffrey’s strategic route map could prevent a winter of discontent and rebuild unionist confidence.

Strangford, Co Down


Times are changing

Alex Kane asks who speaks for unionism (September 3), but what he fails to do is define what unionism means today.

I believe that we are moving on from the bilateral approach to the Good Friday Agreement, power-sharing and the Stormont institutions. Times are changing and there are very serious domestic issues to be addressed. The question that so many people are asking is what can be done to tackle the very serious challenge of reducing hospital waiting lists, what can be done to build a thriving local economy in the face of Brexit, improve our environment and infrastructure and (as recent opinion polls indicate) create more integrated education?

As a proud member of the Alliance Party and supporter of the Belfast Agreement, sometimes I wonder if there is much difference between my view on the specific issue of the principle of consent and that of a mainstream unionist voter, or indeed, a mainstream nationalist voter.

There is probably very little that divides us on this. If a border poll does happen the debates will be progressed, and everyone will have their say at that time. Until then I believe that Stormont must focus on improving the outcomes of the NHS, driving the economy and job creation, and tackling all the other domestic challenges.

Alliance, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council


One less burden

While there is some support for Nicola Sturgeon’s push for another independence referendum – not least in Ireland – it is forgotten that the people of England, generally, could not care less if Scotland breaks away to flounder on its own.

It would be one less burden on its list of hangers on to appease. There will always be a powerful England.

Bantry, Co Cork

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Letters to the Editor