25 August 2005 Edition

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Mála Poist

PSNI insult our intelligence

A Chara,

Senior PSNI figure, DCC Paul Leighton, sent to Ahoghill in a PR fire-fighting mission this week, merely succeeded in throwing more petrol on the flames by claiming with a poker face that there was merely an "element" of sectarianism to the avalanche of attacks on Catholic homes and property in North Antrim in recent months.

This claim — from no less than the Number Two to Hugh Orde himself in our spanking new policing force — merely confirms the belief that the PSNI instinctively adopts a unionist stance when faced with loyalist violence -- firstly, keep an open mind on the motive; secondly, seek to justify it by labelling it reactive to a more sinister republican action.

The PSNI's behaviour this summer lays bare the folly expounded by supporters of the force that it is a non-partisan policing organisation. In a six-week period, we have witnessed PSNI officers insult the collective intelligence of the nationalist community by seeking to conceal the reality of orchestrated loyalist violence, be it in Stoneyford, Ahoghill, Ballymena or the Somerton Road.

The PSNI leadership have further rubbed salt in the wounds by maintaining a deafening silence about the ongoing UVF killing spree which has claimed five lives in seven weeks. Hugh Orde's silence over this matter contrasts sharply with the haste in which his well-paid press officers arranged media interviews following the Bobby Tohill incident and the PSNI raid on Sinn Féin offices in Stormont.

The conclusion we are left with as Summer draws to a close is that the PSNI has failed yet again to come up to the mark as an impartial policing service, illustrating the distance this organisation must yet travel to become acceptable to the vast majority of nationalists.

Chris Donnelly,

Killultagh Sinn Féin

representative , Lisburn.

London Shoot-to-Kill

A Chara,

The Metropolitan Police describe the recent death of Jean Charles de Menezes in Stockwell London as regrettable and accidental.

The "accidental" and "regrettable" pumping of five bullets at point-blank range into the head of an innocent man by the paramilitary SO19 squad of the Metropolitan Police has evoked some outrage and condemnation in London.

Unsurprisingly, the people of London have been shocked that their police would act in this heartless manner. As Irish republicans and nationalists we will neither be surprised nor shocked at the British application of lethal force. It has been a feature of their war in Ireland for the past 35 years. Indeed, it has been more than a feature. It has been, and remains, a policy. The "shoot-to-kill" policy has claimed a large number of Irish lives in Ireland, England and Gibraltar. That policy is now being applied at the heart of the empire and is targeted at those who are identifiably not Anglo-Saxon, regardless of whether they are British citizens or not.

As in Ireland this action was not the responsibility of individual rogue, or misguided, police officers. It is a direct application of orders taken at the highest political level.

Just as the British state built up an hysteria about Irish people to deny responsibility for our response to their terrorism they now attempt to build up hysteria about Asian people to evade their responsibility for the carnage Blair and his cohorts have brought to the streets of London.

Is mise,

Patrick Hayes,

41 Lower Dominick Street, Dublin 1.

Hare coursing

A Chara,

The League Against Cruel Sports welcomes the recent debate in An Phoblacht on the bloodsport of hare coursing.

Aideen Yourell of the Irish Council Against Bloodsports made a fine case for banning this bloodsport which we fear may return to the North of Ireland unless the new Direct Rule Minister for the Environment, Lord Rooker reinstates the recent temporary ban.

Hare coursing is a deeply unpopular bloodsport in the North of Ireland. A Millward Brown poll carried out for the League at the end of 2003 revealed that 85% of rural people believe that hare coursing is cruel, that 73% believe it is immoral and that 70% want to see it brought to an end.

Earlier this year a poll for Talk Back on Radio Ulster revealed that over 80% of respondents wanted to see the Hunting Act (2004) which banned coursing in England, Scotland and Wales, extended to the North of Ireland.

The League believes that the Irish hare — an already vulnerable species — cannot be allowed to suffer for the sake of entertainment. Until there is an Assembly in the North, local politicians cannot legislate to ban coursing — but there is public support and approval out there for the party which takes a clear line on ending cruelty to Irish wildlife.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Hobday

Head of Public Affairs,

League Against Cruel Sports

83-87 Union St, London,

England, SE1 1SG.

In defence of the Young Irelanders

A Chara,

It is possible that Jim Gibney suffered a momentary loss of attention when listening to Bill Rolston's lecture Speaking out against slavery at West Belfast's Féile an Phobail. Or was Bill Rolston deliberately hitting the men who gave Ireland her Tricolour a blow below the belt?

Jim tells us that the gems of information to be gleaned from the lecture was that "Daniel O'Connell was a life-long abolitionist as were many United Irishmen, but the Young Irelanders were not." The influence is that because, unlike Daniel O'Connell, they did not actively campaign against slavery they were indifferent to, or soft on it.

In his book The Young Ireland Movement, (Gill and Macmillan) Richard Davis, tells us (on page 209) that Thomas Davis (whose concept of all-embracing Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter Irish nationality is symbolised in the Tricolour) had denounced slavery before The Nation's inception in the The Citizen and that William Smith O'Brien (who dedicated the newly-presented flag as "Ireland's Tricolour as a sign that the Protestants of the North and the Roman Catholics of the South will unite in demanding the legislative independence of their country) was "opposed to the principle of slaver".

And of course, Meagher who had presented the flag to Ireland, lead his Irish Brigade of the Union Army in the American Civil War against the slave-holding states.

Is mise le meas,

James McGeever.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1