Community will not meekly lie down over housing plans

According to a report in the Irish News (February 13) a spokesman for the Department for Communities (DFC) when asked to comment on their plans to provide social housing in the Carrick Hill area replied: “Assessment on suitability of any proposed scheme will include how it meets the demands of the current social housing waiting list.” He goes on to say: “Any proposed development will include social housing, including units suitable for families.” By ‘social housing’ I take it that means proper houses with gardens. But what does he mean by “including units suitable for families”? The spokesman is using that word ‘units’ when he really means ‘flats’. The thing is that flats are definitely not suitable for families, otherwise why has the Housing Executive announced plans to demolish all of their high rise flats and replace them with traditional family homes? Local housing activists Frank Dempsey, from the Carrick Hill Residents Association, and Gerard Brophy, from the St Joseph’s Housing Committee, have been campaigning for years for social housing to be built at Carrick Hill. Some sites that had been originally ear-marked for new houses were later given over for Ulster University student accommodation. There are now three sites in the area that had actual planning permission for new homes. That particular project was abandoned last year and it is those sites that are the cause of contention now. The powers that be are planning to build mostly blocks of high rise flats with a few houses thrown in. Who would believe that after all these years, there are plans to resurrect Unity Flats?

If they think the Carrick Hill community are going to meekly lie down, roll over and let that happen they should think again. Carrick Hill housing activists and their supporters still have plenty in the tank and will be up for the fight.


Belfast BT15

Glorification of terrorism

I find it very hypocritical of the DUP’s Carla Lockhart to criticise Sinn Féin for attending a funeral and describing it as a “glorification of terrorism” while her party engages with the so-called Loyalist Community Council and all its paramilitary elements. Somehow Carla seemed not to notice the recent glorification of the late Billy Wright in her constituency or the bands that march to glorify dead paramilitary ‘heroes’. She gets exercised about “Ooh ah, up the Ra” but not about “We are up to our necks in Fenian blood” or the recent march in Dunmurry by Orangemen to commemorate a UDA murderer. Carla goes even further to criticise Michelle O’Neill for stating there was no alternative to violence during the Troubles. Why did unionists not take that alternative then, when we consider that the founder of her party was the first one to bring violence onto the streets in his counter protests to Civil Rights marches and the attack at Burntollet by Major Bunting and others?

Why did the RUC B-Specials burn down Bombay Street and other places if there was an alternative? There was no IRA or armed insurgency then. We should remember the first RUC man killed was by loyalists and the first British soldier, Trooper McCabe, was shot by the RUC.


Belfast BT11

Border poll is all a matter of opinion

PÁDRAIG Donohoe’s – ‘Sinn Féin should stop its milquetoast calls for a border poll’ (March 9) – sees calls by Sinn Féin for a border poll as “weak”. It’s a matter of opinion I guess.

However, the thrust of his letter appears to centre around what he calls “the principle of consent” which he describes as “diametrical to Irish republicanism”. In effect, what this means is that consent is not required to fit with Mr Donohoe’s version of republicanism. One wonders then why he is banging on about a border poll.

The rationale Mr Donohoe expresses points to a rejection not only of the consent principle but also a rejection of all efforts to improve and protect the welfare of citizens. Indeed, it would appear that such efforts are perceived as an obstruction to the “Irish republic” he envisages.

I believe what is seen is a reductionist analysis of real life matters distilled into a single binary question. It reveals a complete mistrust of people’s ability to think for themselves. And this is a great, great, mistake, for at the end of the day there has to be a dynamic relationship between people, parties and politics – a symbiosis which energies and empowers all. When that does not exist or breaks down then something more sinister emerges.


Derry City

Respect for the law

Regardless of the clamour that Enoch Burke and his family are creating in Dublin court rooms, it is time they accepted that free institutions will only survive if there is a rule of law. This is an absolute on which there can be no compromise. The Burkes, who have been protesting in the courts and on the streets in response to a legal outcome that does not please them, must realise that once the law is humbled all else that is valuable in our society will disappear. The subjection of everyone and everything to the final arbitration of the law is more important than democracy itself. Something Enoch Burke and his family would do well to remember.


Derry City

Strange old world

The US president, Joe Biden, has gone back as far as his great, great, grandparents to claim his Irish ancestry like many of his predecessors have done before. Yet in this country there are many whose ancestors tilled this very soil up to 400 hundred years ago who refuse to be called Irish. It’s a strange old world.


Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim