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Football referee should be shown the red card for gaffe that's cost Warrenpoint their league status

It would be so unfair if football referee Ross Dunlop was (as is being suggested) relegated from the Irish Premiership to the Championship - unfair to the Championship, that is.

There should be a ceremonial confiscation of his whistle (never to be returned) after his gaffe on Saturday, when he awarded an unwarranted penalty to Dungannon Swifts against Warrenpoint Town which saw the Co Down club relegated.

It robbed The Point of their Premiership status after their years of hard work and determination, which moved them to the top echelons in the first place.

Dunlop made a similar faux pas a year ago when a double gaffe denied Portadown in the Irish Cup final. He failed to spot an obvious foul on the Ports midfielder Michael Gault when he seemed destined to score and Glentoran’s keeper picked up a pass-back — after which the Glens scored the only goal of the match.

So, this referee has wrecked the hopes of both clubs within a year — more so Warrenpoint, a well-run club, which may never recover. No wonder manager Barry Gray, the players and fans are sick to the stomach.

The trouble is, Gray will probably be hauled over the coals for daring to criticise this official, while Dunlop — as was the case last year — will probably spend a few weeks in the lower reaches and bounce back up.

Warrenpoint won’t have that option.


Portadown, Co Armagh

Bishops’ views reflect those of DUP and TUV

Despite the usual assumptions to the contrary, there is a definite and obvious change in voting patterns discernible among certain elements of the electorate.

The usual assumption that change is impossible was expressed by a visiting journalist years ago, who said of us here in Northern Ireland that we would literally and loyally vote at the hustings, if necessity demanded, for either an orange parrot or a green one.

Though that may be generally true, some political analysts have more recently observed that many potential voters, questioning their historical party/loyalties, are now beginning to scrutinise more closely the policies of both party candidates and independents standing for election — examining, especially, the moral and ethical principles which underpin the candidates’ understanding of what have become three controversial areas in human life; namely birth, marriage and death.

Significant evidence in support of these observations emerged just a few days ago, when Catholic bishops, in a pastoral letter, directed the Catholic electorate to avoid conscientiously candidates who support pro-choice abortion; or who ignore the Pope’s declaration “that there are no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar, or even remotely analogous, to God’s plan for marriage and family”; or candidates who do not acknowledge the “inviolability” of a human being’s existence as a fundamental moral principle, “whatever their state, or stage, of life”.

After much discussion with others who have studied the various electoral manifestos, I have had it pointed out to me that the two parties which actually reflect the directions of the bishops and the teachings of the Catholic Church on these fundamental matters are the DUP and the TUV.

If we can briefly distance ourselves from reflecting on the seriousness of all these matters, we might be momentarily amused enough to consider that those parties are more Catholic than others we might think of and who might resent just such a conclusion. But, at the very least, who would begrudge those unionist parties a wry smile as they witness many traditional nationalist voters enter the polling booths in schizoid agonies.

In all psephological fairness, given these unionist parties’ policies on birth, marriage and death (in contrast to the policies of other parties), they must be consciously savouring this contradictory — and delectably delicious — irony.


Limavady, Co Londonderry

Israel’s not perfect but how many states are?

In all the airtime given to the debate about anti-semitism and anti-zionism, most people who contributed seemed to agree that anti-semitism was wrong, but that it was reasonable to condemn the so-called ‘apartheid’ behaviour of the state of Israel — the only democracy in the Middle East.

These are the facts: when the state of Israel was formed, the Arabs were not expelled. Many chose to stay and nowadays roughly 21% of Israel’s more than eight million citizens are Arabs.

The vast majority of the Israeli Arabs — 81% — are Muslims. Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs currently hold 10 seats in the Knesset.

And Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language.

The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This was to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, many Arabs have volunteered for military duty.

Israel’s existence is under constant threat from its neighbours and its apparently controversial actions must be seen in the light of it acting in defence. This tiny country is surrounded by those who wish to wipe it from the face of the earth.

Of course, some of the acts of the citizens and government of Israel should be condemned. There is no country in the world which can claim that it and its citizens are perfect.


By email

Is current beard trend due to cost of razors?

There are regular investigations and reports into the price of essentials by consumer groups; fresh fruit, milk and energy.

I patiently await the investigation and report on the extortionate cost of razor blades. These essential items — for most of the males — are now so expensive they’re in packets fitted with security tags.

Some packs promise £17 off RRP — and still cost £25. For a razor blade?

Is this, perhaps, the real reason behind the current fashion among males to sport full beards?


Ballyclare, Co Antrim

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