Only ballot that would make a real difference is at a border poll

The cost of living crisis, fuel poverty, the housing plight and a health service that struggles daily to cope – hardly a recommendation for the political partnership at Stormont. The parties will wash their hands of fault and blame the DUP for these disasters. The DUP certainly own the lion’s share of blame since the election but the frightening situation we find ourselves in predated the assembly vote which places responsibility at the feet of the then coalition administration. They were all at fault.

Excessive Covid lockdowns, the closing of schools and businesses and rubber-stamping decisions made at Westminster made a mockery of devoloution. The parties missed their chance to make a positive local difference. Sinn Féin actually voted for a carbon tax that adds 10 per cent onto bills on top of the heavy taxes that government already takes. Stormont issued illogical edicts that crippled the hospitality sector, traumatised children and was responsible for a glut of undiagnosed illnesses that have now led to a large increase in deaths and undetected conditions. The parties just sat at the back like nodding dogs.

The Stormont partnership are making sympathetic noises about the financial strain that so many are under yet they continue to accept money for a job they are not doing – including a pay rise in February. They made empty promises of help knowing that any aid was in the remit of Westminster which has since been proven to be true. The parties are averse to making difficult decisions that might hurt them politically but could help us all by growing the economy. Aontú is seeking to have fuel and other taxes devolved to the assembly. These powers would permit local control over a vital resource and allow greater oversight of the providers. It could pay for an increase of storage capacity that would help smooth out price jumps in a turbulent market and stabilise prices for the consumer.

Emergency departments are overflowing with minor medical issues because people can’t get a face-to-face consultation with a GP as well as the backlog of patients who were frightened away from hospitals during the lockdowns. Medical staff are at their wit’s end. GPs did not fortify surgeries during flu season so why are they doing so with Covid which has similar outcomes? Doctors must ease restrictions on consultations. The existing NHS systems are too slow and have to be changed to suit the reality of patients waiting years to be treated or even to be granted time with a consultant. Root and branch reorganisation is needed. Sticking to the status quo is no longer an option otherwise the whole hospital sector could collapse. The health service is full of hard-working, dedicated people but it is an inefficient monolith that has to be radically changed.

The old parties have grown stale and cynical at Stormont and in council chambers. They waste our time and money with sham fights. They need to be shocked into remembering who they work for. If you vote for the same people nothing changes. The only ballot that would make any real difference is at a border poll. Until that happens voters might as well choose our representatives according to competency and record. 

While we wait for unity, why not pick people who can make our lives better.


Aontú, Belfast BT11

All war crimes need to be investigated

In an article in The Journal (September 16)Irish minister for foreign affairs Mr Simon Coveney TD states that: “Ireland ‘needs to hold Russia to account’ after discovery of mass graves in Ukrainian city (Izium)”. All war crimes need to be investigated and all war criminals held to account. Mr Coveney said that: “Countries like Ireland need to insist on international law applying and on Russia being held to account.” I fully agree that Ireland needs to insist ‘on international law applying’, but it is vital to add that international laws don’t just apply to Russia but apply and should be enforced on all states and on all individuals who commit very serious breaches of international laws, including the UN Charter, and on those who are complicit in such breaches of international laws. We should know from our own Irish history that war crimes are often committed by all sides in wars, as was demonstrated during our civil war in the 1920s and in the more recent Troubles in Northern Ireland. It is also unwise to rush to judgment on very recent violent conflicts. War crimes need very careful scientific and judicial investigation and should not be used for propaganda purposes.

In addition to the war crimes being committed in the conflict in Ukraine, the international community seems to be applying convenient amnesia to the reality that war crimes were committed by the US and Nato forces and their other allies, and by their opponents, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Serbia, Yemen and Palestine. The Irish government should condemn all war crimes and their perpetrators but should do so in a rational, judicial and balanced manner and should be doing a lot more to promote international peace and justice.  


Castletroy, Co Limerick

Obsessed with religion

The obsession of what a person’s religion is in Northern Ireland continues with the latest census. Have we learned nothing from the Troubles and the murders of 3,600 men, women and children? Does it matter what the religion is of a doctor saving the life of a child, or the religion of someone donating blood, or an employer giving a job, or a person doing a good turn, or a teacher, plumber, painter, cook or whatever? When are we going to stop putting religious labels on men, women and children? It is 2022 and the religion mentality still prevails. God help our children and grandchildren. 


Belfast BT15

Israel still in occupation

Tony Carroll seems to ask cryptically, (September 12) ‘Is  Chris Blud admitting that Jews unjustly took the lands from the Palestinian people’. There is no doubt about it.

Israel occupied that part of Palestine, known internationally as ‘the West Bank’ after its victory in the war of 1967, in violation of the decree contained in the Geneva Convention on the cessation of hostilities, that all land occupied in the carrying out of a war should be vacated within a period of six months – despite a resolution 242 of the United Nations to that affect, in the same year, and others in the intervening years. Israel is still in occupation – 55 years later. We know of course that that situation has been aided and abetted by the United States.

No sanctions of course on Israel. Quite the opposite with the US backing Israel to the tune of billions of dollars in financial and military aid annually.


Bantry, Co Cork