Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Letters: DUP handed Orange Order a veto on Haass

Your report on attempts to bring the Northern political parties back to the negotiating table for a further attempt to settle questions about the past, flags and parades is to be welcomed ('NI parties resume their talks on Haass negotiations', News, May 7).

However, your report on this new initiative – developed by retired US diplomat Dr Richard Haass – claimed the Northern Ireland parties failed to strike an agreement in the last round of talks, on New Year's Eve. Such a view is inconsistent with the facts.

Although the parties did fail to reach a consensus on the final set of proposals from Dr Haass, Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Alliance Party, in spite of some reservations, were prepared to recommend to their respective ruling executives acceptance of the Haass proposals. However, the make-up of the DUP delegation ensured no such agreement was ever a likelihood.

The selection of the Rev Mervyn Gibson of the Orange Order as a DUP delegate was an indication from the outset of the talks that the DUP would not accept any resolution from the Haass process which was unacceptable to the Order. To effectively allow the unelected Orange Order a veto on endgame political discussions on sensitive issues like parades, flags and the past – given the toxic atmosphere of Northern Ireland politics – is anathema to acceptable standards of negotiations between elected politicians on behalf of divided communities.

TOM COOPER

Dublin

Welfare Bill will not end Housing Executive role

I thought it would be helpful to clarify a point in relation to the story on homelessness in the Belfast Telegraph (News, May 6).

It refers to how the Welfare Reform Bill contains proposals to break up the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

This is incorrect. The Welfare Reform Bill has nothing to do with the future structures of the Housing Executive.

As mandated by the Northern Ireland Executive, the social housing reform programme is currently exploring the potential reform of social housing structures, which includes the future delivery of the roles currently provided by the Housing Executive.

However, no decisions have been made to date and, therefore, there are no proposals to break up the Housing Executive.

NELSON McCAUSLAND

Minister for Social Development

Adams surely must know who murdered Jean

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams asserts that he was not involved with the kidnap and murder of Jean McConville in 1972. In his words, that act by the IRA was wrong.

The republican leader, who has not dissociated himself from the IRA, must have knowledge of who was actually responsible for such an atrocious deed.

Why not make the wrongdoers face the consequences for all the suffering the McConville family have been put through for such a long time?

JOHN SHENOY

Carrickfergus, Co Antrim

The Hills should offer a welcome

Is there any chance of Belfast's citizens being able to avert their gaze from its concrete surrounds, lift their eyes unto the Hills and read: 'Welcome to Belfast – Enjoy the craic', rather than a succession of backward-looking slogans placed by a minority who are determined to keep us manacled to the past?

FRED McCULLOUGH

Bangor, Co Down

Keep an eye on US court case

What Earth-shattering knowledge are we going to gain from following the Pistorius trial?

Alternatively, Hedges v Obama is a lawsuit filed on January 13, 2012 against the Obama administration and members of the US Congress, challenging the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2012, which permits the US Government to indefinitely detain people.

Perhaps, as Chris Hedges says: "Once the State seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence..."

LOUIS SHAWCROSS

Hillsborough, Co Down

Not-so-smart share sellers

Surely it is obvious that all these clever people who "knew" that Royal Mail shares were cheap would have known they were cheap before the sale and would, therefore, have kept them for a week or so to watch the shape of the rising or falling curve of market prices before rushing to sell?

That fact of large, immediate sales is evidence that the original purchasers of the shares did not expect to discover that they were so under-priced as now appears.

If they were so smart they would certainly have held on – and done a whole lot better.

KEN MOSS

By email

Thank you for fundraising help

I would like to publicly thank all of those kind people who supported the recent launch and fundraising drive of Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI. This is an exciting time for the charity. Thank you.

BILL POLLOCK

Chair, Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI

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