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UN is noble but toothless, time to empower it

Seventy years ago, visionary survivors of two world wars turned to a new direction and the United Nations was born.

For decades, countless millions have been fed, international laws have been better adhered to, violence has often been stopped and human rights have been advanced.

But we still see refugees fleeing their homes, international cybercrime, intolerant religious extremism, drugs, weapons and people trafficked for profit and our environment being ruined. Why?

As Pope Francis stated: "There is an all-powerful elite that hoards wealth and resources. Certain countries have been able to manipulate the international body to mask spurious ends."

The United Nations needs renovation. Consider that initially the UN required that every 10 years, a charter review conference be held to update the system as circumstances required, but the most powerful nations have never allowed even one review conference to happen.

Two changes could initially help our world tremendously:

1 The decisions of the UN must be made enforceable and applied with transparency, so perhaps it is time for the citizens of this world to have a say in their own global governance, and;

2 Imagine, a new global Marshall Plan to bring healing to the war-torn, the oppressed and the environment, all made possible through a new, co-operative UN system that finally has true enforcement powers.

With many crises looming, it's time to put away our fears and begin the most fulfilling project humankind has ever undertaken - citizens taking power back.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Pope's rulings on synod report will define him

Divorced and remarried Catholics are now allowed to receive communion as a result of the deliberations of the recent synod in the Catholic Church.

However, a closer examination of the final text of the assembled 270 bishops reveals they failed to achieve any significant progress on the outstanding issues confronting families in the Church.

On the issue of allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion, the drafting group of that section of the report managed, through the use of enough ambiguous language, to scrape the necessary two-thirds majority needed for its inclusion in the final report.

The issue of gay marriage was a non-starter, while the insulting language describing gay and lesbian people as having a disordered condition remains official Church language.

The possibility of women being accepted as full members of the Church, with equal access to all leadership roles and ministries, was also a non-starter.

Pope Francis must be especially disappointed the bishops couldn't accept minimum pastoral changes. However, the report is an advisory document which he can accept, reject or modify.

What he does - or does not do - with these recommendations will define his pontificate.


By email

Why did the BBC give Bryson so much airtime?

I was horrified to see that Jamie Bryson was given such a prominent slot during The Nolan Show to spout his strongly-held views.

Let us remember that the vote to fly the Union flag at Belfast City Hall on designated days only was a democratic decision made by duly-elected representatives of Belfast City Council.

Yet Bryson felt it was perfectly acceptable to create and maintain mayhem on the streets of the city for weeks afterwards.

I also watched with incredulity as he sought to preach on the moral issue of same-sex marriage.

Bryson is just a young face spouting the same old nonsense we are all too used to in this part of the world.

The BBC should be ashamed to give the oxygen of the media to someone who has for too long been allowed to build himself a profile on the basis of being a loudmouth.

His new propensity of being holier than thou will fool no one, so stop giving him the opportunity to make us roll our eyes.


By email

Are sex change ops really priority?

We now know that Northern Ireland is the worst place in the UK for health service surgical waiting lists. Yet, for those who wish to change sex, the waiting list here is the lowest in the UK.

It is only a 13-week waiting list for transgender surgery in Northern Ireland, compared to the rest of the UK, which can be 100 weeks, or more.

Why is expensive surgery for this group of people more of a priority than for someone requiring hip or knee replacements? Or treatment for Parkinson's, which can take up to 100 weeks?

Is it because LBGT pressure groups are now so powerful and vociferous?


Lisburn, Co Antrim

WHO too selective on cancer advice

The World Health Organisation has certainly rocked the boat with its revelations about processed meats and the "increased cancer risk" associated with their consumption by humans.

Funny how the organisation never comments about the abortion-breast cancer link - something that was identified as long ago as 1957. Perhaps the WHO should have been more discerning as regards what Joe Public ought to be concerned about.


By email

Is insecticide not worse than meat?

Regarding the report that processed meat can increase the chance of bowel cancer, my brother's neighbour was a vegetarian and died of bowel cancer while still in her thirties.

I was diagnosed this year with bowel cancer. Thankfully, after a successful operation, I am now recovering.

I did not smoke, drink or eat a lot of meat. Can the experts explain that?

We are told to eat more fruit and vegetables. What about the amount of chemicals and sprays to kill off insects?


Ballyclare, Co Antrim

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