3 December 1998 Edition
This island is small compared with Britain and it could lose sense of itself if it opens itself too easily to assimilation by its more powerful neighbour; do not let us be carried away by our improved relationships.
If the promotion of confederation is an acknowledgement of the independence of Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England as equals, fine. If confederation is being advanced with the sub-agenda of assisting England to hold onto power and control as the union transmogrifies, forget it. The potential for destabilisation in England through loss of prestige may well require careful handling but it should not, now or ever again, warrant deference beyond the courtesies of equailty in the relationship.
Irish people, north and south, should not throw away independence before they have experienced it together.
In any area of activity, timing and intent are vital to the production of a positive response and, in this respect, considerations concerning ``Commonwealth'' and ``Confederation'' are no exception.
It would therefore be a pity if an initiative taken now were to deny the possibility of positive response later when it could be that ``unionists'' might value the opportunity of pressing these issues as part and parcel of arrangements required to set the scene for the drawing up of a new constitution for Ireland as a whole. When that day comes, as come it will, positive response by the people of the republic to proposals by unionists in transition would be significant.
Just now, however, it should be acknowledged that Gregory Campbell shows no more enthusiasm for commonwealth games than does Nell McCaffery! (Insight, Thursday, 26 November) On behalf of the New Ireland Group and with the endorsement of its new arrangements.
John Robb and Jack McDowell
People with disabilities
May I take this opportunity to ask people to bring pressure to bear on all our politicians to keep their election promise in relation to the ILF (Independent Living Fund). This was funding promised to enable people with disabilities to have personal assistants (PA). Having a PA means that a person with a disability can live life independently and can partake in an equal fashion with other Irish citizens.
Also at this time we are mindful of the Minister for Transport's decision to buy in non-accessible buses to replace the present rolling stock in CIE and this despite the recommendations of ICPWD (The Irish Council of People with Disabilities).
I would ask if the upcoming budget will reflect the needs of people with disabilities or as we mark the European Day of Disabled People on 3 December, are we once again to be ignored and further marginalized as has so often been the case?