14 May 1998 Edition
Rights for children with disabilities
The Government will spend £24 million implementing its Information Technology Policy. Each school will recieve a £2,000 grant plus £5 for each pupil. However special schools will receive £3,000 and a grant of £20 for each pupil. While I welcome these proposals once again children with disabilities in mainstream schools are being discriminated against. The child with a disability in a special school will get a grant of £20 while the same child attending a mainstream class gets £5.
This is totally unfair and shows how children with disabilities are being treated. There are over 10,000 children with disabilities in mainstream schools. They are being completely ignored. I am now calling on the Minister for Education Mr Martin to give all children with special needs the same grants. It's just not on in this day and age for a child with Downs Syndrome in one school getting a £20 grant while down the road in another school only getting £5. Parents and teachers are really annoyed about this complete lack of equailty. Let's hope parents will not have to mount another legal case to get rights for our children.
Finian Mc Grath
Keep Rule 21
Abolishing the GAA's Rule 21 is incomprehensible as long as the British forces continue to occupy Crossmaglen Rangers GAA Club grounds in South Armagh.
How can the GAA even consider abolishing Rule 21 as long as the British forces act so aggressively towards the nationalist community of Crossmaglen? I am not at all surprised that the 1997 All-Ireland Club Football Champions have been so astonished by the idea of allowing the illegal occupiers of their land to play alongside their players, who are the people who have suffered the most from this occupation.
I am sure it would make the footballers and hurlers sick to their stomachs at the thought of this occupational enemy playing in their teams. The Crown Forces have illegally occupied Crossmaglen GAA's ground for the last 27 years. It is now time for the British to disengage from this occupied zone. The nationalist community and the GAA in particular never have and never will peacefully allow this illegal military occupation to remain. We as republicans must not allow the crown to use Rule 21 as a bargaining chip before they even disengage from Crossmaglen GAA and the rest of the occupied Six Counties.
Gearoid O Congaile
Expose FF and SDLP
The concerns of many Republicans in the south on Articles 2 & 3 are, I believe, a proxy for frustration at our failure to pin the blame for the many deficiencies on the Good Friday Deal where it belongs: on Fianna Fail and the SDLP.
Chief among these deficiencies is the Unionist blocking veto in the Assembly and the North/South Bodies. It could be argued that nationalists also have a veto but such a blocking mechanism favours those who wish to maintain the status quo and stymies those who want radical change. The only penalty for blocking any progressive change is the disbandment of the Assembly and reversion to direct rule - which is exactly what Trimble wanted in the first place.
The blame for this clearly lies with FF and the SDLP but we have not even raised this serious problem, never mind putting the responsibility on the ``constitutional nationalists'' for bottling out when the going got tough.
This failure to explain the defects in the Deal and the reasons for them has had two dangerous results for republicans:
1. A mistaken perception has developed that the Deal is pro-nationalist and all the pressure for change is in a pro-unionist direction;
2. Both FF and SDLP have come out smelling of roses rather than paying the price for their failure to achieve what, otherwise, could have been a much better deal. This will make Sinn Fein's job more difficult in the Assembly elections.
The underlying problem is that there is no real nationalist consensus as shown by the reneging of the Dublin Government on the Downing St, Heads of Agreement and Good Friday documents. Our pretending that there is one has blunted our critique of FF in many areas: financial corruption, increasing the poverty gap and even the enthusiastic support of Bertie Ahern for the shoot-to-kill murder of Ronan MacLochlainn in Ashford. We need to redress this urgently if we are to gain support from FF and SDLP voters and from working-class Protestants who want to have nothing to do with the right-wing policies of these parties.
Major 1798 Conference
A major conference and series of lectures on 1798 takes place in Belfast and Dublin over the next two weeks.
The Belfast half of the event takes place in the Ulster Museum on Tuesday and Wednesday 18/19 May. The major themes are:
The intellectual ingredients of the rebellion; The United Irish challenge in Leinster and Ulster 1794-98; The conservative response 1796-98; The international crisis; and The Ulster rising in context.
Top lecturers in their fields will speak on the themes in what will be the biggest and most ambitious conference on 1798 in this bicentenary year.
The conference then moves to Dublin Castle from 21-23 May.
For details, contact the Ulster Museum.
This is very much an open conference, and people may register on any of the days. The rates for one/two days in Belfast are £17.50 (OAPs, unwaged and students £8.75), and for the five days in Belfast and Dublin £42 (OAPs,unwaged and students £21). These rates include a special commemorative programme which carries abstracts of many of the lectures.