All children should get a St Patrick's Day holiday
Another St Patrick's Day has come and gone, with festivities, music, dance, dressing up, parades, religious services and general fun had by all. Except, it wasn't had by all.
Everyone who might have been, or wanted to be, was not there. Most Protestant children were, once again, left out by being confined to their school classrooms, where work went on as usual.
So, yet again, our children are divided and even denied a fun day on the basis of parental religious affiliation and what school we went to. Brilliant. Try explaining that to a child in P2.
Some would argue that it is up to individual schools and their governing bodies to decide which holidays are taken in any given year.
They may be correct, but if things are left this way, then nothing will likely change and we will still have St Patrick's Day exclusion of Protestant children continuing for the foreseeable future.
I think that the time is long overdue for the Department of Education to issue a directive that, in the interests of inclusiveness, equality, fun and bringing our children together for at least one day, or event a year, everyone should be given the day off.
I can't see too many state school staff, or children, objecting.
Many Protestant children already take the day off, anyway, and when I was teaching I would have liked the opportunity, or choice, to join in, too. Well, John O'Dowd?
T J McCLEAN
Patron saint of England has a hazy history...
St Patrick's Day is celebrated by Irish people all over the world and the annual cry goes up: "Why don't we English celebrate St George's Day like that?"
St Patrick was a real, identifiable person, who made a distinct contribution to the lives of the people of Ireland.
St George is a lot more hazy. It is difficult to distinguish fact from fantasy. He had no connection whatsoever with this part of the world and he seems to have been chosen as patron saint of England simply because his emblem made a pretty design to decorate the armour of English soldiers.
West Wittering, West Sussex
Amnesty views disregard the plight of Israel
I was not really surprised by the contribution from Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK (Write Back, March 19). After all, it is de rigueur in progressive circles to blame Israel for almost anything.
That its troops should "interfere" with attempts by Palestinian youths to murder its citizens is an obvious, serious breach of their human rights and a clear breach of international law, as they would define it. Since there is no Palestinian army, these hoodlums must be "innocent" civilians.
That they do not carry firearms and only use rocks as missiles to throw at cars to cause them to crash, with frequently fatal consequences, must make them peaceful protestors.
Also, its "illegal apartheid wall" forces them to resort to these "minor irritant" forms of resistance as a way of expressing their "frustration" by preventing them from carrying out much more effective ones, like car bombings, as is the general custom in the Middle East.
MARTIN D STERN
Salford, Greater Manchester
Russian leader's winning formula
Putin gauged the weakness of the political establishment in the West almost flawlessly.
He considered that talk and discussion had reached epidemic proportions in Western democracies and the stomach for any kind of military support for their political and commercial colonialism was absent. He knew they would consider that such support would be bad for investment.
He then proceeded to give leaders in the West a masterclass in how to annexe a strategic interest without firing a shot.
Cranfield beach a dirty disgrace
My wife and I had occasion to visit Cranfield beach on Carlingford Lough last weekend. Well, all I can say is -- what a disgrace.
It's the dirtiest beach I've ever seen. There's litter everywhere, which included tins of every description, various plastic items, old disused piping, barbed wire, dog poo and, at one point, a soiled baby's nappy. Is Cranfield beach supposed to be a Blue Flag beach?
I know, with the recent storms, various items have been washed up, but surely Newry and Mourne council has a responsibility for the upkeep of this wonderful beach? Indeed, surely there's a health and safety issue here.
PM's attitude to Crimea baffling
We are all horrified by the appalling behaviour of the Russians; they have invaded land that is not legally theirs. We have gone to the UN to prove our case.
But all the people who have looked at Crimea know the wishes and preferences of the majority of those who live there. However, we in the West are now about to impose sanctions to try to reverse their aggression.
But hang on, did not our PM, denounce sanctions against Israel being called for on behalf of a people whose land is being invaded and constantly stolen by that country..?