Stop the health cuts
The assets of the wealthiest 300 Irish citizens have increased by 12 billion to 62 billion over the past two years. Net assets of the top 300 Irish citizens have increased by 4.9 billion Euro in the year 2011 and by 12 billion Euro in the past two years to a new high level of 62 billion Euro! Research has been carried out which has established the above figures and identified the 300 individuals concerned. Those who have gone “bust” or have much reduced wealth have been replaced by 44 new entrants. Wealth has not disappeared but some has moved between asset holders. Rather than taking a further 130 million out of a health service already devastated by cuts, why not tax these assets?
A further reduction of 700 million Euro in funding of health services next year has been promised by the Minister for Bad Health James Reilly. Instead of taxing these assets and incomes of the super-rich Minister for Ill Health Dr Reilly wants to reduce the pay and conditions of health service workers whose pay has already been cut and who are working in the most difficult conditions due to staff cuts.
Of the eight cost-cutting proposals in the Health Service Executive plan, at least three will affect older people or the disabled exclusively. Services for both groups are likely to be seriously affected by a 600,000-hour cut in home help hours, as well as a reduction of 200 home care packages and a €10 million reduction in hours for personal assistants for people who need high levels of support trying to live independently. Services and supports for these patients have already been severely curtailed. These barbaric cuts must be halted immediately.
Pól Ó Cionsalígh, 53 Garrán Lorcaín
Seantrabh, Báile Átha Cliath 9
Common ground in the North
The recent visit of Orange leader Drew Nelson to Leinster House opens up a need to search for unrecognised common ground. Over a decade ago I reviewed historian Cecil Kirkpatrick’s Life of William of Orange for Books Ireland. This work recognised William’s popular role as the leading defender of the Dutch Republic (where he represented Zeeland on the Council of State) and drew attention to his use of Dutch republican experience in the subsequent imposition of constitutional control over the then absolute monarchy in Britain. He also reminded the brethren that in the European war of which the Boyne battle was an episode, the Pope was William’s ally, and the victory was celebrated by a mass in the Vatican. Thus William deserves the title ‘Republican Monarch’ and, and some credit is due from Sinn Fein for his pioneering role in the evolution of European democracy.
There is however another episode less worthy of credit, and perhaps needing an apology: the deal done in 1914 with a German arms supplier, which led, in collusion with the British Tories in opposition, to the Larne gun-running in April of that year. This, and the subsequent Howth gun-running, also from Germany in June 1914, was interpreted by the Germans as implying that the British would be too much occupied with civil war on their home ground to be concerned about war on the continent, so they attacked France via Belgium, thereby avoiding the French defences on their common frontier. The British were then able to come into the war ‘in defence of small nations’, thinking (somewhat over-optimistically) that by taking Germany by surprise, they would all be ‘home by Christmas’. This strategic imperial thinking was based on their perceived need to frustrate German imperial plans for Africa, which the British saw as a serious threat.
Was the Howth gun-running facilitated by the Liberal wing of the imperial strategic leadership, not only to deceive the Germans, but also to ensure, in their own imperial interest, that all-Ireland Home Rule would be undermined by sectarian militarism, in a procedure used subsequently when they abandoned direct rule of India?
Dr Roy H W Johnston
Arrests of nationalists in Ardoyne
Alan Lundy from Ardoyne has become the latest political hostage in the game of cat and mouse being played out between Irish political opposition and the British state in the north of Ireland.
Alan acted as a steward for the Ardoyne residents parade organised to protest the Orange Parade which is allowed to march through the nationalist Ardoyne area of North Belfast every 12th July. Trouble arises annually during and after this event.
Wearing a high visibility jacket, Alan can be seen on social media networks acting as steward on behalf of Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARK) on 12th July this year. At no time did Alan, who tried to restrain local youths and prevent trouble, engage in public disorder on 12th July or at any other time.
Alan’s detention, along with a number of others, among them ex-prisoner Thomas McWilliams, and three Belfast men who were granted bail under very restrictive conditions, is a clear attack on people’s right to hold a protest.
This policy of selective internment of political opponents (as in the high-profile cases of Marian Price, Martin Corey and Gerry McGeogh) is in stark contrast to the treatment of loyalist demonstrators who remained unpoliced while attempting to attack a legally held residents protest.
Alan Lundy has also been charged with riotous assembly on 12th July 2005. Surely if there were such a case, charges would have been brought many years ago?
Internment is nothing new to the people of Ardoyne. These latest arrests are an attack on their human rights and civil rights. The nationalist people of Ardoyne are being punished because they dared to organise a protest.