25 October 2007 Edition

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Mála Poist

SDLP pinch of salt

A chara,
With all the typically distanced thinking of the SDLP from how the current process is constantly evolving and their mandate is dissolving, I took initially with a pinch of salt Margaret Ritchie’s demand for the UDA to decommission as a pre-election stunt to play to the nationalist electorate given that Sinn Féin's vote is slowly but sustainably on the rise in South Down.
Is Margaret Ritchie trying to do what insincere unionists did to the IRA’s own deliberations and eventual decommissioning by trying to claim the credit for such an outcome and, conversely, when this was of little use to them, question that such an outcome was of any value at all.
Let me make it clear: I am totally in favour of loyalists decommissioning and of all groups doing the same. I am, however, also genuine enough to recognise that there are many themes to be accounted for and that loyalists (in this case, the UDA) have to set their stall out on this so that it is their own pace and determination rather than that which will be shallowly claimed by others such as the SDLP.
It is also important that the nationalist electorate recognises that there are factions within the UDA who will recoil at the perception that they are being dictated to by a Catholic and nationalist minister as republicans would also have refused to deal with an issue they already had agreed in principle to if they were being driven by a unionist and political opponent.
If Margaret Ritchie doesn’t have the sense and wit to understand this then she is hijacking a process already in movement to play with as her own political football to give herself and her party some credibility.
Droim Caoin,
Tir Eoghain.

Private landlords

A chara,
I am writing with regard to the article, ‘Regulate private landlords’ (An Phoblacht, 18 October 2007), in which Fra McCann MLA spoke of the Residential Tenancies Act in the 26 Counties and the establishment of the Private Rented Tenancies Board (PRTB).
While Fra was correct in outlining some of the matters it deals with, the PRTB is precluded from rigorously pursuing the enforcement laws across the state as it is not adequately resourced by the Government. The legislation which provides for its existence does not go far enough as the PRTB can only provide a landlord/tenant dispute resolution service and a registration facility for landlords.
It cannot deal with the escalating amounts of rent charged, deposit refunds or dwelling standards and can only resolve a dispute when the landlord has registered with it.
Although registration is mandatory, the PRTB has been slow to follow non-compliance with prosecution due to lack of resources. Legislation such as the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 is worthless unless the PRTB (a statutory body) is adequately funded.
While Sinn Féin welcomes the initiative of the PRTB, we need a more robust tenant protection regime, upwardly harmonised, North and South, in order to champion the equal rights of all to adequate and appropriate housing.

Slógadh Shinn Féin 2007

A chara,
Bá mhaith linn buíochas a ghabháil le gach duine a ghlac páirt i Slógadh Shinn Féin i mBinn Éadair i mbliana.
D’éirigh thar bharr leis agus tá buíochas ar leith ag dul go dtí na haoi-cainteoirí, na ceoltóirí agus iad siúd uile a chabhraigh leis an deireadh seachtaine a eagrú.
Go raibh maith agaibh go léir agus beirigí bua.
Roinn an Chúltúir,
Sinn Féin,
Baile Átha Cliath.

Reclaiming sovereignty

A chara,
I cannot help but notice that in Padge Fanning’s call for Sinn Féin to become more revolutionary (‘Rebels without a cause?’, Mála Poist, An Phoblacht, 18 October 2007) he fails to refer to anything that has traditionally defined revolutionary republicanism in this country.
For example, he appears to assume that Irish unity is now inevitable without republicans having to do anything further to bring that about. Nor does he mention the need to reclaim sovereignty from an expanding EU super state, or to any economic issues or policies affecting people’s material circumstances.
Instead, we are exhorted to concentrate on promoting liberal policies on abortion and other issues. I would respectfully suggest that, far from assisting Sinn Féin to “plough forward” a reinvention of the party in this manner as the Irish version of the “left wing” of the US Democratic Party, it would cause us to lose support.
All of the main objectives of the Republican Movement remain to be achieved. It is that which holds the movement together, not vacuous liberalism.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1