20 November 1997 Edition

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Mála Poist

Justice needed

A chairde,

The Robert Hamill case points up all that is wrong with this society. Last April Robert, a 25 year old Catholic, was kicked unconscious by a crowd of thirty loyalists in the centre of Portadown while the RUC looked on. His friend was also beaten but survived. Robert died from his injuries eleven days later. After his death six loyalists were charged with his murder. On 31 October three of the loyalists were released. The judge sympathised with them.

Would this happen in any other country in the world? The prosecution stated that they could not find witnesses to give evidence against these men. Robert's family believes that the other three charged and still in custody will also be released.

The British government will be monitored very carefully to see if justice is going to be done in this case. There needs to be an independent investigation into the role of the RUC on the fateful evening. Those responsible need to be brought to justice.

Fr Joe McVeigh,
Co Fermanagh.

Big business and politics

A chairde,

In Britain, left-wing Labour MPs have courageously joined Tories and Lib-Dems in calling for an inquiry into possible links between the one million pound donation from Formula 1 chief, Bernie Ecclestone, to the Labour Party and the Labour government's decision to exempt Formula 1 racing from curbs on cigarette advertising.

Here, there is wide agreement on two points:

1. All political parties who were in government over the past 10 years have got donations from big business (as confirmed by the McCracken Tribunal);

2. The poverty gap has got worse over the past 10 years as economic policies have favoured the well-off (as confirmed in studies by the Conference Of Religious in Ireland and TCD's Dept of Economics).

Surely, there is a strong case for any new tribunal into political donations to investigate if there is a link between these two facts.

(Dr) Sean Marlow.
Dublin 11

Taking the Euro

A chairde,

In recent weeks, many Irish economists have labelled the Irish government's decision to enter the EMU ahead of Britain as tantamount to entering a ``boom-bust cycle''. It would be improper, they contend, for the Republic of Ireland to enter the EMU without linking arms with Britain.

Nonsense. Firstly, Britain is no longer a major economic player on the global stage. It is currently the fourth largest economy in Europe, a position which is destined to diminish as new tiger markets enter the European arena in future years from central and eastern Europe.

Secondly, the EMU will not suffer because Britain stays out. However, British companies will find that the decision taken by their government will dent their overall competitiveness, and obstruct future growth.

Thirdly, whether Britain enters or not will make very little difference for major British companies, many of whom are already adjusting business practices to trade in the euro. Foreign-controlled multinationals, which together represent 45% of all business and industry located in Scotland, Wales and England, can be expected to trade in the euro from day one.

The real shame for the Celtic Tiger economy is that after 75 years of independence, 40% of this country's total exports are still sold to one market, England. This is a whopping 70% in the case of indigenous Irish companies.

Perhaps our national leaders, industrial development gurus and our esteemed economists can explain why indigenous Irish companies continue to sell 70% of their total exports to the UK? Based on this model, the English region of Yorkshire has a more varied export content and dynamic, with 54% of total production from this area going to exports, than this so-called independent Celtic Tiger nation of ours.

Let's put this absurd trading reality in context. The global marketplace comprises 8 billion consumers, 1.2 billion of which reside in Europe. That said, how can we as a sovereign economy justify exporting 70% of our total indigenous exports to a country with just 55 million people, and a marketplace equating to less than 5% of all Europeans, and 0.01% of the total world population? Has anyone got an answer?

Kieran O'Loughlin,

Roads claims rejected

A chairde,

I would like to take issue with a letter published on 6 November about road protesters in England. Unlike the writer, I was much involved in three major campaigns in England. He claims ``road protesters seemed easily put off by court injunctions''. Rubbish! People were always in court, both locally and in London. I myself have cross-examined one of the heads of the Highways Agency.

He also claims we were ``put off by the threat of a short spell in jail''. There are currently people in English jails serving very long sentences for damage to diggers etc.

I have a female friend who was sent to Holloway for assault after a professional climber sliced her thumb with a knife. Martha Ellis was on a life support machine for four days after falling sixty feet from a tree during an eviction in Bath in 1994.

Finally, to the claim about elitism of protesters. Anyone was welcome on the camps except, of course, officials of the state. If they did not come it was probably because they were happier watching TV and lapping up the propaganda it provided so effortlessly.

Martin O hAinbhith,

Prison ship Argenta

A chairde,

I am compiling a project on the prison ship SS Argenta. I am at present searching the recently released documents in the Public Records Office in Belfast but unfortunately these do not appear to have a list of the internees. I would be grateful if any of your readers who may have any information or know anyone who was on this prison ship would contact me.

Feargal O'Domhnaill
Cnoc A Bhile
BT71 4PF

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1