Letters: Sad to see elected unionist leaders running to a blogger for instructions
At the end of the Troubles the British and the IRA each faced a harsh reality – they couldn’t win. The British had to learn that Paddy was no longer going to be brow-beaten into submission and the Provos had to learn that John Bull would go on sending working-class lads to die here for as long as it took. The sign of maturity is an ability to deal with reality.
All of life is about change, how we adapt to new realities such as marriage, children, getting old.
Sinn Féin have become masters at adapting to the political reality around them, morphing constantly to reflect what society seems to be saying.
Even the British have learned that Ireland, north and south, is no longer a colony to be pillaged but a country in an ever-changing world. They still find it hard to treat Ireland as an equal but they are getting there – a poor country like Britain can’t argue with its wealthier neighbour.
Northern Ireland unionism is now more than 100 years old. It is becoming weary and decrepit, doddering about with a walking stick, being propped up by a blogger on a radio show.
Unionism has never adapted to the reality that Northern Ireland has changed, that nationalists are quite content with this place as it is now, that change is slow but constant, and that history alone will show into what Northern Ireland will evolve.
With the rise of China and India as world leaders, the west might have more important things to worry about than a sparsely populated corner of an island on the edge of the Atlantic.
Unionism has never accepted the new Northern Ireland. It seems to gall them that nationalists are content. It has no vision, no dream, no new ideas.
There is no new generation of leaders with vision to give it life; it is so sad to see their elected leaders running to a blogger for instructions.
Portglenone, Co Antrim
Belfast should have a proper monument to Henry Joy McCracken
A number of weeks ago my wife and I paid a visit to Belfast city centre. It was a nice bright morning and the sun was shining as we made our way to St George’s Market.
From CastleCourt, we crossed Royal Avenue, cutting down into Rosemary Street, then into Lombard Street, where we came upon a statue of Frederick Douglass, an American abolitionist and anti-slavery activist, indeed an impressive piece of art.
Never hearing of this individual before, I took a picture with my phone, hoping to read about this person when I got home.
Further along the street, just outside the main entrance of Dunnes Stores, at the corner of Cornmarket, we came upon an impromptu remembrance. A simple little memorial, a printed picture on an A4 sheet of paper with the numbers of 1798 scrolled across the image in thick black ink, while below was a small bouquet of flowers, both attached to the lamppost by way of Sellotape.
The memorial was to the memory of Henry Joy McCracken, hanged, until death, at that very spot for his struggles to emancipate the Irish people. A voice of approval is rightly offered to the person who had the insight to erect this little offering in memory of a great libertarian and United Irishman.
I believe it is time that we, the public of this city, had a proper memorial to this illustrious son of Belfast.
Government has a responsibility to produce Lough Neagh remedy
While often a critic of Stephen Nolan, I do believe in recognising honour when it is due.
Last Friday’s snap show on the plight of Lough Neagh was an excellent portrayal of what good radio journalism can do. Hopefully the words of Dr Les Gornall will have sounded a clarion call to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs of the need to do more than just consider the condition they have allowed the lough to fall into.
Les Gornall years ago warned of such consequences. He was ignored by all except the monks at Bethlehem Abbey, Portglenone, who placed great faith in his pioneering anaerobic digester project.
I spent a couple of days living with them to see at first hand how it worked. Had the mandarins of Dundonald House the wit then to take aboard what he was doing, things might have been different today. Had they had the faith of those fine monks, Lough Neagh might now be one of the cleanest waterways in Europe. Instead it is the subject of a Doomsday scenario.
Those in authority can only talk about steering committees and further discussion on the matter. Everyone in government has a responsibility to contribute towards producing a remedy. But will they?
Michael J Drake
Downpatrick, Co Down
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