From Waringstown Sports Fan
I have read with much interest in your paper over the past number of weeks about the introduction of Gaelic football at Carrick Primary School.
I, as an avid sports fan, believe sport and politics don’t go together.
I fully empathise with some of the concerned parents who are unhappy with their children being introduced to this sport.
It also appears they were not consulted about it either. Incidently, there are many cross-community sports played on this island already; rugby, football, cricket, hockey, boxing etc.
Many people in the Protestant, unionist, loyalist community view the GAA as a republican/anti-British organisation which has not reached out the hand of friendship to the PUL (Protestant, unionist, loyalist) community whom they share this land with.
A very recent example of this was when Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth visited the Republic of Ireland in 2011.
As we all know it was it was an historical trip in every way, with the Queen displaying dignity and respect to all traditions.
During her visit to Croke Park, home of the GAA, she was met by representatives from all the counties in the Republic, however, not one GAA official from Northern Ireland officiated.
A very clear message was sent out to Northern Ireland unionists and indeed, the world, that this special visit still wasn’t enough for certain elements in the GAA reach out and try and restore some trust with their unionist neighbours.
There are still many GAA grounds, and indeed competitions, named after IRA terrorists, some involved in recent the Troubles, who caused so much death and destruction in Northern Ireland.
I note last year in Fermanagh that some parents whose children attend a primary school which won a GAA competition, raised concerns after their children were presented with medals inscribed with the name of a dead IRA man.
There have also been three recent incidents of players being subjected to both sectarian and racial abuse while playing Gaelic football, both north and south of the border.
Everyone wants the best for their children.
However, if there are concerns over their education and extra-curricular activities then they must be addressed.
With the above mentioned, it is hardly surprising that many people in our community are still not comfortable with the GAA as an all-inclusive sporting organisation.
In reply to the unhappy ratepayer. I’ve been a binman for a few years now and it’s not been the binmen that have made all the recent changes. I’m a great believer in ‘If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it’.
We wanted things to remain the same as it was before March this year, but the change of bin routes was completely out of our hands.
We tried to say it wouldn’t work under the new system, which is now proving to be the case. In regards to the bins not being left back in their proper place, any bin route I have worked on they have always been put back accordingly.
As for the holidays, it’s a tricky time that cannot be helped. The unhappy ratepayer mentioned that private firms don’t have ‘funny’ times, but swaps are a necessary.
For instance if your bin day falls on Christmas Day, would you want a bin lorry coming in your street on Christmas morning?
It will be made a bit easier though, when the council gives every household in the Borough a calendar with details on when to leave the bin out and they were colour-coded to make it easy to follow.
Lastly, binmen live in houses and pay rates too.
From A Protestant
I should like to comment on the recent letter in the Mail from Mr Dennis Johnston on the way forward in education in the Controlled( Protestant) sector.
Coming from someone of his standing in the community, while we may not agree with everything he says, we have to give his views due consideration.
His suggestion that if we make changes to the Dickson Plan there is the very real danger that some parents may opt to send their children to schools outside the area, is valid.
Some people said exactly the same thing when the Dickson Plan was introduced, and many parents chose that option, and still do.
He talks about having a vocational school and an academic school.
There is nothing wrong with that, but in an age of austerity, why not on the same site where they can share facilities? He speaks against a system where ‘one size fits all’.
Presumably, he would use this term to describe the Junior High School, where all our children are educated together. As he knows, difference is catered for by placing them in classes according to their ability.
I must say I am disappointed by his comment: “The choice is clear, support option B if you want to keep the Dickson Plan or option A if you want to destroy it”.
But, as he says himself, we don’t have to make that choice. He then goes on to say, “The Dickson Plan gives Lurgan children equality and parity of provision with the rest of the province”. He obviously doesn’t include Craigavon Senior High School in this, because for eighteen years they have never enjoyed this luxury.
I am encouraged because he ends his letter on a more optimistic note when he suggests that there are other options that should be considered.
People have been writing in to the Mail and saying this for years, and been ignored. Hopefully, now that someone like Mr Johnston has said it, it will command respect, and people will listen, and take notice.
Our children have been educated together until they were fourteen.
There are no sound educational reasons why this shouldn’t continue, and be accommodated within a revised Dickson Plan. We have a very real opportunity; it might never come again, to create something progressive and radical, as was the Dickson Plan was when it was introduced.
That’s why the grammar school lobby were against it!. Aomething that would be a model and an inspiration to the rest of the province. We just need to have the vision and the courage to do it! The only possible objection to this would come from those who see this debate more about social selection than academic selection.
In conclusion, I thank Mr Johnston for entering the debate. He is the first person from the grammar school lobby to actually put forward options for consideration.
I leave him with the words of Mark Twain; “A man with a new idea is a crank, until the idea succeeds.” I have no doubt that the architects of the Dickson Plan would concur with that.