Letters to the Editor

Threat of further lockdowns simply masking lack of capacity in NHS

I have given the Stormont Assembly the benefit of the doubt on so many occasions during this pandemic, but following the minister’s latest announcement of another potential lockdown, I feel that speaking up is our duty given the idiocy of these proposals.

Since the start of this pandemic almost two years ago, there was one message which stood out above all others which was the ‘protection of the NHS’. Every citizen in the land understood and agreed with this slogan resulting in total public support for not only NHS staff, but also all essential workers who stood up and performed (and continue to perform) their duties during the pandemic.

The nurses, doctors and support staff are the public face of the NHS and we always acknowledge their enormous contribution to getting us through the pandemic, but it is equally important to also recognise the large numbers of staff who manage the NHS behind the scenes, led by senior civil servants with decisions taken by our elected politicians. I am not convinced that they have even come close to delivering what could have been achieved in the two years since the outbreak of the pandemic and I believe that the Northern Ireland civil servants, senior NHS management and NI politicians now need to be held to account.

When the first Covid-19 daily dashboards were published, back in May 2020, ICU bed capacity was 102 beds across NI and overall bed capacity of 3,284. Roll on to the present day, November 2021, and the daily dashboard tells us that we now have ICU capacity of 103 beds an increase of one bed, and total available beds of 3,150, a reduction of 136 beds. Shocked? You should be.

You don’t have to have worked in the NHS to know that this virus wasn’t going away anytime soon and the consensus of all the experts was to expect a surge every winter for years to come, possibly decades. The harsh question I now have for our ministers is where is this increased capacity that our NHS needed to prevent further lockdowns?

The general public needs to understand these lockdowns are now only needed due to the failure of our politicians and senior civil servants to build additional capacity into the NHS. The time has come for these difficult questions to be asked.

PATRICK MURDOCK
Newry, Co Down

 

Stark reminder

Britain treating the natives of this country poorly is nothing new, but even in 2021 the episode of the trial, death and funeral of ex-British soldier Dennis Hutchings was a stark reminder of how little value Irish lives hold with the British establishment, their media and their servile pro-union politicians here in Ireland. In all the interviews of Dennis Hutchings with the British media and in all the scenes at his subsequent trial and funeral attended by various pro-union politicians, not once was it ever mentioned the crime he was accused of involved a vulnerable mentally disabled man being shot three times in the back and then being left to die alone in a field. Not even his name, John Pat Cunningham, could they utter. It’s indicative of Britain’s superiority complex towards the natives in their colonies. The colonial mindset attitudes of cultural and ethnic superiority is archetypal of unionist politicians and the Dennis Hutching’s episode accentuated that in the eyes of nationalists.

Their precious union though is under threat and the same people they look down upon as lesser human beings, they will be coming looking for their support to keep their so-called United Kingdom intact. When the time comes for people to decide their constitutional future, no doubt there will be a fake unionist charm offensive where they will proclaim the northern part of Ireland as a communal space shared by people, who despite their political differences, really are a homogenous group of fellows altogether. I hope nationalist Ireland remembers the many instances where their lives meant nothing to them and the recent reminder involving the killing of John Pat Cunningham and trial of Dennis Hutchings, should be foremost in their minds when they visit the ballot box.

PÁDRAIG DONOHOE
Greencastle, Co Tyrone

 

Sovereignty issue has come home to roost

Loyalism has declared the Good Friday Agreement no longer represents what they agreed to in 1998. Unionism is split on the issue, particularly in relation to the protocol, and the unionist parties are at odds with the business community and working-class people. In 1997 the 32 County Sovereignty Movement warned that such a sectarian headcount would not resolve the issue of the continued violation of the sovereign rights of all the Irish people.

The intimidation of violence emanating from loyalism suggests its violence against the community but it wasn’t the community that pushed for Brexit and it wasn’t the community who brought in the protocol. This begs the question who is the violence going to be directed at: will it be against the British, will it be against the EU?

Furthermore, if the British government trigger Article 16  what will be the consequences for the island of Ireland? We know all this emanates from the dispute on sovereignty and it exposes the short sightedness and self-interest of the Leinster House parties who jumped to the tune of the British position of violating Irish national sovereignty. They are an integral part of the conundrum that contributes to these problems and the effects of partition in Ireland.

Brexit has exposed the issue of sovereignty and has placed it front and centre. The time is now and let’s get past the rhetoric and call it for what it is, Stormont has failed, Partition has failed.

FRANCIS MACKEY
32 County Sovereignty Movement

 

Prophesying doom

Malachy Duffin  (November 19) is right about ‘green lunacy’. The British government cannot predict what the weather will be like this winter. The Met Office says it will be mild, others claim it will be harsh. Yet we are supposed to believe there is unanimity about the global temperature 20 years from now? On June 24 1974 Time magazine published an article entitled Another Ice Age?. It said that the earth’s atmosphere had been growing cooler for three decades and suggested the burning of fuel was partly causing it by blocking out the sun. Bad forecasting and fear seem a characteristic of our age. Every opening of Covid restrictions has been met with the same voices prophesying doom. The Covid passports introduced in Northern Ireland are justified on the basis of a future exponential increase in Covid. The reality is the seven-day average for new case numbers in Northern Ireland has been roughly the same for four months despite restrictions lifting – on the July 25 it was 1,491, last Saturday it was 1,657. The infection rate at the moment does not justify the coercive measures against people based on their personal health choices. If the infection rates were worrying, the vaccinated would also require testing as they too spread Covid. But never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

DOMINIC GALLAGHER
Glenavy, Co Antrim

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Letters to the Editor