6 January 1999 Edition

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Mála Poist

No mandate for Faul's RUC agenda

A Chairde,

The creation of a new policing service, by the full implementation of the Patten Report, is clearly among the issues fundamental to the creation of the new society envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement. The Agreement explicitly recognised that; the elected representatives of the nationalist community, both SDLP and Sinn Féin, constantly stress how important it is. The Catholic Hierarchy goes further, being on record that even the full implementation of the Patten Report may not go far enough to redress the ``trust deficit'' in policing among nationalists. Clearly, that which has passed as policing in the northern state since partition has signally failed all of the people placed there. Against this background, Monsignor Denis Faul, whose earlier courageous work with Monsignor Raymond Murray in exposing and documenting security forces illegalities clearly helped to undermine the northern state, now publicly disagrees with his Church authorities by advocating that the Patten Report should not be implemented in full. In addition, without a mandate of any kind, he privately sets up a committee to liaise with the RUC on behalf of the people of Carrickmore. Is it any wonder that there is justifiable anger, not only among his parishioners in Carrickmore but much further afield, about a secretive process involving unelected people who meet with the RUC in a hotel in Omagh and which has on its agenda an invitation to the RUC to carry out security vetting on community workers in the Carrickmore area? There are serious questions to be asked about the motivation behind this affair. Was it really about the welfare of the people of Carrickmore or, instead, was a narrow personal political agenda being moved onto another plane, after the battle on another had been lost? On what basis could Monsignor Faul be seeking to rehabilitate the RUC at a time when all nationalists are awaiting anxiously the implementation of the Patten Report and the creation of a new policing service? The RUC, for many good and well documented reasons, is part of a past of inequality and injustice. As such, it has no part to play in a new order which prescribes absolute equality among the different traditions in Ireland, and which in consequence must deny to its police officers the ability to engage in naked anti-Catholic abuse, and notwithstanding, or perhaps on account of such behaviour, thereafter to gain promotion. That is what has happened in Omagh RUC station. No amount of clever PR in an Omagh hotel or elsewhere, can alter that.

Patrick Fahy,
County Tyrone


Fished out

A Chairde,

I am dismayed as a consumer and as a young person who cares for the environment at the recent comments made by Bríd Rodgers, SDLP minister for Agriculture. She says that she will undertake to resist the cuts in catches of prawns, cod and whiting. Unfortunately, whilst we all feel for those fishermen (and women) whose jobs are reliant on a maintenance of the present total allowable catches (TACs), we must all by this time recognise that there has been a disastrous amount of over-fishing by the commercial trawlers for the last 50 years. If this is not drastically reduced, the livelihoods of all fishermen will be destroyed forever with the extinction of many breeds of fish. We cannot go on misusing the planet in this way.

Bríd Rodgers should be ashamed of herself - she should understand this ecological disaster well enough by now, as her party leader John Hume MEP should have been active on this very subject in Brussels - that is if he does indeed work for us there at alll.

Whilst the rediuction in TACs is unavoidable, and Bríd seems to be pitting herself against the impossible here - what could be achieved is the allocation of a greater proportion of the overall catch to Ireland. More so, when the main body of the catch is often in Irish waters, or in many cases closer to Ireland than anywhere else!

A young environmentalist
(Name and address supplied)


A Chairde,

I came across this poem on a recent visit to the United States. It was written in 1900 by an African-American called Countee Cullen who lived for a time in Baltimore, Maryland. I want to share it with your readers at this time.

Once riding in old Baltimore
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee;
I saw a Baltimorian
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small
And he was no whit bigger;
And so I smiled but he poked out
His tongue and called me ``Nigger''.

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December.
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.

Fr Joe McVeigh,
Springhill Close,

Prisoners resource

We are presently compiling a list of republican ex-prisoners in County Louth, from all phases of the struggle. We are also detailing all those people doisplaced from the Six Counties due to the polityical conflict. It is our intention to conduct in-depth interviews with our constituency and create a database of skills/needs. Fáilte Abhaile intends to publish findings of the effects 30 years of political conflict/omprisonment has had on a sizeable number of disadvantaged and marginalised people in County Louth.

Please contact Kevin, Larry or Teresa at 042 9352158 with details or for further information.

Fáilte Abhaile,
County Louth.


In solidarity

A Chairde,

In 1970, I was in Vietnam worrying about keeping my arse alive, but I was also aware for the first time of stories from Ireland about the Protestants fighting the Catholics, and discovered my first Irish hero in Bernadette Devlin, leading the fight for the rights of Catholics to live in an equal fashion with their Protestant neighbours and how much difference there was in their everyday lives. No work for young Catholics, preferencial treatment in housing for Protestants - I began the education that would lead me to becoming what I am today, an Irish-American republican who has been an avid An Phoblacht reader and relies on your paper to keep me truthfully informed about the struggle and our triumphs and tragedies. Thanks for being there. Slán

Donncha MacAodh


Stuff your vouchers

A Chairde,

The proposal from the government to introduce food vouchers for asylum seekers sets a very dangerous precedent, one with much wider implications for Irish society.

Irish people have not forgotten the savage Poor Law system and older readers may recall that in the 1930s those in poverty were humiliated by being forced to queue for food handouts. Resentment also exists about asylum seekers `robbing' the Irish taxpayer by saving some of their meagre social welfare payments to send to relatives they have left behind. How quickly Ireland forgets that most people living here now were reared and educated on the `Letter from America'.

Removing direct financial provision for those in need - in this case asylum seekers - is the thin end of the wedge. What is to prevent a future government introducing vouchers for others they deem to be `scroungers' - the unemployed, single parents, etc. These groups supposedly also live the high life on sums of less than £100 per week. With Fianna Fáil TDs cynically stoking up a `war of the poor against the poor', it is essential that all social groups left behind by the Celtic Tiger unite to oppose the voucher system.

JoAnne Tobin
Anti Fascist Action
PO Box 3355
Dublin 7

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1