So much still not known about what really went on during Troubles

State papers which reveal republican leader Gerry Adams’ comments about the Canary Wharf bombing on February 9 1996 killing two and injuring 100, are chilling. Because Mr Adams was a ‘republican’ and had a ‘moral dilemma’, he felt he would not have told authorities about the impending blast, had he known.

Over time, more and more will surely come out about the conflict history of Northern Ireland with items and statements which perhaps should have been known then, as much as now. Whether revelations in state papers after such a very long time is a good thing or bad thing is something which will be hotly debated, but they continue to rewrite history and give us insight and some clarity, if not balance, into how we view the Troubles and attitudes behind the scenes at the time. Despite everything which has been written about the Troubles, so much is not known about what really went on because of potential libel and political sensitivity. We may in fact only have a tenth of the full picture or even less than that because of legal and political factors weighing in on what can and cannot be published or broadcast. Naturally, victims of the Troubles will always keenly watch and wait for state archives to give up their ghosts so they may come to terms better with their loss and who to blame. But if they want to point the finger at the top guys in republicanism for the loss of the relatives, they will have a very long wait indeed to get any closure.   


Shanbally, Co Cork

Help NSPCC be there for all children

As we begin a new year, many people will be reflecting and looking ahead to what the coming weeks and months will bring.

Often new year’s resolutions focus on healthy living, learning a new skill, supporting a cause, or giving up a bad habit.

This year, NSPCC Northern Ireland is appealing for people to resolve to donate some of their time to one of the charity’s many services for children and young people.

At NSPCC, we are lucky to have a dedicated group of volunteers who give their time week-in week-out to help children and families when they need us the most.

However, to help ensure that we are here for all children all year round, we need more people of all ages, and from all walks of life, to become volunteers and help us be there for young people.

Our two Childline bases in Belfast and Foyle have a team of amazing volunteers who talk to children about a range of issues including mental health, abuse and neglect, family relationships, loneliness grief, and sexuality.

Childline bases across the UK held more than 200,000 Childline counselling sessions with children and young people last year and need more volunteers to enable them to continue being there for children.

Could you be that person?

Our Young Witness Service (YWS) in Northern Ireland is the only one of its kind in the UK. YWS volunteers assist children and young people under 18 years old who have to attend court as prosecution witnesses.

Could you help children feel empowered to know who they can speak out to if they are worried?

If you aren’t able to commit to a weekly or monthly volunteer role, why not consider joining as a fundraising and events volunteer, or you could even support NSPCC Northern Ireland with your own fundraising event throughout the year.

No matter how much time you have to give, NSPCC has a volunteering role for you. It can be a great way to give back to the community and also learn new skills.

Get more information at: www.nspcc.org.uk/volunteer


NSPCC Northern Ireland

Republic is neutral in name only

We are at the stage where declaring Eire as being a neutral country is meaningless.

Whether it’s allowing US military war planes and personnel to land at our airports on their way to slaughter middle-eastern people or sending our own troops to instruct warring armies in foreign places with the expertise to better carry out duties,we are ‘neutral’ in name only.

Going by the trusted consistent national polls regarding our neutrality in its true sense, there are numerous calls for our vital stance to be made law.

This will only happen and be acted upon by way of deeds and genuine aspirations by the citizens, on being given the right of referendum to enshrine the nobility of real neutrality being written into our Constitution.

Our political leadership is shamefully in passive tandem with Nato/EU/US military alliances wherever their tentacles spread. There is nothing courageous, constructive or even sensible about senior Irish politicians telling the Irish people who are the enemies of this state, because nuclear-weapons laden western powers tell us this is how we must be. This has to change. Now that Leo Varadkar in back in ‘control’ could he be the man to give us this pressing referendum?


Bantry, Co Cork

Use of term ‘Scotch-Irish’ doesn’t carry health warning

I read the article – ‘It’s OK to use the word ‘Scotch’ and why you don’t want to get it wrong’ (January 4) – six times with some bemusement.

Even in Edinburgh, one can buy a Scotch egg. On the other hand, naturally, being the home of whisky (if not whiskey), we don’t ask for ‘Scotch’, as drinking any sort of hooch but our own is one of the few remaining crimes punishable by death. We ask for the brand by name, or just ‘whisky’. Scotch pies are a noted and beloved antidote to life here, as their much-venerated ability to clog arteries has been part of our national narrative along with sword-dancing and head-banging English tourists for centuries. Otherwise, almost all use of the word ‘Scotch’ in a Scottish context is normally regarded as an excellent way of abbreviating one’s life rather abruptly.

Even so, use of the term Scotch-Irish, which was not mentioned, doesn’t seem to carry any special health warnings any more than Scotch tape does. Nevertheless, I must scotch the statement in your article that there is (apparently) a tree called a ‘Scotch pine’. Is there, really? I have never heard of it, but there again, maybe you have them in Ireland. Over here, we have Scots pines.