Letters to the Editor

Dream of united Ireland abandoned

I have often argued on this page that both the British and Free State governments have viewed the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) as an enduring political solution rather than an interim arrangement.  That would also appear to be how successive US administrations see it.  The US in fact claims ownership of it and holds it out as a shining example to the rest of the world.  

 

Sinn Féin leaders argue that it is the only show in town, will fiercely defend it, and have argued that its strategy is to normalise politics here using the GFA as a vehicle to do so.  While all opinion polls come with a caveat, the Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool/The Irish News poll suggests that if the devolved institutions here worked better that two thirds of nationalists would focus less on the constitutional arrangements.  

If you go to Sinn Féin’s website, it claims that its core political objective is a united Ireland. Again, as I have argued, then the strategy of normalising politics here appears to be counterintuitive to achieving its core objective.  

Michelle O’Neill recently stated that she didn’t think people wake up thinking of a united Ireland.  

Yeah Michelle, some do, do so every day, and have done so for most of their lives, long before you and Mary Lou came on the scene, but not many of them appear to be Sinn Féin members. Indeed that can be seen from Sinn Féin’s selection of candidates which appear to have been chosen because they carry no political baggage of trenchant or militant republicanism and can’t be regarded as republican in any shape or form. It would appear that Sinn Féin strategy is designed to steer people away from constitutional change.  

The suggestion that only 30 per cent of the electorate would vote for a united Ireland in the morning is not because people are happy with the current devolved arrangements but because Sinn Féin has not been agitating for a united Ireland.  

The poll suggests that if the parties fail to form an executive after the election that 80 per cent of the electorate doesn’t think that they should be paid. That highlights the dissatisfaction with what passes for ‘normal politics’ here. Will any of these so-called democratic parties take cognizance of the electorate’s wishes? What this demonstrates is that people are fed up to the back teeth with these devolved arrangements.  

The only interests they have served is the British and Free State governments’ and with each passing year of its existence the appetite for constitutional change has diminished.  Sinn Féin must take responsibility for the part that it has played in serving the interests of these governments.

SEÁN O FIACH
Belfast BT11

 

What is a war crime?

A relative of mine ran a convenience store in greater Belfast in the 1970s. One morning a lady called in and asked for a particular brand of cigarettes from a high shelf behind my relative. When he turned to retrieve the cigarettes the lady shot him several times in the back killing him instantly.

In the early 1980s a friend of my family was feeding his chickens at the remote cottage in Co Down where he lived, before taking his son to primary school. His son was having breakfast, the mother was recently deceased. The son spotted his father’s car being driven away by a stranger and ran out to find his father dying from gunshot wounds.

I’m sure there are countless others across these islands who could recount similar memories of such atrocities.

While the British and Irish governments, and amazingly even Sinn Féin, surf the public sentiment about atrocities in Ukraine the public should remind themselves of how such atrocities were dealt with in Northern Ireland – while publicly berated in the Republic, the perpetrators of such crimes were given sanctuary, they were released from prison, given an amnesty, and elected to public office.

More recently the threat of a return to such atrocities was successfully used by senior politicians in order to overturn democracy.

While some European countries have an honourable reputation, in modern times, for adherance to human rights and defence of democracy the British and Irish governments and Sinn Féin have not.

JAMES MARTIN
Dromore, Co Down

 

Shamrockey Sword of Damocles

Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, might believe he’s playing a blinder when championing the cause of justice and being Russia’s nemesis going forward, but a few vital points appear to have slipped his mind. War crimes to be brought against a country will only work if that nation loses – and a world power like Russia is hardly likely to become the whipped dog on the stage of global opinion and judicial revenge.

If Russia is to be found guilty on the charges and scale it is being accused of, then many other warring bullies should join that country in the dock.

Winston Churchill said, after the Second World War, that if the allies had lost it would be their side facing charges at Nuremberg or elsewhere. That is the nature of so-called victory. Is Mr Coveney drawing up his own plans to become a world leader or is he just throwing silly shapes in the face of pesky neutrality by appearing frequently in his Iron Man costume?

He may not know yet the true state of play, but firstly could some simple reality be brought to bear on our little government, so that it might learn to look to our own needs in context, before attempting to take over the world, wielding its shamrockey Sword of Damocles?

ROBERT SULLIVAN
Bantry, Co Cork

 

Need for proper investigative reporting

I must challenge the news report relating to events in Palestine published last Saturday. The report, which dealt mainly with clashes between armed Israeli forces and unarmed Palestinian civilians at the site of the Al Aqsa mosque, also referred to tensions having “soared in recent weeks after a series of attacks that killed 14 people inside Israel”.

No mention at all was made regarding the fact that, during the same time period, Israeli forces have shot dead no less than 17 Palestinians and wounded many more.

Also shot dead in the past week was a Palestinian human rights lawyer,  Muhammad Hassan Muhammad Assaf (34). He has shot dead by Israeli troops in Nablus within minutes of leaving his two nephews to school.

The Irish News should fact-check stories it receives from external media sources. Our own past experiences in Ireland demonstrate the need for proper investigative reporting of events, particularly those involving state actors whether at home or abroad.

BREANDÁN MAC CIONNAITH
Port an Dúnáin

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