Letters to the Editor

Joe Brolly's disparaging remarks about Rev Ian Paisley are totally inaccurate

GAA pundit, barrister and charity campaigner Joe Brolly speaks to The Irish News. Picture by Mal McCann

I refer to the article on Joe Brolly – ‘The DUP needs to be called out’ (September 21) – in which readers are reminded of Mr Brolly’s shameful outburst on RTÉ, accusing the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of “homophobia” and “racism”. These are partisan terms of abuse used to close down debate.

Mr Brolly states inaccurately that Rev Dr Ian Paisley “founded his own religion”. He did not. He founded a Christian Church.

Mr Brolly characterised the Rev Paisley as “a megalomaniac” – a power-hungry, power-crazy, self-important, dictatorial, tyrannical person. I have never heard a member of the DUP or the FPC characterise Ian Paisley other than as a humble man of prayer who was committed to serving all his constituents regardless of denominational affiliation.

I have heard may stories from grateful Catholics whose homes Dr Paisley visited at times of distress or death to share fellowship. Mr Brolly disparagingly describes Dr Paisley as “a one-person cult”.

Mr Brolly constantly emphasises religion, sexuality and skin colour, despite claiming that to be blind to these phenomena is the “ideal situation”. He claims to have met Dr Paisley once, and admits he could not believe how big and “immensely charismatic” he was. These features he childishly links to fascism.

He wrongly claims that the DUP was “Ian Paisley’s construct”. A number of founder members survive, including Mr Wallace Thompson and Mr Tommy Nichols, both of whom, I am sure, would be only too happy to give some account of the founding of the DUP and of its initial policies and strategy, which Mr Brolly characterises as hypocritical: “Just no, never, never, never – no to gayness, no to Catholics, not to power-sharing, no to any of the things that make any political system work.”

Mr Brolly belittles Mr Paisley’s efforts to achieve peace in Northern Ireland and accuses him of self-advancement. Dr Paisley’s passing is referenced in a discourteous and shockingly crass manner, when he claims that Dr Paisley left a negative party to “laugh at gay people, laugh at Catholics, laugh at the Irish language, all that stuff, which in the last five years has sounded increasingly pathetic”.

I am a Catholic, Gaelic-speaking member of the DUP, who is happy to expose Mr Brolly’s characterisation as a pathetic lie. I joined the DUP because of its pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family policies which are in stark contrast to all other parties in Northern Ireland and the Republic, which now enthusiastically promote the culture of depravity and death. I challenge Mr Brolly to debate these matters with me in Gaelic or in English in any forum of his choosing.

Speaking of a visit to Stormont, Mr Brolly lays the blame for the “entirely segregated” canteen at the feet of the DUP, explaining it as cultish distancing.

Mr Brolly claims that “everybody’s just in [the DUP] for self-interest... Because there’s no political strategy. And that’s why they hate each other”.

Mr Brolly clearly has never interacted with local DUP activists or public representatives whose concern is primarily to serve the poor in particular and all sections of society, regardless of religious affiliation or political loyalty, by giving effect to Biblically based Christian policies.

Clearly, Mr Brolly’s description of the DUP as “a party in its death throes” is a case of wishful thinking.

DR CIARÁN Ó COIGLIGH
Cluain Tarbbh Duibhlinn 3

 

DUP should concentrate on NI economy

Boris Johnson can use the impasse between unionists and republicans to protect the UK economy against the after-effects of Brexit, to supercharge the economy of Northern Ireland and to resolve the Irish question.

The UK economy is haemorrhaging jobs, businesses and tax revenues to the EU through a massive exodus across the English Channel – 2,300 businesses in the first six months of 2021. The BBC reports thousands more are in the pipeline – aided and abetted by the Department for International Trade.

Many of these companies could have stayed in the EU simply by moving to Northern Ireland but the UK government made no effort over this. In fact, only one of the 2,300 was referred to Northern Ireland by DIT from January to June.

Inward investment holds the key to the long- term future of NI and to the resolution of the Irish question itself. The economy is the single necessary common ground between unionists and republicans – and so is the only firm base for building a united Northern Ireland (the necessary foundation for peace and cooperation). Here is the unrepeatable chance to make NI prosper – as well as and alongside the RoI and the UK. Refocusing the DIT to prioritise NI as the optimum destination for EU-bound GB businesses can be done immediately, if necessary with incentives, to keep them within the UK. This will be transformative.

The one thing Mr Johnson can do is to offer unionists and republicans the deal they cannot refuse. To the unionists he must offer the agreement by republicans to work with them to make NI an outstanding economic success. To republicans he must offer agreement by unionists to work with them wholeheartedly to make an Ireland-wide economy work.

Constitutionally the path is laid out as Consumer Choice Democracy via www.intradependenceni.com.

He should tell the DUP (on whose watch these 2,300 companies went without challenge) to concentrate on the Northern Ireland economy rather than the protocol.

GARVIN CRAWFORD
Comber, Co Down

 

Ongoing legacy of injustice

In one of the earliest manifestations of European fascism, unionist landowners and businessmen opposed to Home Rule formed, armed and financed an illegal army to install a government in Ireland congenial to their interests. The UVF was trained by former British army officers while serving British army officers refused to act against it. All of this was done with the connivance of imperialists and racists in the British Cabinet. Hundreds were murdered and thousands driven from homes and workplaces as partition was imposed. The UVF was then subsumed within the security apparatus of a repressive one-party state with a suite of Special Powers legislation that was the envy of apartheid South Africa. The violent response of that state to a campaign for reforms in housing, voting and employment rights precipitated the crisis that subsequently engulfed it.

Those attending the Church service in Armagh will no doubt use it in good faith as an opportunity for honest reflection on this injustice and its ongoing legacy.

PAUL LAUGHLIN
An Chúil Mhór, Doire

 

Confused

I  couldn’t agree more with P McKenna – ‘Military solution preferred option of unionists and British army in 1971’ (September 17). He alludes to the fact that the UVF propagated the myth that the UVF brought the fight to the IRA.

Is there anyone in today’s civilised 21st century Ireland or beyond who could explain to myself and family, why, then they abducted, tortured and murdered our young brother Paul Armstrong (18) on November 8 1974?

My family is constantly being told, draw a line, forget the past. Explain to me, anyone reading this, if I am to forget my past, then why is it on a daily basis regurgitated in many media outlets? I’m glad I wrote the book (A Young Life Stolen).

 GERRY ARMSTRONG
Belfast BT17

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