3 November 2005 Edition
Revival of 1916 state parade
How can marching a partitionist army, down a street filled with capitalist icons, such as fast food chain outlets, in anyway honour the men and women of 1916?
The only way to truly honour these brave revolutionaries is to fulfil their legacy. By putting people before profit and by putting the nation before the state.
Lift ban on gay marriages
Lisburn City councillors' decision to refuse usage of the Council's designated marriage ceremony room to members of the Gay and Lesbian community is an indictment of the small-mindedness of many holding political leadership in the new city. It is a slap in the face for those genuinely striving to address the problem of homophobia in our society.
In particular the attitude of the Alliance Party on Lisburn Council led by Séamus Close is quite shameful. Close led the lynch mob of Lisburn's homophobic councillors in ensuring members of the gay and lesbian community who come to Lisburn Council are made to feel unwelcome because of their sexual orientation.
The gay and lesbian community are not a community set apart from the heterosexual population. In every locality there are lesbian, gay and bisexual people who are denied equality on grounds of sexual orientation. The attacks on gay and lesbian people because of their sexuality needs to be tackled by a strategy embraced by political leaders informed by the principles of equality, tolerance and respect for diversity.
The lesbian, gay and bisexual community have been subjected to homophobic violence and verbal abuse for many years. The link between any form of intolerance and abuse is clear.
The desire by members of the gay and lesbian community to cement their love for one another through entering civil partnerships is as important a step for those individuals and their loved ones, as is a formal wedding ceremony for others.
By acting in such a mean-spirited and bigoted manner, Unionist and Alliance councillors have once again confirmed this council remains a by-word for bigotry and exclusion.
Cllr Paul Butler,
Lisburn City Council.
Regarding the Dáil Review in your last issue, and Aengus Ó Snodaigh's criticism of McDowell's head-in-the-sand approach to cocaine abuse, I write to register my distinct lack of surprise.
Cocaine use is rampant among the professions: journalists, barristers, politicians, etc. A study carried out in the European Parliament earlier this year found 80% of all surfaces in that building were contaminated with cocaine. Similar results were found in the German Parliament, and at the recent British Labour Party conference. Politicians and their powerful friends enjoy a line or two with their wine.
Cocaine is the ultimate ego drug. The user becomes arrogant, aggressive and self-obsessed. Sound like anybody we know?
The Boers and Ireland
I was interested to read the coverage of Gerry Adams' visit to South Africa, and that of Ronnie Kasrils to Ireland. I was, however, disappointed that as Sinn Féin marks its 100th anniversary and remembers the history of that century, no mention was made of the many Irishmen who fought on the side of the Boers during the South African War at the turn of the century. The most famous of these was Major John MacBride, second-in-command at Jacob's factory during the Easter Rising and husband of Maud Gonne. Maud Gonne herself was a strong supporter of the Boers and alongside others like Arthur Griffith ensured that Ireland was the most staunchly pro-Boer nation in Europe.
As well as being united in determination to seek the removal of British involvement from their respective nations, in practical terms the Irish learned a lot from the Boers; indeed, the blowing-up of key bridges during the Tan War was perfected on the isolated railroads of the Orange Free State some 15 years previously.
The subsequent treatment of Black South Africans under the Apartheid regime ensured that the bond between the Afrikaners and the Irish was broken. The vast majority of Irish people stood with the oppressed Black people of South Africa and were right to do so. But that does not negate a duty to acknowledge the relationship between the Boers and the Irish, both of whom sought freedom and fought together at the turn of the century. Republicans in particular should ensure that they don't mirror the historical revisionism that they criticise others for, and should be proud of the Irish pro-Boers and remember them appropriately.