13 April 2006 Edition

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Mála Poist / Letters

1916 auction

A Chara,

The sell-off of artifacts related to the 1916 Rising to private interests, many of them abroad, says a lot about the government's priorities today. Any self-respecting government in the world would have taken such important items into state ownership and made them available to historians, students, writers and the general public.

Rather than living up to the "common good" ideals of the 1916 Proclamation, this government is all too willing to sell off, or give away to well connected private interests, valuable national assets such as Aer Lingus, Eircom, toll roads and offshore oil and gas.

It is not surprising therefore, that the re-commemoration of the 1916 Rising has been restricted to an unimaginative military march and a few photo-opportunities for government ministers, while it has been left to community, republican and socialist groups to organize more inclusive public meetings, workshops and debates on how the ideals of 1916 have (or have not!) been realized so far.

Is mise,

Councillor Dessie Ellis,

Dublin.

Face down 'fifth columnists'

A Chara,

The joint declaration by the two Governments at the Navan Centre in Armagh last week is quite possibly the last chance to restore devolved Government in the Six Counties. If the 24 November comes and goes without the DUP engaging then the Assembly will be gone. This will not only represent a failure on the part of the DUP to display any kind of leadership but also it will be an indictment of those who have provided a political smokescreen for DUP intransigence.

I am thinking here not just of the securocrats but of large sections of the Southern elite. Certain commentators and politicians have been viscerally opposed to the Good Friday Agreement and the Peace Process in general. They have worked an agenda that goes against their own government's declared policy. They have colluded with the securocrats to undermine a constitutional settlement and have at all times acted against the interests of the Irish people. This minuscule but vocal fifth column represent a cancer at the heart of Irish political life. The counter revolution of 1922 thrust them into positions of influence from where they have consistently skewed and misrepresented the national discourse.

It is with this in mind that I plead with the Southern government. Live up to your responsibilities, be an honest advocate for Northern nationalists and defend the Agreement. An essential part of this will be to face down the fifth column.

Is Mise,

Paul Quinn,

Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Sinn Féin and ASBOs

A Chara,

Edward McBride (An Phoblacht, 6 April) accuses Seán Crowe of suffering from a "do-gooder mindset" for condemning McDowell's ASBO's but offering no solution of his own.

Minister McDowell's politically popular but essentially cosmetic gimmicks do not address the complex problem of anti-social behaviour. In pushing ASBOs, the government is trying to legislate away complex problems. By contrast, Sinn Féin recognises these require resourcing and implementation of existing laws and investment in communities.

Sinn Féin in Leinster House has made proposals which, taken together, offer a more effective and proportionate solution than that espoused by the British, McDowell and Mr. McBride. Sinn Féin proposes the prosecution of crimes under existing law in particular the Public Order Acts; community policing for more consistent enforcement and deterrence; the full application of the Children Act 2001 which is intended to prevent juvenile offending behaviour - significant parts of which the government have refused to implement; more resources to the Probation and Welfare Service for enhanced community supervision; Community Restorative Justice alternatives to imprisonment or fines for petty crime; community mediation services; better mental healthcare services and drug treatment; adequate investment in social services and investment in community, social and recreational infrastructure in disadvantaged areas.

ASBOs extend the discretionary powers of the police without improving accountability; name, shame and criminalise children; fast-track young people into prison and undermine due-process by allowing hearsay evidence.

They are the antithesis of the positive justice policy principles endorsed by the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis and we should not "give them a chance" as suggested by Edward McBride reader, especially without giving existing measures a fair chance first.

Is Mise,

Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Commemoration coverage

A Chara,

It is with the utmost regret that I write or find myself in the position of having to write a letter regarding the recent commemoration of Volunteer Tom Smith, Dublin Brigade, IRA, which took place on St Patrick's Day.

There was a small picture depicting the chair of the proceedings, Larry O'Toole and the speaker on the day Councillor Felix Gallagher. There was a mere seven lines dedicated to the commemoration itself, while the lament of our Party President Gerry Adams's unfortunate hold up at Washington's Dulles airport during his recent visit was afforded an astounding quarter of a page along with a picture of his plane ticket, which incidentally was bigger than the whole of the Volunteer Tom Smith commemoration coverage.

Shame on us if this continues, where articles of major importance, ie the release of all political prisoners and republican concerns regarding the peace process, are not afforded the space they deserve in the columns of our very own republican newspaper. Are we, in this current climate, as republicans, afraid, ashamed or just too caught up in the political process to fully and proudly acknowledge our fallen comrades?

Is Mise,

Richard Brennan,

Dublin.


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