Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Letters: Row over flying of flags is engineered by political parties

In recent weeks a deliberate campaign of misinformation concerning the issue of erecting flags in south Belfast has been engineered by certain political parties.

This campaign, while appealing to their own core prejudices, has raised tension needlessly and drawn the PSNI into a political wrangle that is counter-productive and destructive to community relations in south Belfast.

It is time to cut through the political spinning.

It is not a criminal offence to erect a flag on a lamppost and the police will only involve themselves if it is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.

That position represents the policy that has been in place for many years. There has been absolutely no shift in the PSNI approach on dealing with these issues. Politicians running to the media talking up a "new" approach, when one has not been adopted, is errant stupidity.

Either they have misunderstood what the police have told them, or they have deliberately chosen to misrepresent the situation.

They are creating an impression that the police are effectively taking their "side" in an argument about flags. Do they not see the folly of such an approach? Northern Ireland faces many potential difficulties over the next month or so. It would be helpful if people could at least stick to facts when presenting an argument, instead of playing fast and loose with the reality.

ALD CHRISTOPHER STALFORD (DUP)

Belfast City Council

Liberal elite doesn’t defend all minorities

Northern Ireland’s liberal elite clearly doesn't do irony. Yet if they would step back from their own prejudices, they may see that their own intolerance and double standards has only fuelled the deep divisions within our society.

Consider the reaction to intolerance and disrespect shown to ethnic minorities a few weeks ago. Quite rightly there was outrage. Politicians threatened to quit, the airwaves were full of citizens demanding tolerance for all.

Yet, once the apologies came, with the smugness that comes with victory, the liberal elites refilled their wine glasses and complimented each other on a job well done. Ironically, however, when another minority community is harassed, intimidated and ostracised, do we hear howls of indignation? Do we hear anything?

The second community is the diminishing Protestant community on the lower Garvaghy Road in Portadown. No one in the liberal elite would wish to defend them, because, in doing so, they may have to defend tolerance and respect of unionism, as opposed to neutrality and banality.

ULTONIAN

Portadown, Co Armagh

Loyalist culture’s positive factor

Dr Paul Nolan, from Queen's University, Belfast, has stated, in a survey, that unionist-based parades are up in number. Of course they are, when unionist and loyalist culture is being attacked from many sides.

The unionist people are at their best when their backs are to the wall and this is certainly true at the minute, with disastrous and flip-flop decisions by the Parades Commission and the removal of the country’s flag from Belfast City Hall and the protests and parades that followed.

Many of the “new” parades are linked to the commemoration of murdered brethren and sisters — ethnically cleansed by republican terrorists. It is time the media looked at the loyal orders, loyalist bands and associated events in a less biased fashion and started to tell how positive the unionist and loyalist parading culture has been to the development of Northern Ireland.

STEVAN PATTERSON

Castlederg, Co Tyrone

Prayers for abducted teens appreciated

Northern Ireland Friends of Israel are deeply saddened by the news that the three abducted Israeli teenagers were brutally murdered. We would like to thank all the people in Northern Ireland who prayed for the safe return of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, or who otherwise showed their support.

Also the MPs at Westminster who signed a resolution demanding their release. Our thoughts are with the boys' families.

Baruch Dayan Emet — Blessed is the true Judge (the traditional Jewish response to bad news).

STEVEN JAFFE and ANDREW SHAW

Co-chairs, Northern Ireland Friends of Israel

Columnist’s ‘anti-Semitism’

As an American who tries to stay abreast of worldwide news coverage, it is uniquely disturbing to read the inaccurate polemics issuing from Eamonn McCann (DebateNI, June 25). To allow him a platform for his anti-Semitic hatred is beneath the integrity required of a news organisation such as the Belfast Telegraph.

CHRISTOPHER WEAVER

By email

Israel’s enemies shunning peace

The Palestinian people and Israel's neighbours have rejected a two-state solution repeatedly since 1948. Bent on Israel's destruction, in spite of pre-1967 borders and before intifadas, surrounding countries waged wars and shunned opportunities for peace with security.

Does Eamonn McCann not know history? It is a vigilant and sophisticated Israel that is keeping the enemies at bay.

ARTHUR WEINSTEIN MD

By email

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