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Letters: Stormont ignorance of victims' plight shameful

When Arlene Foster took over as leader of the DUP and became First Minister, she spoke with optimism and hope for better days ahead for Northern Ireland, with the Fresh Start agreement as the process to achieve this objective.

The New Year has only just started and, rather than a Fresh Start for Northern Ireland and its people, we are still haunted and scarred by events of the past.

January 5 saw the 40th anniversary of the Kingsmills massacre in 1976, when 10 Protestants were murdered by the IRA. A memorial service was held last weekend, but the victims are no nearer to getting the truth - let alone convictions, or justice, for their loved ones callously murdered that night.

On January 17, the relatives of the victims of the Teebane massacre in 1992 met again for a memorial service on the Cookstown-Omagh Road to remember their eight loved ones murdered by an IRA roadside bomb. Again, there have been no arrests, or convictions, and Jean Caldwell, whose husband was murdered in the atrocity, has blamed the politicians for failing them.

On January 25, the Shankill Road bomb victims heard the horrific news that this attack could have been prevented as classified documents stolen in the 2001 Castlereagh break-in by the IRA and seen by media sources show that the IRA commander in Ardoyne at that time was an informer and he had informed his handlers of the plan to blow up Frizzell's fish shop in 1993, where nine innocent civilians were murdered.

Why was this attack not prevented? Whose decision allowed this attack to take place? And whose "political agenda" would such an attack assist?

When a sovereign government - be it at Westminster or Stormont - fails to either protect its citizens, or look after its victims of terrorism, then there can never be a Fresh Start or hope for a better future.


Traditional Unionist Voice

Cookstown, Co Tyrone

Megalomaniac Trump’s rise an indictment of US

Is it not ironic that the odious and bombastic Donald Trump — infamous for his monosyllabic, hate-speech — has garnered sufficient popular support to be the leading presidential candidate for the party of Lincoln?

Trump is the product of the morally bankrupt American socio-economic system, which rewards the most Machiavellian as so-called “winners” at the expense of social cohesion and a shared humanity.

Trump and his fellow Republicans jostle for pre-eminence on how best to seal the borders to prevent another San Bernardino massacre, where 14 citizens were slaughtered, while obstructing gun control that might mitigate some of the 15,000 firearm-related homicides annually in the US.

These same republicans prevaricate about discredited trickle-down economics and advocate tax breaks for the highest earners, despite egregious income inequality, where wealth concentration in the top 1% exceeds that of the entire lower 90%.

Republicans also seek to repeal, or eviscerate, what they derisively refer to as “Obamacare” — affordable healthcare for 45 million of America’s most vulnerable citizens — and petulantly persist with gridlock in Washington until the White House is restored to its rightful heirs, the Grand Old Party.

Most worryingly, Trump’s exaggerated facial expressions and body posturing are reminiscent of another dangerous and chest-thumping buffoon, namely Benito Mussolini — “Il Duce”.

And like all megalomaniacs, Trump exploits fear and hatred in furtherance of self-promotion and aggrandisement, without the slightest moral qualm as to the consequences to supporter and citizen alike.


By email

Bullfighters are in need of therapy

Having set out to torture and kill bulls for a living, Francisco Rivera Ordonez clearly believes hurting and killing others is inconsequential, proving it this week when he added his own child to those whose very lives he plays with and showed that he is not fit to be a parent.

His decision to deliberately risk a baby’s life to gain attention for himself shows what this bullfighter is made of — and it’s not the same thing a good dad is made of.

He and all bullfighters are sociopaths who should be put out of business and put into therapy.


By email

Parental choice is vital when it comes to schools

In calling for an end to the segregation of children in schools in the north, Trevor Ringland (Write Back, January 26) surely echoes a sentiment which would be favoured by very many people.

Although I am fully in favour of educational pluralism, I also support parental choice. I do not subscribe to the view that the forced, mandatory integration of schools will somehow make sectarianism history.

It could be construed from Mr Ringland’s letter that those parents who choose denominational education for their children are in some way not genuinely committed to a shared society.

It could also be construed that Mr Ringland favours a compulsory integrated school system for all children against the wishes of parents.

Does Mr Ringland suggest the forced integrated education, not just of Catholic and Protestant, but also Jews, Hindus and Muslims?

Does society have the right to make compulsory educational choices for children against parental wishes?

Even with the best will in the world, attempts to integrate schooling would be a logistical nightmare.

Any solution to sectarianism and schooling must be consensus-based, where difference is not just tolerated but respected, and where all creeds and colours are celebrated.


By email

Organ Donor Bill collapse is right

The apparent collapse of the Organ Donor Bill in the Assembly, I think on balance, is the right call.

The intention of this Private Member’s Bill has been honourable and pragmatic, but may have been too complex to legislate on.

Even though there has been the usual political fallout, I do feel the weight of the evidence provided to the health committee by the senior medical clinicians and legal opinion should be paramount in the discussion.

“Presumed consent” on organ donation raises serious questions about patient autonomy.



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