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Letters: Is Government now playing Big Brother with our post?

This morning, I went to the Post Office with a small parcel for my niece in Edinburgh that had been filled and wrapped by my wife.

As you do, I asked the Post Office lady how much it would be. She replied by asking me what was in the parcel. I honestly replied that I didn't know.

(I could have replied by asking politely what business it was of hers and what difference it would have made had I told her.)

She then refused to take my money and post the parcel. As this little conversation took place in front of a queue of people, she was clearly embarrassed. I was also embarrassed for being publicly labelled as some sort of persona non grata, or - worse still - a potential terrorist. As I was leaving, she "explained" that this "asking" was new Government policy.

I know that my experience was only a small thing, but I was irritated and frustrated.

I contacted the Post Office complaints desk and spoke my mind to a nice lady called Donna. I stated that I wanted my frustration and complaint passed higher up.

I also stated I realised that she and the Post Office counter lady were only doing their job and I did not hold any grudge against them.

Here we have a situation where the paying public are forced to either tell lies, or be compliant to some patronising, Government-inspired "answer" to terrorism. What nonsense.

Clearly, some Government "suit" in an office has too much time on his, or her, hands.



Translink ready for next phase of Derry rail project

As reported (News, November 13), Translink attended the committee for regional development last week to give some background to the recent statement by the Minister for Regional Development in relation to Phase 2 of the project to relay the rail line between Coleraine and Londonderry. Phase 2 of the work covers re-signalling the line and building a passing loop.

We made clear Translink's commitment to the Derry line - we want to see it fully relayed and modernised. We successfully completed the first phase on time and on budget and many thousands more people are travelling on it.

We detailed the difference between an estimate in 2010 for the Phase 2 work - £20m - and a recent revised estimate of £40m.

The 2010 estimate was developed using external, independent industry specialists but we outlined the reasons it is no longer realisable, explaining what had changed since.

Inflation was obviously a factor, but also the scope of the work changed, as we have to cater for the additional growth on this line - we need to futureproof the use of six-car trains. This has meant the move of the necessary passing loop to Bellarena (which is a more complex signalling job than the original location at Eglinton) and longer platforms. Necessary safety work was added to the scope of Phase 2. Lastly, Government recommended we add extra contingency into the budget.

The minister has asked we complete a review of this project and we will do this using external, independent resources.

Meantime, the target date to substantially complete this project remains unchanged at end 2016.



Why are there so few integrated schools here?

THE Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) has been claiming that integrated education is failing, as only 7% of children attend integrated schools. Whose fault is that?

The Belfast Agreement made it clear that there was a duty to encourage integrated education; many controlled schools have successfully transformed to integrated status, but no CCMS school has done so.

Poll after poll indicates that a large majority of parents from all backgrounds would like their children to attend integrated schools.

But, each year, large numbers of children are turned away from their first choice of an integrated school because of the shortage of places.

Separate schools sharing the same campus, but with a different ethos, uniforms and classes, will only share traffic chaos and will not lead to children growing up ready to live in a genuinely shared society.



Be happy with our modern world

Paul Donovan (Write Back, November 17) regrets that the "better world" soldiers of the First World War died for has not come to pass. In answer, let me quote from this vivid picture of Edwardian Britain by Andrew Marr (in The Making of Modern Britain):

"Every town had places where the children were literally shoeless and where people were withering (not growing fatter) from malnutrition … Child prostitutes were readily available on busy streets … For the poor, there was no state welfare, just charity relief, or the threat of the dreaded workhouse."

The modern world is not perfect, but it is a whole lot better than before 1914.


By email

Payday loan cap needed right now

The news there will be a regulated cap on payday loan companies is great news for the less well-off.

The fact they are being introduced proves they are necessary.

But not bringing them in until after the busiest time - and heaviest drain of funds - of the year is a joke.

If the cap is really needed, it is really needed now - not later.


Holywood, Co Down

Minister must ban 'legal highs'

There has been much talk in the Press and media regarding the use and availability of so-called "legal highs".

I have met with residents of our inner-city areas, who tell me that young people can get these substances quite easily under the counter. Is it not time that the Minister for Justice brought legislation before the Assembly to ban all so-called "legal highs"?


Belfast City Council

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