Letters to the Editor

Special measures needed to address ongoing road safety concerns

I read with sadness the news of the recent death on the Portaferry Road. I live within walking distance of the flood gates near where many accidents happen on the road and throughout the years I have seen these accidents happen too many times.

So much so, that I have throughout the years written to my MLAs about it and signed petitions appealing for the Department for Infrastructure to address the safety concerns of the road. Sadly, despite these accidents, no safety improvements to the road are forthcoming. I think for example reducing the speed limit on the stretch of road between the flood gates and Teal Rocks is a safety improvement that could make a difference, along with widening the path for people to walk on.

The path has a lot of people walking along it and is very narrow – quite often if two people are passing each other, one needs to walk on the road itself - a road where cars drive quite quickly. Drivers’ field of vision is also reduced due to the oncoming cars emerging onto a winding, bending road (where sometimes cars do not maintain strict lane discipline due to their speed and the bending of the road). I am aware that the Department for Infrastructure has to ensure all roads in Northern Ireland follow set guidance to ensure standardisation across Northern Ireland (which is usually their reason for not reducing the speed limit at that part of the road) but surely in exceptional circumstances such as along this stretch of the Portaferry Road where many accidents happen, special measures are needed to address the ongoing safety concerns road users and residents have about the road. As I live in the area, any time I leave my house in my car, I have to drive very carefully along this road. I do believe the road is dangerous and the amount of accidents that occur on it reflect that. I would invite the DFI minister to visit this stretch of road where he can see for himself just how fast cars go round the bend and just how narrow the path is for the many people who walk along it. It’s imperative that DFI does everything it can to improve the safety of the Portaferry Road. I accept no road can be absolutely safe and care must be taken at all times but I do believe the Portaferry Road is particularly unsafe and I appeal to DFI to address the safety concerns.

Newtownards, Co Down


Stung by criticism

Contrary to what John Cushnahan believes, it is not me who is stung by criticism but himself. He denies that his switch from the Alliance party to Fine Gael was driven by the greater career opportunities that they offered.

And yet he tells us that he was honoured to accept nomination for a Munster seat in the European Parliament. And this was less than two years after he left Alliance.

He denies that Alliance is a unionist party, yet that party designated as unionist in 2001 in support of David Trimble, the then leader of unionism.

But I do accept that no-one could justify accusing its present leadership and public figures of sectarianism, and I did not make that accusation as he implies.

Nevertheless, they could never be credited either with making any credible political achievements or contributions to the peace process, especially under John Cushnahan’s leadership which he alludes to with such self aggrandisement.

(Support for the Anglo Irish Agreement and Sunningdale does not count as an achievement).

But what political leader would leave the party that he led to join another party with stated opposing core objectives on a matter of principle? John Cushnahan makes most of his alleged engagement with progressive political forces during his time with the Alliance Party (and he includes the British government among them).

Yet Fine Gael, the party that he defected to, is the party of Eoin O Duffy’s Irish fascist blueshirts, who fought for Franco’s forces in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and gave the fascist salute during rallies throughout Ireland in the 1930s. And they also expressed undisguised admiration for Mussolini at that time.

But in recent times the Fine Gael party more than any other in the 26 counties is noted more for its total lack of interest and disengagement with events in the north. So why would John join that party after his alleged commitment to achieving peace as leader of the Alliance Party?

Belfast BT11


Scottish independence

The team at The Irish News should hang their collective head in shame. Your editorial (June 30) observed of the Scottish National Party’s plans to turn the next Westminster election into an independence issue that, “Even if the party does achieve victory, it is not clear how a parliamentary majority will be translated into constitutional change”.


The SNP are clearly looking to the 1918 Westminster election as a precedent.

At that time Ireland – all of it – was in the United Kingdom.

Sinn Féin effectively turned that election into a plebiscite on independence. They won the vast majority of seats, and this set in motion the events that led to formation of the Irish Free State.

Belfast BT9


Forget myths of nationalism and sovereignty

A very enjoyable letters page on Thursday  (June 30) – liberating and inspiring – which brought the following idea into my head. A referendum should be held in the Republic to see how many wish to join Northern Ireland not the other way round.

Why, you may ask ?

Based on the reality that at the moment Asda in Portadown is full of higher end cars from Monaghan, Dublin and Cavan doing their shopping away from the high cost of living in the Republic. Caring mothers are sending prescription medicines to offspring in Eire and we have not had the disruption of the housing market caused by the inflow of foreign firms and high wages for a small elite of Irish people employed by these firms. Forget about myths of nationalism and sovereignty. Count the cost of bread and butter and a roof over your head and the tariff if you are ill or suffer from some chronic health complaint. Life is easier with a warm house, a full stomach.

Portadown, Co Armagh

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Letters to the Editor