Letters to the editor - 01/11/2013


Call for judicial review for Derry

[An open letter to the officers of Derry City Council, the Councillors and Chief Executive Sharon O’Connor].

The A5 road was stopped by a legal challenge. The re-development of the Windsor Park Stadium in Belfast has been stopped by a judicial review. And now Edwin Poots has been successfully challenged in the courts over his blood donation policy. Furthermore Mr Poots was stated by the judge to have breached the ministerial code of conduct by failing to have consulted with the executive committee on a policy that had equality implications beyond his own department.Now everyone in this city knows that Coleraine “stole” our University almost 50 years ago. However this is not true. Coleraine has 5,000 students, Magee has 3,000 students while Belfast has 19,000 University of Ulster students. This is in addition to 26,000 Queen’s University students in Belfast. In all Belfast has 46,000 University students against our 3,000, so who stole the University? After 50 years a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to right this wrong has finally arisen. The University of Ulster has announced the closure of their Jordanstown campus with 19,000 students to be relocated to a new purpose-built £250,000,000 University campus in the centre of Belfast. There is no basis for these students to be re-located anywhere other than Derry. I therefore call upon Derry City council to take a judicial review against the Executive, the minister Stephen Farry (who has stated he is unconvinced of the business need for further students at Magee) and the University of Ulster over the decision to re-locate the students within Belfast. There would be numerous grounds for such a review, such as equality based on the religious make-up of the relative populations West of the Bann versus East of the Bann, geographic equality on grounds of equal access to public services, failure to conduct an equality impact assessment, failure to target social need (which is particularly relevant given that Derry has consistently the highest level of unemployment in Northern Ireland), failure to implement the One Plan which is a Programme for Government commitment, failure to tackle the long-standing infrastructural deficit West of the Bann, and the natural justice of righting a widely acknowledged historic wrong. I am sure a good legal team could advise of other grounds. No doubt there would be difficulties with any review, not least that it would be argued by the minister that the University of Ulster is free to make its own decisions about where to locate the students and that it is not the decision of the ministe. But that is just an excuse for arm’s length discrimination.

The University’s money comes from government and if the University refuses to provide us with a fair distribution of students then the Minister could create a new independent university in the city that would. It’s all about the money! Of course a judicial review is not free but if it cost £40K then that would be less than a single additional student would contribute to our economy over their three year course. But we’re not talking about a single student, we’re talking about 15,000 additional students if we were to argue successfully for our fair share of student numbers in Northern Ireland. It is not a question of whether we can afford a judicial review; we can’t afford not to have one.

Cormac Duffy



Nothing changed, better needed

I am writing in response to Derry Journal columnist Norman Hamill’s recent article alluding to ‘Free Derry Corner’. Many long years ago the good people of this city took to the streets in frustration and anger. They were denied jobs, equality of rights and investment in our city. Every possible opportunity was denied to us and instead targeted into Unionist areas. Anywhere but Derry or Strabane was the attitude. After over thirty years of violence to people and buildings it seems nothing has changed.

- Investment in Magee has stalled and we have a ‘Mickey Mouse’ Campus.

- One thousand jobs leave Derry and re-materialise with hefty support funding in Belfast.

- The A5 cancelled yet again although funds released from this project were promised to secure the A6.

- The A6 project now “postponed” until the A5 is cancelled.

- The European Investment Bank funds £150 million pounds for yet another campus in Belfast.

- Simon Hamilton, clearly no friend of Derry, states through a source that the A6 was never on the agenda. Our local representatives were too slow off the mark on this one.

- Unemployment still highest in the “UK”.

I could go on but it’s too depressing. Nothing has changed. However, that’s not quite true . The Deputy First Minister is a Derryman and so the question has to be asked what exactly is he doing for his city? Why isn’t he confronting Simon Hamilton and others as history repeats itself ? The minister and Derryman Mark H Durkan has vowed to fight tooth and nail for the DVLA jobs threatened in Coleraine. Doesn’t charity begin at home? Coleraine ...can someone point out the irony to him?

We also have a Derryman in the House of Commons - how many statements has he made regarding the continued run-down of our city ? What has the Provost of Magee actually done to fight her corner for her institution?

How has peace and reconciliation helped our city? The Fleadh and City of Culture are all very well but is that our lot in this Brave New World... an occasional venue for the arts! If our elected representatives haven’t got what it takes then they should make way for those who have. Derry deserves better than what you seem to be able to offer.




