15 November 2001 Edition

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Mála Poist

Multiseat constituencies the answer

A Chairde,

Reading last week's centre page article on the Holy Cross School dispute and the extension of the protest to three other schools in North Belfast it seems clear that the protests are rooted in the defence of political territory, probably intended at preventing Gerry Kelly from winning a seat at the next Westminster elections.

It seems to me that single-seat Westminster elections pitch the communities against one another, whereas multi-seat constituencies would not, at least not in such a stark territorial manner. Multiseat constituencies would also encourage cross-party voting and would tend to reduce political polarisation within and between communities. At present, we have the situation where constituencies go either green or orange, with either half of the community effectively disenfranchised.

If Belfast were a multiseat constituency, the internal political geography of the city would be of no consequence. Candidates would have to broaden and most likely soften their appeal as they would be also angling for second preferences across the city. The current system, by contrast, promotes ghettoisation, inter-community conflict and the polarisation of politics. The system is ruinous for Belfast and as we are seeing puts small school children in the front line.

Sectarianism sustains division and single seat constituencies are feeding into and perpetuating a sectarian ethos: single seat constituencies need to be scrapped urgently.

Paul Cassidy,
Co. Monaghan.

Justice for Dublin & Monaghan

A Chairde,

As I write, Tony Blair is jetting around the world trying to drum up support for the bombing of

Afganistan because its leaders refuse to cooperate in the apprehension of the terrorists who are suspected of planning the deliberate killing of innocent civilians in a well co-ordinated, precisely timed, multiple attack on 11 September 2001.

Back in Britain, Tony Blair's government is refusing to cooperate with an inquiry into the terrorists who are suspected of planning the deliberate killing of innocent civilians in a well coordinated, precisely timed, multiple attack on 17 May 1974.

After over 27 years, not one conviction, not one person charged, not even one arrest. I hope Tony will have more success against the planners of the New York/Washington massacres.

Seán Marlow,
Dublin 11

Afghan War retort

A Chairde,

I find it offensive that Arthur Gibbons can appear to sound so smug when it comes to lecturing the rest of the world on the tragic events currently underway in Afghanistan.

I, for one, find no happiness in what is being done there; however, for him to rant against what he obviously believes is another example of American imperialism is revolting.

No one doubts that Bin Laden is responsible for 9/11; Bin Laden has basically admitted it. The United States has a moral obligation (not to mention legal) to its citizens to find him and execute him as quickly as possible; we have now seen what happens when a country ignores the ravings of such a madman. Yes, I used the word "execute" ; can someone say something truthful out loud anymore without appearing to offend someone? What a joke the left-wing mentality has become, when it used to be something to be proud of and find hope in.

So, Mr. Gibbons will go off on a typically left wing knee-jerk reaction and condemn what is being done by the United States, without looking at the reasons behind it. I have no problem with the people of Afghanistan, other than their Govt. abetting an international criminal, and a mentally unstable one at that. Strange, but I don't recall Mr. Gibbons up in arms when the Taliban slaughtered 50,000 innocent people when they took Kabul in 1995.

So, Mr. Gibbons, instead of mouthing the same old tiresome platitudes about "injustice", "imperialism", and "innocent civilians being slaughtered by the US military" try to display an iota of independent thinking. Believe it or not, there are some things in the world that all decent people, whatever their political beliefs, can agree upon; I do notice however, that you seem more worried about political correctness to the left wing when it's something having to do with condemning the United States, no matter what the cause, rather than understand a nation protecting its own citizens, no matter what country they must take the battle to in order to do it.

Michael J. McMahon,
New York

Rule 21 debate

A Chairde,

The GAA is a 32-County organisation, plus London and New York. Only in the Six Counties does Rule 21 have any bearing or relevance. It's only the Six-County GAA members and supporters who have had to contend with the bullyboy tactics of Crown forces. Since 1969, officials, players and supporters of the GAA in the north have been murdered, wounded or simply battered going to and coming from matches or in their own homes or offices.

Premises such as clubs, dressing rooms and pavilions have been destroyed by bombs and arson attacks, some of them more than once. None of these atrocities or abuses have been inflicted on 26-County GAA members or properties. At the risk of being called a partitionist, why should they decide the future of a rule which does not affect them? Remember, the Catholic Church did not vote as a complete body in support of the new Police Authority. Only the Northern Bishops expressed their approval.

Will the new recruits from the British Army and police demand a rugby-style anthem? Will they call for the Irish flag to be banned at matches?. Will they join clubs named after republican dead?. These and many other questions must be addressed and answered.

Will the Human Rights violations by the Orange Order, certain soccer teams and exclusion of Catholics from the Throne of England also come under examination? In other words, all rights or only some. Quid Pro Quo!

L Wilson.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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