24 November 2005 Edition
Turning a blind eye
DUP man Gary Blair has really let the cat out of the bag by calling for the release of the Poyntzpass killers. Blair was himself convicted for his role in the murder of Loughgiel man Malachy Carey in 1992 and went on to make the conversion from the UFF to the LVF.
After the July IRA statement the DUP insisted on a long period to 'assess' the historic move in an effort to try and stall the process. But when it comes to the LVF, a group that has not only been murdering innocent Catholics but has been involved in ruining young Protestant lives through the distribution of illegal drugs, it has only taken the DUP one day to assess their move as being genuine.
The DUP in North Antrim have refused to do anything to distance themselves from the loyalist paramilitaries and this has been clear from their behaviour throughout the summer.
Recently, loyalists in Ahoghill were up in court on charges of intimidation and we didn't hear a word out of the DUP. A DUP councillor was also seen marshalling a loyalist band parade in Ballymena this year where the host band had sang The Sash at Catholic Mass-goers in weeks previously.
At council meetings in Ballymoney the DUP refuses to engage with Sinn Féin and uses the IRA as an excuse not to work with my party. Perhaps they should look at the actions of their own members and representatives in North Antrim and remember that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Cllr Anita Cavlan,
Sinn Féin, Ballymoney, Borough Council.
The patrolling of the mainly student Holyland area by the PSNI is over the top. Military-style vehicle patrols are completely unnecessary. The resources the PSNI can direct to harass the nationalist student body in Holyland is shocking, considering the fact that it could do nothing to prevent a campaign of unionist paramilitary violence directed against the nationalist community in several areas of the North over the summer months and before.
The presence of a force in an area like Holyland, which houses mainly nationalist/republican students, reminds us of the bad old days when UDR thugs attacked and harassed young people on their way to and from dances. There is barely a student here who does not have some tale of PSNI harassment or false arrest when returning from a night out. Indeed, I know of many cases where PSNI members arrested young students for nothing and they ended up in court. This ludicrous and heavy-handed approach by the PSNI to students must cease right away.
West Tyrone Student.
Wild West Willie
What an utter gobshite the Minister for Defence Wild West Willie O'Dea is. Last week we saw him on the front page of every newspaper in the country pointing a semi-automatic pistol at all and sundry. Does he fancy himself as a John Wayne pin-up?
O'Dea does not seem to realise the seriousness of his tasteless stunt. Hardly a day goes by with out some sort of gun crime being reported to the Gardaí. O'Dea is helping to promote a gun culture among young criminal gangs who are easily influenced by the power a weapon like this holds.
Bertie Ahern has greatly undermined the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement by his repeated assertions that Fianna Fáil will not go into government with Sinn Féin.
The Good Friday Agreement, which was approved by a large majority of voters North and South, stipulates that the largest unionist party and the largest nationalist party provide the First Minister and Deputy First Minister while all the major parties are proportionally represented on the Executive.
After the IRA decommissioned its weapons and announced it was ending all activities, it seemed that all the excuses that the DUP had made for refusing to share power with Sinn Féin had been removed.
Now Ahern, assisted by Michael McDowell and Enda Kenny, has given Ian Paisley yet another pretext for refusing to implement the will of the people.
Dr Seán Marlow,
In light of the review of economic policies by a Sinn Féin group recently, I sincerely hope that the staggering levels of inequality in our educational system will be addressed by a radical, revolutionary alternative by the party.
The conventional education system in Ireland today dos not take into account the acute social problems which pervade sections of our society, hence the lack of academic achievement in working-class areas. The system of governing in Ireland both North and South has been presided over for generations by the middle and upper classes. It has been in their interests that the opportunities of the working class are reduced by systematic inequality, one of the tentacles of this inequity has been an impotent educational system in poorer areas.
I feel it is imperative on the leadership of the party to begin a process of dialogue with progressive elements among the educational, community, social work and youth sector, and on a cross-community-all Ireland basis, to formulate a radical alternative to the conventional education system. Until this happens we are only papering over the cracks.
Daithí De Brún,
Ógra Sinn Féin Video Footage
I am currently trying to collect as much video footage as possible from Ógra Sinn Féin activists around Ireland. I am the Six-County Ógra Shinn Féin Publications Officer and I'm in the process of producing a short video detailing the history of republican youth, stretching back to the formation of Na Fianna in 1909 to modern day Ógra Shinn Féin.
So I would ask that anyone with footage of any republican youth events or actions, past and present, or local ÓSF events, to get in touch with me, or send me the footage either on video tape, digital video recorder tape, CD or DVD.
I can be contacted on: [email protected] or at 07821584460, or contact Barry McColgan at 07845886447.