23 September 2004 Edition

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Mála Poist

Offensive flags

A Chairde,

The entire flags debate now needs to move forward on to another layer.

We can now look back at the 2004 marching season and obviously my main area is Coleraine Borough Council but it has wider implications than that.

Many people have been excluded from the debate in this area. However, we will not be excluded. Thankfully an increasingly empowered nationalist and republican community have worked in the background and yielded results.

A/ there has been a move on paramilitary flags but there is still a difference in approach depending on where these flags are placed. It seems more difficult to move some because of the address: in this case the DRD is asked to do the job.

B/ flags can seemingly be 'turned on and off' at will. The Milk Cup football competition in this area is generally respected; flags are put up for 24 hours for particular parades and others are left until they disintegrate.

C/ Portstewart is now subjected to an extension to the marching season into the first weekend in September. Those putting up flags for this parade, were drinking on the street and called an eleven-year-old boy a 'Fenian b******.

D/ there now seems to be a compromise that if paramilitary flags are dealt with there is no debate whatsoever, nor action against excessive flying of Union and 'Ulster' flags. This is wrong. Marking territory and claiming it as belonging to or lauded over by one community is grossly offensive.

E/ there is still no strong voice from a cross section of the social and business community on the negative effects on our tourism industry. There is an appreciation of the fear factor but for how long can that continue? I have on many occasions said that we should aim for neutral space so that visitors are not subjected to any perception of threat or unease.

F/ there isn't meaningful engagement by unionist representatives.

G/ a negative response that nothing more can be done will be viewed as hypocritical. Nationalists and republicans in this area have in the past few years been told nothing could be done and one group of people cannot talk to another group. In short, responsibility was denied and the parcel passed.

Yet there has been some movement. It is time for more.

Cllr Billy Leonard,

Sinn Féin, Coleraine.

Honour TV or Honour TD?

A Chairde,

We feel that it is now time for all republicans to get their priorities into perspective. At a recent commemoration held in Ballyconnell, County Cavan to honour Volunteer Hunger Striker Kieran Doherty TD, it was surprisingly noticed that many of his ex comrades and republicans throughout the country, especially in counties Cavan and Monaghan, did not see fit to attend this event. We would like to pose the questions:

What could possibly be the reason for this lack of attendance?

What is more important than honouring a man who sacrificed his own life on hunger strike for our country?

Is it necessary now to check with our TV Guide before we organise a commemoration?

Do people feel that sitting in front of a small coloured box takes priority over standing proudly in front of a monument built in honour of a martyr?

We call upon each and every republican to question your conscience and ask yourself, where were you on Sunday 29 August?

All we asked for were two hours of your time to remember Kieran Doherty who spent 1752 hours on hunger strike.

Tara Brady, on behalf of the Kieran Doherty Committee,

Ballyconnell, County Cavan.

Wax not just for dummies

A Chairde,

I just could not get over the snobbish tone of last week's letter regarding the Wax Museum from a self-proclaimed 'Art Lover'.

Mr/Mrs Lover must have either grown up outside Dublin, or went to a school that only brought its students to 'educational' venues on tours.

I went to a school that brought us to the Wax Museum on two occasions and we loved it. Furthermore, my three kids have all now been to it on one occasion or another, and they are equally enamoured.

Fair enough, it's no Madame Toussaud's, but let's face it — whose child can compare and discuss the finer points of wax modelling?

There is just something about wax dummies that kids love and in the end, the Wax Museum is for kids, not adults. So that might explain why last week's letter writer is not getting much joy out of the place when he/she visits.

On his/her other points - the Wax Museum is a part of our heritage, whether Art Lover likes it or not. Not all heritage sites have to fit the criteria set by finicky, snobby art critics. And just for the record, Fianna Fáil's Donie Cassidy did not bring us the Museum. He just owns the building leased by it.

Josephine Carney,

Clontarf, Dublin 3.

UTV Champions League coverage

A Chairde,

Celtic and games against Barcelona and Milan are the stuff of compulsive television viewing. I am annoyed by the lack of thought given to Celtic fans by UTV management, who show all games delivered by the ITV network instead of occasionally, as they could have last week, taking instead the Scottish TV coverage.

How many Arsenal tops are there out compared to Hoops? We didn't complain about the coverage given to Rangers' Euro games in the past.

Although I don't want to win the argument by sectarian juxtapositioning, there is the old sectarian flavour to all of this. If it were Rangers versus the same opposition, would it be Arsenal et al every week? UTV's track record is sectarian and a marketing blunder. TV3's coverage was excellent and let's hope, with the current round of negotiations, that terrestrial receptions can be improved to broaden both its and TG4's audience.

It's time UTV were taken to task on this attitude towards taking always from the network unless some of the Billy Boys have to be appeased. New improved Nor'n Iron with the same old biases!

Cathal Ó Donnaile,

Droim Caoin, Co Thír Eoghain.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1