8 September 2005 Edition

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Mála Poist

Katrina response

A Chara,

The response to Hurricane Katrina clearly illustrates the priorities of Bush's "free-market" dominated USA.

Mostly poor people without transport or medical insurance were left to fend for themselves. The authorities seemed more concerned about desperate people taking food from shops than rescuing those who were dying on flooded streets or baking highways.

Meanwhile, oil companies are taking advantage of the tragedy by hiking petrol prices.

Dessie Ellis,

Dublin.

Selling the colonial message

A Chara,

This is a despairing plea to the editor of An Phoblacht and the leadership of Sinn Féin to stop using the term "Catholic" for "Irish person" and the term "Protestant" for "British unionist" or "British loyalist".

It is bad enough that this long-standing colonial policy has now been adopted slavishly by the mainstream media, but republicans don't have to use it.

This needless reinforcement of the Brits' propaganda message that they are "neutral" and are keeping the peace between sectarian Irish people needs to be exposed!

I enclose a cutting from the Belfast Telegraph in which Sir Reg Empey makes it clear that he is British, not Irish. The DUP spell out the same message. Let's give them the same respect we expect for ourselves.

Attacks in Antrim are racist in origin and motivation, not sectarian. Let us get back to the republican anti-colonial message.

My own father, a Protestant and a member of Sinn Féin for many years, does not deserve this repeated error. My sister is still active in Sinn Féin and does not deserve it either. Please enforce this policy.

Peadar Mac Ionnrachtaigh,

Caisleán an Bharraigh, Co Mhaigh Eo.

Protecting sex workers

A Chairde,

I write in response to Michelle Boyle, who finds my opinion on prostitution "degrading and insulting to women". I should begin by correcting Michelle's statement that I have been "advocating prostitution". I have been doing no such thing. In fact, I have been advocating that sex workers are afforded the full rights of the law and the chance to work in the safest possible environment. I also think it is extremely poor form for an egalitarian republican to play the gender card in so crude a way as Comrade Boyle does.

However, if the measure of moral authority is to be based on genitalia, I would like to quote the views of American sex-worker and feminist activist Carol Leigh, who says: "I go crazy with feminists who organise to keep prostitution illegal. By keeping it illegal, it puts women who are sex workers at more risk of being attacked and victimised."

Michelle says that legalisation of prostitution would serve no purpose for the women "trapped" in the profession. This can be easily disproved: in Dutch brothels, the sex worker has a number of 'panic buttons' in their workplace which, when triggered, will lead to the abusive customer being forcible ejected from the premises. In Ireland, there is no such security, and sex workers do not have full recourse to the law. In short, a sex worker is more likely to be insulted and degraded in an Irish brothel than a Dutch or German brothel.

In terms of the figures presented by Michelle to support her argument: I would note that the SAVI Report, 2002, found that 42% of Irish women had been sexually abused at some point in their lives. The statistic Michelle cites of "almost half" of all prostitutes having been sexually abused is entirely in line with the generally appalling situation prevailing in Ireland regarding sexual abuse. In this context, Michelle's argument for a "clear link" between sexual abuse and prostitution is invalid.

I note Michelle's use of statistics from the European Intervention Projects on prostitution, and I note that this same group advocates that sex workers should be subject to laws which protect their health and working conditions.

They point specifically to Ireland, saying that our laws have made a prostitute's work more dangerous.

I realise that many comrades do not share my view on this matter, but I would like them to understand my fundamental point: sex workers would be safer and less vulnerable if their profession were legal. To my mind, this is the only point that matters.

Brendan Hogan,

Dublin.

Rip-off Ireland

A Chairde,

Given the reaction to the Rip-off Republic TV show and Bertie's subsequent condemnation of same, can we now safely consider him along with Redmond, Flynn and Lawlor to be one of "Hobbs knobs"?

Sandra Sludds,

Finglas, Dublin.

Green Paper a road map for Irish unity

A Chairde,

On Saturday 24 September Irish republicans from all over the country will converge in Dublin for a rally entitled Make Partition History — Support Irish Unity. We will be taking the message to the Dublin Government that the national question is still to the forefront of our minds, even though they have seem to forgotten about it.

A number of months ago, Sinn Féin launched a Green Paper for Irish Unity, which sets out the roadmap to bring about a united Ireland. The paper, however, was snubbed by the 'Republican party', aka Fianna Fáil, who refused to follow suit or make any move towards the Republic to which they claim to aspire to.

The Fianna Fáil response mimics that of the SDLP, who, at every election claim to want a united Ireland but who are doing nothing to bring it about.

Andrea O'Kane,

Ógra Shinn Féin.

An Phoblacht/Republican News welcomes readers' letters. Letters in Irish or English should be kept short (no more than 200 words) and typed or handwritten clearly, double-spaced and on one side of the paper only. Name and address should be supplied for verification, but these will not be published if we are so requested.


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