DUP now a standalone party whose policies are a failed defence of the past
The words of William Butler Yeats in his poem, Easter 1916, “All has changed, changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born”, should be resonating in all our ears today. These words, written more than a century ago, could as equally be applied to the situation in the six counties today as they were after the execution by the British of the leaders of the Easter 1916 rising.
“All has changed, changed utterly” vividly describes the place we find ourselves in the north in 2021.
What has changed? The short answer is everything. The state-created Protestant ascendancy has changed to the extent that it has gone, it no longer exists in these six counties. The inbuilt Protestant majority has changed, it too has gone, Protestantism is now a minority and looks set to continue its decline. A Protestant government for a Protestant people has changed utterly and since 1998 has been replaced by a power-sharing administration.
Sectarian political decision making has changed, it has been successfully challenged and has largely disappeared from the political landscape.
While things are far from perfect, they have indisputably changed, they have changed utterly, to the extent of no return. This is not something that one section or another of the population should gloat about. Instead, it should be recognised by all right thinking people as progress and the undoing of all the wrongs that blighted politics here for so long. We should all be proud of the fact that we have created political institutions, while not perfect, that represent a giant step towards a shared political normality. The political situation manufactured in 1921 has clearly failed and all sides agree, to different extents, that this is indeed the case. There are, of course, those who blindly refuse to accept reality and would like to plunge us back into the old ways.
Unionists, and unionism in general, are having, and will continue to have, difficulty in accepting the changes – but they are inevitable and unstoppable. Unionism will need help and encouragement to move with the times, and their political leaders must be at the forefront in helping increase the confidence of their electorate in these new political dispensations. Of the two main unionist parties it is obvious to all that the DUP are stuck in the era of unionist dominance and cannot accept that their particular ideology is no longer the dominant one. The time has come for the majority of the political parties here to move on and accept that the current position of the DUP is simply unsustainable.
The DUP has now become a standalone party whose policies are not only prehistoric and antediluvian, but are a sad and failed defence of the past.
Craigavon, Co Armagh
Statements made by the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Major General Sean Clancy, (Ireland ‘a target for hostile states’ Sunday Times, November 21) should cause concerns for the Irish government and the Irish people. Without naming Russia directly, he nonetheless has targeted Russia as a hostile state, using questionable reports of “foreign military vessels and aircraft having entered Irish controlled waters and airspace with their transponders switched off”.
Clancy goes on to say that hostile states “represent not just a risk to critical infrastructure but to every aspect of Irish society as they use hybrid warfare to undermine democracy”. Russia and Nato have been engaging in dangerous confrontations, usually hundreds of miles off the Irish coast but there has been no credible evidence that Russia is a ‘hostile state’ towards Ireland.
Such an inappropriate assertion is a serious diplomatic insult to a friendly state. Those who threaten Irish sovereignty and Irish neutrality are not the Russians, who have never been a threat to Ireland. During the Second World War it was Germany and Britain that posed a serious threat to our sovereignty.
A few Russian bombers flying many miles off the Irish coast must not be compared with an estimated 15,000 aircraft associated with the US military landing and refuelling at Shannon airport over the past 20 years. The most serious threats to democracy internationally in recent decades come, not from Russia, but from the US and its Nato allies.
Castletroy, Co Limerick
Davy Tweed and Orange Order
Now that Jim Allister has finally rowed back and apologised for his praise of David Tweed, after Ian Paisley and Mervyn Storey also relented, the Orange Order is the last holdout. Tweed’s funeral service booklet had what appeared to be a recent picture of Tweed on the cover, wearing an Orange sash and bowler hat with a large Orange flower in the headband. Men with Orange collarettes shouldered Tweed’s coffin. Why? The order said Tweed was expelled after his child abuse conviction in 2012.
Tweed was also pictured recently in Apprentice Boys regalia, naming Tweed as a past president. The Apprentice Boys said they initiated a process of expulsion after Tweed was convicted of child abuse in 2012, but not when or if
that process was completed. Why not? The Orange Order opened its doors to those who want to protest against the EU Northern Ireland Protocol, agreed to and then reneged upon by Boris Johnson. The organisation has closed its doors and has hardened its heart against five very brave women who highlighted awful abuse perpetrated by a man besmirching the name ‘father’, who regularly wore a bowler hat and Orange sash. They are five better women than the man Tweed claimed to be. What of the Orange men, what type of men are they?
Here at Barnardo’s, we were shocked to discover that more than a quarter of our frontline workers who responded to a recent survey had supported vulnerable children who had accessed online pornography.
Disturbingly, the survey also revealed that accessing online pornography is having a hugely damaging impact on children – by normalising abusive behaviour and causing children to develop unrealistic or harmful expectations of sex and relationships. When asked about the impacts of viewing pornographic material when under the legal age of 18, nearly a third (32 per cent) of workers said it had led to the children they supported developing unrealistic expectations of sex and relationships while 28 per cent said it led to children displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour.
Nearly a quarter (22 per cent) said underage viewing of pornography negatively affected mental health and wellbeing, while 12 per cent said it normalised abusive or exploitative behaviour.
We must do all we can to ensure that our children do not grow up seeing these images.
So Barnardo’s is calling on the new Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries MP, to put the safety of children and young people first with the proposed Online Safety Bill.
Head of Barnardo’s Northern Ireland