Letters: Troubles victims deserving of a special pension
A Troubles' state pension should be given to the victims of Northern Ireland's blood-soaked past, instead of these individuals and groups going around looking for spurious compensation.
A good example of the former was the Omagh massacre that witnessed Michael Gallagher plead for difficult-to-get justice and closure and who criticised the Government's response and said the victims had been largely forgotten. This pension would acknowledge the pain and suffering of those caught up in the Troubles in the hope and expectation that it would, in some way, help them deal with their suffering.
Many innocent bystanders have suffered horrendous injuries and been left maimed for life.
These special pensions could be funded by the British Government entirely, the British and Irish governments, or perhaps with a European contribution from cash-rich Brussels.
As to the scope of who will get the pension, a developing and progressive format should be taken, with simple, straightforward cases first and then the more complicated ones.
An appeals office should also be opened for those who feel that their application for a pension was denied unfairly. Highlighted victims could also be awarded such a pension by discretion of OFMDFM - should the public demand it, or the office decide it meritorious.
If society has to fork out a few extra pounds for these pensions, then that is the price of peace and progress. Let's pay it.
Changed Times for Ireland's newspapers
In the commercial court in Dublin, a judge ruled that the Republic of Ireland was a soccer team, not a country, or a state. The name of the state is Ireland.
The case arose because The Times is launching an Irish edition and The Irish Times, for commercial reasons, does not want there to be any confusion.
As a daily reader of both papers, I'm sometimes confused myself. That said, I'd have been very surprised had The Irish Times carried a photograph showing a future king and two future queens of England giving Nazi salutes, as was done by The Times' stablemate, The Sun.
The Times, in the 1930s, advocated appeasement of Hitler. Less well known is that The Irish Times, in March 1933, editorially welcomed Hitler's accession to power and that its obituary for Lord Carson in 1935 said that he was a man born before his time, otherwise he "might have been a Mussolini, or even a Hitler".
This was written not to bury the noble Lord, but to praise him.
Loyalists guilty of contradiction over flag flying
I am impressed by the anger of loyalists in Carrickfergus following the appearance of Nazi flags in the town and I am sure anyone who has been to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland (or, indeed, to any of the other death camps run by the Nazis) will be full-square behind the Carrickfergus loyalist who stood in front of the cameras to make his views known.
However, while making no comparisons on scale and the extent of the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis, I found it a little odd to see loyalist paramilitary flags fluttering in the background while the condemnations were being made.
Am I to understand that people outraged with flags linked with the atrocities carried out by Nazis have no problem living with flags commemorating people like the Shankill Butchers?
The reality is that we still live in a very confused society and it worries me that the duplicity shown by those in Carrickfergus and replicated in other areas doesn't auger well for the future.
The very fact that some people thought it a good idea to put Nazi flags up in Carrickfergus in the first place tells me that there are still some very dangerous people in our midst who think Nazism was a good idea.
JOHN DALLAT (SDLP)
MLA for East Londonderry
Assembly leaving me in the dark
I and thousands of the electorate want to see this Mickey Mouse Assembly collapse and a return to direct rule; then we might get moving forward.
As far as the state pension and benefits that I have been receiving for the past 17 years, I got an increase every year; now I don't know how I stand due to the pigheadedness of Sinn Fein and the SDLP, who are now off for a two-month holiday courtesy of the income tax from people who do work. Wish them a happy holiday? I don't think so.
Carryduff, Co Down
In search of some modern fairytales
Do today's Irishmen and women still occasionally encounter leprechauns, pookas, banshees or any of the other various Irish fairies' kith and kin? Or has modernity banished the fairy folk to legend and lore?
In the hope of learning if fairies still haunt the countryside, I am attempting to conduct what might be called a Fairy Census throughout the land.
I invite your readers to tell me any first-hand encounters they may have experienced.
I may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by post at 12364 Summit Ridge Drive, Nevada City, California 95959, USA.
Nevada City, California, USA
Pilots need left to do their job
Day after day, our brave pilots are flying over war zones and those people who sit in front of their TVs, tut-tutting, are saying they should not fire weapons.
This country must be the worst in the world for the way it restricts its armed forces. If these men have been trained and have been found capable of carrying weapons, they should be trusted to know when to use them.
Let them their job - without one arm tied behind their back.