4 September 2008 Edition
Margaret Ritchie’s politicking
YOUR editorial of 28 August (SDLP pursuing narrow self - interest) is right on the money.
For the last year or so, never mind the last few weeks, this party, led by Margaret Ritchie, has vilified and harassed the Minister for Education, Caitríona Ruane, while jumping onto the unionist bandwagon. “She [Caitríona] isn’t fit for the job,” they repeat, like mocking jackanapes. To find out the real reason for the SDLP’s negativity you have to dig deeper.
In just under two years’ time there will be a general election and Eddie McGrady, who is the sitting MP for South Down, will hand over his seat to be defended by none other than Margaret Ritchie. (Where did McGrady emigrate to, by the way? Is he still alive and kicking?)
It is expected that Caitríona Ruane will oppose her in this election, hence all the propaganda about Sinn Féin dragging its feet in the Assembly while the real foot-draggers and knuckle-draggers are the DUP.
The SDLP wants the position of policing and justice when it is eventually handed over from the Brits but I would rather give it to the Green Party instead of them. At least the Green Party (unlike the SDLP) have no political agenda except their own on the environment.
PÁDRAIG O FEINNAIN,
No to UDR/RIR parade
FIRST we had the hated A, B and C Specials who terrorised the Catholic/nationalist community caught on the wrong side of an illegal border at the time of partition in 1921.
They were eventually disbanded in late 1969 and replaced on 1 April (April Fools’ Day) 1970 by the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).
The UDR were despised by Catholics/Nationalists and even British Cabinet papers published in the Irish News stated that up to 15 per cent of them were also members of the UVF or UDA death squads.
They too were disbanded to be replaced by the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) in 1992.
But no name-change can change the character of a regiment whose ethos and reason for being was to oppress the entire Catholic/nationalist community.
All right-thinking people in Belfast and beyond should protest at any attempt to allow these murderers in uniform to parade through our streets.
The dead and injured, from Belfast to Basra, are crying out for justice from the RIR. Let us say clearly with one voice: ‘Not in my name will you have a parade of shame.’
Income affects health
A REPORT launched recently by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) and Combat Poverty has highlighted the extent to which health outcomes are influenced by social factors such as poor housing, nutrition and education.
It explains the higher level of ill-health found among poor and socially excluded groups in Ireland, North and South.
It aims to help policy-makers to understand how their decisions can influence health, whether they work in the area of housing, education, transport or directly in health or social care.
It notes that, in the 26 Counties, 38 per cent of people are at risk of poverty (i.e. living on an income of less than €202.50 per week). In the North, 47 per cent of unskilled workers suffer from long-standing illness compared to 30 per cent of professionals and managers.
The findings of this report show how poor social conditions disproportionately affect the health of poor and excluded groups. The impact is huge in terms of lives lost and harmed.
As well as the injustice of inequality, there is a real and fundamental cost to the economy. This undermines the island’s competitiveness in a global market as well as placing unnecessary pressures on our two health services.
The underlying causes or ‘social determinants’ of these health inequalities are examined and how decisions made in many sectors have the capacity to influence health and well-being is emphasised, especially for disadvantaged people.
Our elected representatives at all levels of politics need to use their power to bring about reducing the plight of poverty that is part of so many people’s lives. This should be their number one priority.
Hunger Strike Commemoration thanks
ON behalf of Derry Sinn Féin may I take this opportunity to congratulate the organisers of the National Hunger Strike Commemoration weekend which took place in the city.
The different events that took place provided an opportunity for many republicans to reflect, commemorate and celebrate the lives of those Volunteers who gave up their young lives on hunger strike.
Thanks must be given to the local ‘81 Committee for their many months of hard work and preparation and I would particularly commend the efforts of Ógra Shinn Féin and those young republicans on the march platform for marking this important anniversary in such a dignified and moving manner.
To the bars who contributed to the weekend programme, and to the individuals and republican bands who travelled from all over Ireland and beyond for the main march and commemoration, praise must be given.
I would like to conclude by especially thanking the families of the Hunger Strikers for attending Sunday’s fitting tribute to their loved ones.
Derry Sinn Féin