Letters to the Editor

Taoiseach suffers amnesia when it comes to his own doorstep

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Picture: Julien Behal/PA Wire

The fear, the horror and the unbelief on faces as they trudge along on a tidal wave of emotion in convoys to borders where they will gain some sort of relief should be a lesson that history repeats itself if left unchecked.

The condemnation of Russia from the high-heavens by the western world is understandable and justified. Everyone deserves to have an opinion even if it’s based partly on half-truths that are stoked by information gleaned from whatever side of the spectrum you’re on.

However, a little bit of information gathering in relation to establishing partly why this invasion took place would be a help. Living in the ‘west’ we tend to believe without question the relaying of information via news or media channels, hence the narrative of Putin being a demented war mongerer is accepted at face value and shared by the populace in general.

However, there is another infrequently expressed view that deserves mention – the role of Nato.

As we have witnessed over the years Nato has embarked on wars under false pretences where men, women and children died as the result of indiscriminate bombings – as was the case with the invasion of Iraq and Libya – leaving them broken and reeling with tinder-box tribal and religious bloodbaths taking place, where sets of warlords try to gain superiority over the other in the aftermath.

I certainly do not want to appear as an apologist for Russian activities in other countries, but looking at the 208 wars in different parts of the world from 1945 to 2001, 201 have allegedly been initiated by America, so there is a bit of the kettle calling black to the pot in regards of who is invading what country.

In his attempt to become something of a world leader in vocal condemnation of Russia, Taoiseach Micheál Martin seems to suffer amnesia when it comes to his own doorstep. Only a number of weeks ago he along with a contingent travelled to Derry for the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday murders by the British army of Irish civilians. Was there a Michael Collins moment of shouting for justice from the back of a lorry on what took place on the streets of Derry 50 years ago? Or did he call out Boris Johnson over the Ballymurphy massacre? Oh no, it was all hush hush, whispering apologies for their hurt and bereavement, before scurrying off, only breathing a sigh of relief once he reached Monaghan.

Charity begins at home, especially when you have no influence over these tragic events happening on other shores. It’s strange how many of those voices within the Dáil and those outside with a bit of influence are calling for the arming of civilians in the Ukrainian conflict, and speaking of bravery as they make petrol bombs to use against an army that’s not wanted. Yet those same voices have the temerity to describe the people who used those same tactics on the streets of Ballymurphy, Creggan or Carrickmore as ‘terrorists’. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions of why it’s brave for some and cowardly for others?

JAMES WOODS
Gort and Choirce, Dún na nGall

 

DUP can still emerge as largest party

Brian Feeney  (February 16) argues that “unionists, but particularly the DUP, do not want to share power with Sinn Féin”.

However, Brian must know that at any time after 1998, and especially after the St Andrews Agreement, the largest unionist party could simply cross the aisle in the assembly to designate as ‘nationalist’ and then nominate the First Minister. This would block Sinn Féin from nominating. Neither the UUP nor the DUP did so.

Similarly, should Sinn Féin emerge as the largest political party after the 2022 Assembly elections they can cross the aisle in the assembly to designate as ‘unionists’ and so nominate the First Minister. This would block the DUP from nominating.

The results of the recent poll for The Irish News deserve some comment, and especially as political commentators appear to assume that Sinn Féin will emerge as the largest political party.

Unionists have traditionally urged their electorate to vote down the ticket for other pro-union parties, and this has served to maximise the unionist vote in PR elections where transfers are key to winning. The DUP can still emerge as the largest party.

Contrast that with the divisive backbiting between Sinn Féin and the SDLP that reduces vote transfers between these parties. But it’s worse than that.

In the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum there was an opportunity to forge a progressive pro-EU cross-party alliance in the Northern Ireland Assembly to represent the 55 per cent of the electorate that wants to remain in the EU. Instead Sinn Féin regressed to argue for a ‘united Ireland’ which only has the support of a tiny minority. But there’s worse to come.

In the Republic, Sinn Féin has achieved the impossible to emerge as by far the most popular political party there. In Northern Ireland the party has also achieved the impossible; at a time when the 2021 Census is about to reveal that Roman Catholics far outnumber other denominations, in the north Sinn Féin’s support is shrinking. And it’s far worse for the SDLP.

If these two political parties want to reverse the collapse in their electoral support they arguably need to form a progressive pro-EU cross-party alliance to benefit from vote transfers from the 55 per cent of the electorate who want Northern Ireland to remain in the European Union.

DR BERNARD MULHOLLAND
Belfast BT9

 

Truth Recovery Process not predicated on British goodwill

TOM Cooper – ‘British government needs to be pursued for continuing to break its word’ (February 28) –  seems to be under the impression that our proposal for a Truth Recovery Process is predicated entirely on British goodwill and legislation. This is not the case. We are proposing that the British and Irish governments jointly establish structures that facilitate an extra-legal truth recovery and justice process. This would involve the establishment in the first instance of a Reconciliation Commission which would be headed by a mutually agreed international chair, or two senior members of the British and Irish judiciaries. I would refer him to Section 4 of our document under the heading ‘Moving Forward: A Reconciliation Commission’. This can be viewed on our website, www.truthrecoveryprocess.ie. We agree that a unilateral approach by either government cannot work.

We would of course be happy to discuss the process with members of the Irish National Congress and welcome its interest in our proposal.

PADRAIG YEATES
Secretary, Truth Recovery Process,
Portmarnock, Dublin

 

Alliance miss golden opportunity

I am writing to condemn the recent decision by Alliance MLAs to vote down West Belfast MLA Gerry Carroll’s Trade Union Bill.

As SDLP/SF MLAs were going to vote for this Bill and UUP/DUP MLAs against, Alliance held the balance of power on this issue, and therefore had a golden opportunity to vote on the side of ordinary working people.

Their failure to do so sadly cements the view that the Alliance Party are the party of business and the middle classes. Alliance claims to be ‘the party for everyone’ – but not if you are an ordinary worker or a trade unionist.

GEOFFREY WILSON
Belfast BT7

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