When will scales of justice become evenly balanced for Israel?

Families and friends of about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza call for their return as they begin a five-day March for the Hostages from Tel Aviv to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Israel
Families and friends of about 240 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza call for their return as they begin a five-day March for the Hostages from Tel Aviv to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Israel

EVER since I was a child passing the courts in Belfast you could always see the woman with the scales symbolising fairness of justice.

The Bible defends justice and protection (Isaiah 1:17, Micah 6:8), even creating cities of refuge to protect accused until their trials. However, all of that changed on October 7 2023 with the murder of innocent civilians in Israel.

The world united with Israel to condemn the murders for a short time, before the scales of justice became, as always, weighed heavily against Israel and the Jewish people.

When I attended school I was taught history and part of that course covered both world wars, how they came about, the heavy casualties and the failure of the League of Nations to tackle nations and their treatment of peoples, and how the United Nations formed after the Second World War would make sure peoples around the world would be protected and their borders guaranteed.

In 1948 the nation of Israel, newly formed, was attacked on all sides. Nobody came to their aid, just three years after the concentration camps. Even though in her newly formed constitution Israel had invited all within her boundaries to live in peace – Jew, Arab and others. Since then, in repeated wars, calls go out to annihilate, wipe off, eradicate all Jews and Israel. These words used by the Nazis continues to instil terror on the Jewish people and their children.

Despite only seeking to defend its existence, the world has called Israel Nazis, an apartheid regime, murderers etc, yet been deaf and dumb when Israel has suffered constant terrorism in the form of bombings, gun attacks, rocket attacks and now October 7. No matter how many peace accords are signed, humanitarian aid provided and medical assistance given, Hamas and its associates have one objective after every ceasefire: re-arming to wipe out Israel and the Jewish people.

The world’s nations defend themselves going to war, and fortifying their borders. Israel must endure murderous attacks by Hamas hiding in schools, hospitals and homes and not retaliate, otherwise they are found guilty without evidence of attacking civilians and not murderous Hamas and others.

I ask, when will the scales of justice become evenly balanced for


Rev Paul S Burns

King’s Christian Fellowship Church

Belfast BT12

Kate Nicholl pictured at work with her baby daughter Étaín
Kate Nicholl pictured at work with her baby daughter Étaín

Time to recognise the importance of childcare

YOUR recent article outlined the eye-watering costs of childcare in Northern Ireland. It outlined what I hear from constituents every day – many families are paying more on childcare than on their mortgage and households here are suffering from a disparity in childcare support relative to the rest of these islands.

However, replicating the support available in England is not the right approach. The idea of 30 free hours of childcare, a policy championed by the Conservatives, the DUP and others locally, has failed to deliver for families and providers.

Northern Ireland needs a bespoke model, not a copy and paste of a failing system. Alliance believes there is a better way for our families, children and wider society.

Our proposals for reforming childcare centres on an affordable childcare scheme that will deliver better outcomes. Our scheme would operate through government payments directly to registered childcare providers to limit the costs paid by parents, underpin the sustainability of the sector, and increase the quality of care our children receive. Receipt of this subsidy would be tied to conditions around reducing costs for parents, driving up standards in settings, boosting pay, conditions and training and building flexibility into the system.

We published our ‘Children First’ proposals last month and are pleased to see how the public conversation is beginning to shift away from 30 free hours and towards the affordability model, work pioneered by Employers for Childcare, and championed and supported by the sector and the wider business community.

We are seeing other parts of these islands recognising the importance of childcare and making significant investments in it, while we fall further and further behind. Childcare is in crisis, and we need to start thinking long-term. Child-centred, affordable, high-quality childcare is vital for the future and we’ve mapped the way forward.

Kate Nicholl MLA

Alliance, South Belfast

Belfast City Airport
Belfast City Airport

Passenger interrogation a worrying departure

MY wife (who is German) and I pass through Belfast City Airport on a fairly regular basis. This year, we have noticed that every time we arrive at the airport we are subjected to increasingly intrusive and personal questioning. We have observed that other passengers are also being increasingly subjected to prolonged interrogations, slowing down the entire process of passport control considerably and leading to long, slow-moving queues. Some passengers are even being fingerprinted.

Now we notice that even when we are going through departures, we are subjected to a similar detailed and intrusive interrogation by the police/border force. This happened to us recently, after we had passed through the security check. Police seemed to be stopping a large number of passengers on their way to the departures lounge, questioning them in detail and double-checking their passports.

In previous years we were never subjected to this kind of questioning, so this seems to be a new and disturbing development (I should also point out that at Dublin Airport we were never questioned in this way). Is this perhaps part of the Home Secretary’s plans to gradually turn post-Brexit UK not only into a “hostile environment” but ultimately into some kind of police state?

Dermot McElholm

Derry City