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Where is equality in DUP criticising Ashers ruling yet blocking same-sex marriage law at Stormont?

The Belfast Telegraph Viewpoint on the Ashers appeal hearing misleadingly characterised the appeal as "a small firm pitted against the Equality Commission".

While it is true that there would have been no hearing without its support, the commission itself was not a contestant.

A more objective description might have recognised that Ashers is a moderately-sized firm, which had the significant backing of the Christian Institute.

The Viewpoint suggested that the case had been brought in a climate in which "Christianity is under attack in the UK and around the world". As an Anglican, I don't recognise that depiction. On the contrary, I sometimes feel we're living in a virtual theocratic state.

Indeed, the judges alluded to the atmosphere of intolerance here in their summary of judgment, when they stated that the LGBT community had endured a history of considerable discrimination in this jurisdiction in which "the potential for conflict between the rights of the LGBT community and the religious community has unfortunately long been a feature of public debate in Northern Ireland and the strongest opposition to the decriminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting males came from the religious community."

It was, therefore, interesting to note that those MLAs from our largest party, who perceived the judgment as an assault on the exercise of freedom of conscience, saw no contradiction in denying that freedom to others when their leader indicated that the DUP would block majority support at Stormont for equal marriage through the cynical and undemocratic invocation of a petition of concern.



Non-meat eaters like a feast at Christmas too

Will somebody think of the vegan and vegetarian? Reading the Christmas party menus of local restaurants, it is evident that the proprietors are still in the dark about veganism and vegetarianism.

In their offering of the usual sad, tired Christmas-themed meat dishes, there is no reference to a non-meat option.

Thinking beyond the dish seems a bit too much for those trying to drum up Christmas party trade.

For years, us vegans and vegetarians have had to put up with the vegetarian dish of the day - pasta bake or portobello mushroom tartlet - as restaurants struggle to understand vegetarians eat more than pasta or mushrooms. As for getting a vegan dish, on a good day you might just get a plate of overcooked vegetables.

At Christmas, all we ask is to sit down and pick a choice from the Christmas menu and not have to request a non-meat dish.

Catering for those who are humane eaters is a lucrative, untapped market. As for those who still insist on eating non-human members of our society, the message is simple: by reducing your animal by-products consumption, or removing them entirely from your diet, you are helping to end animal suffering.


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Let's sort one anthem for our rugby heroes

What a heart-stopping, barnstorming performance by Ireland. Joe Schmidt and his 23-man panel gave their all and then some, blowing away the 'best-ever' rugby team. But, please, can we sort out the embarrassment of the anthem?

I really do not care what it is. But let us never have to endure the scary spectacle of one man and a screeching fiddle.

The All Blacks did the haka and, with the hand of God and the spirit of Anthony Foley, we sent them packing.

Surely, it is time to grow up and agree on a single tune under one baton with a buy-in from all?

The lads on Soldier Field did not have a soldier's song going into battle. Standing in the cold, having to endure two anthems for one team, does not speak to the unity, soul and commitment these amazing athletes display as they give it their all.

Please, sort this out. The team, the fans, the country and sport deserve better than a mini-cabaret before the curtain goes up on each Ireland game.


By email

CS Lewis had a bit of Ulster-Scots in him

Whatever the contribution of CS Lewis to the Ulster-Scots language may or may not have been (Write Back, November 7), there was one Ulsterism which totally baffled Walter Hooper, his Anglo-American editor: "throughother".



A massive thank-you to great hospital staff

My husband, Charlie, was admitted to the Ulster Hospital in an emergency on October 11 around 1am.

We wish to acknowledge the excellent care he received from every member of staff involved in his care and treatment - from the ambulance staff who treated him at home and brought him to hospital, to the staff in casualty, who were exceptional, including the doctor who did a thorough examination, diagnosis, treatment and tests.

The staff in Ward 19 took care of him pre-operatively, in theatre and post-operatively. Care was even extended to home care, from physiotherapy to occupational therapy.

We have been impressed by the professional, caring, well-organised, smooth-running and efficient work of all concerned - all this in a very busy and demanding schedule.

Thank you to everyone involved in Charlie's care.


Newtownards, Co Down

Parliament must listen to voice of the people

The British judicial system remains the envy of the world. People from around the globe come to the UK to have their cases heard by the country's High Court, relishing the thought that they would be treated as fairly as possible.

However, on June 23, the British people unequivocally spoke, expressing their wishes to leave the EU bloc.

Members of Parliament are answerable and should be held accountable to the people who elect them.

The House of Lords is an unelected bunch of senior citizens.

There must be no voices louder than the people's voice.


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Belfast Telegraph


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