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Letters: Catholics subject to religious insults for decades

In an attempt to distance himself from his initial robust defence of the remarks of Pastor James McConnell, First Minister Peter Robinson said he believed Pastor McConnell had the right to freedom of speech, but that he "would never seek to cause any insult to any section of our community". Really?

May I remind Mr Robinson that the Catholic faith and faithful have been mocked and insulted by many in the unionist/Protestant community over decades and it continues to be tolerated.

Papal flags and Catholic religious statues are now being set alight atop Orange bonfires. Orange bands play sectarian tunes as they pass Catholic churches.

Catholic children at Holy Cross school were victims of the worst excesses of loyalist degeneracy and some Orange Order bandsmen have even taken to urinating against Catholic churches.

In 2005, at the annual blessing-of-the-graves ceremony at Carnmoney graveyard in Newtownabbey, loyalist worthies from the Rathcoole estate threatened to dig up Catholic graves in retaliation for the PSNI rerouting the Orange Order's Whiterock parade. The nationalist enclave of the Short Strand is under constant loyalist siege.

The news that Anna Lo, the Alliance Party MLA, who has lived here for 40 years and has recently been subjected to racist abuse, is considering leaving over sectarian abuse is an appalling indictment of the north's sectarianism.

TOM COOPER

Dublin

Muslims deserve apologies from pastor and FM

I have been saddened and distressed by the recent comments by Pastor James McConnell and the First Minister Peter Robinson.

I have always assumed both men are followers of Jesus Christ, whose basic tenets include the statement: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

It's regrettable the pastor thinks he need not apologise to the Muslims who've made their home here, despite a spate of attacks on a number of other nationalities who've also come to live here.

The First Minister has made a qualified apology for the remarks he made in support of the pastor, but, like others, I feel that a clearer apology from his position as First Minister of all the people of Northern Ireland should be made.

EILEEN BELL CBE

Former Speaker of the NI Assembly

Government wrong to force elderly online

I object to the Government's stealth approach in forcing all citizens to communicate online with government departments, such as those dealing with tax and pensions. This is a de facto disenfranchisement.

The claims of cost savings are spurious. The Government is also complicit in allowing banks and utilities to force their customers to go online. The web has been deeply infiltrated by the criminal fraternity out to scam the unwary. Exposing the older generation to this is reckless.

GAVIN O'BRIEN

By email

Natives' actions are nothing new

May I express the incredulity most will feel on the mainland at Alliance's Anna Lo claiming she will not stand for re-election due to racial abuse and is considering leaving NI (News, May 30).

Ms Lo has witnessed three decades-worth of the natives from both sides of the mythical "divide" merrily indulging in their favourite sport of recreational bigotry, yet only now is she finding their behaviour "unacceptable"?

MARK BOYLE

Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Put bosses' pay into perspective

One point missed in the coverage of charity CEOs' pay was the fact that all of us are free to donate, or otherwise, to charities. However, that is not the case with the BBC licence fee. We have to pay it, or go to prison.

Yet the head of BBC NI is paid more than any of the CEOs of the listed charities, at over £150,000 per year. His workload is a quarter of that of the head of Praxis.

LICENCE FEE PAYER

Lisburn, Co Antrim

A case of blind fundamentalism

"Abu" McConnell's Paisley-like tirade against Islam is a case of a blind and ignorant fundamentalist in "Christian" format attacking a whole religion for the actions of blind and ignorant fundamentalists in "Islamic" format.

McConnell's religion and that of many in Northern Ireland is not Christianity. It is Scripturanity. They are present-day Pharisees.

Did Robinson, or McConnell, give any prior thought to the possible, and probable, reaction of "Islamic" fundamentalists towards Christians?

DENNIS GOLDEN

Strabane, Co Tyrone

Mac's 'elitism' an unfair claim

We are writing in response to Martin Lynch's comments on the Mac in Belfast as being "elitist".

Chatterbox Productions would not be engaged in its latest project without the Mac. As Hatch artists 2014, the project is a collaboration with Belfast-based writer Seamus Collins and has been supported every step of the way by the Mac. They provide a warm atmosphere to artists based on their work and not religion or class.

EILISE McNICHOLAS

Artistic director, Chatterbox Productions

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