Letters to the Editor

Vital to encourage thinking that expresses regret for every death

Over the next 30 years we will move through a period of 50th anniversaries of unnecessary murders and deaths that occurred during the period that we too casually call ‘the Troubles’. Recently, we remembered a particularly brutal incident. On December 4 1971, loyalist terrorists bombed McGurk’s Bar in north Belfast, murdering 15 people and injuring 17.

An acquaintance of mine recently told me that that attack lives with him because, some time after it happened, he was searching through his policeman father’s brief case to find a pen to do his homework. While doing so he told me he came across photos of that atrocity that had been collected for the inquest which his father was attending. The images, he stated, were still etched on his memory.

His father was not on duty on the night of the bombing but the next day, as an RUC inspector, he liaised with the bereaved families as they arrived at the morgue to identify their loved ones. It required him to talk to each of them and assess who would be strong enough to bear  the terrible sight. Each time this happened his father,  like so many other police officers during those times in similar situations, had to revisit the body too.

Like many of his colleagues he was deeply affected by experiences like this. For the record, this acquaintance told me that the McGurk family were respected by the police and he advised me that Mr McGurk took time to thank the police for their help in searching through the rubble on the night of the blast.

When Innocent Victims United (IVU) describes ‘the Troubles’ as unnecessary, it’s based on the view that nothing was achieved through violence that could not otherwise have been achieved by peaceful means. It is important that we commemorate the next 30 years in a constructive way. The process will either heal divisions or deepen them.

Understandably, many people will take a narrow perspective on each death or incident and will remark – “Look at what was done to my relative, my family or my community. Look at what was done to ‘us’...”

However, it is vital that we encourage thinking that expresses regret for every death as a tragedy and a waste. We should remember the context in which murders and other deaths occurred and challenge the ideologies that created the hatreds that fed the terrorist campaign which blighted our society for so long.

So, as the anniversary of each incident approaches, while we commemorate it, we should remain mindful of all those who died in north Belfast, Fermanagh, Derry, Castlederg, south Armagh, mid-Ulster,  Dublin, Monaghan, Birmingham, Manchester, London and so many other places. All of those who died were ‘us’. It was all a tragic waste.

KENNY DONALDSON
Spokesman for Innocent Victims United

 

Integrated education should not be forced on parents

Gerry Campbell, of the CCMS, rightly refutes the ill-considered attack on Catholic education by Doug Beattie (January 21). The leader of the UUP has joined the ranks of the mono-liberals who seek to eliminate diversity in education. He joins the pan-liberal front of Alliance, the SDLP and Sinn Féin, who for many years, have been seeking to eradicate Christian schooling from Ireland. They have sought to defund schools and colleges that are institutions of excellence in pursuit of secular education that can pale in comparison. Parental choice would be consigned to history and places like west Belfast would be gutted of traditional values and its unique character of determined Irishness. A place proud of its outlook would become little more than a carbon copy of bland English towns. The irony is that many of those who are the product of a Catholic ethos in schools are intent on denying the same opportunities to future generations. Integrated education has its place, but should not be forced on parents who do not want it for their children. If this sector is so attractive to parents then it would produce a demand that would increase its availability. Our society would be the poorer but at least it would be parent-driven rather than the result of a coup by people who pocketed the benefits of a religious education only to deny it to others. If we do nothing they will succeed in turning Irish society into a hive populated by global drones without delightful difference or the ability to question a new world order that is unwilling to accommodate distinctiveness.

If the pan-liberals succeed then we would lose something unique that can never be recreated. If you agree, then tell them on the doorstep when they vie for your vote. Silence is their ally so please speak loudly.

GERARD HERDMAN
Aontú, west Belfast

 

More research needed into ‘fake’ Irish

Brian MacLochlainn in his reference to fake Irish (January 20) makes several points that are erroneous. ‘An Garda Síochána’ is not, as he says, ‘the single guard of peace’ but the name of the police force of the 26 counties, ‘Garda’ being used as a collective word. ‘Síochána’ is a gentive singular noun acting as an adjective and this is why the article is not used before it but before ‘garda’.

The same is true of ‘an Roinn Oideachais’. ‘Oideachais’ is acting as a qualifying adjective for Roinn and this is why the article is before ‘Roinn’ and not ‘Oideachais’.

As regards ‘Ná scoitear’, if Brian looks at his grammar book he will see that ‘scoitear’ is the impersonal imperative form of the verb ‘scoith’ and therefore it can have a negative.

As for ‘garda amháin’ (guards only): As I said already, ‘garda’ is a collective name for the police force and if Brian checks the Ó Dónaill dictionary he will see that ‘amháin’ can mean either ‘one’ or ‘only’. With a bit of imagination he should know which one is applicable in each case.

Perhaps Brian should do a little more research on these matters and talk to someone from ’An Coiste Téarmaíochta’ not ‘Coiste na Téarmaíochta’ before condemning them and talking about people doing ‘a better job’ . Maybe his eyes will be opened

BREANDÁN MacCOLLAIM
Belfast BT11

 

German arrogance

There is no end to the gall of a ‘unified’ Germany, which sees itself as the conscience of the civilised world.

It now takes upon itself the task of arresting and trying in Germany foreign nationals for offences it sees as ‘crimes against humanity’ in foreign wars far from the fatherland of Germany.

There is no end to the arrogance of this most forgetful nation which has wrought terrible suffering on the world during the 20th century, the effects of which are still suffered in living memory.

Is the rest of Europe asleep to the reality of recent history or is it the case that we must admire instead the new found commitment of Germany to the rights of world humanity, as long as it’s not itself who is still being criticised for war crimes?

ROBERT SULLIVAN
Bantry, Co Cork

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