Letters: Electorate deserves something better to vote for
While the peace process has now produced 17 years of ineffective "governance" in Northern Ireland, the opportunity for change has been continually smothered before it has the ability to flourish.
The established parties of Stormont not only lack interest, but also have much reason to oppose the necessary reforms required to produce institutions which can be considered "fit for purpose".
As they embark on a new electoral strategy, otherwise known as the Fresh Start deal, they would have you believe this time to be different. Don't concern yourself with that feeling of deja vu. Whether it be the lack of progress in dealing with the past, or the inadequate commitment from Sinn Fein to lowering corporation tax, this deal is fraught with the flaws of the localised parties. Those very parties that led us into a budgetary crisis which would embarrass even the Labour Party.
The people of Northern Ireland deserve the opportunity to consider a real alternative, not just a different shade of the same sectarianism.
It is time for the Northern Ireland Conservatives to take up the mantle of true Opposition. To date, the party has been effective in publicising its ability to represent the people of Northern Ireland within the governance of the United Kingdom.
However, the local benefits of Conservatism haven't received the level of attention many would have anticipated. This must change. Whether it be in fixing our struggling health system, curtailing lavish over-expenditure of your taxes, or making work pay, we offer a new path for Northern Ireland - a path which rewards, not punishes, the hard-working people of this country. Contrary to popular opinion, people are willing to shift voting patterns based upon policy in Northern Ireland, but they require something to vote for.
Within the run-up to the general election, we must ensure our message is not lost within the sectarian games of Stormont. This is our moment to prove to the Northern Irish electorate that we deserve their vote.
Deputy chair (membership)
Northern Ireland Conservative Future
January wasn’t always month to mark New Year
Most of us look to the New Year as if it was always set in stone on January 1, yet the New Year used to be celebrated in most British dominions on March 25 until the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1752.
The Biblical, or Hebrew, New Year also began in Spring. A vestige of England’s Spring New Year is still with us in the form of the tax year beginning in April. The pagan links to the New Year in the Spring involve the Equinox.
In Church circles, January 1 liturgically marked the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ. The Romans dedicated the day to Janus, from whence we get the word “January”. This year, the Gregorian calendar will be 2016 and the Biblical (Hebrew) calendar, which Jesus observed, will be 5776, dated from Creation.
We have a New Year in January, but that has not always been so. If Yeshua (Jesus) were to return, He’d likely recognise the calendar He used in Nazareth — not the one set in place by Pope Gregory XIII, or the holidays and weekdays named after pagan deities.
Bangor, Co Down
No wonder we’re in a right state
So, the projections by the Fabian and Landman Economics societies state that two million more children will be facing poverty by 2030. Now, that does not surprise me one little bit.
Let us look at our society today. Millionaires and billionaires have been increasing in number, while the workforce is not only under extreme pressure to produce more, but also to do it for less.
Britain’s infrastructure has reached a stage of terminal decline. Years of neglect have taken place, roads potholed so badly it will cost billions to bring them up to a modern standard.
Homes flooded and businesses destroyed — all for the want of intelligent planning and waterway maintenance and professional building. Streets littered from one end to the other, illegal dumping on pristine land on a scale that beggars belief.
Law and order has become a farce, while the criminal’s human/civil rights take precedence over the human rights of the innocent victim. Besides this, we have outdated buildings for so many services that are costing an arm and a leg to keep functioning.
Finally, we have too many misfits governing our lives, who are more interested in lining their pockets.
Is it any wonder we are in the state we’re in?
Kircubbin, Co Down
Scientists right to warn us about extreme weather
From unprecedented flooding in the UK and South America to deadly tornadoes in the US, to record-breaking heat in Australia, the effect of man-made climate change on extreme weather is on display across the globe.
Scientists have long warned that human-caused climate change increases both the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events, which include torrential rain, superstorms and droughts.
On the ground across the world, the effects have been dire. Hundreds have been evacuated in the wake of “biblical” flooding, officials were warned by the Government’s own climate change advisers that they needed to take action to protect the increasing number of homes at high risk of flooding, but rejected the advice.
The flooding showed that the debate about climate change is over. There is no doubt that the world’s climate is now different — heavy flooding has forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes in Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil.
Meanwhile, in the US heavy rains and flash floods have devastated parts of the Midwest and South. On the other side of the globe, Perth in Australia recorded its second-hottest day of the year on Monday, reaching 41.6C.
Climate change response is tragic
As 2016 arrives, it is a strange feeling knowing that we are moving into the climate change era.
In the past, there was always a hope that humanity would finally get on and try to turn things around.
But since the Paris talks, this illusion has evaporated and I realise that our society has simply decided to “let it happen”.
This is bizarre and tragic and makes the Paris agreement seem like King Canute sitting on his throne, jubilantly declaring that he has conquered the tide just as the water laps up around his chest.
This analogy is doubly poignant when we consider the tragic floods we see on our TV screens.