Letters to the Editor

For some 33 years is an anniversary of wisdom and reflection

My wife and I celebrated our 50th and Golden wedding anniversary back in April. Some would suggest she deserves a medal.

Thirty three years is another anniversary. In wedding terms it isn’t important enough to have its own name. But 33 years is considered an anniversary of wisdom and reflection. That seems appropriate as I reflect that my brother John was murdered 33 years ago yesterday, the day our lives changed forever.

A date that resulted in the premature deaths of my broken-hearted mum and dad. And the start of 33 years of me listening to endless platitudes from those in authority whose actions never lived up to the promises they made to bring John’s known killers to justice.

I wonder, as I do every anniversary, what the gunman will be doing this year. Has he gained wisdom in his own ageing years as he perhaps contemplates his own mortality?

Will he reflect on that night when he stood at the counter in Barnam’s ice cream parlour in south Belfast pretending to be just another customer? Spoke to John. Asked for chocolate ice cream. And when John was distracted shot him four times, ending his life on this little piece of earth we call home. And for what?

Of course, with Boris Johnson’s disgraceful proposal for a ‘statute of limitations’ blanket amnesty, if implemented, he will not need to worry about his past coming back to haunt him.

American author Mark Twain once wrote: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

None of us was born evil. Do you, my brother’s killer, look back to that day of innocence when you were born and realise that, like us all, you could have achieved so much in life.

I never set out with hate in my heart to intentionally hurt anyone during my life.

I am content with why I was born – to not hate.

Why were you born? Was it just to become a killer? Of all the things you could have achieved in life that is what you decided to be.

You didn’t have to go down that path.

You justified it in your head and heart. It was your choice.

What a wasted life.

(Author of ‘They Killed the Ice Cream Man), Belfast


We should be very wary about trusting the DUP to lead unionism

Sammy Wilson’s confession during the DUP birthday party (September 30) that he enjoyed the days when its role was that of a protest and opposition party, very much will come as no surprise – power without responsibility is easy.

What might shock some of east Antrim’s working-class DUP voters is how much his recent contact with the extreme Conservatives in the ERG has affected his judgment, to the extent that he now openly admits to seeing Boris Johnson’s corrupt Tory party as a template for the future of the DUP.

The identification with Boris is understandable; Boris doesn’t get out of bed without his daily list of people to blame (Theresa May and  the Tory ‘remoaners’ etc) for his own disastrous handling of government. Similarly the DUP historically blamed every unionist leader from O’Neill through to Molyneaux, Trimble and now Beattie for our political problems. That Sammy could see the days when Paisley and Robinson shared power with Martin McGuinness as the ‘golden years’ is telling. The DUP loves power but like Boris refuses to take responsibility, they identify with a Tory party that tricks the working class into voting for policies that damage their interests. The DUP were in a position of significant power and pushed for the hard Brexit that led to the protocol but are shocked that we hold them responsible.

They are a party better suited to opposition, we should be wary about trusting them to lead unionism.

Belfast BT6


It’s appropriate to participate in ecumenical service

I support the decision of the  Irish government to be officially represented at the Armagh religious service later this month. Throughout the controversy over President Higgins’s decision to decline the invitation there has been a misrepresentation of what was actually stated in the invitation. While some of this has been the consequence of some political commentators not actually reading the invitation, others have been engaged in deliberately misleading the public.

To illustrate this, I would like to refer directly to what was actually said in the invitation itself. The invitation describes President Higgins as “President of Ireland” twice in the invitation and not, as wrongly alleged by many others, as “the President of the Republic of Ireland”. The invitation does not state it is a commemoration. It says: “The service will provide the opportunity for honest reflection on the past one hundred years, with the acknowledgment of failures and hurts, but also with a clear affirmation of our shared commitment to building a future marked by peace, reconciliation, and a commitment to the common good. The overriding theme will be that of ‘hope’.”

How can anyone claim that these words describe the event as a ‘commemoration’ of partition?  It is therefore totally appropriate that we should participate in this ecumenical service.

Lisnagry, Co Limerick 


Zero tolerance on illegal fireworks

I have been greatly concerned at the ever-increasing use of illegal fireworks in the run up to Halloween. Our elderly neighbours along with our family pets left traumatised - for what? For gangs of young wasters who get some moronic pleasure letting off bangers that have been sold to them by the unscrupulous adults that live among us. It is now time to adopt a zero tolerance approach towards those who make wads of cash for themselves and yet it’s their neighbours that will pay the ultimate price along with dreadful images of animals in deep shock. The children should enjoy all the other festivities that we ourselves partook in when we were young but let us get those off our backs who make money through such illegality and if people have an issue with the police then our community workers and MLAs can act as a conduit. Finally, I hope the good people of west Belfast will have an enjoyable night and don’t forget to keep your beloved pets indoors.

Belfast BT11

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Letters to the Editor