12 February 2004 Edition
There's only one King Billy
Following recent and dramatic reports in the local newspapers regarding Billy Leonard's defection from the SDLP to Sinn Féin, I felt delighted that somebody had finally taken the bull by the horns. I applauded Mr Leonard for such a bold and brave switch.
As we all know, following recent elections and Sinn Féin's dramatic increase of their political mandate (of course at the expense of the SDLP) it is clear that in years to come Sinn Féin is the only political party strong enough to challenge the strong unionist majority in Coleraine.
It is the feeling throughout East Derry that the SDLP in recent years have lost the plot and throughout the community people feel under-represented by the SDLP on a wide range of issues.
I hope Mr Leonard's former political colleagues don't get embroiled in a petty war of words, as they surely know this is the first of many more to come.
Good luck, Mr Leonard. I feel it is only a matter of time before we have the first Sinn Féin mayor in Coleraine Council.
Eddie Jo Lynn.
A trivial matter, but an issue nonetheless; what is Head Office doing to encourage local Sinn Féin Cumainn and/or Comhairlí Ceantar to develop websites? About 38% of the public have internet access and while most of our supporters may not that doesn't mean we should abandon this important medium to others. Some existing websites deserve special mention; Sinn Féin Mayo, Donegal SF and Laois SF are outstanding. There are many good cumann websites; Trinity, Burns & Moley (Newry), New Ross and Dublin Southeast SF amongst others.
I think this is an area that needs to be developed. Why does Dublin SF not have a website?
Mártan Ó Conghaile.
What about Ballymoney, Tony?
As a North Antrim nationalist who likes to hide behind the curtains of life, I read with interest the article on the 'Two Blairs', although I'm of the opinion that the article did not shame loyalist Gary Blair in the way in which he deserves.
In a recent letters page in the local press, Tony Blair pointed out how he and those he NOW represents have been sorry victims of republican terrorism for the past 30 years. Does Blair not consider what he done to his victims as terrorism? Furthermore, does he not accept that what he and his then cohorts have done to the Catholics of Ballymoney for 30 years and more is terrorism?
I think perhaps your publication should not concentrate so much on issues in nationalist/republican strongholds, but instead report on towns like Ballymoney where people like myself are afraid to speak.
Coke workers reply
We are reluctant to engage any further with Gearóid Ó Loinsigh — the reason why will become clear. His comments on your letters page (29 January 2004) must be answered if only to do justice to the workers we represent.
It is simply untrue to assert as he does that no offer of solidarity was offered to Colombian trade unionists at the meeting we attended with Eduardo Luis, the Colombian Coca-Cola worker. Why does Ó Loinsigh persist in denying this? The answer is simple: if one does not support a call or an organised boycott, any other form of solidarity is rejected. This is not the behaviour of a solidarity activist; it is the behaviour of a political sectarian.
Ó Loinsigh complains of "body language" and that the meeting translator was "interrupted whilst translating" and "interrupted again when making comments of his own". He fails to mention that both he and the translator were one and the same person.
Here lies the problem. Our attempts to communicate with Eduardo Luis were totally dependent on Mr Ó Loinsigh, whose apparent inability to state or report facts is matched only by his ability to separate himself from himself. The only hostility at the meeting emanated from another Ó Loinsigh initiative, the unexpected presence at the meeting of UCD student officers who had engaged in hostile behaviour towards Coca-Cola shop stewards.
Ó Loinsigh's partisan disregard for the facts leads us to question his 'translations'.
In future we will bring our own translator and, while we have no problem meeting with LASC, we will not be having any more meetings with Mr Ó Loinsigh. We hereby withdraw the longstanding, but predictably ignored, invitation to Mr Ó Loinsigh to discuss repression against Colombian trade unionists. He has never, at any stage, seen fit to consider the views of Irish bottling plant workers.
The IUF, SIPTU and the ICTU have over the past few months met with, questioned Coca-Cola corporate management, and discussed the conditions at bottling plants in Colombia. The meetings have taken place in the US and Ireland.
As Irish bottling plant workers, we have been to the forefront of raising issues of trade union organisation, working conditions, justice and human rights and will continue to work with the International Union of Foodworkers in building global solidarity action and union organisation in the Coca-Cola system.
Paddy Cahill, Branch Chairperson and Senior Shop Steward
Tommy Grant, Senior Shop Steward Production
Gerry Mahony, Senior Shop Steward Production.
Is Lord Hutton a clone of Lord Widgery (of Bloody Sunday notoriety) or is the liberal application of whitewash to cover establishment wrongdoings a standard function of a British Law Lord?
Once again, the whistleblowers and messengers are excoriated, while the wrongdoers are exonerated and, I predict, promoted.
There is no connection whatever between the following two sentences.
1. Charles Haughey introduced the Artists‚ Exemption Scheme to give tax-free earnings to creative artists, including fiction writers.
2. Conor Cruise O'Brien believed earnings from his writings were tax-free under the AES.