6 March 2003 Edition
UDA thugs in Antrim
May I request your fullest courtesy to express my absolute disgust and deepest dismay at the never-ending sectarian attacks against nationalists throughout my town.
I have lived in Antrim all my life and it is in deepest despair that I write to the newspapers for someone with influence to please believe what has been happening in Antrim Town for many years now.
On Saturday 1 March, my oldest boy was shopping in the Castle Centre when he was once again attacked and beaten by known members of the UDA.
This is the third time over a current three-year period. The perpetrators of this most recent attack ran amok throughout the shopping precinct shouting, ' Taigs are allowed in Antrim Town Centre'.
The Antrim shopping centre has many internal security cameras and security employees. While I fully understand the reluctance of any security personnel intervention during these violent attacks, I do not understand the total lack of police action against these thugs. Also, It is very difficult to be convinced that the Castle Centre security cameras have not managed to capture at least some of the many sectarian attacks by this gang that have occurred within their confines over such a prolonged period.
I am sure there are many shoppers in Antrim town asking why the UDA thugs are allowed to continue attacking shoppers with impunity for so long, especially at a time when the police are also claiming that they genuinely want to serve the entire community and just like any mother I sincerely hope that they do. But there is little evidence of any change to policing in Antrim Town because the police, politicians and other in authority are more focused on playing down all violence against the nationalist community.
Just like any mother, I am proud of my children but I am especially proud of my oldest son whose only provocation during all attacks against him remains his perceived religion. Furthermore, I am also deeply proud that he is not embittered towards the Protestant community because he continues to maintain lifelong friendships with all of his Protestant friends and vice versa.
This is how it ought to be for all of us. The Antrim Town that I grew up in was certainly like this.
However, there remains only one question I would like answered by the UDA, which is this: What exactly are you and all those others politicians that stand with you trying to achieve by your No Taigs are allowed in Antrim Town campaign?
Please withhold my name and address phone number, as I fear reprisals from the UDA.
Name and address with editor
Stanley Kubrick's 1963 classic black comedy, Dr Strangelove, explored the nightmare of Mutually Assured Destruction, MAD, as a singularly appropriate acronym.
Kubrick had set out to make a deadly serious film based on Peter George's message laden book 'Red Alert'. Kubrick explained later that after working on the project for only a short time, he found the scenario so absurd that humour was the only treatment possible.
General Jack D Ripper in Kubrick's film orders a nuclear attack on Russia. There is no coming back from the brink. The bomb, with Slim Pickens jubilantly astride, emerges from the hatch of the United States Air Force bomber to the musical accompaniment of the 'Yellow Rose of Texas', segueing into Vera Lynn's ultimate hymn to nostalgia, "We'll Meet Again, Don't Know Where, Don't Know When"... and then there is the mushroom cloud, the end.
The scenario today is no less absurd. Neutral Ireland assists the passage through Shannon Airport of US military aircraft and marines en route to what is undeniably, despite the brouhaha about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, nothing more nor less than an imperialist venture of truly awe inspiring audacity and illegality.
Turkey, the bulwark nation of the NATO Alliance, meanwhile, expresses reservations about permitting 62,000 United States marines entry to Turkey as part of a proposed programme geared to the occupation of Iraq. 94% of Turkish people oppose a US/British assault and invasion of Iraq.
The true patriot of this gunboat diplomacy may yet prove to be he or she opposing this institutionalised violence masquerading ludicrously and all too frequently as a process related to 'humanitarian intervention'.
As for the fracas at Shannon Airport, one is reminded of a memorable dialogue from the aforementioned Dr. Strangelove.
Peter Sellers, the US President, faced with the very real probability of Mutually Assured Destruction, is appalled when one of his leading military officials assaults the Russian Ambassador in the most sacred part of the administration.
'Gentlemen," he cries. "You cannot fight here of all places. This, may I remind you, is the War Room."
Iraq and Israel
The coming war in the Middle East is so very wrong and it is important that we all make our feelings known to our government representatives.
I do not wish to bore the readers with another anti-war letter, but let me tease your mind.
If I told you that I was a person from a Middle-Eastern country, whose government had attacked their neighbours, refused to listen to the United Nations or Amnesty, was declared to be responsible for war crimes and in possession of weapons of mass destruction, where would you say I was from?
If you said Israel you would be right. Why is it that the United States has a double standard when dealing with Middle Eastern issues? Why is it that the United States arms and funds Israel in its aggression against the Palestinian people, while declaring war on Iraq? Why is it that the United States wants to save Iraq from a dictator while allowing Israel to be a dictator to the Palestinians?
Hasn't the US learned anything from Vietnam? The occupation of Iraq by the American and British forces will no doubt lead to a new wave of conflict in the Middle East, which will ultimately see the innocent suffer. The brake up of Iraq planned by the US will give rise to the type of civil war that existed between India and Pakistan, and Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Along with war, there will be a mass exodus of refugees throughout the region, destabilising the entire area.
The sad part is, many Middle East experts, while not supporting Osama Bin Laden, know that this American/British aggression will only aid in making him an iconic figure.
Moral high ground?
The BBC has recently been taking the moral high ground in its condemnation of Chirac's meeting with Mugabe at the Franco-African Congress. - this from the media of a country whose queen held a state reception for the Romanian despot Ceusescau and had good relations with Idi Amin.
Might the sniping at Chirac not be prompted by the fact that France, unlike Britain, has refused to pander to the Pax American on Iraq, and has refused to be partner to a second neo-colonialist war?
The imminent war will be remembered as the second cold-blooded, weaselishly, 'pre-scripted', orchestrated one.
Neutrality and the PDs
The recent Dáil speech by Tim O'Malley in relation to the Private Members Bill tabled by Sinn Féin seekingto have the policy of neutrality enshrined in the constitution, is deserving of some response.
Deputy O'Malley welcomed the debate on the Bill and stated that it provided an opportunity 'to engage in a serious discussion on Irish neutrality'. However, this is precisely what he did not do. Rather, he used the occasion to engage in an almost hysterical party political rant against Sinn Féin.
Much of what Deputy O'Malley had to say has been standard fare from the PDs over the years. At times he sounded more like a hardline unionist than a minister of state in an Irish government. But then, coming from a PD deputy, that's hardly any surprise.
He said that everybody welcomes the continued IRA cessation and the role played by republicans in the peace process. However, there are those who will remember the PDs were among the most vociferous critics of the Humes/Adams dialogue in the early 1990s that played a critical role in driving the process forward. Even today, O'Malley's party is much more inclined to take up political positions on the peace process that are remarkably similar to those of the British government and the unionists.
Throughout his speech, he made a number of references to the arrogance of republicans. He also spoke of the 'tolerance' and 'understanding' that the Irish people have shown towards republicans and went on to say that their 'patience' is not limitless. This, coming from a party that in recent years has been consistently outpolled by Sinn Féin, is indeed arrogance.
He went on to say that Sinn Féin must complete the transition from 'military to mainstream politics', and if they fail to do so they cannot be taken seriously when they participate in major debates on the affairs of the Irish State. Perhaps, like David Trimble, he thinks that republicans need to be house trained.
The fact is that the right of Sinn Féin to be involved in political affairs in this country is not dependant on the indulgence of people like Deputy O'Malley, but actually rests on the support that the party receives at the ballot box from Irish people throughout the entire island.
Perhaps now that Deputy O'Malley and his colleagues have vented their spleen on Sinn Féin, they may even return to having a serious discussion on Irish neutrality.
Limerick Sinn Féin