Letters to the Editor

Stop pandering to the perpetrators of murder


The latest comments from  Northern Ireland Secretary of State Mr Heaton-Harris on the government’s Troubles Legacy and Reconciliation Bill, that is being steamrolled through against the wishes of the majority of victims and their families, are laughable. 

Mr Heaton-Harris has said that if any perpetrator does not cooperate with the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) or perjures themselves or lies to the commission, then there are penalties commensurate with that. 

I shouldn’t laugh but that really did make me chuckle. Thanks for cheering up my day with that nonsense. 

I am realistic enough now in my 73rd year to know that the likelihood of me seeing anyone stand in a courtroom or sitting in a prison cell for the murder of my brother John in 1988 is remote and I can reluctantly accept that fact of life. 

I am also realistic enough to know that I may not live to see the killer of my brother ever be charged and indeed that person could also die of natural causes before he gets any knock on his door.  

I can live with that as long as hope and democracy is never taken away and that the right thing is done.  

What I will not accept and no decent democratic government should ever accept is that someone can be granted an amnesty for killing another human being no matter what the reason or who carried out that murder. 

I don’t care what uniform that perpetrator wore while carrying out that murder, be it paramilitary or police or army uniform or simply  civilian clothes.   

If evidence can be found that the person wearing that uniform wilfully and deliberately killed someone else then the full force of justice should be used to charge that person.  

And there can be no time limit ever put on when a perpetrator gets away with murder. That knock at their door must live with them until their own dying day.  

Mr Heaton-Harris has stated that he is still thinking about this legacy bill and that it is incumbent on him to get it right. Let me help you Mr Heaton-Harris. Scrap this disgusting amnesty and treat victims and their families with the dignity they deserve and stop pandering to perpetrators who do not deserve to know they can get away with murder.

(Author of They Killed the Ice Cream Man) Belfast


UK special envoy doesn’t speak for ‘all’

Some time ago Irish News columnist Brian Feeney, in his article ‘Ringland appointment a stunt to appease unionists’ (June 2021), correctly pointed out that Trevor Ringland ‘will not be seen as impartial by Irish Americans’. For me this was again illustrated recently on the BBC Sunday Politics show when Mr Ringland, while being interviewed by Mark Carruthers, claimed that “my voice was on behalf of all the people of Northern Ireland”, and he also suggested for others to be “champions on behalf of the people here”.

Mr Ringland travelled to Washington on three occasions during his 18 months as UK Special Envoy to the United States on the north. Did he have an impact? Who did he really speak on behalf of when he was there? What did he champion?

To be honest, Mr Ringland is extremely selective about many issues here and doesn’t speak for me or even ‘all’. As a unionist – which he claims to be – why then does he insist on telling non-unionists that he speaks for them? Speaking for all of the people here is difficult to do at the best of times, even more so when you are narrow in your outlook.

Belfast BT11


Double standards come naturally to Britain

I know it’s unbelievable but the following demonisation of Putin – “Those heroic people are fighting for anyone who might be threatened by Putin’s crazed revanchism and neo-imperialism. They are fighting for the principle that nations should not have their borders changed by force” – was authored by Boris Johnson, still an MP and a former minister in the British government. The same government who in years and centuries past plundered the world, empire building, imposing borders wherever they desired and breaking up countries to suit their imperial colonial desires – as late as 1948, not one but two borders in India, and at the same time imposing a border in Palestine, a carbon copy of the six Irish counties. They occupied by force and terror, all of which are still causing death and devastation – more so Palestine where the British invaded, ethnically cleansed, planted (with strangers) of their chosen religion and partitioned. In short Britain, by force and terror, put a country inside someone else’s country (Israel, 1948). If ever there was a case of the kettle calling the pot black the above rant certainly qualifies. Hypocrisy and double standards come naturally to Boris and Britain.

Banbridge, Co Down


Dangerous time for humanity

In January the president of Switzerland, Alain Berset, ruled out any involvement in sending weapons to Ukraine. He said that Switzerland had a unique quality of neutrality, and that Switzerland’s  role, as reflected in the Geneva Conventions, is so much more important than joining a parade of weapon providers. “Today, it is not time to change the rules against exporting weapons. Neither is it time to change the rules of neutrality. On the contrary, it is time to recall our basic principles, to stay committed to them and find a right path for the country in this situation.” Switzerland, he said, has “a different role from other states”. Ireland should also have a different role from other states. In this most dangerous time for humanity, the Irish people and our Irish government should consider these words very carefully, and follow the example of Switzerland. Those who denigrate Swiss and Irish neutrality ignore the benefits of positive neutrality for the citizens of these two countries and for humanity as a whole. There is no perfect version of neutrality, but war in this 21st century is madness. The Swiss and Irish governments should be actively promoting peace in Ukraine and elsewhere. The alternative may well be that we are moving closer to World War Three and the likely use of nuclear weapons.

Castletroy, Co Limerick


Letters to the Editor