Letters to the Editor

Aontú calls for a referendum on Irish neutrality

 

Too many generations of Irish men and women have bled their last on foreign soil in the service of kings and countries for whom they were nothing more than convenient cannon fodder. Hard lessons that forged a determined neutrality into the Irish psyche. A policy that occasionally strayed from the letter of the constitution but has been broadly faithful to its spirit. 

Fine Gael and latterly, Fianna Fáil have been eroding Irish neutrality by permitting the use of Irish facilities for political allies, while they have been engaged in war. FG/FF have also been steering public opinion in the direction of making the defence forces available for EU deployment. Their obvious aim is to have the military in the service of a European army, not under the command of an English king but, instead, a bureaucrat in Brussels. Aontú’s Peadar Toíbín stated in Dáil Eireann: “Historically small countries have been rightly sceptical of the intentions of military blocks and it is clear that those such as Ireland would have little or no influence on the decisions made elsewhere. Having young men and women fight in wars over which they would have little control would be a grave mistake.”

The war in Ukraine has polarised people here with the majority backing the Ukrainians. Ireland has done much more than its share to give aid to the Ukrainian people including taking in thousands of migrants that have put a serious strain on services, housing and the hospitality sector. Yet, the government want more, in the form of  weapons sent to Ukraine in spite of the chronic underfunding of the defence forces and the damage it would do to the good will which Ireland enjoys in international relations. They have been publicly highly critical of Russia. Understandable if said from a humanitarian point of view but their words seemed aimed more at pleasing Brussels rather than any concern for those dying on both sides in Ukraine. The result has been over 50 Irish politicians being banned by Russia. They made an enemy of a nuclear power and further diluted Ireland’s standing as a fair broker – for whose benefit? Not ours.
One thing we can be sure of is that no government minister will be spilling their blood for Europe. 

The government does not have the right to end a long standing policy of neutrality by stealth. Put it to the people in a referendum.

GERARD HERDMAN
Aontú, West Belfast

 

Trying to find insult where none exists

You don’t have to be a supporter of war to find the annual Festival of Remembrance a very poignant and reflective affair. Most countries have a similar event commemorating its veterans and those who fought and died. The Royal British Legion now honours and supports its veterans and fallen, without prejudice to their race, colour, sexual orientation or religion and would, I suspect, profoundly disagree with Wallace Thompson’s  insipid and discriminatory ‘Pandering to Wokeism’ letter (November 16). The term “wokeism” was originally used to mean “to be alert to racial prejudice and discrimination”. More recently it is used  by conservatives in a pejorative context to mock liberal thinkers. It is in this latter context that Mr Thompson, whose  evangelical fundamentalism obstructs any recourse to reason, has used the term to criticise the Festival of Remembrance for a perceived erosion of the Christian ethos. He attacks the contribution made at the service by the award winning artist and writer, Jaspreet Kaur, for being devoid of “any Christian content”.
M/s Kaur is noted for her passion for social justice, tackling gender discrimination and mental health stigma, all of which, I would assume, could be neatly placed under the oft quoted Christian tenet of ‘love thy neighbour’.

Tripping over his own exuberance to find insult where none exists Mr Thompson makes the pejorative and erroneous claim that the song Hallelujah lacks Christian sentiment, conveniently ignoring the fact that ‘Hallelujah’  means “to rejoice in praising God”. Its author, Leonard Cohen, was adept at scripture and his song simply taps the human condition described in the Bible in order to provide counsel for the broken heart.

It was, however, Mr Thompson’s vexatious concluding sentiment that was a non-sequitur of appalling proportions: “We fear that Her Majesty’s death has emboldened those whose agenda includes the destruction of our nation’s Christian foundation.”

By placing Her Majesty’s passing in direct apposition with some ill-defined and imaginary plot is a calumny against the two things Her Majesty was devoted to – her ethnically and religiously diverse subjects and her Christian faith.

DANNY TREACY
Templepatrick, Co Antrim

 

Denigrating Sinn Féin

IN his letter – ‘Sinn Féin heartlands’ (November 15) – Sean O Fiach reprises his opinion about the Good Friday Agreement as well as his views as to who has the ‘right’ to call themselves republicans and he has an absolute right to propound these views.

In his most recent offering though he moves from giving his opinions to asserting them, there is a correlation between ‘chilled deprivation’ and the presence of Sinn Féin elected representatives.

One would have thought that Mr O Fiach would have known the history of disorientation and socio-economics relating to poverty, but he decides to ‘side-step’ these. Why he did this is questionable. My only view is that in his determination to denigrate a political party, it serves him to do so.

In that case he has scaled the heights of revisionism, or ought I write, ‘the depths’?

MANUS McDAID
Derry City

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Letters to the Editor