McCann, the man keeps saying No!

Anyone who has read Eamonn McCann articles recently could not help but wonder what actually he has done for Derry. Can anyone recall a single positive thing he has done except say NO to everything?

Does anyone go to Eamonn if they have a problem with their Housing Benefit, street lighting or anything for him to sort out? I don’t think so,. His answer could be, ‘I am not an elected politician, take that to Sinn Fein or your SDLP representative’. He was successful getting Raytheon to move out of Derry with the loss of jobs - did he honestly think this would change the world? It was unbelievable that his behaviour and that of his followers got off ‘scot free’ - what an example to set?

His latest is to attack the construction of a gasification plant in Derry to deal with the waste problem - something which he clearly knows little about. One can tell from the articles that are being published that he isn’t doing it all. At times they appear to be a ‘cut and paste’ job, hardly the work of an accomplished journalist but ‘easy work if you can get away with it’ from sources either in positions of authority or private business opposed to the proposal. What exactly does he propose on how to deal with the waste problem? Has he a solution he isn’t telling us? It was clear from his recent attendance at a meeting in the City Hotel in Derry of how much interest he has (can be viewed on Derryair.eu) as he nearly fell asleep and eventually left the meeting without listening to the people making the speeches! What an inspiration! Eamonn McCann should reflect and try a new tactic instead of always saying NO - help bring some jobs to Derry, try bringing investment, try and helping this city for a change!

John Toland



Excellent nursing care for our mum

So many times we have read and have heard bad or disturbing reports about the care of elderly or dementia patients in Nursing Homes. We wish to state the facts of the excellent nursing care our mother received whilst in the care of the staff of Greenhaw Care Lodge. Mum entered the home three and a half years ago after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Although it would have been difficult, her personal care was always fulfilled. During her last few weeks the care that mum received was excellent, so much so that we did not want her to be removed to hospital, away from the people who had known and cared for her over the years. From the chef who had asked had she a favourite food in an effort to encourage her to eat, to the day and night staff who did everything in their power to make mum comfortable in her last few days. The caring dignity and respect that mum and we received was amazing; a reassuring note to all families that may have to go through this journey with their loved ones in the future. We have found this to be an extremely positive experience.

‘Betty and Hilary’


A5 , A6

City still years behind Belfast

By now most people in Derry must be sick, sore and tired of the circus that is the A5 and A6 and the political opportunists who dance all around the issue and avoid the true facts behind it , because it gets the populist sound bite. The fact is attempts were made by Unionist politicians to stop forever the A5 project. Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin fought to ensure that the plans remained on the table when others told everyone it was done, finished, history, put the white flag up. The Irish government was reminded to honour its financial commitment. The fact now is that a legal challenge is holding the entire project up, plain and simple. On the A6, the fact is that it is not what is called “shovel ready” meaning the diggers couldn’t move in the morning if it was given a blank cheque. For a scheme of that size it would take at least three to five years before a sod could be cut. And no doubt if everything had been ready to go Radio Negativity would have found a farmer whose cows couldn’t get across the road for milking or a bird’s nest up a tree on the Glenshane Pass and the whole scheme would have been in turmoil.

And to add to this vein of negativity is the nauseating weekly writings of SDLP huffing and puffing when in fact they haven’t come up with a single solution to one topic and conveniently forget they are part of the Executive that makes the ultimate decisions on all matters and their record for delivery in Derry could be written on the back of a postage stamp. Finally going back to what are called “shovel ready” projects or having robust businesses cases in place be it for bringing jobs, investment , increasing student numbers - the list goes on - the fact is and as a proud Derry person I take no joy in saying it, that Derry is years behind Belfast.

As a city there are too many whingers happy to run to Radio Negativity looking to be more outraged than the last contributor but not enough people being proactive in putting the plans in black and white and sticking with it until the conclusion.

Waterside Reader

(Name and address supplied)


Urinating in a bucket - old hat!

It’s good to see Derry ratepayers’ money is being wisely used promoting ‘Man Urinating in Bucket’ over at the Turner Art Exhibition in Ebrington. You know - the one that had to be covered up when Derry school children went to see it on display. Sure weren’t Derry men doing that 60 years ago here and no-one was nominated for an award then? But what do I know, not being part of the ‘intelligentsia’? I think I’ll retire to the asylum.

Bernard McCarron