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What changed Martin McGuinness from hawk to dove?

Martin McGuinness's admitted epiphany during the Troubles (News, June 2) – revealing how he arrived at the conclusion that the IRA could not defeat the British after reading academic papers stating that they could not defeat the IRA – reveals a sense of naivety in the former IRA leader.

That naivety contrasts strongly with the hard-heartedness of the leadership of the IRA and is undoubtedly a rewriting of history and an attempt to explain why Sinn Fein is so popular now.

Part of the reason for their popularity must derive from a variation of Stockholm Syndrome, where the countless victims in the Catholic community, living in fear of IRA attack, actually came to love these vicious rogues.

In May 1985, after an election, Martin McGuinness said that: "We don't believe that winning elections will win freedom in Ireland. At the end of the day, it will be the cutting edge of the IRA which will bring freedom."

He was "the hawk of all hawks", according to commentator Eamonn Mallie. Speaking in November 1986, McGuinness declared: "Our position is clear and it will never, never, never, never change. The war against British rule must continue until freedom is achieved." It's in the lap of the Gods to know what changed to render Martin McGuinness less of a hawk and more of a dove from November 1986 to spring 1987, when Sinn Fein made contact with John Hume about ending their campaign.

JOHN O'CONNELL

Derry

 

Eastwood must explain decision over Derry jobs

I wait to hear SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood explain how his colleague, Mark H Durkan, elected by the people of Derry, announced he is moving jobs to Coleraine.

It is less than three weeks since Mr Eastwood got very exercised at the fact that Martin McGuinness, who is not elected by the people of Derry, supported the creation of an enterprise zone in Coleraine.

Mr Eastwood now needs to raise the same questions as to why the SDLP is moving jobs when Derry, his words, “has the greater economic need”. His answer will let people determine whether his outburst against Mr McGuinness was genuine concern for the people of Derry, or a cheap attempt by the SDLP to influence voters on the eve of an election.

DALE MOORE

Derry

 

All sectarianism and racism must be condemned

Much has been reported on the utterances of a Belfast pastor and his attitude towards Muslims.

Perhaps it is appropriate to recall the chilling words of the German pastor Martin Niemoller, who spent seven years in a concentration camp for his outspoken public opposition to Adolf Hitler.

He wrote: “First, they came for the socialists and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

These words are a reminder that, wherever there is any sign of xenophobic utterances, people cannot remain silent but must come out and make their position very clear. Any response which appears to endorse racism, or sectarianism, towards any group of people is totally unacceptable — particularly when that person is in a position of responsibility.

JOHN DALLAT (SDLP)

MLA for East Londonderry

 

Cigarette packs poll misleading

You report that a tobacco industry-commissioned poll of police officers found that a majority thought that plain tobacco packs would lead to an increase in illicit trade (News, June 3).

However, the poll is undermined by the image shown of a plain white pack. Standardised tobacco packaging will continue to carry health warnings, security markings and the brand name.

In his review, Sir Cyril Chantler concluded that “there is no evidence that standardised packaging is easier to counterfeit”.

The tobacco industry and the media should stop misleading people about tobacco packaging: standardised does not mean plain white.

AMANDA SANDFORD

Action on Smoking and Health

 

Another blow for strained A&E staff

So the understaffed, overstretched, target-hit emergency departments are to be scrutinised for human rights violations (News, June 3).

Can I suggest that, as a consequence, it will be even harder than it is currently to recruit any staff to these departments?

Part of the reason for the closure of emergency departments is that there is already a shortage of appropriately qualified medical staff and this is likely to further exacerbate the current situation.

It could be the final straw for some existing staff, who are already struggling to provide a quality service.

BARBARA REID

Belfast

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