Letters to the Editor

Nothing to celebrate about creation of bitter little Orange statelet

(left to right) Archbishop of Armagh and the Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin, President of the Irish Council of Churches Dr Ivan Patterson and General Assembly Moderator Rev David Bruce during a service to mark the centenary of the partition of Ireland and formation of Northern Ireland at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.

Regarding Martin O’Brien’s article (November 19) excoriating President Higgins for not attending the Armagh service marking the 100th anniversary of partition and the creation of the northern state, I have already stated there is nothing to celebrate or mark (if you prefer) about the creation of the bitter little Orange statelet, which was deliberately based on a sectarian headcount and with the objective of liquidating the Catholic population in those areas where it predominated, including Fermanagh and Tyrone.

How was this to be achieved? When the pogroms of the early 1920s failed to do the job and when the enticement (through the establishment of the Clogher Fund) of hundreds of Protestant families from southern border counties didn’t succeed either, discrimination in jobs, housing and under the law were used to ‘encourage’ Catholics to leave the land of their birth

Thankfully the president of Ireland had the wisdom to refuse to have anything to do with the Armagh celebration.

This could never be an occasion for celebration or reconciliation and was correctly viewed as a bad idea precisely because it was bound to be used by political unionism as an endorsement of their ‘failed political entity’, as the late taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey, described it.

The reaction of the DUP, in particular, to the non-attendance of President Higgins merely confirmed their intention to use it for political purposes, even if that wasn’t the intention of the organisers.

Presented as an act of reconciliation, the Armagh service was intended to suggest that whatever our view of those historical events, they are in the past and, therefore, that it is time to ‘move on’. Let us pray.

Sadly, the consequences of those historical events are still with us and we cannot and should not move on until their injustice is addressed.

The British government would certainly be at one with the view that we should draw a line under the events of the past and besides trying to give a free pass to its armed forces who were involved in the killing of Irish civilians, it now plans to retain the services of an ‘historian’ to write an ‘official’ account of our

recent past.

While I am very much in favour of acts of dialogue and exchange that promote good community relations, I sincerely believe that genuine reconciliation will never be possible until the running sore of partition and the existence of the northern state has been removed through the reunification of our country and the building of a genuinely inclusive new Ireland.

Mr O’Brien’s superficial analysis and support for the status quo will not contribute to the justice and reconciliation we need if we are to create a new Ireland.

Co Fermanagh


Something not ringing true in health department

The health minister and the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser have the toughest jobs in dealing with the Covid pandemic. Each deserves public support for their undoubted commitment to our welfare.

However, in these exceptionally testing and frightening times, the public have a right to be informed about all that is minuted in current official discussions – not 25 years later in archive records.

As the community potentially faces a Christmas/New Year or sooner lockdown, they need assurances that advice from the medical and scientific officers is not being rejected by the health minister. Or if it was, on what grounds was their professional counsel rejected?

As the pandemic reaches another crisis point there must be open clarity as to its direction of travel as revealed by the experts to the minister. People of all ages, in particular the vulnerable, are anxious to know that the actions to combat the virus represent total agreement between Minister Swann, Sir Michael McBride and Professor Ian Young.

It would be serious should the minister, the CMO and CSA find themselves not to be on the same page. We deserve to know what, if any, differences exist and what they comprise of.

Especially with a severe cold winter predicted the public need to be assured that nothing is being held back from them. Not seeing these three key players together in front of the cameras is a growing cause of concern that there is a variance of opinion.

It would be a massive confidence booster to see the first and deputy first ministers alongside the health minister and the chief medical and chief scientific officers jointly presenting their assurances to the public and subjecting themselves to public scrutiny. They need to do so now. By not doing so ,they leave a great doubt hanging in the air.

Srangford, Co Down


Church reform needed

This morning, I, me a sinner, felt the need to pray for all the people that all the main so-called Christian Churches had turned away from God for so many reasons. People who reached out in a time of despair hoping to find love, compassion or hope were often met with arrogance and conceit, the man in the pulpit told us we were sinners and unworthy of God’s love, often because of circumstances not of our own making and yet the person preaching to us and telling us to repent or be damned may have been hiding things in his locker that were unchristian and ungodly. All of the main Churches have major skeletons in their closet, all of the main Churches have adopted a policy of capitalism and dictatorship, all of the main Churches have preached “the fear of God” and sadly all of the main Churches have failed their congregation and missed the opportunity to highlight that God is a God of love and compassion, something that all of the Churches have abandoned.

I am by no means a preacher but I give you my thought for today, hang in there, there is a God of love and compassion who is standing beside us and we don’t need the middle man of a Church to reach my God. All the Churches need to get their act together, all the main Churches that preach ‘Christianity’ need to come together and form one body, one Church built on compassion and love,(not hatred) a Church of the people for the people.

Clogher, Co Tyrone


‘Fantastic’ trade deal

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw asked the government for an official assessment of the economic damage we might suffer if the EU cancelled the present trade deal.

(‘Labour warns against ‘damaging’ trade war with EU over protocol amid suspension pleas’ (November 19.

Good luck with that, because a year ago I put in a freedom of information request for an official assessment of the economic value to the UK of the ‘Canada style’ free trade deal that Boris Johnson wanted, and officials in three departments all said they had no information on that.

As they could not say then how much such a deal might be worth to us I doubt that they can say now how much we might lose if it was cancelled.

Various alternative sources put the value of the deal to the UK at somewhere between zero and 2 per cent of GDP; perhaps Mr Bradshaw would be content to rely on the estimate from the EU Commission, near the middle at 0.75 per cent of GDP. Or maybe he would prefer to accept the word of
the prime minister, who went on television last Christmas Eve and told us that his ‘fantastic’ trade deal was worth £660bn, which works out as about 30 per cent
of GDP.

Maidenhead, England

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Letters to the Editor