Letters to the Editor

Sir Jeffrey and his wee huff are the biggest danger to the Union

Maybe now would be a good time for unionist voters to to stop and ask themselves, ‘Are we doing the right thing in fighting the Protocol?’ The UK is politically a mess, a country with no real leader and no idea of where it is going. It is obvious that Northern Ireland is best placed to take advantage of the new economic reality. Nationalists now have equality in Northern Ireland.

The rise in the Alliance vote shows that many nationalists are quite satisfied with the status quo. Any disorder for several years past has come from those who used to berate nationalists for not being good citizens. When the Little Englanders voted to commit economic suicide, the DUP encouraged them to do so. Now, in a fit of pique at not getting their own way, they want Westminster to break international law, make Britain an economic pariah and set the Northern Ireland economy back years when a good deal is on the table, waiting for us to take advantage of it.

All the economic organisations in Northern Ireland say that the protocol is a trading advantage to the north. Farmers know that breaking the protocol will crucify them; engineering companies dread the paperwork etc. which will come if the protocol is dumped.

At the moment, Jeffrey thinks he is winning: it looks like Westminster is jumping to his orders. But Jeffrey is reading the cards wrong; Boris is damaged beyond repair, he is playing to the right-wing ERG in order to try to keep himself in power, and he will turn on the DUP at the first instant it suits him.

Over the next few months, before the Tories can get rid of Boris, the UK will continue to behave towards Europe in ever more irrational ways. Scotland will become angrier with England, Europe may well impose sanctions, the US will refuse a trade deal, and economic activity here could well become stagnant.

Instead of welcoming the fact that Northern Ireland has a chance to improve economically, and that nationalists are quite content here, Jeffrey is intent of stirring the pot over nothing.

In the end, and we all know this, Britain and Europe will reach an agreement, and nationalists will continue to grow in wealth and status, and the union will be safe.

At this time the biggest danger to the union is not Sinn Féin or the SNP; it is Jeffrey and his wee huff.

Portglenone, Co Antrim


Muckamore revelations

Nothing was learned from the Winterborne View nursing-care home scandal in England 2011 when one considers the revelations at Muckamore which came to light in 2017. Many pieces of UK legislation are currently on the statute books to protect vulnerable adults such as the Care Act 2014, the Human Rights Act 1998, the Equality Act 2010 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. These are in addition to a common law duty of care which would always apply. However, these laws were ignored and management seemed to be neither here nor there. These laws place a great onus of responsibility on persons who are there to protect vulnerable adults, and a criminal responsibility in the case of breach – but only if followed. How many whistleblowers does it take to get the ball rolling? The best practice is to nip things in the bud as soon as there is any wind of a problem, but it would seem that omertas or secrets can often become established in care institutions. There is also a general reluctance to rock the boat because of careers or being ostracised for raising a red flag. We have also seen such scandals in the Republic and the two main causes were a failure to report and no action taken until things got so bad that complaints could no longer be ignored. This is a disastrous way of doing things. One of the best ways is flash inspection, without warning, and immediate action taken to address any issue no matter how small involving patient care and to investigate all complaints or falling standard thoroughly by independent bodies.   

We all have a stake in seeing that end of life institutions or mental health institutions are of the highest calibre, rather than scandal after scandal with legislation which is ineffective without application.

Shanbally, Co Cork


Never leave your dog in the car

It would be so horrible to know that you are responsible for the premature death of your beloved pet dog. But, tragically, every summer, many dogs die from heatstroke and dehydration when they are left alone in a car on a sunny day. The large amount of glass and small volume inside a car means that the temperature can quickly become much, much hotter than the outside, even if you leave a window open.

Please never leave your dog in your car, even for a short while. And if you see another dog alone in a car, and you think he or she might be in danger, please call 999 immediately. Calling anybody else may take too long, so use the emergency number.

In hot weather, a dog can also suffer from heatstroke when walking, playing or running, or sitting in direct sunshine, so take your dog out early in the day, while it is still cool outside, and take fresh water and a bowl with you. In a heatwave, maybe abandon walks altogether, and make sure your dog always has access to shade, ventilation and fresh water.

Animal Aid, Tonbridge, Kent


Scotland referendum

Brexit was binary; ‘yes’ or ‘no’, there was no compromise. It ‘allowed’ Johnson to then implement, not the will of the people, but the will of Boris.

The world’s first multi-option referendum was in New Zealand in 1894, on licensing laws – an obvious case for compromise. (And the world’s first multi-option vote was in China in 1197, in the Jin Dynasty; the question was war with Mongolia, and again, they found a compromise.)

“Let the people decide,” (to quote the SNP’s paper of May 1992, in favour of a multi-option poll).

Scotland, in or out of Nato?  With the £ or €? With or without the monarchy? In an Anglo-Celtic federation? Task an independent commission to draw up a ballot of, say, five options – as happened in New Zealand in 1992. Next, let the people decide, let the people cast their preferences.  And then let the executive execute – that’s its job.

Director, the de Borda Institute,
Belfast BT14

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Letters to the Editor