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Letters: Alliance voluntary coalition idea a non-starter

The Alliance Party, with less than half the vote of the SDLP and twice the number of ministers in the Executive, has plenty to say about Stormont and how it would be a wonderful place with a voluntary coalition (News, July 10).

This is an amazing stance for a party that is so committed to partnership, cohesion and integration. It also suggests that David Ford should read the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) again. Stormont is a working model of a political arrangement which has got us out of a mess, when too many people were pledged to killing and bombing as a means of political change.

That being a fact does not mean we are anywhere near a situation where voluntary coalition – in any form – would provide the level of stability needed. It would inevitably mean exclusion. Sadly, the two biggest political parties now in control at Stormont either don't understand the principles and aims of the GFA, or deliberately work them for their own political advantage.

Had the challenges facing us over the last 16 years been met, the peace walls would, hopefully, be down by now and the endless rows over flags and bonfires certainly wouldn't be flourishing.

Anyone who thinks that the North is ready for voluntary coalition is not in the real world. That is particularly the view of many of us who have lived through a past when unionist domination, and downright injustice, brought us to the point of no return.

JOHN DALLAT (SDLP)

MLA for East Londonderry

Falls Park is area's jewel in the crown

I read with dismay your headline, 'Thugs taking over our parks' (News, July 5).

I have lived beside the Falls Park for almost 40 years and don't recognise the description of our park as a "no-go area". Falls Park is enjoyed by a wide cross-section of the community.

I was walking in the park yesterday and there were 60 people running, kids playing and people walking dogs. Football tournaments are played in the park every week. Falls Park is the jewel in the crown of this area.

Of course, there are incidents of drinking and kids messing about, but this very small minority shouldn't be allowed to tarnish the reputation of the whole park.

FRANCES MAGUIRE

Belfast

It's tolerance for all - except for Christians

There are none so intolerant as those who shout loudest about toleration.

The person who claims to have been discriminated against in the Ashers Bakery case received a full refund. He had opportunity to take his business elsewhere.

Yet they chose to persecute a Christian company because it refused to produce a product which conflicted with its beliefs.

Ashers has made it clear that it has declined orders which contained pornographic images and offensive language.

Could it be that the person who placed this order specifically targeted Ashers because of the religious convictions of the owners?

It seems there is tolerance for all – except those with Christian beliefs.

CLLR DAVID ARTHURS (TUV)

Newtownabbey Borough Council

Snoopers' charter is not the answer

The Government claims universal snooping will protect us from big, bad terrorists, rioting hoodies and Rolf Harrises.

But the snag is that it produces false positives. Snooping on millions means thousands will be wrongly identified as terrorists; investigating innocent thousands will drain resources and allow real terrorists to avoid detection.

Arresting the innocent will turn more people against the UK and will be a recruiting agent for terrorism.

We must oppose this draconian, counterproductive law.

BARRY TIGHE

By email

Do cake bakers have any rights?

Not content with being a laughing-stock over flags, we have now made world headlines because the hissy-fit brigade have exercised their right to be offended because someone has refused to bake them a cake. Well, boo, hoo. Get over it and get a life.

Someone from a pressure/support group was interviewed on the BBC World Service and was of the opinion that the baker had treated the person wanting the cake as a "second-class customer" (or words to that effect).

Even more shocking is the fact that the Equality Commission – an unelected quango, who obviously have nothing better to do – have threatened (and it can't be taken as anything else) to bring this nonsense to court.

Is it their way or no way? Is no one allowed to have any belief or express an opinion that doesn't comply with their dogma? What about the bakers' rights?

DEREK HALLIGAN

Belfast

Charity street collections

ACTION MS: Randalstown (May 2) £396.75; Antrim (June 6) £596.94.

I MARTIN

CHILDREN'S MAGIC WAND TRUST: Ballycastle (June 5) £126.58; Ballymoney (June 5) £208.91; Magherafelt (June 14) £307.14; Holywood (June 14) £209.33; Limavady (June 27) £311.49; Bangor/Holywood (June 28) £561.33.

J NIXON

MISSION TO SEAFARERS BELFAST: Portrush (May 10) £358.63.

D SALTERS

Belfast Telegraph

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